China is rife with problems. Be it religious persecution, an Orwellian way of treating its citizens, and its penchant for communism, it’s not exactly the model country.
While 2020 candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, acknowledges that China has its problems, but seems to believe that the communist country has done more for its poor than any other country in the history of the world.
“China is a country that is moving unfortunately in a more authoritarian way in a number of directions,” Sanders told Hill.TV’s Krystal Ball. “But what we have to say about China in fairness to China and it’s leadership is if I’m not mistaken they have made more progress in addressing extreme poverty than any country in the history of civilization, so they’ve done a lot of things for their people.”
Bernie Sanders tries to praise communist China, ends up accidentally praising free-market principles: “They have made more progress in addressing extreme poverty than any country in the history of civilization, so they’ve done a lot of things for their people” pic.twitter.com/FqNQkOKBwG
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) August 27, 2019
As Ryan Saavedra of the Daily Wire points out, Sanders misunderstands how China helped its poor. It was never communism that helped the poverty levels, it created them. It was China’s turn to capitalism that helped the poor out of its rut, and Saavedra points to a Forbes article that describes how it happened:
…never before in history have so many people escaped poverty in such a short time as in the past decades in China. According to official World Bank figures, the percentage of extremely poor people in China in 1981 stood at 88.3%. By 2015 only 0.7% of the Chinese population was living in extreme poverty. In this period, the number of poor people in China fell from 878 million to less than ten million…
…China’s success provides clear evidence of the power of capitalism. Under Mao, the state had an omnipotent grip over China’s economy. What has happened over the past few decades can be summed up in a few sentences: China has progressively embraced the tenets of free-market economics, introduced private ownership, and gradually reduced the influence of the once all-powerful state over the Chinese economy. That the state still plays a major role today is simply because China is in the midst of a transformation process that began with complete state dominance of the economy.
In fact, it appears Sanders is a lot more careful about what he left out about China than what he praised, as pointed out by Paul Crookston of The Washington Free Beacon:
He did not address how China’s communist government has oppressed religious people and minorities, putting at least one million Uighur Muslims in concentration camps while instituting one of the most comprehensive surveillance states in history. In China, the Communist Party requires all religions to pledge ultimate loyalty to President Xi Jinping, who is atop a one-party system that does not allow political opposition.
China’s poor may have been helped out by China embracing capitalism more than it used to, but the falling poverty levels is a testament to capitalism, not the power of a communist government. The power of communism, which Sanders is dangerously close to applauding, results in every other problem you just read.
Sanders has a habit of skirting around the facts about the economic and governmental systems he heaps praise on. Every question thrown at him usually results him uttering the same few phrases that help him dodge the question. “Big corporations,” and “the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer,” etc, etc.
I get the feeling Sanders knows his governmental system has massive flaws, but at this point, backing off from it would mean losing support, and more importantly for Sanders, money.