If the world learns nothing about modern day China it must know that the current incarnation of the so-called Communist Party are pure capitalists with authoritarian government power. There is nothing Communist about the Chinese communist party today. Lest anyone forget, this is the same group of communists that took the People’s Daily Online “the website of the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China” public in Shanghai. Marx is still spinning in his grave after being asked for a quote on the Propaganda Department of China being listed.
After the flurry of activity from the Third Party Plenum, enterprising institutions, including my own Peking University, saw a market to make some money by selling classes (Chinese link) on how to interpret the reforms, policies, and communiqué released by Beijing. In fact, according to news reports, Peking University classes started the day after the policy release.
Nor are the classes cheap. One university was charging 8,800 RMB ($1,500 USD) for one day of classes. Peking University was at least more reasonably priced at 3,200 rmb ($525 USD). Zhejiang University was charging 6,800 rmb ($1,100) with no word on whether this class included more endless droning insightful lectures on how best to interpret the holy words of honey handed down from the Third Party Plenum.
There are two final points of interest. First, the Party is desperately concerned that people follow the directions rather than think for themselves. The snake oil information being peddled about the courses promise to help “accurately grasp the policy”and “what is the overall program of comprehensive deepening the reform..”. Second, the courses are exclusively for Party members and government employees. These courses are not for private citizens, foreigners, or corporations.
All this taken together has two real implications. First, when you hold monopoly power, the Party knows that you should never miss an opportunity to use it and extract a little more money from the consumer. Second, Beijing is very worried that they won’t be able to control the message. This is the tightrope they are walking: how do you encourage the free market while still controlling it? Beijing is working really hard to make sure they still control the free market which is easier said than done.
In China, there is a generally accepted pattern of easing of economic and political freedoms for a number of years followed by a 3-6 month tightening or crackdown. The idea being that people need to be reminded who is in charge and that the government still controls every aspect of your life if they need to. Beijing never wants people to get comfortable. With such an early declaration of reforms, Beijing is probably worried that this will embolden people at the beginning leading to problems later on.
This is how you succeed in business without really trying Chinese Communist Party style.
Happy Thanksgiving to my homeland and US readers.