As the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) turns 100, the late Milton Friedman is trending in cyberspace. The reason: the spectacular ways in which the Nobel laureate had Asia’s now biggest economy wrong.
In particular, his strong belief that capitalism would give China no choice but to go the way of Western democracies was dead wrong. Here’s how Friedman put it in 2003, less than two years after Beijing entered the World Trade Organization (WTO): “I predict that China will move increasingly toward political freedom if it continues its successful move to economic freedom.”
The exact opposite has happened. Rather than WTO rules changing China, the nation bent global trade to its own will. Ditto for the internet, which Friedman and his ilk argued would put the CCP out of favor.
On Thursday, President Xi Jinping reminded the globe in dramatic terms of the party’s indisputable role in China’s success – and in continuing its trajectory toward the ranks of advanced world powers. Speaking from Tiananmen Square before thousands of party officials, Xi struck a defiant tone about China’s broader ambitions.