The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is “celebrating” its 100th anniversary with fireworks and parades on July 1. Those who won’t be celebrating are the executed, the war dead, and the would-be grandchildren of the millions who died childless, or who were never born, because of tens of millions who starved to death during the 1950s famine, and hundreds of millions more families who suffered through the country’s one-child policy. Not celebrating are the tens of millions who died during the Cultural Revolution of 1966 to 1976, or the thousands who died at Tiananmen Square in 1989, mown over by machine guns, or run over by tanks. Not celebrating are the millions today languishing in prison and detention camps because of their human rights activism, or their practice of banned religions, including house Christians, Uyghur Muslims, and those who operate this paper. Not celebrating will be anyone who really cares about all these voiceless Chinese people, some of whom are part of the voiceless 1.4 billion Chinese people who are now suffering under the CCP yoke.
Also not celebrating will be anyone with initiative and drive, those would-be entrepreneurs in China subject to a glass ceiling for business. China’s “billionaires,” who must bow and scrape to access a side box from which to view the CCP’s big anniversary hoo-hah, will be made and unmade at the viewing stands, where international investors pay attention to exactly who is snapping selfies from the prime (for capitalists) spots in the peanut gallery. Those who claw up to the pride of place are favored by the regime, and those who do not, are at risk. Their assets and even lives can be taken by the CCP at the drop of a green Mao hat.
In January, the former head of China Huarong Asset Management Company, Lai Xiaomin, was executed. Huarong currently has a market capitalization of $5 billion, and $21 billion in dollar debt. The execution was supposedly for corruption and bigamy, but was more likely political, and approved at the very top. The CCP got the blood of one more person on its hands for its 100th year of spreading red ideology around the world. I doubt Lai Xiaomin’s three children will be celebrating on July 1.
Are China’s billionaires then really billionaires? Or are they terrified CCP flunkies? I think the latter. The rest of the world’s billionaires should take note. Nobody is safe as the CCP continues its concentration of power.
Those favored at the CCP anniversary will see a jump in their company’s stock values, and a decrease in their cost of borrowing capital. Those not favored will experience a hastened fall from grace. This dynamic of capitalists bowing to high government officials is not only found in Beijing but is increasingly duplicated by western companies seeking business in the world’s largest (by purchasing power parity) and fastest-growing major economy. What Beijing billionaires are doing today, Western billionaires will all be doing tomorrow, unless something is done to stop the CCP. The July 1 anniversary provides a taste of what is to come.
“Paranoid investors will be parsing which moguls show up at the 100th anniversary to figure out who’s in and who’s out among China’s many billionaires,” writes Shuli Ren in an insightful article for Bloomberg on June 29. Investors, “financial bloggers and speculators have specific sightings in mind: The Chinese billionaires who desperately want to be seen at the right flag-waving ceremonies. Who’s there—and who’s not—could spark market pyrotechnics.”
Ms. Ren notes that an invitation to the “party’s big party” is a “tremendous privilege” and a “sign of official favor.” Bloomberg is here starting to sound the jester discussing court politics from the Middle Ages, or today’s society pages in New York or London.
“Baidu Inc.’s Robin Li has been invited three times to China’s Independence Day celebrations,” Ms. Ren writes. “Also prominent among the chief executives and tycoons at the parades is Dong Mingzhu of Gree Electric Appliances Inc. of Zhuhai, a prominent female entrepreneur.”
At the 2019 celebration, the founder of China Evergrande Group Hui Ka Yan scored an invitation to the Tiananmen Square gate tower, “the primary viewing stand for the elite of the elite,” according to Ms. Ren. She wrote of his photo, “Hui looked so young for a 60-year-old—as well as rich, powerful and handsome. Indeed, the prestige and apparent clout attested by Hui’s prominent placement in Tiananmen may have helped Evergrande’s troubled dollar bonds recover in late 2019.”
Gone is the discussion of a company’s underlying value, based on earnings and growth prospects. Now what matters is who is seen, and how close they are to the “great helmsman of the Party” Xi Jinping. This is communism. Socialists and Democrats should take note. Communism today has nothing to do with equality. Quite the opposite.
There’s no mention in the Bloomberg article of the 100 years of misery that the CCP has brought to China. The CCP might as well be celebrating the death of democracy in their country, which for one moment in the summer of 1989 saw a flowering, mown over by China’s tanks. Those are the craven depths ignored by Beijing billionaires, and others who have fallen as they seek greater access to China’s market, access given by a CCP gatekeeper. Mark Zuckerberg, who took a smiling smog jog through Tiananmen Square in 2016, was a relatively recent Western celebrant of the CCP. He failed, but in the attempt provided good publicity for the Chinese regime on the backs of China’s dead democracy protesters.
The Party claims to have raised hundreds of millions out of poverty, but in fact, compared to China’s peers, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, the CCP’s disastrous economic policies and war-fighting have held the country back.
The CCP, founded in 1921, were not very successful in organizing the working class in China’s cities. So, they turned to the countryside, where they got so much support, against government corruption and excesses imposed by landlords on the peasants, that they were able to militarily grab the southern part of Jiangxi Province in 1931, including a population of 10 million. It became the Jiangxi Soviet, backed by Joseph Stalin and his Comintern. The Chinese nationalists chased the CCP from Jiangxi in 1934, but the latter escaped towards Yan’an, a retreat they called the “Great March.” The CCP largely hid out in Yan’an during the anti-colonial war against Japan, letting the nationalists do most of the fighting.
After the war, the communists defeated the weakened nationalists in 1949, and falsely claimed credit for defeating the Japanese. As soon as the CCP armies marched into Beijing, western capitalists, including British and Americans, started falling over themselves to befriend the communists and thereby protect their investments in Shanghai, Hong Kong, and the rest of China, which amounted to tens of millions of dollars even then. They haven’t stopped kowtowing to the communists, who took the investments anyway, eventually doing business with capitalists in only short-term transactions that benefited both parties (but harmed democracy and the Westerners’ home country advantages).
Communist economic and military policy, imposed on all of China since the 1950s, and increasingly on the globe since the country’s economic rise starting in the 1970s, has been a disaster that is causing wars and a global nuclear arms race, rather than peace and development. China’s consistently-high GDP growth rate since 1977 (according to Beijing self-reporting) is due to the CCP finally letting the market take its course, and the world’s increased trade with the country in order to take advantage of politically powerless Chinese factory workers, and perhaps in the hopes of bringing the CCP around to some sense of human rights and democracy through economic engagement. Those hopes are now almost universally dashed.
None of these inconvenient historical facts appear to matter to the billionaires of today, whether of Chinese or Western extraction. They will be clapping and cheering the tank parade and fireworks of July 1. They are too busy climbing the bloodied and slippery political ladders in Beijing for special business favors, to pay any attention to those on the bottom in China. They will be “celebrating” on July 1 in what is really a desecration of China’s dead, and an insult to China’s 100 years of misery and 1.4 billion voiceless citizens.
Anders Corr has a bachelor’s/master’s in political science from Yale University (2001) and a doctorate in government from Harvard University (2008). He’s a principal at Corr Analytics Inc., publisher of the Journal of Political Risk, and has conducted extensive research in North America, Europe, and Asia. He authored “The Concentration of Power” (forthcoming in 2021) and “No Trespassing,” and edited “Great Powers, Grand Strategies.”
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.