How Does Communism Affect the Lives of Chinese People?
The affects of communism on people's lives in the People's Republic of China are not as striking or blatantly nefarious as anti-communist propaganda of the early and mid-20th century would lead you to believe. In many ways, China is becoming increasingly westernized.
1 Censorship of Speech and Print
Though often depicted as a blatant handicap to media and social interaction, censorship in China is often very subtle and, although it tends to forbid criticism of the government, is itself governed by no exact rules.
Particularly now, in the Age of Information, China is flirting with the boundaries of what information to allow within its borders. Although much of the Internet is still censored or restricted, the government understands that, to play a role in global politics, information needs to be allowed in. The uncertainty about which sorts of information will prompt growth and what might endanger the regime, however, is the basis for what Elizabeth C. Economy, a senior fellow on the Council on Foreign Relations, calls "schizophrenia" in China's Internet Censorship practices.
2 What Gets Cut
As the American journalist Mitch Moxley writes in "Apologies to My Censor," his memoir about working in China for the Government-owned newspaper "China Daily," foreign journalists are not allowed to be reporters and are excluded from the editing process. He described much of Chinese censorship as being "self-imposed." Intuitive. Citizens know, or have a feeling, of what they can get away with and what might lead to legal repercussions.
A leaked set of government censorship guidelines from the Communist Party, published in the New York Times reveals that no negative news was to be published in the front page of any newspaper, nor was anything to be said of the many "detention center inmates dying during sleep."
Nothing is to be printed that shines a light on anything that might make the government look cruel, unstable, or secretive.
3 Communism's Toll on Previous Generations
Mao Zedong established the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949, after the communists won the Chinese Civil War.
Following a bountiful harvest in 1957, Mao proposed a socioeconomic plan called The Great Leap Forward, an effort to boost agricultural output. He enforced a plan to grow large quantities of crops, and often different kinds, in the same plots of land, often close together. It was believed -- in accordance with communist ideology -- that several plants growing in close proximity to one another would help each other to grow; the opposite turned out to be true. Planted too close together, the soil's nutrients have to be divided and the crops are consequently malnourished.
Mao's Great Leap Forward prompted a major famine and an estimated death toll of forty- to seventy-million Chinese citizens.
4 How to Determine the Effects of Communism
An argument might be made that certain norms in China, whether good or bad, are not the consequence of communism but of the leaders. To distinguish the ways in which communism affects the lives of Chinese people or any communist society, the reader should ask themselves whether such norms would be tolerated in a democracy.
The most distinguishing effect of communism on the citizens of China is their vulnerability to the whims and beliefs of their leaders.
- 1 China Under Communist Rule
- 2 Mao and the Great Leap Forward
- 3 The Great Leap Forward Period in China, 1958-1960
- 4 Counsel on Foreign Relations: Media Censorship in China
- 5 What Makes Censorship in China So Effective?
- 6 China Sharpens Legal Weapons for Information Control
- 7 What Chinese Censors Don't Want You to Know