GOOD MORNING FROM LONDON
There is a positive story to relate regarding the rise of China + this column has focused on raising living standards, increased freedoms, 140m Chinese tourists travelling overseas, and through its Belt+Road Initiative the sharing of China’s progress with the developing countries in the world.
Does that mean China is idyllic? A Utopia? A country moving seamlessly to abundance, achievement + fulfilment. A Firm No. Life is not like that. China’s success is not without its problems.
And in the next few days, this column will consider matters that have to be confronted by Beijing – wage differentials; a growing uneducated minority + the challenge of rising expectations.
Wage differentials have widened considerably since the Reforms of Deng Hsiaoping took control in 1979. At one level China’s people have enjoyed unparalleled prosperity. They “have never had it so good”. But is that progress achieved at the cost of a return to a class-based society? Has China allowed Billionaires to flourish + thereby created a drop-down development that rewards people at the top with much more than people at the bottom? And is this Socialism? Is China rejecting equality + embracing inequality? Quite fair questions.
There is an answer. China’s growth surge was essential to show people there was an alternative to the destructive diet of political confrontation that was the Cultural Revolution. Life could be good for the Chinese people but they had to feel it, see it, enjoy it. And they have. But correctives will occur. The Party remains in charge + will address these key problems. In recent months Xi Jinping has slapped down Billionaires who want political power – without favour. In the same way, the Party will allow prosperity to flourish but wage differentials will narrow – not to create equality as such but to balance work + reward and maintain social stability.
Absolute equality is an illusion. There will be grades; there will be differences in reward. But not classes, not old fashioned exploiters/exploited. China is in uncharted waters and the world watches.