By Martin Hart-Landsberg
Interest in the post-1978 Chinese market reform experience remains high and for an obvious reason: China is widely considered to be one of the most successful developing countries in modern times. The Chinese economy has recorded record rates of growth over an extended time period, in concert with a massive industrial transformation. Adding to the interest is the Chinese government's claim that this success demonstrates both the workability and superiority of "market socialism."
There are those on the left who share this celebratory view of the Chinese experience, believing that it stands as an effective rebuttal to the neoliberal mantra that still dominates economic thinking. Therefore, they encourage other countries to learn from China's gradual, state controlled process of marketization, privatization, and deregulation of economic activity. A small but significant number share the Chinese government's view that China has indeed pioneered a new type of socialism.
Many on the left also believe that China may soon be capable of anchoring an alternative international economic system, thereby offering other countries the opportunity to reduce their dependence on the current U.S. dominated system and pursue their own independent development strategies.
Unfortunately, as argued below, there is no justification for this positive perspective on the Chinese experience.
Martin Hart-Landsberg is Professor of Economics and Director of the Political Economy Program, Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Oregon, USA.
This article first appeared in the US socialist magazine Against the Currents. The full text can be seen at the website Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, where it has been reproduced with the author's permission.