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China at the crossroads

17 2 1
30.12.2018

BERLIN - Four decades ago, the Chinese Communist Party, under its new paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, decided to subordinate ideology to wealth creation, spawning a new aphorism, “To get rich is glorious.” The party’s central committee, disavowing Mao Zedong’s thought as dogma, embraced a principle that became Deng’s oft-quoted dictum, “Seek truth from facts.”

Mao’s death earlier in 1976 had triggered a vicious and protracted power struggle. When the diminutive Deng — once described by Mao as a “needle inside a ball of cotton” — finally emerged victorious at the age of 74, he hardly looked like an agent of reform.

But having been purged twice from the party during the Mao years — including once for proclaiming during the 1960s that “it doesn’t matter whether a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice” — Deng seized the opportunity to usher in transformative change.

The Four Modernizations program under Deng drastically transformed China, including spurring its phenomenal economic rise. China’s economy today is 30 times larger than it was three decades ago.

In 2010, China overtook Japan as the world’s second-largest economy behind the United States. If GDP is measured in terms of purchasing power parity, China’s economy is already larger than America’s, according to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Yet, four decades after it initiated reform and started opening up to foreign capital and influence, China finds itself at the crossroads, with its future trajectory anything but certain.

To be sure, when it celebrates in 2019 the 70th anniversary of its communist “revolution,” China can truly be proud of its remarkable achievements. An impoverished, backward nation in 1949, it has risen dramatically and now commands respect and awe around the........

© The Japan Times