Contradiction In Terms

China's party congress opts for a freer market but calls it socialism

THE SLOGAN HAS A FAMILIAR RING: THERE'S NOTHing wrong with communism that a little capitalism can't fix. Last time around, that approach was called perestroika, Mikhail Gorbachev's futile attempt to rejuvenate the Soviet socialist system. Perestroika is alive and well and living in Beijing under an assumed name -- "socialist market economy."

More than 2,000 of the Chinese Communist Party's faithful gathered for their 14th Congress and dutifully applauded the concept. The socialist system, said party chief Jiang Zemin, depends on rapid economic growth. At a news conference, Hong Hu, vice minister of an economic-reform commission, was asked to define the...

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