Ying Ma on Life Under Mao and China's Economic Miracle


"For a long time, people were not allowed to have dogs in the city, because that was also a capitalist indulgence," says Ying Ma, author of the memoir Chinese Girl in the Ghetto, which chronicles her childhood in China's final days of communism.

Ma's family lived through the crumbling of Maoism and the rise of economic liberalism, and talked with Reason TV about the dramatic changes that Chinese citizens saw in their everyday lives. 

"For the first time, people got to choose where to work. For the first time, they got to choose where to live. For the first time, they actually got to choose what to buy on the market," says Ma. 

Ma also discusses the future of the Chinese economy and explains why pundits like Thomas Friedman are mistaken to laud China's continued authoritarian rule. 

About 8 minutes.

Interview by Nick Gillespie. Edited by Zach Weissmueller. Shot by Josh Swain and Weissmueller. Additional camera by Sharif Matar. 

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  1. 40 years of pure Communism in China kept a billion people in poverty and killed 100 million.

    20 years of partial capitalism has lifted 200 million out of poverty.

    Natually, lefties are complaining about “rising inequality” in China.

    1. They never had communism, it was just plain socialism. The religious left in the States hates China because in an act of heresy it gave up socialism for a free market, and even worse, it has been very successful. As a result, according to the left media, nothing good ever happens there. In my 30 years of close contact with China I have seen it become more like the US of the 1950s while the US is becoming more like the China of the 1980s. They already have more economic freedom than the US and with the increase of Statism in the US, they will probably pass us in social freedom.

  2. And just as naturally Thomas Friedman is lauding Chinese authoritarianism.

  3. Any regime that keeps dogs out of the city can’t be all bad. All they do is bark and shit!

    Oh yeah…and kill children. 6 kids under 1 year old reported killed by the family dog in 2012. One child as young as 2 days old.…..ted_States

  4. @4:40

    China has Solyndras!

  5. I am not worried about China at all, as far as economics goes. How many times, in how many ways, do we have to be shown that central planning cannot work, and it can lead only to misallocation and destruction?

    Fifty years ago, the collectivists and Keynesians were telling us that the USSR was going to surpass the USA “within the next five year plan.” In the 70’s and 80’s, it was the Japanese. Then they got into Keynesian central planning, and they’ve stagnated ever since.

    Central planning cannot work, it will always fail. Mises proved that economic calculation is impossible under central planning, and Rand showed better than anyone else what collectivism does to individual people–and thus to civilization.

  6. China is an example of why democratic governments fail. Under a democratic government radical market reforms simply wouldn’t ever happen and government would simply grow. Only in an oligarchy does the ability to change exist.

  7. Hmm. When Ying Ma was hired, it was to “assist international companies in developing positive relations with U.S. government agencies and with Capitol Hill.” Still pretty fond of the state, aren’t you, Ms. Ma?

  8. talked with Reason TV about the dramatic changes that Chinese citizens saw in their everyday lives. ,..

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