Abstract: After several disastrous experiments with communism, such as Mao’s Great Leap Forward, which resulted in an estimated 45 million deaths mostly from starvation between 1958 and 1961, political reform paved the way for social and economic development in 1978. As a result of these reforms, China has become the world’s fastest-growing major economy. As of 2013, it is the world’s second-largest economy by both nominal total GDP and purchasing power parity (PPP) and is also the world’s largest exporter and importer of goods.
While China’s reforms increased the degree of economic freedom, they left the political arena largely untouched. According to the respected Democracy Index by Freedom House, China remains unfree. In November 2012, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) announced a new slate of leaders, which included many conservative figures headed by general secretary Xi Jinping. The new leadership pledged to raise the ante in the fight against corruption, but also censored the Internet and increased surveillance. According to Freedom House, “a growing number of Chinese asserted basic rights, shared uncensored information online, and challenged perceived injustice, sometimes forcing government concessions. Key dissidents who had been silenced for much of 2011 as part of a crackdown in the wake of the Arab Spring were more vocal during 2012, adding to society’s pushback against official repression.”