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The Western World’s Five Major Failed Predictions about China : Article Series from the CASS

On July 21, 2009, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences published an article series titled The Western World’s Five Major Failed Predictions about China. The following is the translation of the entire article series.

The Western World’s Five Major Failed Predictions about China (Abstract)

By reporters Li Bo and Xi Ping

In the past 60 years, since the new China was founded, especially during the recent 31 years after the implementation of the “reform and open-door policy,” China has created a miracle in the history of mankind. There has never been any other country that could rapidly lead a society with so large a population from poverty and being backward to prosperity in such a short time! As we walk on our path, in addition to acclamations and praise, we have also heard criticism and curses, as well as a variety of “terror predictions.” However, after all, history will not change because of curses and so-called “predictions.”
It is a general impression that the western world’s comments on China are always negative. Nonetheless, that was not the case at the very beginning. During the era of the Enlightenment Movement in France, Chinese were considered a group of gentle people with high morality, living in a country permeated with an artistic atmosphere.

In 1895, Wilhelm II of Germany gave a painting The Yellow Peril to Nicholas II of Russia as a gift. This was the origin of the “Yellow Peril” theory, and it quickly spread in the western world. Some historians believe the “Yellow Peril” theory can be traced back to the Han Dynasty, when the Han army defeated the Xiongnu (nomadic minorities in the north and northwest regions of China), who then retreated to the west. Along the path of retreat, the Xiongnu invaded western territories and conquered land, leaving the European countries in great fear. In addition, the Mongolians took an expedition to the west in the 13th century, further enhancing the fear westerners have towards the yellow race.

Since the industrial revolution, the western countries have been getting very powerful; what followed was colonization and aggrandizement. When the western great powers conquered China with their military ships and overwhelming artillery, they could not help developing a sense of superiority as conquerors. The image of the Chinese and of China as a nation suffered further vilification and denigration.

Who is Hiding behind the “Veil?”

If it had happened before globalization, it would be barely acceptable to attribute various misunderstandings to the lack of mutual communication between the western world and China. However, in a time when information is quickly accessible and freely shared, if there are still such remarks as the “China Threat Theory,” the “China Collapse Theory,” and “the Death of Hong Kong Remark,” one cannot help being suspicious as to what the motivation is behind all these theories.

For most westerners, China is a country that is relatively isolated from the rest of the world, and always hides itself behind a layer of “veil.” Since the implementation of the reform policy, China has enjoyed a much higher degree of freedom and openness; however, it seems some westerners have failed to catch up with this change as they lack the desire to understand China. Some of the western media specifically like to attract attention by attacking and defaming China, so as to cater to their readers.

Fu Ying, Chinese ambassador to the U.K., once pointed out that many of the problems of mutual communication between the western world and China lie in western society’s lack of understanding of China and lack of related information. In terms of their knowledge of China, many western media and the general public lag behind by at least 20 years. Some of the western people know very little about China. Even that little knowledge they have is most likely from movies. Some even think that in today’s China, men still wear braids, women bind their feet to make them small, and a person can stand on bamboo leaves.

We cannot deny the fact that many Westerners exist who try to understand the true situation of today’s China. Some scholars have been researching China with a scientific attitude. The American ambassador to China in the late Qing Dynasty, Chester Holcombe, made the following statement, “It is far easier to criticize the Chinese than to understand them.” Westerners cannot use the standard developed in western society to judge and establish requirements for other people.

Some people believe that the Chinese need to become more proactive in making their voices heard in the western world, and to present the true image of China. Many believe, when presenting the true picture, that China should change the style of presentation, and learn to use a style easily understandable and acceptable to westerners. Actually, these people have only seen the surface of this matter. The essence of the problem lies in the fact that western media have control over the right of speech. In the western language system, all voices not conforming to the key interests of the western world will naturally get filtered. In addition to factors relating to culture and ideology, what concerns them most is profit and interests.

Behind the Double Standard is the Pursuit of the Highest Profit

Behind all these negative comments about China is a fear of China’s development. Some westerners fear that once it becomes a strong nation, China will aggrandize like some of the western leading powers. As China becomes more and more powerful, the western world feels the pressure and becomes increasingly uneasy.

Why would western society feel uneasy with China’s peaceful development? Some people think the Chinese are competing for jobs with foreigners when they go abroad and that Chinese enterprises will take a large share of the foreign market. This is the kind of conclusion that cannot stand careful deliberation; it is also from a standpoint centered on western society. If we claim that westerners are competing with Chinese for jobs and western enterprises occupy the Chinese market, we will be regarded as nationalistic, protectionist, and conservative. Behind these contradictory attitudes lies a double standard for judgment.

When looking at communication issues between the west and the east, China has always been a great nation with a tolerant attitude. On the contrary, some westerners have used their double standard in order to maximize their own profits. Imagine two people playing chess. If one party is both the judge and a player, and uses his authority as the judge to take advantage of the other, the result is obvious. Take the treatment of terrorists as an example, Americans detest terrorists intensely as they suffered the 911 terrorist attack. However, the U.S. government announced that the suspects of the “East Turkistan” terrorists detained in Guantanamo Prison were not guilty. The reason is quite simple. It is because these suspects are not the enemy acting against Americans; even if they are on the terrorist list of the United Nations, they are not considered terrorists by Americans as long as they do not harm the national interest of the U.S.

Lionel Vairon, a French scholar once said that China is not a Christian country; nor is it a country with the same system as that of the western countries. This is precisely one of the reasons why the rise of China makes some western people feel uncomfortable. As China becomes increasingly influential on the international arena, it is very hard for some of the westerners to avoid using a double standard in an attempt to thwart China’s development.

China’s Development Will Not Be Swayed by Other People’s Intentions

After some westerners exhausted their means of undermining China either by excessive flattery or defamation, China is still advancing rapidly on the road we have hewed out ourselves. Different kinds of predictions have failed one after another. Contrary to the prediction that China’s economy would collapse before the Beijing Olympics, China’s economy is the only shining star in a worldwide economic crisis. It is some of the western countries that are facing economic collapse. Contrary to the prediction that Hong Kong will die after being returned to China, Hong Kong is now more prosperous and stable under the “One Country Two System” policy. …

Of course, we still need to look squarely at the problems currently existing in China.

Many new problems and conflicts arose in China in the midst of a rapid economic growth. The developments in the east regions and the west regions are not balanced; the gaps between the cities and the countryside and between the rich and the poor have widened. These problems have hindered the steps to further advancement in our country. This requires us to analyze and handle these problems with a progressive perspective and optimistic attitude.

As the saying goes, the spectator sees most clearly. With regard to criticism from the western world, we cannot simply turn a deaf ear to it. We should absorb and adopt reasonable opinions. “Other people as a mirror help you see your own hits and misses.” Therefore, we can use western people’s opinions as our mirror. However, we must also realize the western people’s limitations. Most of them have never been to China and do not know the true situation of China at all. In addition, some westerners focus too much on the negative side, and magnify the negativities with a pessimistic attitude. They have ignored the efforts that the Chinese government and the Chinese people have made.

In the current plight of global economic crisis, the Chinese people should view things rationally and should pay more attention to contributing our wisdom and effort to solving problems. Any negative or arrogant sentiments are harmful to China’s development, preventing us from getting over this economic depression. For westerners, they need to look at China’s development more objectively and rationally. We do not require that westerners look at China from the standpoint of our country, but at least they must learn to view China with an attitude that treats us equally and on the basis of understanding China. That is the very basic requirement for communication between different cultures, isn’t it?

In the midst of the current complicated relationship between China and the western world, the Chinese people should understand this even more clearly; that is, the so-called globalization does not mean the disappearance of any conflict of interest between different nations and between different countries. Even less so does it mean the vanishing of nations and countries. There are always some people in the world who are used to viewing China with tinted glasses. They hope to change China according to western society’s wishes. However, China is after all not a country that would dance to others’ rhythms. This is precisely the reason why a variety of “terror predictions” come up once in a while, and have sometimes even made a very great noise. Fortunately, history has proven the end result of these predictions is bound to be a failure. The reason is quite simple; it is that China has found a path to success that best fits our country. Ironic comments, curses, criticisms, and wishful “terror predictions” cannot stop the advancement of China, and cannot understate the greatness of this path. History will not change because of these predictions!

It is under this circumstances that some thoughtful people have started to reflect (on their previous attitudes toward China). The New York Times once used this headline, “As China Goes, So Goes…” A translator put it into Chinese as “Once China prospers, so does the whole world.”

Failed Prediction I: The “China Threat Theory”

The “China Threat Theory” Co-exists along with China’s Progress

The West started the “China threat theory” when the Soviet Union disintegrated, Eastern Europe went through drastic changes, Russian adjusted its foreign policy, and the international communist movement faced serious setbacks. China as a socialist country has not only failed to collapse, but has maintained an alarming economic growth rate ever since China opened its gates and carried out full-scale reform. China’s overall national strength has experienced unprecedented growth. The United States, Western Europe, Japan and other Western countries began to focus on China as their opponent after the Soviet Union no long existed, treating China as the largest and most dangerous “imaginary enemy.” The West thinks that an increasingly rising China will fundamentally change the world’s geopolitical and geo-economic pattern. Therefore, all Western political and economic interests are under a huge threat. Based on this assumption, the West deals with China in the same way it dealt with the Soviet Union during the Cold War: to restrain China politically, militarily and diplomatically.

Why Advocate the “China threat Theory”

In 1990, a scholar from Japan Defense University named Tomohide Murai published an article called “China: The potential enemy.” Thereafter, the “China threat theory” began to spread. In 1992, the director of the Asian projects of the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia, Mr. Ross H. Munro published Awakening Dragon: The Real Danger in Asia Is from China. In 1993, Harvard University Professor Samuel P. Huntington also published an article “The Clash of Civilizations?”  These publications represented the tone of the “China threat theory” in the early 1990s. In 1995 and 1996, during the “Taiwan Strait crisis,” the incident triggered a major debate within the United States over policy towards China. The “China threat theory” rapidly spread overseas. In February of 1997, Time Magazine reporters Bernstein and Munro published a book, The Coming Conflict with China. The book became a very influential work. In 1998 and 1999, the United States former CIA expert on China, Mr. William C. Triplett II, and former Republican foreign policy adviser to Congress, Mr. Edward  Timperlake, co-authored the book, Year of the Rat (1998) and another book Red Dragon Rising (1999), explicitly claiming, “China poses a significant threat to the United States on national security.”

Whether it is to accuse the Chinese people of taking away Americans’ rice bowls, sensationally claiming that China is “buying up America,” or articulating that China is a  “strategic competitor,” of America, these sayings express the same message, that the fast growth of China is becoming a threat to the United States and other major Western countries.

The advocates of the “China Threat Theory” are mostly political figures or scholars. From a military, political, and economic point of view, they discuss how China poses a threat to the interest of their countries. In no way do they hide their self-serving motives. The rise and spread of the “China threat theory” is a demonstration of concern over the difference between Eastern and Western culture. It also represents a suspicion of different ideologies. What is more, it comes from the political realism perspective and is an expression of dissatisfaction with China’s growing influence.

The “China Threat Theory” is Constantly Changing

The “China threat theory” first started in the United States, Japan and other countries. However, China’s neighboring countries share it as well. Due to historic and geographic reasons, for example, China has issues with its neighboring countries in Southeast Asia on the South China Sea dispute. Therefore, because of speculation among Western media, the influence of the “China threat theory” has spread to this region. To some extent, it even directly affects some countries’ foreign policies in this region.

Although the “China threat theory” has a market, it has not become the dominant opinion on China. In recent years, research reports on China as well as research done on China in the international community have been more thorough and more comprehensive. There is a growing consensus that China will rise peacefully. China’s foreign policy of being a good-neighbor, a peace keeper, making others rich, and acting as a responsible big country, all of this has made the neighboring countries realize that China’s development is an opportunity for them rather than a threat to them.

At the same time, the “China Threat Theory” has been constantly undergoing changes. Since 2004, along with the “rise of China” issue, the “China threat” emerged in international media, and went through new developments. According to this theory’s prediction, China is no doubt quickly becoming a powerful nation. A powerful China may become a constructive and responsible contributor, and could maintain a “peaceful rise,” but it’s still too early to assert that a strong China will not abandon the path of peace and become a threat to other countries. Open discussions in China on the Internet have substantially increased.

Failed Prediction II: The “China Collapse Theory”

The “China Collapse Theory” Totally Collapsed

With rapid economic growth, China has, at the same time, encountered a series of problems and contradictions, problems in energy, environment, serious ecological conditions, the imbalanced distribution of wealth, and the "three rural" issues. These problems and contradictions in China’s economy have planted seeds that there is a risk that could restrain a sustained, steady, and healthy growth. Under such circumstances, some people from the West exaggerate these problems, and have predicted that China cannot get out of the woods, but can only collapse.

From “Cosmetic Prosperity” to “Collapse”

With the impact of the Asian financial crisis in 1997, and the global economy that went into "growth recession" in 2001. Some other Asian countries and most countries in the world encountered economic predicaments, a slowdown in economic growth, or even negative growth. Some Western economists believe that China’s economic growth model of high investment, low output, relying on large numbers of cheap labor and enormous energy consumption, has come to an end. In addition, China’s economic growth is also facing difficulties in state-owned enterprise reform, environmental pollution, financial systems, and many other rigid structural obstacles. Therefore, the Chinese economy will inevitably face difficulties.

In 2000, the economist and historian from the University of Pittsburgh, Thomas Rawski, published two academic articles. One is entitled “What’s Happening to China’s GDP Statistics?” The other is “China’s GDP Statistics – A Case of Caveat Lector?”  In the article, Rawski questioned every aspect of China’s economic growth model, from the economic growth slowdown, to energy consumption shrinking; from the decline in logistics, to slow growth in major industrial products lines; from the apparel industry to commodities consumption; and even to the factor of agriculture retardation. Rawski also asked why China has to produce these false statistics.

A year after Rawski’s articles were published, a Chinese American lawyer, Zhang Jiachun also published a book, China Will Soon Collapse. It was around that time that Western mainstream media started to publish articles questioning China’s statistical data. In January 2002, the editor of a quarterly magazine, China’s Economy, Mr. Joe Studwell, published the book called China Dream. He insinuated in his book that China’s economy is “a building built on sand.” On April 1, 2002, Time magazine also published an article, “Why China Cooks the Books?” In its context, the book indicates that China’s economic power is nothing but a fabrication, because China’s economic power is calculated based on false statistical data. Some people try to distort the picture, to exaggerate the existing problems that China faces during its economic development, claiming China’s economy is “cosmetic prosperity.” More importantly, they believe that there is no way China has the capability of solving these problems. China can only go step by step towards collapse. Thus, the “China collapse theory” was born.

“China is to Collapse only Exists in Your Book”

In August 2001, Gordon C. Chang published a monograph in English, “The Coming Collapse of China.” The book caused a storm in the United States. This book was on The New York Times bestseller list. The United States Congress also invited him to attend congressional hearings. Gordon Chang said in his book that, over the past 50 years, China has accumulated too many problems in its economic, social and political structures. The current economic prosperity is a sham. Under the strong impact that resulted from entering the WTO, China’s political and economic systems will quickly collapse. He asserted, “China’s current political and economic system can only be maintained for up to 5 years. … China’s economy is in recession, is about to collapse, and it will collapse before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, not after!”

Gordon Chang has lived in Hong Kong and Shanghai for nearly 20 years. He certainly has some knowledge about China’s economic and social development. He has published some articles in The New York Times, the Asian Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other newspapers on China’s economic topics. He also presented briefings to the U.S. Congress, and to various think tanks on China’s economic issues. Being a Chinese descendant, who worked in China for many years, his remarks were favored, and some Westerners found them convincing.

After the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, even the global economic crisis had not yet occurred. China’s economy not only didn’t collapse; it sustained relatively fast, stable and ongoing development. Reality has shattered Gordon Chang’s “China collapse theory.”

In the same year, in 2008, the honorary chairman of Morgan Stanley, Mr. Howard Watts, had already drawn a conclusion about what Gordon Chang said. Mr. Watts said, “Your  ‘China collapse theory’ can only exist in your book. It will not be part of China’s reality.” Even so, under the current environment of global economic crisis, we still need to remain vigilant on speculation intended to heat up the ‘China collapse theory.’

Failed Prediction III: The China Food Crisis

Can’t the Chinese feed themselves?

After the 1980s, in the 20th century, China was still short of food. The eating problem could not be completely resolved and China needed help from the international community for certain types of food. In the early 1990s, China’s economy and urbanization stepped into a new stage. American expert Lester Brown predicted that, with the increase in the population and the shrinkage of land, China would face a serious food shortage, which would have an impact on the whole world.

“Did the Chinese food shortage impact the world?”

In September 1994, the American Journal World Watch published an academic article, “Who Will Feed China?” The author of the article was Lester Brown, director of the Earth Policy Institute. The article pointed out that the process of the continued industrialization of China, coupled with the increase in population, and the improvement of the consumption structure, would greatly increase the demand for food. However, due to the decrease in land, the shortage of water and the damage to the environment that happened during development, food production would decrease and China would face a serious food shortage. Therefore, in the future, China would rely more and more heavily on food imports, which would affect the food supply and prices around the world. Even though China had enough foreign currencies, it was impossible for the international market to provide such a huge amount of food to the 1.3 billion Chinese people. The author predicted that China’s food crisis would affect the whole world.

After its publication, the article generated enormous attention from all over the world. Almost all of the important international journals, newspapers and news media reported or published the article on prominent pages. The Chinese government and the academic world also responded quickly. Following that, Brown made speeches at several important international conferences to promote his argument and furthermore, added more new evidence. In late 1995, he published the book, Who Will Feed China?

Brown’s theory of the “Chinese food crisis” is deeply rooted in the western thinking style, but lacks scientific spirit. At most, it only has the value of stirring up the issue. The difference is that he was able use good tactics to hide his own motives so that he could address the “threat” of China to all the remaining countries and all the people in this world from the perspective of the ecological environment. He also considered that this kind of threat is more threatening than the military threat and requested the leaders of different countries to treat this threat as a primary consideration.

Actually, what Brown raised is not just an issue about who will feed China? It is an issue about “how China, a country that cannot feed itself, will harm the world.” It can be concluded that the perspective in Who Will Feed China represents a “new way of thinking” in the research field of the “China Threat.” That is, all of mankind should be united together to “suppress” the economic development of China. From this perspective, Who Will Feed China actually raised two new theories of the “China Threat,” which are the “China food threat” and the “China environment threat.” It worked as a driving force to enrich the implications of “the theory of the China threat.” That is why it caused strong reactions all over the world.

As a matter of fact, the “food crisis” predicted by Brown did not happen. No matter what kind of motif or purpose Brown had, China smashed his prediction with facts. The hard evidence is the sufficient food supply in China during the global food crisis.

On June 20, the ninth “World Refugee Day,” the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation reported that due to the influence of the global economic crisis, the high food prices, and natural and man-made disasters, the global “hunger” problem this year would be more serious. It affected a record-breaking 1.02 billion people, about 1/6 of the world’s population. That is to say, one out of 6 people on this earth is starving or faces problems of hunger.

Compared to the wide-spread anxiety about the safety of food around the world caused by the global food crisis, China is relatively more at ease. For the 5 years from 2004 to 2008, China’s food production increased continuously. Therefore, China currently has a sufficient food supply. The major agriculture products are sufficient, and the prices are stable. In addition, it has newly developed the concept of “Organic Food,” and “Healthy Eating.” “We will not be nervous as long as we have food in our hands.” China has successfully resolved the eating problem for 1.3 billion people, which itself is a prominent contribution to food safety across the world.

At present, China has accomplished the historic transition from a long-term shortage to a consistent quantity of sufficient food supply of the major agricultural products. China fed 22% of the world population using only 7% of the land. The self-sufficient food supply has reached 95% across the country. From a long-term perspective, China definitely has the ability to furnish the food supply for its people based on domestic food production.

As a responsible big country, when China feeds itself, it also tries its best within its ability to proactively donate food and provide food aid to international food and agricultural organizations and countries that have an urgent food shortage.

Failed Prediction IV: “The Theory of a Dead Hong Kong” Dies

“The Theory of a Dead Hong Kong”

The return of Hong Kong was a failure in the eyes of many western people. Under the impact created by the conflict between China and the Western forces, the world felt the power of a rising China. However, some westerners dare not to admit the success of China, which is manifested in their opinions over the fate of Hong Kong. It is not just the westerners who worried about the fate of Hong Kong after its return. Due to the return of Hong Kong, its political system, economy, culture and education, etc. all will face large-scale adjustment. At that time, some Hong Kong people were suspicious about the implementation of the “One Country, Two Systems,” “A Hong Kong Governed by Hong Kong People,” and a “High Degree of Autonomy.” Many immigrated to other countries. Based on this, some western media made the extreme prediction that after Hong Kong’s return, it would face the fate of death.

Illusion: the Death of Hong Kong

In June of 1995, the U.S. magazine Fortune published a cover story on the “Death of Hong Kong.” In the report, the female Asian reporter, Louise Clark, concluded that after Hong Kong’s return, it would lose its status as a vigorous international market center; Beijing would control all the departments of Hong Kong’s government; English would be replaced by Mandarin; foreign merchants would be treated unfairly; Renminbi would replace the American dollars to be associated with Hong Kong money; and the People’s Liberation Army soldiers would be all over the streets.

Louise Clark predicted that Hong Kong would lose its role as an international commercial and financial hub, businesses would leave Hong Kong, corruption would take root and spread, and “the naked truth about Hong Kong’s future can be summed up in two words: It’s over.” [1]

The publication of the report caused quite a stir in the world. As a mainstream media of the financial world, the negative impact caused by those kinds of reports was enormous. Some foreign businesses were misled by it and left Hong Kong’s market one after another. Some Hong Kong people were misled by it and left their homes to immigrate to other countries one after another. Many countries and regions were misled by it and looked at Hong Kong from a strange perspective, which made the situation for the initial stage of “a Hong Kong governed by Hong Kong people” very difficult.

In early 2002, Fortune published another cover story, “Who Wants Hong Kong?” It showed worries over the current situation of Hong Kong after 5 years’ transition. It claimed that after China opened up to the world economically, Hong Kong would lose its function as the gate for foreign investment to enter China. In addition, with a variety of economic problems inside Hong Kong, the status of Hong Kong would be replaced by Shanghai. That caused the Hong Kong government to express strong protests and rebuttals.

Apology: We were Wrong!

When history proved that it was impossible for Hong Kong to die, Fortune started to apologize. In July 2007, 10 years after the return of Hong Kong, its editor Sheridan Prasso published, “Oops! Hong Kong is hardly dead.” The article stated, “Back in 1995, Fortune predicted the downfall of Hong Kong once it was handed over to China. But in 2007, the city is thriving more than ever. — Ok, ok, we were wrong!” [2] Ten years after the handover on July 1, 1997, Hong Kong is far from over and hardly dead.

In the same year, Times published a cover story. It used 25 pages to discuss the changes in Hong Kong over the 10 years, commented on the theory of the “Death of Hong Kong” from a new perspective, admitted its sister magazine Fortune made a wrong report at that time, and considered Hong Kong more vigorous than ever.

As of this year, Hong Kong has been returned for 12 years. During this period of time, Hong Kong went through the Asian financial crisis and the SARS episode. With the devoted support and help of the central government, Hong Kong was able to endure various attacks one after another. When the whole world is facing a serious economic crisis, it is inevitable that Hong Kong’s economy also shows signs of withering. This is another test. At this time, we should guard against the resurrection of the theory of the “Death of Hong Kong.”

Failed Prediction V: The Theory of the End of Communism”

History is not Over Yet

After the publication of the Communist Manifesto, the communist movement thrived across the world. The socialist countries of the Soviet Union, and those in east Europe, and China, etc. were established one after another, which further indicated the bright future and the vigor of the life of the communist movement. However, at the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, the happening of a series of astonishing incidents, including the drastic changes in east Europe and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, presented a heavy blow to the communist movement. During this period of time, the western world hastened their steps for “peaceful transformation,” using their propaganda to promote the claim that “Communism will be finished.” Because the exceptional representative of Communism, China, is also in the middle of the political storm that will come sooner or later, the direction of the development of socialism became a major topic under the current historic background. Therefore, the Theory of the end of Communism became more and more popular.

Communism: “the Last Crisis?”

In 1988, former president of the United States Richard Nixon published 1999: Winning by Default, which systematically discussed that the US should develop a “strategy for peaceful competition” with the socialist countries behind the iron curtain. Namely, based on military containment, the U.S. should take advantage of its strong economy to induce the “peaceful transformation” of the socialist countries using economic aid and technical transfers. In addition, it should open the door for “peaceful transformation” through psychological warfare in ideology competition and spreading the “values of freedom and democracy.”

After the publication of the book, the situation in Eastern Europe went through intense turbulence, the political situation drastically changed, and the whole world was startled. Within a year, the government of 6 countries, Poland, Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania, changed. The communist party and the worker’s party, which had been in power for over 40 years, either lost its power or changed its nature. At this time, China was also in the middle of a political storm. Therefore, the “Theory of the termination of Communism” became even more popular.

In 1989, the former national security business assistant for the U.S. president, the renowned strategic thinker Brzezinsky, published his representative work based on the eastern European drastic change, Grand Failure: The Birth and Death of Communism in the Twentieth Century. This book stated that communism as a movement, after it controlled most of the 20th century, had already declined and entered “the final crisis.” The book asserted that communism “will wither away irreversibly in history in the 21st century because it violates the rules of history.

History Will not End

In 1991, two years after the publication of Grand Failure, the Soviet Union finally disintegrated due to the serious faults in its practices. The SU Communist party had to leave office and announced that the party was dissolved. This made the western countries firmly believe in the “Theory of the termination of Communism.”

Right after that, the Albanian Labor party was defeated in the election and left office in 1992. After experiencing almost one year of civil war, Yugoslavia was divided into five independent republic countries. After the drastic change, the countries in east Europe departed from the direction of socialism, and the communist party lost its ruling status.

Soon after the drastic change in Eastern Europe, American Japanese scholar Francis Fukuyama wrote The End of History and the Last Man. The book argues that the fundamental reason for the drastic change in Eastern Europe and the victory of capitalism during the cold war is that the western democratic system is superior to the socialist democratic system and any other non-western democratic systems. It concludes that the western democratic system will become a universal system and the form for a free democratic government in the western world will eventually be promoted across the world as the ultimate form of government.

However, the experience of China refutes the above prediction. The Chinese Communist Party has not only maintained its power, but also protected social and political stability. In addition, it is proactively exploring its path during the process of summarizing, adjusting and reforming. It insists on walking the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and its achievement has attracted worldwide attention. Up until now, socialism, as the initial stage of communism, still demonstrates exuberant vitality. The application of the “Theory of the termination of Communism” in China has been announced a failure.


Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, July 21, 2009