If DMan thinks that China's poverty and inequality are a consequence of socialism s/he is dead wrong. I'd agree it is a failure of Chinese socialism that it hasn't eliminated these problems from Chinese society after fifty years, but surely it's a sobering thought that despite the madness and suffering of the Great Leap Forward, the famine with six millions dead that it lead to, the Cultural Revolution etc. the average Chinese farmer is a lot better off now and lives in a more equal society than in 1949.

Don't get me wrong, I hold no brief at all for the discredited and corrupt Chinese Communist Party and despise figures like Mao for wasting the opportunity that they had to do something so much better, apparently failing for reasons of pure bloodymindedness (see for example Philip Short's biography of Mao). But where I work here in Sichuan there was slavery right up until the 1950s when the communists got here, and across China women had their feet bound and were sold in marriage as a matter of course into the early years of the twentieth century. It could have been a lot lot better, but it certainly used to be a lot lot worse.