In recent years, more and more left-wingers and even some socialists got interested in human rights abuses in China, most of them, because they sympathize with Tibet. And that’s of course a good thing. The problem is their interpretation of why these abuses occur. They point to Chinas economic reforms and the ongoing oppression. And they don’t even have to distort the facts. But then they draw a very wrong conlusion. They believe, that China is oppressive because of its economic reforms. This way, they can use communist China as an example for the old marxist theory, that “capitalism leads to fascism”. Very clever! But very far from the truth.

What they don’t know, because they don’t want to know:

– Before the reforms, China was even more dictatorial than it is today. In fact, it was far more so. No regime has ever killed more people than the CCP in the Mao Years: an unbelievable 70 million, according to the latest estimates. So the economic reforms did have some positive political effects, too.

– The CCP mixes aggressive nationalism with the very old-style communist ideology of authoritarian modernization. Why and how is this globalisation’s fault?

– China’s economy is not as free as most people believe. After Mao, China had to recover from complete devastation. And it has come a long way. But it’s reforms are still very incomplete. And that’s especially true for the countryside.

– China is proof that economic freedom and political tyranny can go together, at least in some ways and to some degree. But this of course doesn’t mean, that they usually do. China may just be an exception.

And I am not just speculating. A study done by Daniel T. Griswold shows “How Open Markets Till the Soil for Democracy”: Trading Tyranny for Freedom

Here you can also watch a video (and a powerpoint presentation) of a very informative talk given by Griswold at the Cato Institute, in which he also discusses the cases of China and Singapore:

How Free Trade Promotes Democracy