This is what Chinese people think America looks like:
This poster circulated around China in the 1960s. During that time, our National Education Program distributed pro-capitalist propaganda here in the States:
Fast-forward fifty years. Last week, I found myself in an impossible debate with a Chinese national over whether China allows greater freedom than America. He claimed that it was much easier to start a company or invest in business in his country, because they don’t have all the complicated regulations of the US.
That’s sort of true. China is free in the sense that you can litter everywhere and dump toxic waste in the water supply. There are fewer business-stifling regulations, but there are also fewer externality-preventing regulations.
I asked about censorship, capital controls, political prisoners. He replied that the government only did what was necessary to speed up economic growth.
China is basically an authoritarian regime, but two decades of progress have convinced the population that communism is the epitome of economic liberty. Meanwhile, a snapshot of our daily news feed looks exactly like China’s anti-capitalist propaganda from the ’60s. It seems that over the course of a half-century, the US and China have magically traded places.