In what ways is the communist Chinese economy a free market and which ways is it not?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There is very little about the Chinese economy today that can truly be called communist.  In fact, we could go farther and say that there is nothing that is uniquely communist about their economy.

There are some things about their economy that could be seen as communist.  Most importantly, their government has a very large part in running their economy.  The government owns many companies that have very large parts of the market in various parts of the economy.  The government, to some degree, sets the priorities for the economy instead of allowing market forces to do so.

However, these things are not unique to communism.  Japan, for example, was always seen as a capitalist country and yet it had a government that did a lot to determine which industries would be promoted and which would not.  Countries like France have semi-nationalized companies in important sectors of the economy.  China may go farther, but it is not qualitatively different. 

Most importantly, China’s economy does not show any tendency towards trying to ensure equality like communism is supposed to.  There is serious discontent on the left in China because the country has gone so far away from Marxist ideals.  The growing inequality in China is the most obvious sign that their economy is not truly communist.

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