China currently practices state capitalism

It was exactly one sentence with which Chen Yuan, the long-time head of the China Development Bank, visibly annoyed ended the debate. While he was eating at the legendary Cosmo Club in Washington, his interlocutors had plagued him with theoretical questions: Marx, Engels, Lenin. How can a party call itself communist at all if it allows unleashed state capitalism to be practiced, millions of migrant workers have to toil in factories without rights, and rents in Beijing and Shanghai are at the level of London and New York? Chen's succinct answer: "We are the Communist Party and we define what communism means." This has been the case for 70 years. Since the People's Republic was founded in 1949, the country has experienced an ideological rollercoaster - with millions of victims.

In the 1950s, the leadership in Beijing ordered the collectivization of agriculture. In 1958, state founder Mao Zedong called on the country to take a "big leap" forward. It was a leap into disaster. "Comrade Khrushchev told us that in 15 years the Soviet Union would overtake the United States," said Mao. "I can also say that 15 years later we can catch up with or outperform Great Britain." His measure: steel production. Instead of working in the fields, China's farmers, on Beijing's orders, melted their tools, pots and pans in primitive ovens. The country was starving. Researchers estimate that 45 million Chinese died at that time. In 1966 Mao plunged the country into the next catastrophe, the Cultural Revolution. Everything and everyone should be questioned, a mess on behalf of ideology. Millions of dead and a deeply insecure country were left behind.

Deng Xiaoping's approaches are still taught in universities today

When Mao died in 1976, China was a desperate, isolated state. Today the People's Republic is the second largest economy in the world. Reform patriarch Deng Xiaoping reconnected China to the global economy in the late 1970s. A fabulous economic rise began. Deng described his opening policy richly: He tried to cross the river by carefully feeling for stones in the rushing water. Deng's politics later became a theory taught in schools; whoever wants to pass the university examination must have studied Deng. At its core it is healthy pragmatism: first a pilot project in a city, it works, it is tried out in a region, and finally in the whole country.

Special economic zones were created, authorities were allowed to set up rural joint ventures. Direct investments by foreign companies were added later. Today, Volkswagen, for example, is almost a Chinese company. VW sells four out of ten cars in the People's Republic. Capitalism in communism. For this, too, old Deng had a wisdom ready: "It doesn't matter whether the cat is black or white - the main thing is that it catches mice."

The only constant over the years has been the Communist Party's claim to power. The CP has more than 90 million members and is the second largest mass organization in the world after the Catholic Church. It is still built strictly according to the Soviet model. And despite China's economic rise, the party has retained the most important facets of a Leninist cadre organization. It maintains a gigantic propaganda machine that determines what is broadcast on the radio and what the newspapers write about. What's on the Internet and what's not. She alone has the power to recruit in the People's Republic, only she decides who occupies which post in the country. And you are subordinate to the People's Liberation Army, founded in 1927. The largest force in the world is a party army.

The CP is organized like a Russian matryoshka doll, the size of the party committees is decreasing from level to level. The smaller the leadership circle, the more powerful the body. The Central Committee still has 205 fully authorized members, the Politburo is already more clearly staffed with 25 comrades. China's actual center of power is the so-called Standing Committee, which is made up of seven of the 25 Politburo members. At the top is unchallenged: party leader Xi Jinping. Xi is often welcomed abroad as China's president - a nice title, but his posts as Communist Party General Secretary and head of the Central Military Commission, to which the People's Liberation Army is subordinate, give him significantly more power. The state is the party in China.

Who makes a career is determined centrally, for the whole country

The comrades of the Central Organizational Unit decide which cadre has a career; they are the personnel department for the whole country. Before the Politburo approves a promotion, the socialist headhunters draw up a list of candidates. They propose who sits on the board of directors of the banks and insurance companies, who directs the raw materials companies, who becomes editor-in-chief, and they fill the ministerial posts. But the party itself cannot be controlled.

In a country where everything is monitored, where even non-governmental organizations are watched and controlled by the apparatus, one would think that at least political parties are registered somewhere. But the Chinese Communist Party is nowhere registered. It also does not have its own website. What for? The newspapers are subordinate to her anyway, and they cannot be sued. The Communist Party is only mentioned in the preamble to the Chinese Constitution. And yet she is omnipotent in China.