China’s revolution at 70: Behind its amazing progress

What major country in the world can claim greater progress than People’s China in raising the standard of living and the educational level of its people over the last 70 years?

In 1949, the leader of the Chinese socialist revolution, Mao Zedong, declared victory over the landlords, corporations, banks and imperialists who had ruled China. His famous words were, “China has stood up,” delivered to an immense crowd in Tiananmen Square. 

China was then a terribly poor and underdeveloped country of 541 million people. The vast majority were peasants who had lived on the edge of starvation for generations, suffering monstrous abuse from the landlords. A small, but equally impoverished, working class had long been in rebellion against foreign and domestic exploiters. Women were on the bottom of the heap, their feet bound and their labor discounted.

Today, China is a country of 1.4 billion people. Its advanced economy has made it the world’s largest exporter of manufactured goods. Life expectancy has more than doubled since the revolution — from only 36 years in 1949 to 76 years today. The adult literacy rate has risen from an estimated 15-20 percent in 1949 to 97 percent today.

Yet, when People’s China celebrated its 70th anniversary this Oct. 1, the bourgeois media mentioned none of this tremendous progress achieved by the Chinese people. Everything was focused on accusing China’s Communist Party leaders of being dictatorial and autocratic.

What the capitalists around the world dare not admit is that China’s centrally planned economy is superior to the dog-eat-dog system of capitalism, in which privately owned corporations and banks hold a monopoly over production and must turn a profit for their obscenely rich owners.

China’s incredible advances have come despite its leaders deciding they had to compromise with world capitalism and let in foreign exploiters to get the capital to build up the country’s infrastructure. That has been a two-edged sword, resulting in a class of millionaires now in China, but it has not brought about a counterrevolution. State ownership and planning continue to hold the upper hand.

The increasingly hostile attitude of the U.S. rulers toward China comes from the fact that these capitalists had engaged in commerce with China and set up factories there not only to make money, but also with the intention of undermining the socialist underpinnings of the Chinese economy. And that hasn’t happened. 

Nor have Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods, and China’s responding tariffs on U.S. goods, broken down the will of the 90-million-member Communist Party to defend its socialist system. It is Wall Street and the stock market here, not China, that is trembling over the effects of the trade war.

Workers World newspaper’s very first issue in 1959 was headlined “Hail the Communes!” Those communes started People’s China on its trajectory toward a socialist future.

China’s massive celebrations on its 70th anniversary showed the enthusiasm of the people for their great achievements. They are looking not to the capitalist “West,” but to themselves and their own system to blaze new trails forward in a world shaken by the emergence of a global climate crisis. 

All the more reason for progressive people to reject China bashing and focus on how to make system change a reality everywhere.

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