Dec 2, 2018

China's growth is driven by communist capitalism

Felix Salmon, author of Edge

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

While there are growing tensions between capitalist success and liberal-democratic principles, there are no such tensions with Chinese-style communism. Instead, the tensions appear between Chinese companies and countries trying to protect their citizens' rights and privacy.

The big picture: Between 2000 and 2017, Chinese GDP grew by 910% in constant-dollar terms. U.S. GDP, by contrast, grew by only 44% over the same time period. The greatest capitalist success story of the 21st century is a communist regime with an atrocious human-rights record. Every company wants to do business there: The profit motive means collaboration with the Party.

What's happening:

  • Jack Ma, the richest man in China, has been a member of the Communist Party since the 1980s. No one is particularly surprised by this.
  • Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant, has now been banned by New Zealand from participating in the 5G rollout there. The ban comes on the heels of similar bans by the U.S. and Australia. All three countries are concerned that Huawei's equipment could be used by the Chinese government to spy on their citizens.
  • More than 200 car manufacturers, including Tesla, Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors and Nissan, transmit position information about their cars, along with dozens of other data series, to the Chinese government. It's part of doing business in the country.
  • Every Chinese citizen will have a government-issued "social credit" score by 2020. Already, 9 million people with low scores have been barred from buying plane tickets. (Meanwhile, lenders are requiring nude selfies from their female borrowers.)

Go deeper: The growing international influence of China's Communist Party

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