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Comparing Communism in China and Russia

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Comparing Communism in China and Russia
14.07.2020
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In the last few years, the discussions about the comparison between China and USSR models of communism have been resumed. Some of the political scientists and historians say that the Soviet Union form of communism is opposite to the Chinese one, and within the scope of comparison, the USSR’s model is a total failure. The others say that both systems are based on the same rules and principles. Despite the different views, the scientists representing both sides make sense, since two models of socialism have their similarities and differences. Both USSR’s and Chinese models are examples of modern communism, and the analysis of these systems helps to find out if such political systems could be effective in modern conditions. Still, as it can be observed through history, the differences were significant, as the results and achievements of these two models varied greatly. Comparing these models ultimately brings scientists to the issue of global social development.

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Communism in China and Russia

The USSR’s Model

There is no accurate definition of what Soviet communism was, as there are several main characteristics of the system. First of all, the significant role in the Russian communism was played by the leader of the Communist party Vladimir Lenin, especially in the process of building socialism, implementing the New Economic Policy period, and conducting the “war communism”.

According to another definition of the Soviet model, it is the socialist system with the focus on Soviet government’s intervention in the economy and politics of the country, developed after the October Revolution. This model started to work at the time of Vladimir Lenin and was further developed by Joseph Stalin.

Secondly, the Soviet model is the Stalinist model, and many scientists agree with this statement. The Soviet — or Stalinist model — was being developed by Stalin starting with the late 20-ies to the early 50-ies of XX century. After the Stalin and post-Stalin periods, some reforms had been implemented, but the model did not substantially change, which eventually led to stagnation and ossification. Soviet socialist model is a political approach formed in the course of building socialism at the time of the leadership of Stalin. It is a form of implementation of the socialism in the Soviet Union, with Stalin as its main creator. In addition, the history shows that all the reforms implemented after Stalin’s death were based on his model of governance, so when talking about the Soviet model of socialism, scientists usually mean the Stalinist model.

While considering the starting point of Russian socialism, there is not general opinion between historians. Some of them believe that the Soviet communism model had a start in 1917, which included Lenin’s methods of building socialism after the October Revolution. Others insist that the emergence of the Soviet model relates to the period after Lenin’s governance, starting from 1923. However, despite the discussions of the time of formation of the Soviet model, the humanistic and democratic reforms implemented by Gorbachev are not included in the general characteristic of Russian socialism.

The Chinese Model

In the 80-ies of the XX century, the international community raised a question of Chinese political development, thus creating a concept of the “China communism model”. Later, at the beginning of XXI century, this issue has become of utmost significance, as China plays an increasingly important role in the international arena. However, the disputes about what is the Chinese model have not been finished yet, as even the term “model” has many shades. The model stands for the “path of development”, “development experience”, “the concept of development”, and sometimes “specific courses and policy.” Therefore, the phrase “Chinese model” is a synonym to “Chinese experience”, “Chinese way”, or “Beijing Consensus”, etc. (Ramo, 2004).

For example, historian Ma Shanlun was comparing the concept of socialism with Chinese characteristics and socialistic model of the Soviet Union, and he concluded that the Chinese model is a model of socialist construction in China with specific Chinese peculiarities, without copying the experience of other countries and other Western models (Ezra, 2011). Another scientist, Juan Tszunlyan, believes that the model refers to the political and economic systems, to the basic theory and experience. In other words, the Chinese model represents socialism with Chinese characteristics.

The Chinese model was formed and developed in China, and it mainly revolves around Chinese problems. The term “China model” is derived from a comparison with other models, such as the American model, the German model, the Japanese model, etc. The beginning of the implementing and development of the Chinese model commenced since the third politburo committee of the Communist Party of China of eleventh convocation in 1978. The Chinese model was formed and developed in the new historical period of reforms, and partly during the process of liberalization.

The Chinese model is a way of social development which considers the impact of reforms and freedom of the last 30 years. However, it is difficult to simplify the Chinese model, considering that it presents the connection between the liberty in the economy and despotism in politics. Moreover, there is no any trivial way to understand the Chinese model of building socialism.

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The Differences between Chinese and Russian Models

The Soviet model was the first model of socialism in the world, and it was proclaimed as universal for all the countries which chose a socialistic way of development. At the starting point of socialist construction in China, the Chinese Communist Party had basically copied the model from the Soviet Union. This fact helped China to successfully follow the basic socialist principles, and in the result, the country managed to overcome many difficulties on the path to industrialization. However, over the course of time, the abuse of the economic system, also copied from the Soviet model, led to the difficulties in regard to China’s modernization. There could never be any development without reforms. By providing reforms and establishing the phenomenon of open politics, the new construction of socialism with Chinese characteristics began. It was the result of the efforts of several generations of Chinese leaders, which allowed the country to increase its economic positions and prove its validity in the following 30 years.

The Chinese model — the socialism with Chinese characteristics — is a system of socialist market economy which completely replaced the Soviet model of socialism based on the planned economy in the market. The Soviet model took the position of public ownership that had been developed based on a planned economy with excessive focus on governance and disregard of the market regulation. Economic activity in the USSR was entirely determined by policy plans. A Chinese model refused to follow this direction, as the planned economy was not the only characteristic of socialism, considering that the market economy was not identical to capitalism. Therefore, China decided to use the market economic system, agreeing with the statement of “the market economy is not a synonym for capitalism. It does not matter what color the cat is – black or white as long as it catches mice well” (Neamathisi, n.d.).

In regard to the economic sphere, China adheres to the dominance of public ownership, but at the same time it develops various sectors of the economy, which forms a new architectonic model, economically characterized by the fair competition and common development of all forms of ownership. According to Marxist exploitation theory, the principle of distribution remains the main form of distribution. At the same time, there are other >forms of complementing it. Socialism of the Soviet model was characterized by a low level of productive forces. It focused primarily on the social form of property and made the other forms of property insignificant, concentrating mainly on the planned economy and on the excessive centralization of power, which actually nullified the role of market regulation. Hence, economic activity was entirely determined by policy plans.

The Chinese model had a policy of implementing reforms and was characterized by the process of liberalization, while the Soviet model was actually closed and expressed the signs of stagnation. As a result, stagnation and isolation inevitably came into conflict with the rapidly growing economic globalization, resulting in slowed economic development, weak scientific, technical, and cultural relations between East and West, and created the gap between two cultures. Meanwhile, the new concept of Deng Xiaoping has determined the direction of China’s further development (Neamathisi, n.d.).

The period of reforms and liberalization met the requirements of national circumstances. The investments from capitalistic countries that combined their advanced technology and management experience, helped to contribute to the development of the productive forces, and strengthened the power of the country. Over the last three decades, China has achieved outstanding results due to the policy of reform and openness.

The main principles of the Chinese model are the development of the productive forces, liquidation of exploitation, class stratification, and achievement of the higher standard of living. The general well-being and prosperity of the country became the criterion for evaluating the work of both the workers and the country’s leaders. The Soviet model showed a clear bias towards the militarization of the economy. However, USSR did not proclaim the idea of “world revolution”, though the Soviet Union focused greatly on leadership in world affairs. The excessive focus on the development of the military industry prevented the increase in the standards of living of people. The weapon race on the world arena, a sharp struggle in the countries of the third world, and the exhaustion of human, material, and financial resources negatively affected the positions of USSR.

The difference between the two models is also obvious in regard to the theoretical foundations, development strategy, political and cultural systems. The Soviet model was characterized by a high concentration of power and by a totalitarian ideology. China adheres to the model of democratic centralism and collective leadership. In other words, the Soviet and Chinese models have bright distinctive features, but their similarities are also obvious. For example, both models adhere to socialism, Marxism, and the leadership of the Communist Party, as well as to the dictatorship of the proletariat, public ownership of the system, and the principle of distribution in regard to the labour market. However, the difference between the details and forms of economy organization contributed to the appearance of the wide gap between the efficiency and the results.

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A comparative analysis of the two models of socialism permits people to ascertain that the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics is the method of scientific socialism that is respective to national conditions and realities, to the purpose of development and progress in modern China. It is the joint struggle of the party and of all the people, the result of combining scientific socialism with Chinese reality and the requirements of the era.

The Chinese model has shown the viability and has given new strength to socialism. Combining basic position of scientific socialism and Marxism with the realities of China, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao, and the Central Committee of the party leadership found a variant of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and creatively developed the concept of Marxism. Searching for special type of socialism, the Chinese Communists began with the fact that raised the question of what socialism was and how it was possible to develop it. After much deliberation, they have concluded that poverty was not an inevitable specific of socialism or communism. A prosperous and highly developed economic system did not belong only to the capitalism. The revolution of production relations with an accent on the class struggle was not the golden bridge to communism. Those people believed that socialism was about creating a higher productivity of the labour, using the achievements of all workers. Under the leadership of the Chinese Communists, most of governmental resources were dedicated to economic construction. Three decades of high economic growth, reforms, and development of the society created a new image of socialism, characterized by the political progress, economic prosperity, harmonious socialist society, and people-focused development. These are the main global achievements of scientific socialism.

The Chinese model is a new model of society. Initially, the idea that the market economy was only inherent in capitalism and that only the planned economy was the main characteristic of socialism, was popularized between scientific communities. In the process of reforms and liberalization, Deng Xiaoping claimed: “We should not think that the planned economy is socialism and the market economy – capitalism. It’s not both – money market can also serve socialism”(as cited in Neamathisi, n.d.).

Freed from the boundaries of traditional thinking, the Chinese Communists have begun the great practice of creating a market socialist system, which differs from the traditional planned economy and from the market economy of capitalism. This model combined the basic principles of socialism, and was guided by the general law of socialized production. This new model of society, the compound of the market economy and socialism, correctly identified the relationship between socialism and capitalism, and extracted the benefits from each of concepts. Thus, two different systems will be able to coexist and contribute to a harmonious world.

Socialism with Chinese characteristics showed an example of an individual and creative path of development for developing countries. Based on the reality and by creatively developing the theory of Marxism, China was able to gain experience of global significance, useful for developing countries that try to apply their own way of modernization. Combining Marxism with the concrete reality of the country, following the basic principles of socialism in carrying out the reforms, fundamentally changing the specific system that limited the possibilities of development of the productive forces, carrying out the reforms without changing the essence of socialism — all these points became a new basis for the construction and development of scientific socialism.

Thus, the Chinese economy has demonstrated an incredible growth. The country actively increased its positions in the ranks of world powers, literally pushing away other competitors. That was especially obvious during the crisis of 2008-2009. The Chinese economy is still growing quickly and confidently, and the average annual GDP growth reached 10%. In 2007, it reached more than 11% growth, which was several times higher than the GDP growth in countries such as the USA, Germany, and Japan. China became one of the world’s largest exporting countries and the second largest import-country in the period from 2003 to 2011. More recently, China has taken the first position in the production of grain, cotton, meat, eggs, fruits, aquatic fabrics, TVs, steel, carbon, cement, etc. Chinese goods flooded the shelves in developed and developing countries. China has already taken the second place in the amounts of high-tech production, the first place in the world’s longest high-speed railway, according to the total length of high-speed road. It has also taken the second place in regard to the reserves of hydropower resources, and others. The country is rapidly developing its energy, electronics, and chemical industry. The development of Chinese industry is gradually acquiring innovative technologies. Various industries use and develop modern flexible technologies. The country widely uses cell phones, computers, and the Internet. China is considered to have the second largest number of Internet users. The development of science and technology has brought impressive results in the astronomic sphere. China has become the third country in the world able to establish a manned spacecraft.

The new period, which began with China’s economic growth and industrialization, has led to the emergence and adoption of a new strategy in the country. In general, it relied on the capital accumulation volumes which required the industry to be represented by the growth of productivity, the firm processes of development of separate sectors and the country in general, thus preparing the conditions for reproduction.

This strategy is the result of industrialist approach in the socialistic country which demanded the reorganization of the state and industry. As soon as the Soviet Union took the political-ideological position opposite to industrialism conditions, Union republics disintegrated. China, under the auspices of the Communist Party, tried to change the model by taking into account the conditions of industrialism. The balance will continue to exist as long as the principles of communism and industrialism do not come into conflict with each other.

American scientist T.G.Karpenter said that China had set an example of economic development and prosperity of society worldwide. He even confirmed that China has not only achieved great progress in the fight against poverty, but also plays an increasingly important role in international affairs, actively contributing to the solution of major regional and international issues. China has repeatedly made an accent on its peaceful way of development and its prosperity, which is good news not only for the US and East Asia but also for the whole world.

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Conclusion

Today, China is a rapidly developing country with modern industry, well-developed science, and culture. The combination of socialism with Chinese characteristics is a way of building a rich, powerful, democratic, civilized, and harmonious modern socialist country. It also became the way of the great rejuvenation of the nation, while the USSR socialism model turned into a fiasco that can be observed through history.

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