The latest UBS/PwC Report about the Global Super-Rich Delivers another Crushing Blow to the Stalinist Myth of China’s “Socialism”
By Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 27.10.2018, www.thecommunists.net
The Swiss Bank UBS, jointly with Britain’s PwC, has recently published the fifth edition of its annual Billionaires Insights report. (1) As we reported elsewhere, this report demonstrates, once more, the sickening tendency of rapid accumulation of wealth in the hands of an extremely small minority of billionaires while the vast majority of the world’s population is experiencing stagnating wages, unemployment, wars and misery. (2)
However, in this brief article we want to focus on another, also highly illuminating conclusion of this report. As it is well know numerous Stalinist, left-wing populist and pseudo-Trotskyist forces praise China as a “socialist” or “workers state” (with or without deformations). The figures provided by the UBS/PwC report deliver another crushing blow to this reactionary myth. (3) In fact, it is not “socialism” but capitalism which is flourishing in China!
Among the 2,158 billionaires in the world, 373 have their home in China. This figure rises to 475 if we add the billionaires living in Hong Kong, Macao (both of them are part of the Chinese state) as well as Taiwan. This means that about one fifth of the global super-rich – i.e. the monopoly capitalists – are living in China!
This figure is not much below the number of billionaires living in the U.S. (585) and above the figures for Japan as well as the combined figure for all imperialist powers in Western Europe (414).
Furthermore, of all countries it was the Chinese billionaires which experienced the fastest growth of their wealth in 2017 (+39%). Billionaires in other countries had much lower growth rates (the global average growth was 12%).
China is also the country with the highest number of new billionaires. 106 people became billionaires in 2017 (although a number dropped off the list from 2016). That comes out to roughly one new billionaire every three days.
It is evident, that the Chinese capitalist class experienced the fastest growth in the world in the past decade. The report comments: “Twelve years ago, the world’s most populous country was home to only 16 billionaires. Today, as the ‘Chinese Century’ progresses, they number 373, nearly one in five of the global total.”
Praise by Capitalists in West and East
The authors of the UBS/PwC report, reflecting the view of experienced Western monopoly bourgeoisie, are full of admiration and praise for capitalist China.
Josef Stadler, Head of Ultra High Net Worth at UBS Global Wealth Management, commented on the new report: “Over the last decade, Chinese billionaires have created some of the world’s largest and most successful companies, raised living standards. But this is just the beginning. China’s vast population, technology innovation and productivity growth combined with government support, are providing unprecedented opportunities for individuals not only to build businesses but also to change people’s lives for the better.”
Another researcher, Dr. Marcel Widrig, Partner and Private Wealth Leader, PwC, remarked: “Our report reveals how China is currently the leading country for entrepreneurs to create wealth. Nowhere else has the same combination of a huge population, technology innovation and government support.”
Unsurprisingly, China’s monopoly capitalists share this view. One Chinese billionaire told the researchers of the report: “Nowhere else in the world can you find better conditions for growth than in China. The continued progress of wealth creation is supported by government policies liberating the economy, while urbanisation and business model disruption has crafted powerful new entrepreneurs.” (4)
Nearly all Chinese billionaires (97%) are so-called self-made. This means that they have not inherited their wealth but are first-generation rich. This reflects the fact that China’s monopoly capitalists are mostly not originating from old capitalist families who existed in exile in the period when China had a post-capitalist, planned economy (i.e. between the early 1950s and the early 1990s). They have rather accumulated their capital in the recent three decades.
Finally, China’s capitalism is based not only on a tiny minority of super-rich (in contrast to countries like India or Saudi Arabia) but rather on a broader stratum of small and middle capitalists. As we show in the table below, China is number two in all categories of millionaires – only behind the U.S. and ahead of all other imperialist Great Powers like Japan, Germany, France and Britain.
These figures confirm once more several important conclusions which the RCIT has emphasized repeatedly in the past years.
First, it is a grotesque distortion of reality to paint China as a “socialist” and not as a capitalist country. It experiences the fastest growth of billionaires – both in numbers as well as in accumulated wealth. No country in the word, except the U.S. (which is the dominant imperialist power since about one century), has more millionaires and billionaires than China! One has to close both eyes and stop thinking in order to imagine that China could be a “socialist” county!
Secondly, this rapid growth of capitalism and the emergence of a monopoly bourgeoisie do not take place spontaneously. It is rather the result of the conscious and determined efforts of the Stalinist-capitalist regime. As the quotes above demonstrate, both the Western as well as the Chinese capitalists are fully aware of this. This demonstrates that the regime, irrespective of its name, has nothing to do with “communism”. It is as much “communist” as the Catholic Church was “Christian” during the age of Inquisition or as the corrupt Sultans of the Ottoman Empire were Islamic. It should be called not the “Chinese Communist Party” but rather the “Chinese Capitalist Party”!
Thirdly, the figures demonstrate convincingly that China is not only a capitalist country but that it has also become a major imperialist Great Power. (5) In fact, as we have shown repeatedly, it has become the main challenger of the long-term hegemony of U.S. imperialism. (6) The Global Trade War which has begun a few months ago, with the rivalry between the U.S. and China as its main axis, is only the most recent manifestation of this development. (7)
Those, who continue to praise China as somehow “socialist” and who side with Beijing in its conflicts with other Great Powers, have nothing in common with authentic socialism or Marxism. They are rather servants of Chinese imperialism, i.e. what Lenin called “social-imperialists”.
The RCIT fully supports revolutionaries who strive to defend the interests of China’s working class and oppressed peoples against the Stalinist-capitalist regime. (8) We repeat our call to socialists around the world not to lend support to any imperialist state. Down with all Great Powers – the U.S., China, Russia, Japan and the EU! (9) For international solidarity of the workers and oppressed! Join the RCIT in building a Revolutionary World Party which fights for international socialism!
Table: The Rich and the Super-Rich by Country, 2018 (10)
Country Wealth Range (in Million US-Dollar)
1-5m 5–10m 10–50m 50–100m 100–500m 500+m
United States 14,520,885 1,855,679 902,736 50,144 19,253 1,144
China 3,094,768 235,858 132,701 10,113 5,690 708
Japan 2,627,845 125,377 51,947 2,478 1,027 71
United Kingdom 2,247,529 124,244 56,535 3,125 1,422 117
Germany 1,985,627 127,157 63,678 4,078 2,042 203
France 2,002,967 99,252 42,117 2,087 886 64
(1) UBS/PwC: New visionaries and the Chinese Century. Billionaires insights 2018; A media release of the publishers which summarizes the results, can be viewed here: UBS/PwC Billionaires Report 2018: Total billionaire wealth grows 19 percent to a record USD 8.9 trillion, 26 October 2018, https://www.ubs.com/global/en/ubs-news/r-news-display-ndp/en-20181026-billionaires-report-2018.html. All quotes, if not attributed otherwise, are from this report resp. the media release.
(2) See Michael Pröbsting: The Global Super-Rich Get Even Richer. UBS/PwC Publish their latest Report about the World’s Billionaires, 27.10.2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/the-global-super-rich-get-even-richer/
(3) For a detailed analysis of China’s capitalism and its rise to a new imperialist Great Power, we refer readers to the numerous RCIT publications which can be found in a special section on our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/china-russia-as-imperialist-powers/. On the process of capitalist restoration see e.g. Michael Pröbsting: China‘s transformation into an imperialist power. A study of the economic, political and military aspects of China as a Great Power, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 4, http://www.thecommunists.net/publications/revcom-number-4
(4) Quoted in South China Morning Post: China making two billionaires every week as world’s super-rich become wealthier than ever before, report reveals, 26 October, 2018, https://www.scmp.com/news/world/united-states-canada/article/2170348/china-making-two-billionaires-every-week-worlds
(5) For the RCIT’s literature on China as an imperialist Great Power see the link above. See e.g. Michael Pröbsting: The China-India Conflict: Its Causes and Consequences. What are the background and the nature of the tensions between China and India in the Sikkim border region? What should be the tactical conclusions for Socialists and Activists of the Liberation Movements? 18 August 2017, Revolutionary Communism No. 71, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/china-india-rivalry/
(6) See e.g. our latest article on this issue: Michael Pröbsting: The Rivalry between the U.S. and China as the Main Axis of Inner-Imperialist Contradictions, 02.10.2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/u-s-china-rivalry-as-main-axis-of-inner-imperialist-contradictions/
(7) On the Global Trade War see e.g. Michael Pröbsting: The Global Trade War is Escalating. Trump’s new Tariffs on about $200bn worth of Chinese Imports Reflect the Accelerating Rivalry between the Great Powers, 19 September 2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/the-global-trade-war-is-escalating/; Global Trade War: No to Great Power Jingoism in West and East! Neither Imperialist Globalization nor Imperialist Protectionism! For International Solidarity and Joint Struggle of the Working Class and Oppressed People! Joint Statement of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), Marxist Group ‘Class Politics’ (Russia), Alkebulan School of Black Studies (Kenya), Pan-Afrikan Consciousness Renaissance (Nigeria), Courant des Jeunes Penseurs Congolais (Democratic Republic of Congo), and Sınıf Savaşı (Turkey), 4 July 2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/rcit/joint-statement-on-the-looming-global-trade-war/; Michael Pröbsting: The Global Trade War has Begun. What is its Meaning and what should be the Response of Socialists? 13 July 2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/the-global-trade-war-has-begun/; Yossi Schwartz: Capitalist Trade and the Looming 3rd World War, 15 July 2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/capitalist-trade-and-looming-3rd-world-war/; Michael Pröbsting: Where Do Socialists Stand in Face of the Looming Global Trade War? A Showcase of the Practical Consequences of the Assessment of the Class Character of the Chinese State, 17 June 2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/where-do-socialists-stand-in-face-of-the-looming-global-trade-war/; Michael Pröbsting: World Perspectives 2018: A World Pregnant with Wars and Popular Uprisings. Theses on the World Situation, the Perspectives for Class Struggle and the Tasks of Revolutionaries, RCIT Books, Vienna 2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/world-perspectives-2018/
(8) See on this e.g. Michael Pröbsting: China: Defend the Muslim Uyghurs against Oppression! 18.10.2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/china-defend-the-muslim-uyghurs-against-oppression/
(9) See on this e.g. RCIT: Theses on Revolutionary Defeatism in Imperialist States. Resolution of the International Executive Committee of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 8 September 2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/theses-on-revolutionary-defeatism-in-imperialist-states/; Global Trade War: No to Great Power Jingoism in West and East! Neither Imperialist Globalization nor Imperialist Protectionism! For International Solidarity and Joint Struggle of the Working Class and Oppressed People! Joint Statement of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), Marxist Group ‘Class Politics’ (Russia), Alkebulan School of Black Studies (Kenya), Pan-Afrikan Consciousness Renaissance (Nigeria), Courant des Jeunes Penseurs Congolais (Democratic Republic of Congo), and Sınıf Savaşı (Turkey), 4 July 2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/rcit/joint-statement-on-the-looming-global-trade-war/
(10) Credit Suisse Research Institute: Global Wealth Databook 2018, October 2018, p. 125