Up and Down

Source: PEKING REVIEW Vol.1 No.4, March 25, 1958

Transcribed for www.wengewang.org

PERUSAL of the Chinese and American newspapers, these days, leads to some interesting comparisons. The headlines alone spell out two strikingly different pictures.

In the United States, the “recession,” “downswing,” “slump,” “sag in the economy,” or whatever name the American press has for it, is causing a great deal of worry. Unemployment, according to the latest report of the U.S. Department of Labor, rose to 5,186,000 in February — the highest figure in 16 years. U.S. trade union estimates are much higher. At the same time, the index of industrial production is reported by the Federal Reserve Board to have fallen to 130. a decline of 16 points below February 1957. This represents a decrease in production of about 11 per cent.

Meantime prices continue to go up. U.S. News & World Report estimates that compared with 1939, the dollar today has a purchasing power of only 49 cents, in terms of the family budget. The Federal Reserve Board’s annual consumer survey, as reported by The New York Times on March 14, “revealed a marked rise in pessimism about the general outlook."

It is not for us to say what effects the current depression has had in the United States. The American people themselves know best where the shoe pinches. We can only record, from reading the American newspapers, that notes of worry and discontent are multiplying in the United States.

The Chinese newspapers tell a different story. It is the story of the “big leap forward.” The total value of industrial output for January of this year was 2.5 per cent higher than the planned figure, an increase of 17.1 per cent over the same period of last year.

The actual performance of New China recalls some revealing predictions.

Nine years ago, when the Chinese People’s Republic was founded, the capitalist press predicted insurmountable headaches and difficulties for the new republic. The Chinese Communists, they argued, might have been good soldiers, but could hardly be expected to cope with the country’s economic problems. In their view, this would turn out to be the Achilles’ heel of the Communists.

How do these predictions look today?

Newsweek magazine, whose hostility to socialism and People’s China is well known, is now compelled to admit that New China “is a showcase of progress … an example of a former ‘semi-colonial’ nation which is making good under Communism."

The detractors of New China have not had a change of heart. But they have to change their tune. Since it is now pretty hard to deny China’s economic achievements, they have retreated to a second line of argument. China’s progress, they say, has been achieved at the expense of liberty and democracy.

Once again, we believe, they are putting their foot into their mouth. The source of New China’s strength, as we have already noted in this space, is the simple fact that the Chinese people have become masters of their own destiny. That’s why they arc displaying such initiative and enthusiasm in their work.

We do not propose to preach a sermon on democracy in China. The objective reader can draw his own conclusions from the facts and data published in our magazine. But we will say this: China’s economic progress is the fruit of its new democracy — people’s democracy.

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