5.9 What About China?  Isn't it Socialist and Communist and an Economic Superpower?

The Communists took over China in 1949.  The consequences of their policies under chairman Mao were poverty and mass starvation.  Mao ordered the killing of anyone who was still capitalist or who believed in traditional Chinese beliefs.  This purging of capitalists and others was called the Cultural Revolution.  People lived in terror of Mao's anger.  Mao ordered the killing of sparrows because sparrows ate seeds and so reduced the amount of food produced by farms.  Problem was when the sparrows were gone they were not there to eat the insects who also ate grains, in fact those insects ate a lot more grains.    Mao also forced people to work on communes or shared government run farms which were a lot less productive than privately owned farms.  Mao boasted about how successful his policies were and how much extra food the farms were producing when they weren't.  No one dared argue with him because he was ruthless toward those who criticized him.  Local officials gave Mao the surplus wheat that Mao said was there when it wasn't by taking away the wheat farmers needed to eat so those farmers starved to death.  People did not dare tell Mao what a disaster his policies were so he continued them.  If they had told him he probably would have killed them.  After Mao died, a reformer, Deng Xiaoping rose to power.  He instituted capitalist free market reforms.  He allowed farmers to run their own farms, allowed people to start their own businesses and allowed other countries to invest in business projects in China.  In a second set of reforms he allowed people to buy and own what had been government owned industries.  Private companies generally run industry a lot better than the government does.  He lifted price controls whcih means he allowed people to charge whatever they wanted to for the goods they were selling.  Price controls can be bad because if the price is set to low than people can't afford to make the product.  He stopped protectionist policies.  Protectionist policies are when a government taxes imports or prevents imports from coming in.  Lets say the U.S. grew wheat more cheaply than Chinese farmers.  A protectionist policy would be to not allow the U.S. to sell the wheat so that people in China will buy Chinese wheat and the Chinese farmers won't go out of business.  The problem with keeping out cheap wheat is that then the Chinese have to pay more money to eat. 

What Deng Xiaoping did was give a lot more freedom to the Chinese people.  What happened after Deng Xiaoping ordered the reforms was amazing.  Within 40 years, China went from a poor starving country to a superpower that lends money to the United States and many countries around the world.

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 Deng Xiaoping died in 1997.  Xi Jinping became president in 2012.  Will Xi continue the reforms that enriched China?

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