A woman buys pineapples in a supermarket in Xuwen county, South China's Guangdong province, on March 6, 2021. (PHOTO / IC)
Citing the strict COVID-19 pandemic prevention and control measures including distribution of medical supply and daily necessities, some people have been claiming that China is returning to a planned economy. That is ridiculous.
People who equate the anti-pandemic measures with planned economy expose their outdated thinking. They believe there is only one form of market economy, that is, capitalist free market economy which the United Kingdom and the United States represent.
The fact is, China has been practicing socialist market economy for the past more than four decades. The laws and principles of market economy are not set in stone. Nor is market economy confined to one pattern. On the contrary, its forms are varied.
China’s strict measures have helped largely contain the pan-demic because of the Party’s leadership and the advantages of socialist market economy
Factors such as history, culture and national conditions determine the form of market economy a country adopts. For instance, countries such as France, Germany, Japan and the Republic of Korea have developed forms of market economy whose characteristics are different from those of the UK and the US.
France's market economy is characterized by planning and guidance by the government because centuries ago France, while embracing mercantilism, realized the importance of state intervention in economic policy. German economists, who also emphasize the role of the state in the economy, have developed a form of market economy in which the market ensures efficiency and the government guarantees stability and fairness.
The form of market economy Japan and the ROK follow emphasizes the importance of industrial policy. Using industrial policy to realize the government-set goals of socioeconomic development is a distinctive feature of the two countries' market economy.
Yet a market economy model effective in one country may not necessarily be successful in another, because the conditions of no two countries are the same. So a country that blindly follows another country's development model regardless of their different conditions is doomed to failure.
Under the Communist Party of China's leadership, China adheres to socialist market economy. China has developed socialist market economy which combines the advantages of both socialism and market economy, including the decisive roles of the market and the government in resource allocation and wealth redistribution respectively, creating the "one plus one greater than two" effect.
However, the market can't dominate and decide everything even in market economy. The government has to exercise control over some areas, especially those related to the fundamental interests of the people and public safety, so as to better safeguard the overall interests of society.
Human values are undoubtedly more important than economic benefits in fields such as healthcare, basic education, and basic research in science and technology. For example, since the pandemic outbreak, large numbers of health workers, on the call of the Party, have been rushing to infection zones to help contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, largely because China has always put saving lives over economic interests.
China has ramped up efforts to contain the Omicron variant, because normalcy is a prerequisite for economic recovery and sustainability. China's strict measures have helped largely contain the pandemic because of the Party's leadership and the advantages of socialist market economy.
Socialist market economy has also ensured the government plays its due part in the economy, including organizing and mobilizing thousands of people to achieve a goal. Those leaders of free market economies criticize China's strict measures because they may not be able to mobilize the public to help contain the pandemic. No wonder they have chosen to "lie flat" and coexist with the virus.
Socialist market economy combines the advantages of the market and the government, which paves the way for effectively carrying out the anti-pandemic measures. Unlike in the planned economy, under which the entire economic system worked just as directed, leading to inefficiency, socialist market economy helps both the market and the government to play their respective roles. And China's success in effectively implementing anti-pandemic measures shows the superiority of socialist market economy.
The author is a professor at the School of Economics, Renmin University of China.
The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.