“Common prosperity” has been storming in Beijing since August. Many Chinese enterprise owners responded to the program enthusiastically with charity donations and pledged their allegiance to the Party through collective activities.
When the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping demanded “common prosperity,” he was eyeing the excessive wealth of the Chinese billionaires and calling the program “an essential requirement of socialism” that will illustrate how “China will strive to increase the income of those in the low-income group and expand the middle-income group.”
Observers recounted the fate of Chinese private sectors under communist rule since Mao Zedong’s era; among the many loyal entities kowtowing to the Party just to survive, there are still tough ones holding up their dignity.
On Oct. 14, the regime’s social media “@XinhuaFinancial” posted a picture of a group of Party member-entrepreneurs in a study session on Xi Jinping’s ruling philosophy at a Party academy in Zhejiang Province.
Prior to that, state media reported that more than 30 Party-affiliated Chinese entrepreneurs visited the memorial hall of the CCP’s first rubber-stamp legislature meeting for a lesson on Xi’s ruling philosophy on Oct. 8.
Although communism was founded as a party of the working class to counter oppression from the business class, the bourgeoisie; after the reform and opening up, the regime adopted former leader Jiang Zeming’s ruling philosophy of absorbing “excellent entities of private sectors into the Party” in 2001.
Hu Ping, honorary editor-in-chief of online magazine, Beijing Spring, told the Chinese edition of The Epoch Times that since the reform and opening up, the CCP has actually adopted the approach of capitalism.
Hu said, “Jiang Zemin allowed capitalists to join the Party. Isn’t that strange? Communism was supposed to eliminate the bourgeoisie.”
As for the state propaganda of the private sectors’ pledge of loyalty to the Party, columnist Wang He told The Epoch Times, “It’s a campaign for the movement of ‘common prosperity,’ and probably many more follow-up activities will follow.”
The Effect of Common Prosperity
Previously, The Epoch Times reported that following the crack down on internet giants and off-campus education institutions, Xi’s call for common prosperity in August was an alarm signal to China’s billionaires. Chinese internet platform providers such as Tencent, Alibaba, and Pinduoduo pledged hundreds of billions of dollars in response to Xi’s common prosperity campaign.
In a recent wave of charity work, Tencent again took the lead to provide a $7.8 million relief fund to Shanxi flood victims, followed by Chinese tech giants such as Ant and ByteDance. It was estimated that the Chinese tech firms collectively donated nearly $47 million in just two days.
On Oct. 11, private property developer Wanda Group’s founder Wang Jianlin announced that he and senior executives ranked vice president and above will to switch their vehicles to “China Red Flag cars.”
Hu Ping said, “Facing China’s economic difficulties, Xi Jinping exploited the so-called common prosperity to harass private sectors, harvesting their wealth in the name of social responsibilities such as taxation and philanthropy.”
He said Xi’s goal is to keep a good name for himself. The private sector’s charity was what Xi called, “A people-centered development philosophy,” and he called for “efforts to achieve common prosperity through high-quality development.”
Hu said it’s part of Xi’s image game, “His purpose is to build a society where only the Party has supremacy, only its leader is the greatest, and the Party is entitled to everything it sees.”
Wang He said that Xi coerces the Chinese rich to donate their wealth by labeling them the guilty rich, a political and social movement that the communists are all too accustomed to.
He said, “The purpose of the CCP is not to kill them. But he will enslave you like a blind-folded mule. Your sole existence is to make money for them.”
Philanthropic Entrepreneurs’ Fate in the Communist World
In Nov. 2020, Xi Jinping said that the private sectors should take Zhang Jian, a businessman and educator in the late Qing Dynasty, as their role model. Zhang was a promoter of the transition from a dynasty to the Republic of China, a constitutional movement leader. He devoted his wealth entirely to found more than 20 enterprises and over 370 schools.
Following Xi’s comment, the regime conducted a forum on “Zhang Jian’s spiritual significance of the time,” hosted by the CCP’s united front department on Dec. 12, 2020.
According to the state media report, “Chinese entrepreneurs are obliged to follow the country to advance and retreat, share prosperity and disgrace, and undertake fate and destiny.”
What the state media failed to mention was how the CCP treated Zhang Jian.
On Aug. 24, 1966, Zhang Jian’s tomb was destroyed by the Red Guards as one of the “Four Olds.” His granddaughter witnessed the ruin of his tomb.
Even today, a true philanthropic entrepreneur is not appreciated by the communist regime.
Sun Dawu, an outspoken Chinese billionaire, was sentenced to 18 years in prison on July 28.
The owner of Dawu Group, one of the largest private agricultural businesses in northern China, was charged with “provoking trouble” and “gathering a crowd to attack state organs.”
In 2000, Dawu Group had developed 16 factories with medical and education facilities to support the needs of 1,600 employees and their families. The hospital provided services to employees and local villagers at a cost of 1 yuan ($0.15) a month; a full medical examination, including ultrasound and blood tests, cost only $1.50; Dawu Group invested more than $4.7 million to provide schooling for students; and the average monthly room and board of a student was around $15.
Hu Ping believed that the regime could not tolerate the powerful private sector outside the Party. Their influence must be suppressed.
He used Alibaba’s Jack Ma as an example.
Jack Ma, China’s richest man, is also a Party member. In the China Financial Forty Forum in Oct. 2020, Ma said, “China lacks an effective regulatory system … which seriously severs innovation.” It was generally believed that his criticism brought Xi’s retaliation; consequently, he disappeared for nearly a year.
This April, when Alibaba Group saw its record high antitrust fine of $2.8 billion, it openly expressed gratitude to the regime.
Hu Ping believed that the regime would not arrest Jack Ma, a symbolic figure of Chinese private entrepreneurs. The authorities will not knock down Alibaba; but may split and reorganize it. Ma will not be as active as in the past, the regime will allow him to make a public appearance to show that he’s still alive.
Hu added, “Xi’s purpose is to grasp control of the private sectors.”
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.