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PREFACE

Over the past 30 years, the economic transformation of China has greatly improved the lives of the Chinese people. However, under the reign of Xi Jinping, China has begun to assert its power on the international stage. The Xi administration has also instituted many reforms such as the Social Credit system, asserted China's claim over nearby territories and the South China Sea, built up the military, encouraged the technological advancement of industry, purged his rivals(aka "anti-corruption campaign"), and has taken on a lot of national debt. The Xi regime has also begun to limit expat visas and encouraged greater nationalist sentiment within China.

I understand that this has been done to strengthen the Chinese nation, protect the economic gains of the past few decades and, in theory, ensure future growth.

Looking at the comparison of Communism vs Fascim a few obvious things jump out at me:

  1. Ideas: within Communism, "The government should own all means of production and land and also everything else. People should work for the government and the collective output should be redistributed equally."

This is only partially true in modern China. Yes, the Chinese government owns all the land, but they have relinquished total-control over the means of production and do not redistribute collective output equally. The fact that China now has billionaires says it all.

Fascism, on the other hand, is a "Union between businesses and the State, with the state telling the business what to do". This seems to more accurately describe China.

  1. Economic Coordination: While neither description accurately describes modern-day China, I'd say the Fascist system better describes their current system.

    1. Social Structure: I have no doubt that the Chinese government downplays the idea of Class and differences between people's station in life. However, there's no doubt that being a member of the Communist Party comes with many privileges. Bureaucrats and Communist Party officials take bribes and use their position for personal gain. While this is not uniquely Communist by any means, in practice, it does constitute a class of people positioned above the rest of society -- a Bourgeoisie of sorts.

My own observations indicate an increase in nationalism within China. While, it is currently not "Extreme Nationalism", if it suits their goals and is encouraged by the Chinese Communist Party, it seems like this could change.

One might argue that they've become more Capitalist, which in some respects is true. Except, under the surface the reality is very different. For more specifics about what I mean by this point, check out the following video https://youtu.be/4cwXifDaCjE. It should provide some context.

Definition

capitalism n. An economic system in which the means of production and distribution are privately or corporately owned and development occurs through the accumulation and reinvestment of profits gained in a free market. n. The state of having capital or property; possession of capital. Source: The American Heritage Dictionary

NOTE: For all you nitpickers reading this, the aforementioned points are intended to paint a general picture based on my personal observations. I'm sure we could argue until we're blue in the face about specifics. So please don't. Also, there's more to Fascism than racism and it would be appreciated if we could focus on all aspects, including: social, economic and governmental.

QUESTION

Given the prefaced points above, is communist China headed down a path towards Fascism? Especially, if they become more nationalist and militaristic.

  • I think there are important discussions worth having about the topics addressed here, but this question is not going to have a (mostly) objective answer. – BurnsBA Oct 31 '19 at 19:57
  • N.B. For a more in-depth discussion of capitalism see economics SE e.g. economics.stackexchange.com/questions/19913/… and the related questions linked from there. The dictionary definitions have some limitations. – Fizz Oct 31 '19 at 23:01
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    That is a VERY bad faith question. It is a bit surprising every time to see people trying to place an equality sign between socialism and fascism. Between capitalism and fascism - OK - final form of capitalism, a plutocracy, have good ties to fascism. – user2501323 Nov 6 '19 at 8:07
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    @user2501323 that's an unfair criticism. This is NOT a bad faith question. The official name of China's government is "The People's Republic of China". The ruling part is the "Chinese Communist Party". Over the past few decades they've had a massive economic boom due to the adoption of Capitalist ideals and a market system. Are they a Republic or a Communist state? Are they a Capitalist economy or a Communist controlled-economy? Such Orwellian dishonesty raises many questions. I, for one, would like some clarity on the matter. You don't belong to the CCP thought police by any chance, do you? – holaymolay Nov 29 '19 at 22:57
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This is obviously a controversial topic so opinions on it will certainly be divided if we consider Chinese self-labeling (they strongly reject being called "fascist"). But on the matter of economics, there's little doubt that they moved to a mixed economy, which they have trouble justifying on a pure Marxist basis.

So if you assume authoritarianism + mixed economy (with a large state-controlled sector) = fascism, then yes. Actuall, if you add oppression of minorities, in this case Uighurs or Tibetans (which again China denies it is doing), you have another dimension.

The Chinese, of course, strongly object to this conclusion, e.g.

A recent commentary from The Sydney Morning Herald’s international editor, Peter Hartcher, described China (along with Islamic State and Russia) as “fascist,” sparking an angry response from China’s Foreign Ministry. Yet the piece likely sparked cheers among people with similar views. [...] But the logic behind this piece does not stand firm. [...]

Criticizing China for its political reality, developmental model, and “non-cooperative” behavior is easy, but seeing and truly understanding the differences and divergences between civilizations is far more difficult — so much so that quite often people choose not to even try. Instead, they import a Western concept (in this case, fascism) to try and conceptualize a non-Western system.

Now, is China centralized? In general, yes — but how centralized? Actually, China is far less centralized than many outside observers assume. To cite one example: for years, fiscal decentralization between the central government and local provinces has played a critical role in the unbalanced flow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the Chinese market. This decentralization has had several readily observable consequences, including different levels of economic growth and green development among the various regions. In his 2012 book, Pierre F. Landry described China’s political system as “decentralized authoritarianism.”

As for the final point, the nation (and the family) has a uniquely important role in China’s contemporary political philosophy. But this is not new, much less an invention of the current regime. Reverence for authority, emphasis on leaders’ moral quality, and collectivism have all been rooted in China’s political culture for thousands of years and these concepts have had natural and inevitable impacts on contemporary Chinese politics. Yet somehow this has made China unpopular in the eyes of the West and some Western media.

And the degree of authoritarianism is also a matter of some dispute. With all the suppression from the state and censorship, worker protests have been fairly numerous e.g.

China Labour Bulletin, an advocacy group in Hong Kong that tracks protests, recorded at least 1,700 labor disputes last year, up from about 1,200 the year before. Those figures represent only a fraction of disputes across China, since many conflicts go unreported and Mr. Xi has intensified censorship. [...]

As protests have multiplied, Mr. Xi, China’s most powerful leader since Mao, has sought to reassure workers that he understands their plight. [...]

Labor protests in China are common, and to avoid protracted conflicts, local officials often put pressure on businesses to settle disputes. But companies may be more unwilling — or unable — to do so now as they struggle to find money. [...]

Mr. Xi has expanded the party’s oversight of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, the party-controlled organ that is supposed to mediate disputes for its more than 300 million members but often sides with management. He has also dismantled nonprofit labor advocacy groups, which in the past provided advice to workers and helped with collective bargaining.

In a crackdown in Shenzhen in late January, the authorities detained five veteran labor rights advocates and accused them of “disturbing public order,” a vague charge the party often uses against its critics. [...]

Despite the restrictions, activists have had some success in organizing protests across provincial lines, often with the help of social media. Crane operators across China coordinated a Labor Day strike last year that involved tens of thousands of workers from at least 10 provinces.

[...] Mr. Xi has particularly sought to suppress a resurgence of labor activism on college campuses, including a high-profile campaign for workers’ rights led by young communists at elite universities.

The activists have used the teachings of Mao and Marx to argue that China’s embrace of capitalism has exploited workers. Last summer, they tried to help workers in southern China organize an independent labor union, saying that corrupt local officials were colluding with managers to abuse workers.

The authorities have repeatedly tried to quash the protests, leading to the disappearances and detentions of more than 50 people associated with the campaign.

The authorities have responded so forcefully to the young communists in part because their demands are ideological, not material, said Professor Fu, who has studied unrest in China.

“To the government, calling out the party for not being Marxist is like children openly denouncing their birth parents,” she said. “It is seen as outright defiance and rejection of the state-led socialism.”

The degree of dissent de facto allowed in China, especially on economic issues, is somewhere in between a strongly authoritarian system (be it either North Korea or Nazi Germany) and democracies.

On militaristic adventures, insofar China has been fairly restrained compared even to Fascist Italy. Their building of islands etc. is a form of cold war, but they haven't invaded/colonized anyone yet.

So there are some reasonable analogies to draw with fascist states of the past, but there are also some difference, often of degree.

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    As for invasion, I assume you mean post-Maoist China? They invaded and occupied Tibet in 1950, followed by colonization, invaded India in 1962 to secure its claimed borders through occupation, invaded the SU in 1969 to take a bunch of tiny islands in some rivers, and invaded Vietnam in 1979, shortly after Xiaoping's initial reforms. I would guess the reason they haven't invaded anybody since then is because they don't have any unfulfilled claims that aren't held by US allies or Bhutan, where they are currently just ignoring Bhutanese territory and building stuff, since Bhutan isn't fighting. – gormadoc Nov 1 '19 at 14:35
  • but they continue to occupy those lands, and in the case of autonomous regions they continue to colonize and assimilate. They continue to bring in CP Han into Tibet in order to "improve" the region. – gormadoc Nov 1 '19 at 14:44
  • @gormadoc: Well, yes, because Maoist China was not known for much private property. Their invasion of Vietnam is a fair[er] point, perhaps. An interesting issue is that in part China did that to spite the Soviet Union (with whom they were already splitting ideologically), and they also told Cater about it in advance (as well warned the Soviets not to intervene). As for your second point, I've already mentioned the Chinese treatment of some minorities in my answer. – Fizz Nov 1 '19 at 14:44
  • Honestly, I actually thought the invasion of Vietnam was the weakest point. Since it was punitive rather than objective-oriented, it seemed like a relatively run-of-the-mill, if outdated, action. Fascist states have more concrete goals. I do like your answer, though I don't agree that they haven't colonized anyone. – gormadoc Nov 1 '19 at 17:12
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    Could it be argued that maybe it wasn't so much a fascist system before Xi Jinping, but because now that the power is becoming more centralized upon him, it's making moves (like we've also seen in a lot of other countries these days) into fascism? – The_Sympathizer Nov 2 '19 at 1:00

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