Sen. Bernie Sanders praised China’s ruling communist party on Tuesday, saying it has “made more progress in addressing extreme poverty than any country in the history of civilization.”
Sanders, a Democratic presidential candidate and Independent Vermont Senator, told Hill.TV’s Krystal Ball that China deserves credit despite “moving unfortunately in a more authoritarian way in a number of directions.”
“But what we have to say about China in fairness to China and it’s leadership is if I’m not mistaken they have made more progress in addressing extreme poverty than any country in the history of civilization, so they’ve done a lot of things for their people,” Sanders said.
Sanders also said he does not view the ascendant Asian power as an “existential threat,” arguing that the United States could have “a positive working relationship with China.” He said he would handle the relationship differently than has President Donald Trump, who is leading an escalating trade war with the country.
However, Sanders stressed that he is against “unfettered free trade” and the North American Free Trade Agreement. He would not rule out using tariffs as president.
Bernie Sanders praises China, ignores human rights abuses
Meanwhile, Sanders had little to say about China’s bleak records on human rights, including the government’s ongoing campaign to push over a million Uighur Muslims in what many journalists, former inmates, and the U.S. government have called “concentration camps.”
On the campaign trail, in both the 2016 and 2020 presidential races, Sanders has sought to distinguish his brand of democratic socialism from authoritarian left-wing regimes. But he has a long history of overlooking their sins and admiring their state-run economies.
What kind of socialist is @SenSanders?
Industries he advocated government takeovers of:
• Public utilities
• Television industry
• Private charity @Liz_Wheeler and I ask what doesn't he want to nationalize?
— Will Ricciardella (@WillRicci) August 28, 2019
In local public access TV clips from the 1980s, when Sanders was the mayor of Burlington, Vermont, Sanders is seen praising the the accomplishments of the Soviet Union, Cuba and Nicaragua.
One clip, from 1984, shows him recounting how he had recently visited the Nicaraguan government, made up of socialist revolutionaries, and advised them on how to “manipulate” Americans through the media.
In another video, from 1988, Sanders discusses a recent trip to Moscow, saying he was impressed with their public transportation, which he calls “very very effective,” and their youth programs, which he says “go far beyond what we do in this country.”
Just a few years later, the Soviet Union collapsed under the weight of its stagnant political and economic systems.