Why does China brand itself as being communist when it's arguably not any more communist than Japan or most social democracies in Europe?

General Motors sold more cars in China than in the United States in the first half of 2010, and China now accounts for one-quarter of the company’s global sales. That seems like a lot of capitalism for a country that calls itself communist. How communist is China, really?

Not very. Since the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976, China has all but abandoned the tenets of classical marxism, including collective ownership of the means of production. Nowadays, just about everything is at least partly privatized. Whereas the Chinese Communist Party under Chairman Mao owned every factory and farm in the nation, the economy is now a patchwork of public and private businesses. Schools can also be state-run or private. Entitlements have also been cut way back since the days of true communism, with minimal state-provided health care and social security programs. We associate socialist countries with confiscatory tax rates, but taxes aren’t especially high in China. (Chinese corporations pay 25 percent and individuals between 5 and 45 percent—numbers roughly comparable to those in the United States.)


Is there any advantage in doing so and did the Chinese government tell why it insists on referring itself as a socialist or communist government?

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    Or If the goal of communism is a stateless society, then why do we refer to authoritarian governments such as China as communist?? That said, it seems plenty Communist in not allowing free elections and in having political prisoners so claiming it's just like Japan and Europe is a stretch. Jun 15 '21 at 23:32
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    @divibisan that asks if China is communist, this question asks why China calls itself communist. Jun 15 '21 at 23:37
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    Because the ruling party (communist), while gives its people limited economic freedom, is made clear that the western style governing can't be allowed to prevail in China but its own idealogy (which is still at large and remains unclear even to its own members). By not overthrow the communist doctrine, it can stay holding the hardline stance on social-political matters, and won't need any excuses for the necessary tightening when it feels insecure (losing control).
    – r13
    Jun 16 '21 at 0:20
  • @r13: But the ruling party does not follow communist doctrine, and is Communist only in name. It's really a face-saving & legitimacy issue: if they openly abandoned the Communist label, they'd have to disavow Mao & his takeover. You might roughly compare it to the way US political parties treat the Constitution: paying lip service to it while ignoring the parts they don't happen to agreee with.
    – jamesqf
    Jun 16 '21 at 17:06
  • @jamesqf I don't know how much China has deviated from the communist doctrine, yet it can't be seen as a democracy nor socialist country for the ways it handles internal unrests (Tibet, HK), and external threats (Taiwan).
    – r13
    Jun 16 '21 at 17:27

I think China is proud of its material successes in both the market arena and in state planning, dominating many (honestly, most) industries besides banking/finance. In combination with Japan and Korea, they are first class participants in what would seem to be a decisive overall shift of the center of global non-financial economic activity to East Asia.

Both "Chinese style communism", and "Chinese style capitalism" differ from their European origins. They would seem, from afar, as a fusion of ideologies. The "Communist" portion refers, in particular, to a high-modernist vision of state planning and technocratic rule, whose philosophical roots are out of style in the west, for very good historical reasons. The upshot is a willingness to trade off individual freedoms for a vision of social harmony rooted in local history and culture, combined with material benefits.

Against all odds, and after a brutal first half of the 20th century and rocky path in the beginning of the 2nd half, this conception matured into a remarkably successful system. Improving quality of life for over a billion souls by nearly all measurable standards.

This is in contrast to countries elsewhere in the "global south", many of which started (circa 1950 when the CPC took over) at a similar or even higher level of development, and went on to roughly follow the prescriptions of western "capitalist" dogma. Although to be fair, the latter did not necessarily have the development of some of these countries as its exclusive priority - in contrast with the Chinese system, which displayed persistent focus and long term planning and execution.

This is in some ways similar to the ideological challenge to the west created by the then-rising USSR in the post-WWII period. The contrast with China's roughly more western-capitalist neighbor Japan, could help channel such thoughts in a more productive direction. Japan rose to the top level of the industrialized world decades ago, and really paved the way for both China and Korea by providing a model that both are following. I'd suggest that China-Japan comparisons would be more enlightening for the kinds of discussion implied by the question.

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