China has moved millions out of poverty by moving away from socialism, writes Joshua Muravchik, author of “Heaven on Earth.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders is well known for praising the Chinese government. But China’s progress in addressing poverty should raise a few eyebrows, or at least Bernie’s socialist ones. Bernie’s surprise at China’s heightened inequality is not for obvious reasons, notes Mr. Muravchik. Sanders’ assessment of the Chinese economy “knocks the pins out from under his political and economic philosophy.”
China Addressing Extreme Poverty
In an interview last month with The Hill, Mr. Sanders conceded that China “is moving unfortunately in a more authoritarian way in a number of directions. What we have to say about China, in fairness to China and its leadership, is . . . they have made more progress in addressing extreme poverty than any country in the history of civilization.”
From the World Bank: “88% of Chinese lived on less than $1.90 a day in 1981. Today less than 1% do. (These figures are in 2011 dollars, adjusted for purchasing power parity.)”
According to Forbes, China has more billionaires (in U.S. dollar terms) than any other country except the U.S., and is minting new ones far faster. At the beginning of this century, Forbes found only one in China. Today it counts more than 300.
At home, Mr. Sanders urges a “political revolution” and a “wholesale transformation of our society” from capitalism to socialism—the reverse of what China did 40 years ago. He burns with hostility for capitalists. We must “no longer tolerate the greed of Wall Street, corporate America and the billionaire class,” he rails.
Beijing’s Capitalist Experiment
International Monetary Fund (2018): “China has moved from being a moderately unequal country in 1990 to being one of the most unequal countries. The IMF dates that trend to 1980, shortly after Beijing began its capitalist experiment.”
Unlike most of Mr. Sanders’s past words of praise for communist regimes—for Cuba’s health-care and education systems, the Soviet Union’s “youth programs” and “cultural programs,” and Nicaragua’s empowerment of “the poor people”—Mr. Sanders’s comment about China has a basis in fact.
If Mr. Sanders admires China for bringing its population the material benefits of capitalism, Mr. Muravchik argues, why then would Bernie want to saddle his own countrymen with socialism?
Joshua Muravchik is author of “Heaven on Earth: The Rise, Fall, and Afterlife of Socialism.”
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