Right now, there are only five countries that identify as communist out of earth’s 196 nations. That is because most of the world can see that communism is not, in fact, an achievable philosophy. It can’t be, as it is defined by living as a classless society where all are equal and there is no private ownership. Does this sound like China to you? One need only look as far as a few photos of modern-day China to see that it is in truth quite far from being a communist, at all.
Like any other society on the planet, China has its share of problems. Unlike any other country on the planet (except India), it has over one billion people. Creating true communism with numbers like that is simply not possible. Yet the Chinese consider themselves communist anyway, and really, so does the rest of the world, although we at least acknowledge that it is not really. The following 15 photographs will illustrate why.
Together with Cuba, Laos, North Korea, and Vietnam, the country whose name in Chinese is Zhong Guo (“Middle Nation”) is one of the very few “communist” countries left in the world. Their Communist Party, while nearly 90 million strong, is not even communist itself, as women make up less than 25% of it, and are in lower ranks. Other ethnicities make up less than seven percent (China has five ethnic-minority autonomous regions). That is the first bit of proof that the inequality that makes China so very un-communist is everywhere. Here are 15 more bits of proof- call them characteristics of communism that China lacks- in the form of pictures. They will show you just how opposite of communist China really is.
15. The Obvious
When we think of communism in China (or the lack thereof), most of the time the first thing to come to mind is the disparity between the rich and the poor. This is for the most part what makes it so clear that communism is both unachievable and not a reality in China. This photo perfectly illustrates that point. It depicts the people living in poverty, in a literal shantytown on the river. Juxtaposing this image in the background are the high-rise condos and apartments that make up the housing the vast majority of city-dwellers in China call home. Although just how new the high-rises are is unclear, what is clear is that they are much nicer than the shanty town. Brand new construction is obvious on the right-hand side of the photo. Even if it were not, the disparity between the rich and the poor- and the even the middle-class and the poor- is plain to anyone who has ever visited or seen photos of the People’s Republic of China. This alone proves that communism does, in fact, not exist in China, no matter the Chinese government’s goals or what they would have the world think.
14. The Homeless
Another stark example of the rich versus the poor in China besides the pictures of the differences in housing are the people themselves. This homeless man lies barefoot and dirty (and presumably hungry) outside of a McDonald’s restaurant, while inside people eat their meals. He does not appear to be begging, but his homelessness is not in question. The imagery is perfect to illustrate just how absent communism is in China, as he lays his head on Ronald McDonald’s lap. Ronald is arguably the symbol of the fast food chain and its reputation in some first-world countries for unhealthy eating and over-eating. The mannequin smiles without a care in the world, inviting the sleeping man in but he is not welcome there; the Chinese do not look kindly on the homeless, even those who are not begging. This picture is the exact reason why communism cannot and will never exist in China, or anywhere else for that matter.
13. Female Infanticide and Adoption
The fact that China is known worldwide for its practice of female infanticide (also sometimes called gendercide), as well as having so many more girl orphans than boys, is another bit of proof that the country of China is not communist in the slightest. This is because while China emphasized gender equality in their quest to be communist, this “equality” did not lead to respect for women. Even though the textbook definition of communism would say that the two sexes are equal, they are most definitely not, and that is no secret. There are many reasons families prefer boys, such as physical labor, and the fact that as elders, it is customary that they reside with the son and his family, not the daughter, so having a son means they will be taken care of. But the one-child policy only fueled the desire to make their one permitted offspring a male. The killing and abandonment of live baby girls as well as the abortion of girls, was commonplace in China because of this, and it still happens today. Clearly, this is not equality in any form, and is thus not communism.
12. The Man-to-Woman Ratio
Expanding on the previous point, the result of the one-child policy and all the baby girls who were either aborted, murdered, or abandoned (and then hopefully adopted), is that now China is experiencing a hugely disproportionate amount of men and women. What you are seeing in the above photo is just a photo snapped on some street in some Chinese city of people standing in a line. They could be anybody. The point is that this photo could be taken virtually anywhere, and the people in it would for the most part be overwhelmingly male. Of the 16 or 17 people standing out in the cold in this line, waiting for whatever it is they are waiting for, only one is discernibly female. It is completely representative of the male-to-female ratio in this “communist” country. Another example of inequality in China, this is another reason why it is cannot be called communist.
11. The President
The President of the People’s Republic of China is currently Xi Jinping. In general, communist countries do not have “presidents”. His other title of General Secretary is more analogous to Prime Minister than President. Still, according to answers.com, “any position labeled ‘president’ in a communist country is generally purely a ceremonial position.” As in America and many other countries, the president holds a lot of power, and while the technicalities between countries differ, holding that title in any place means you are a figure of great political authority. In China, the term president is considered a ceremonial position, but currently the president is also the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China. The General Secretary of the PRC is the paramount leader and the highest-ranking official in China. The fact that the term president is also used, however, is very un-communist of them. In true Communism, ideally there is no one leader. Since 1993, the two positions have always been held by the same person.
This is the Baoding Catholic Cathedral, located about an hour southwest of Beijing. Churches like this can be found all over the supposedly-communist country of China, and therein lies the problem with it being “communist”. Communism preaches no religion, after all, and in fact, true communism calls for the abolition of religion because Engels and Lenin deemed religion a drug or “spiritual booze”. So why are there so many churches there? The above church from the city I used to live in, the church on the touristy Wangfujing Shopping Street in central Beijing, and the famous St. Sophia’s Cathedral in Harbin are three that I can list just off the top of my head, and there are tens of thousands more. According to some reports, there are possibly more Christians than Communist Party members in China today. Communist leaders once tried to squash religion in their country, but failed miserably. Christianity in China has been around since the seventh century, and Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism are even older (and very much a part of modern Chinese culture). There are an estimated 50,000 churches across China, and as many as 100 million Christians. Communist? I think not.
9. Foreign Business is Rampant
Today China’s economy is the second-largest in the world, and not far off from becoming the first. Communism fiercely opposes capitalism, but China today has become completely capitalist, itself, and foreign business is significant there. This photo uses Ireland as an example of a smaller country that has a lot of stake in Chinese business, but many other countries do, as well. This photo proves it by taking the small, seemingly random northern European country and citing the numbers of its companies with a physical presence in China, and its merchandise trade. According to Forbes, five of the world’s largest public companies were Chinese, including the world’s largest bank by total assets. In 2014, Fortune’s Global 500 list included 95 Chinese companies (98 if you include Hong Kong). Many of these businesses are state-owned, but just as many are not.
8. Unequal Distribution (of Everything)
The central philosophy of communism is that all people should work for the collective good, and the collective output should be redistributed equally. As we know, this is not possible (how can a doctor, a janitor, and a babysitter, for example, all contribute equally in both time and effort, and reap the same benefits?). Clearly by the above picture, not everyone is equal in China. This elderly woman is literally doing back-breaking work, and I am willing to guess she earns peanuts compared to some of her fellow countrymen. There are different kinds of hard work (physical, mental, etc.). But in this case, as in many, I do not think anyone could argue that any of the millions of office workers (for example) in China work harder than this poor old woman, who I guarantee makes far less money than any of them. Such is life, but such is not communism.
7. Unequal Distribution of Money
A true communist society is both stateless and classless. Classes are defined by wealth, and so in a country where the distribution of work and thus pay is so unequal, how could there be no class? The woman in this photo is clearly not part of a society that has eliminated class structure. She is literally taking more Chinese Renminbi (approximately 6.84 RMB to every one US Dollar) from the bank than many Chinese people likely make in a year, especially those living outside of the cities. This goes back to the previous point about the unequal distribution of everything besides money, which leads to the vastly different amounts of money people have in life. Additionally, a in a true communist society, the economic system should be one in which, according to diffen.com, “Production is organized to provide for human needs directly without any use for money. Communism is predicated upon a condition of material abundance.” Well, there are plenty of Chinese people with plenty of material abundance, but they only have it because they have money.
6. Hatred for the Government
The idea of communism is nice, but since it can never work, it is insane that the government continues to delude themselves and their people that they are, in fact, communist. Although China does control its population with the government which aligns with the communist ideal of having a one-party system and dictatorship of the proletariat, it still cannot truly be called a communist country because it can never and will never maintain total control. One stark example of this is the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre in which thousands of people protested said government control. We all know how that ended, but it shows that not all are in accordance with their “communist” leaders. Then there are the stories you hear every once in awhile about people who have challenged the government and then “disappeared”. In the photo above, the ethnically-divided northwestern province of Xinjiang erupted into riots. There were knife-wielding mobs that attacked police and set fires because they are too “restricted” with their freedoms. These attacks have happened multiple times previously in the area, and are only a few of the examples of such rioting in certain parts of China. Repressed people attacking police do not a communist country make.
5. Unsuccessful Censorship
While I was living in China in 2008, they banned Facebook. The government was attempting to restrict its citizens access to it and many other sites they did not want them to see, for various reasons. To this day, Facebook is blocked there, or rather, they want it to be. There are ways around the censorship, and many of my friends still living in China have figured out how to access it. Clearly from this photo of a Facebook user in Shanghai, the Chinese government has not been wholly successful in its censorship efforts. In communism, theoretically, the means of control is that there is no control by the state. However, control is practically synonymous with the Chinese government, so censorship alone more or less proves they are not communist in the slightest.
4. Big Business
We already talked about foreign business and how it is possible in “communist” China to own one. But it is supposedly against big business as well, since communism in general strongly distrusts it. That is strange, since China is rife with big business, both foreign and domestic. Living in Beijing, I lived literally across the street from numerous foreign businesses. To name a few: Wal-Mart, Pizza Hut, IKEA, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, and three KFC’s. And that was just on one block of a city of 12 million. Wal-Mart opened its first Supercenter in 1996, over 20 years ago, and now there are over 400 Wal-Mart stores in China. For a country claiming to be communist (meaning they have an extreme distrust of capitalism, free trade, and foreign business), they sure do not act like it. While Chinese people look down on certain aspects of the West, they also flock to American businesses; just look at the crowded “parking lot” at this Wal-Mart.
3. Shortage of Brides
As we talked about earlier, there is a shortage of women, specifically women of marrying age. This is due to the prevalent female infanticide and gendercide that is not characteristic of a true communist society. This photo clearly depicts the imbalance in the number of China’s men to women. The only woman figure in the depiction is being fought over by over three dozen men for her hand in marriage. As it states at the bottom, soon a large portion of men will never have a wife simply because there are nearly 40 million more of them than there are women. The one-child policy is to blame, of course, but all of this points to China’s lack of true communism, because all members of the state should be equal to each other. I cannot think of a better example of such conflicting ideals with communism than this gender imbalance that is going to prove to be a very harsh reality for 37 million Chinese men very soon, especially since marriage is such an integral part of Chinese life.
2. A Love-Hate Relationship with the West
Not that it should be a hate-hate relationship, if such a thing exists, but true communists would not, as a whole, have the level of appreciation and awe that the Chinese do for a country like America that essentially stands for what they oppose, like capitalism, freedom of religion, and democracy. But despite all of the above, many Chinese people (more so the younger generation than the older) love all things America- the music, the food, the movies, the fashion, etc. They emulate it in any way they can, and dream of visiting or moving to the West one day. That does not sound like a population that is deeply rooted in their communist beliefs, which if they were truly communist would include seeing themselves as being in solidarity with other communist nations (few though they may be), and feeling mistrusting of nationalistic countries like America.
1. Inequality All Around
Obviously, inequality all around is the complete opposite of what communism is all about. There is no way in which China is a communist country based on communism’s definition, and it is not difficult to find photos that show that. The above photo, again illustrating the major discrepancy in housing between China’s wealthy, middle class, and poor, is one of the many. In Shanghai, the rubble of decades-old housing is in stark contrast with the shiny high -rises of the Pearl Tower, the Jin Mao Tower, the World Financial Center, and all the other fancy skyscrapers of the Pudong area. The country’s one billion-plus citizens live in a total class society- the elite, the poor, the country folk, the working class, the homeless, the wealthy. And still China considers itself a communist country, as does the world, even knowing that true communism is unachievable.