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China and the death penalty

24th May 2006 Socialist Action 0

First published: 24 May 2006

An earlier article (‘The US Gulag’ – 22 May) pointed out that in terms of the relative size of their populations the US has six times as many people in prison as China, and that it is clear from the statistics of ethnic composition of those imprisoned that this greater rate of imprisonment in the US specifically hits racial minorities. In short the US has not only an extremely large scale but also a racist gulag. Knowledge of such data is obviously extremely relevant to judging the lack of credibility to be given to US government protestations concerning its supposed commitment to human rights, as opposed to economic and military self-interest, in criticising China.

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10 years after 1989

1st December 1999 Socialist Action 0

First published: December 1999

Ten years after 1989, the consequences of the re-introduction of capitalism into Eastern Europe are clear and acknowledged even by some of the international agencies which sponsored the process.

The World Bank reports in its 1999 World Development Indicators: ‘In 1989 about 14 million people in the transition economies were living under a poverty line of $4 a day. By the mid-1990s that number was about 147 million, one person in three. The distribution of income in the communist period was relatively egalitarian, primarily because of a relatively flat wage distribution, but also because of the virtual absence of income from property and the redistribution of income through social transfers… Today, some eight years later, income distribution has worsened sharply, particularly in the former Soviet Union… the stress is showing in the declining or stagnating life expectancy and sharply worsening adult mortality. Today, for example, the probability that a 15-year-old Ukrainian male will survive until his sixtieth birthday is a mere 65 per cent, down from 72 per cent in 1980. The Europe and Central Asia region is the only part of the developing world with rising adult mortality rates. Even Sub-Saharan Africa, with its AIDS epidemic, is seeing a reduction in adult mortality.’