CHINA: by Ian H. McDougallNews Weekly
Eighty-three million communist bludgers
, October 2, 2010
An old adage holds that the role of the spy is to "look without being seen". In a similar vein, one could say the role of the Chinese Communist Party is to rule without being seen. You can look anywhere in China, and you are not likely to find a Communist Party member with a badge on his or her uniform.
True to its heritage, the Chinese Communist Party remains a political organisation adhering to a Leninist conspiratorial model. The party conducts its business in secret. True to its roots it maintains a democratic centralist decision-making structure. The preferment of Communist Party cadres depends on how successfully they adhere to the party line.
Absurdities abound. Take, for example, energy use. Under the 11th five-year plan, which ends this year, energy usage per unit of GDP was to be reduced by 20 per cent between 2006 and 2010. By the end of last year, it had been reduced by only 15.6 per cent. For the first half of this year, it actually rose, leaving a target of 4.5 per cent by the end of this year.
Just how are these targets to be achieved? Take, for example, a typical university. One evening the electricity supply was reduced. The lights in the dormitory, which were never very bright anyway, went off. Students were told to use candles instead.
This was a typically silly way of cutting energy demand. Quite apart from the fire danger, candles are less efficient at producing light than electric globes; they increase energy usage rather than reduce it. Candles are also more polluting, hindering achievement of environmental goals, such as greening China and cutting down on smog.
More seriously for Australia, Chinese steel mills - massive energy-users - have been told to shut down or reduce output. These are the same mills that consume so much of Australia's two top exports, iron ore and coal.
In some Chinese cities, traffic lights were turned off to save power, and power to hospitals and homes has been rationed. In one steel-producing centre, the local government announced that it is under pressure from the central government in Beijing to reduce energy consumption because it missed targets in the first half of the year. In the fourth quarter, power use will meet the target "regardless of cost", they say.
One official from the powerful China Iron and Steel Association told a recent conference that energy cuts are "directly linked to their black gauze cap". This is a reference to local government officials' traditional clothing and the implication was that the officials sense that their jobs are imperilled if they don't meet the central authorities' energy efficiency targets.
What is life like under communism? Many government-initiated campaigns are launched, but, thankfully, most are of the "three days hot, three days cold" variety. That is, for a short time the campaign rages intensively, then after three days it's forgotten about.
Every institution in China has a party structure, parallel to the institution's management structure. This party structure is largely unseen by foreign observers, but it directs the activity in the institution, a sort of "invisible hand".
Personal advancement in government, education, management or the public service is impossible without Communist Party membership. The party structure spreads downwards from the central government in Beijing to every town and village in the country.
Everyone knows about party control. Party membership is usually bestowed in the late teens or early 20s, and is conditional on the candidate showing intelligence, achievement and a stable personality. In other words, the party tries to co-opt the elite. To win membership, the candidate must pass exams on Marxism and be able to quote the thoughts of Mao and Deng Xiao-ping.
Candidates for party membership see the party entrance exams like any other sort of exam. Very few young Chinese believe in socialism as we understand the term, and party exams are very boring.
Undoubtedly, the main reason for most young people to enter the party is the realisation that membership will improve job prospects. Careerist motives are the strongest among young people.
Not every young Chinese wants to enter the party. Some candidates, encouraged to apply for party membership, find the exams heavily laden with Maoist thought so ridiculous that they have been known to burst out laughing. The average non-Chinese party member - Chinese make up about 95 per cent of the membership - views the party with a mixture of fear and contempt.
The sheer size of China means that total control from Beijing is not possible. Even if the cadre implements the required instructions, the outcome is rarely the same in different jurisdictions.
China has about 170 cities with more than a million residents; the whole of Europe has only 35.
The Beijing regime is terrified of losing power. That is why they need 83 million communist bludgers to keep China's hard-working people under control.