After Mao Zedong led the communist revolution in China, his portrait was placed over the entrance to the Imperial Palace in the middle of Beijing.
The characters on either side of the portrait translate as: "Long live the Peoples Republic of China". "Long live the unity of the peoples of the world".
It's a powerful statement made by a victorious popular uprising that still resonates as a source of pride for the Chinese people today. But a lot has changed in China since 1949. What was an undeveloped, basically peasant society has emerged as a modern, sophisticated nation on the global stage. Yet, unlike the US and other Western nations, this transformation has not come about through foreign military intervention or colonial conquest.
When was the last time the PRC waged war on foreign soil? Never, that's when. The PLA is a formidable outfit. But it is strictly for national defence only. In 1992, when the West was proclaiming Cold War victory for capitalism, Deng Xiaoping toured southern China giving speeches. In one he said: "I am convinced that more and more people will come to believe in Marxism, because it is a science. Using historical materialism, it has uncovered the laws governing the development of human society. So don't panic, don't think that Marxism has disappeared, that it's not useful anymore and that it has been defeated. Nothing of the sort!"
A visit to China in 2019 will show that Deng was proven correct, in no uncertain terms. The West still debates whether China has usurped the US as global superpower, by means of such financial measures as are applicable to a capitalist state. These economic trivialities cannot begin to explain the power of the PRC. China has a level of social cohesion that is unmatched anywhere in the world. The CPC makes decisions in the best interests of the people, they do not answer to corporations, just ask Google or Facebook. In fact the CPC has no issue in shutting down entire industries that are seen to negatively impact the citizens of China. This gives the people great faith in their government. The same government that reduced the poverty rate from 88% to 6%, the same government that provided public infrastructure that Western nations can only dream about, the same government that is actively working towards targets for social programs and nation building with outcomes to be measured in 2021 and 2049.
The Chinese people are all on the same page. The country is heading in the right direction and the people are fully aware of this. Forget the economics, socially they are an unstoppable force.
Of course, this cannot be attributed wholly to socialism. China has 5000 years of unbroken culture. In recent times they have withstood brutal and humiliating attacks on their sovereignty by imperialist powers. And they do not forget easily. The will to succeed may have its roots in the past, but the execution of this will is the solemn and unwavering responsibility of the CPC.
When one travels from a supposed modern capitalist country to visit China in 2019, the first impression will be that China has not just surpassed the US and other modern Western democracies, they are in fact decades more advanced. The Chinese high-speed rail network (comprising 30,000 km) is a perfect example of this. Australia still struggles with the concept of a high-speed rail link just between Melbourne and Sydney. Subway systems in major cities in China make those in Australia look primitive by comparison. In the Beijing Subway trains run every minute during peak times. The quality of food and fresh produce is better than Australia. Food is plentiful and cheap. Chinese technology companies are global leaders and their domestic market consists of a billion knowledgeable users receptive to new technology. Mobile payments are ubiquitous throughout China. These are all tangible symbols of a modern, progressive society. But that's only part of it.
When one spends more time in China a few things will become disarmingly apparent. China is a very safe place. There is very little crime. Personal conflicts are resolved easily without escalation. Ego is put aside for collectivism. Children are doted on by their parents. Public schools are very well maintained. Elderly people are strangely active, physically and mentally - and they are happy. After observing the day to day lives, social interactions and standard of living of the Chinese people, another more poignant and powerful impression will emerge: "This is how we should all be living".