An otherwise OK Boston Globe editorial about China’s problems with tainted products (“Another China syndrome”) is marred by its final words:
China was able to export products that killed dozens of people not because of one corrupt official but because of its one-party system, its lack of a truly free press, and its savage style of unregulated capitalism.
Economic development in China is not being practiced through laissez faire capitalism. Economic and political liberties are highly interdependent. China’s monopoly of political power by the Communist Party and the resulting lack of political liberty inevitably leads to corruption in the commercial sector, because Chinese commerce depends on the permission of an unaccountable and opaque party.
China is not practicing a “savage unregulated capitalism”, though aspects of its economic development may fairly be called harsh. China is practicing a form of capitalism that is handicapped because it is regulated by thousands of party cronies who exploit their political monopoly power.
In a better paper, editorial writers would recognize this distinction.