For the best part of the last 40 years, the Chinese economy has been exploding, growing by an average of 10% per year, with 800 million Chinese lifted out of poverty. Many commentators believe that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is behind this economic miracle and that Communist China will eventually surpass the United States as the world’s most powerful economy. Some even go so far as to claim that its authoritarian system of governance is a credible alternative to democracy.
As we coast through a jigsaw of traffic, my guide points out the sights. “On the left, there’s a new office building. On the right, there’s a government office building. Up ahead, that’s one of the city’s first five-star hotels”. For a country so staunchly proud of its politics, China is overtly obsessed with the superficialities of capitalism. Only here could a bland office block be of any interest, yet there is something forgivably earnest about it. I ask the driver to put some music on, and in the spirit of no-nonsense socialism, he produces a CD simply called ‘Disco’. Welcome to China, where irony just shrivels up and dies….