Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who is one of the leading Democratic presidential candidates, attempted to praise communist China on Tuesday during an interview with The Hill and accidentally ended up promoting capitalism.
“China is a country that is moving unfortunately in a more authoritarian way in a number of directions,” Sanders told Hill.TV’s Krystal Ball. “But what we have to say about China in fairness to China and it’s leadership is if I’m not mistaken they have made more progress in addressing extreme poverty than any country in the history of civilization, so they’ve done a lot of things for their people.”
What Sanders did not acknowledge was that free-market principles are what allowed China to lift millions of its citizens out of poverty. Forbes reports:
…never before in history have so many people escaped poverty in such a short time as in the past decades in China. According to official World Bank figures, the percentage of extremely poor people in China in 1981 stood at 88.3%. By 2015 only 0.7% of the Chinese population was living in extreme poverty. In this period, the number of poor people in China fell from 878 million to less than ten million…
…China’s success provides clear evidence of the power of capitalism. Under Mao, the state had an omnipotent grip over China’s economy. What has happened over the past few decades can be summed up in a few sentences: China has progressively embraced the tenets of free-market economics, introduced private ownership, and gradually reduced the influence of the once all-powerful state over the Chinese economy. That the state still plays a major role today is simply because China is in the midst of a transformation process that began with complete state dominance of the economy.
Sanders’ comment about how China has “done a lot of things for their people” does not stand up well next to scrutiny.
“He did not address how China’s communist government has oppressed religious people and minorities, putting at least one million Uighur Muslims in concentration camps while instituting one of the most comprehensive surveillance states in history,” The Free Beacon reported. “In China, the Communist Party requires all religions to pledge ultimate loyalty to President Xi Jinping, who is atop a one-party system that does not allow political opposition.”
Sanders also did not acknowledge that China’s Mao Zedong carried out the largest mass murder in world history against the Chinese people.
“According to the authoritative ‘Black Book of Communism,’ an estimated 65 million Chinese died as a result of Mao’s repeated, merciless attempts to create a new ‘socialist’ China,” The Heritage Foundation reported. “Anyone who got in his way was done away with — by execution, imprisonment or forced famine.”
That 65 million number is approximately the same number of people who were killed in all of World War II.