[Marxism] CHINA: village of public economy

Chris Brady cdbrady at sbcglobal.net
Thu Mar 18 23:39:32 MST 2004

[there might not be conflict but there certainly seems to be more than a
little ambivalence about privatization of everything in the new New
China.  --c]

"Private property" in the eyes of village of public economy

Xinhua news

While the amendment to China's Constitution that protects private
property is hailed by most people, it seems has nothing to do with
villagers of Nanjie Village, one of few rich villages in China that
still sticks to collective economy.

The clause "the state will respect and protect citizens'
legally-obtained private property" was written into the Constitution by
China's top legislature on March 14, though people 's private property
was de facto protected by laws.

But the concept of "private property" is so vague to Nanjie villagers.

This is not because they are poor. Instead, most of Nanjie's 13,000
citizens earn a yearly wage of 3,000 yuan (US$360) with free meals,
housing, medical-care and education, compare with the national average
of 2,622 yuan a year for a farmer without any social welfare.

The collective economy system, once practiced for more than 30 years in
China's countryside but has been replaced by a system of "contracted
responsibility linking remuneration to output" by most villages in the
last two decades, survived in Nanjie.  Commandments and slogans hailing
unselfishness and the collective are pasted on the walls of every home
and factory.

Although the collective assets have soared more than 2,100 times from 20
years ago to the current 1.4 billion-plus yuan ( about US$170 million),
the private property of villagers is still insignificant.

"We have little private property in Nanjie Village, Henan," said Lei
Dequan, 48, deputy director of the village's committee of the Communist
Party of China.

In Nanjie, from the village leaders to the factory worker to the peasant
tilling the fields, every permanent resident gets the same take-home

Housing, health care and tuition from nursery to university are free. 
So are electricity, water, gas, contraceptives, newspapers, magazines,
entertainment, cooking oil, flour, eggs and beer.

"Too much private property will lure people to do evil," said Wang Jie,
also a villager in Nanjie, who now lives in the apartments uniformly
distributed by the village collective.  Wang once turned in to the
collective his bonus of 1,500 yuan (about US$181) for technological
renovation "without one minute's hesitation" as he recalled.

Wang admitted his understanding towards private property rights were the
result of years of education by the village, which has adhered to the
development of a collective economy during the past 20 years.

"My ideas would probably change were I now living in Guangzhou or
Shenzhen," he said, referring to two major cities in southern China's
Guangdong Province that spearheaded China's reform and opening-up drive
since the late 1970s.

The only people happy with the constitutional amendment is Yang Jinchao,
a returned student from Australia who is now employed manager of the
collectively-owned beer factory by the village.

Yang could get a yearly pay of 480,000 yuan (about US$58,000) from
Nanjie if he helps the beer factory come out of losses this year and
bring in 2 million yuan (about US$241,000) of profits.

"It makes me more comfortable to work in Nanjie," said Yang.

Speaking about Nanjie's public economy, noted economist Zhong Pengrong
said, "It would have been impossible for Nanjie to achieve such economic
success during the old planned economy era."

"Nanjie owes its success to China's market economy-oriented drive,"
Zhong said.


EastDay.com, compiled by Shanghai Daily
[recent, past couple of days or so; lost URL; if anyone has access to
Lex/Nex, it would be appreciated. ta --c]

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