The deal to bring China into this international capitalist-imperialist system required China:
- To continue its already existing economic transformation back to capitalism at home, and to make a commitment to mostly do this along Western monopoly capitalist lines. (State monopoly capitalism was to be more and more cut back, or made nominal, which China was already doing anyway.)
- To (more or less) fully open up its economy to foreign investment by MNCs based in other countries, and allow them to also exploit local low-paid Chinese labor both for the Chinese market and for export.
- To (more or less) play by the international rules of this world imperialist system, including the rules promulgated by the IMF and WTO.
In exchange, China was:
- Granted membership in the WTO and access on nearly equal terms to the international markets for its goods. Unequal tariff barriers and such were qualitatively lowered.
- In a much better position to acquire foreign technology, not only in foreign factories operating in China, but also in locally owned Chinese factories.
- Allowed to export capital to other countries in the world imperialist system, to buy up foreign mines and other companies which are a major source of raw materials needed by the Chinese economy, and to set up subsidiaries of its own corporations (state owned or private) in foreign countries, and to buy up assets all around the world.
As this arrangement developed, and China became ever more important in the world economy, there was a tacit financial agreement tacked on top of this: China would be allowed to run a huge trade surplus provided that it used a large part of this surplus to buy up a great part of the ever-growing government debt that the U.S. and other countries were incurring. The present world economic system could not continue functioning if this was not happening. (It is highly unstable, even as it is!)
So not only is China an integral part of the world capitalist-imperialist system, with its ruling class benefitting tremendously from its participation in this system; this world system has in turn become overwhelmingly dependent on China for its crucial role within it: Both its huge role as a manufacturer of low cost goods, and its critical role as a lender to the U.S. and other countries to prop up the whole international financial system. China is now not only part of the world imperialist system, its economic and financial role within that system has become as essential as America’s military role!
China’s economy is now not only certainly a capitalist economy, but a monopoly capitalist economy. And because its state-owned enterprises (SOEs) now operate much as if they were private multinational corporations, it is from a Leninist standpoint unambiguously also an imperialist country. (Remember: Capitalist-imperialism in the modern era is the same thing as monopoly capitalism, according to Lenin!)