Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Socialism with Chinese inequalities

There was a time in China when the demands for egalitarianism meant that PLA uniforms had no signs of rank. Officers could only be identified because they carried ball point pens in their shirt pockets. Oh, and the highest ranking officers sometimes wore wrist watches. That fit with the ideological demands for equality.

Today, not so much. Even in rural villages, imported cars, designer clothes, big houses, and golf courses are associated with those who have "gotten rich first."

A new report suggests that one of the Chinese characteristics of socialism might be greater inequalities than anyone had recognized. What effect will that have on building a harmonious society? What effect will that have on the rule of the Communist Party?

Hidden Trillions Widen China's Wealth Gap - Report
China's richest citizens are even wealthier than the statistics suggest, and may hold as much as 9.3 trillion yuan (897.7 billion pounds) of hidden assets, according to a Credit Suisse-sponsored study by a top economic think-tank.

Official statistics for 2008 failed to capture income equivalent to about 30 percent of China's gross domestic product, the "Analysing Chinese Grey Income" report found.

And nearly two thirds of that unreported income goes into the pockets of the richest 10 percent, widening China's already troubling wealth gap, said Wang Xiaolu, the economist at the China Society of Economic Reform (CSER), who headed the survey…

Average per-capital income for the richest 10 percent, at 97,000 yuan, was 65 times of that of the poorest 10 percent, Wang's survey showed -- instead of the 23 times figure given by official National Statistics Bureau's household income survey…

The report suggested actual urban income was around double official levels. The gap between earnings recorded in National Bureau of Statistics Data, and Chinese citizens' real earnings and assets, also grew rapidly from the "middle income group" and up, to become a yawning gulf for the richest.

The grey income comes from sources including stock market manipulation, property deals, vast bonuses from state-owned firms with a monopoly on the market, and even large wedding and other gifts to powerful officials and their relatives…

"Grey money is usually closely connected to the following: corruption, abuse of power, public investment, shares in land development (projects) and other monopoly interests," Wang told the Beijing Evening News...

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