I was debating with brien on another thread about this, and decided to see how you smart kids felt on the subject.
Totalitarian implies that a one-party state has a monopolistic control on all economic, political, social, and cultural facets of every citizen's life. In political journals, China is often referred to as authoritarian, because its one-party government no longer enjoys such a monopoly. The economy has been rapidly privatizing since the "reform and opening" movement was initiated in 1978; now, the majority of state-owned enterprises have been privatized by domestic entrepreneurs or, more often, foreign investors. In fact, business is booming so rapidly in China that the phenomenon of xiahai (literally, "jump into the sea") entrepreneurs leaving the government to engage in private enterprise has left the Communist Party (CCP) with a recruitment problem: the party's simply not the only economic game in town anymore.
However, the CCP is still in complete control of politics. That is true.
As for social and cultural control, the party also has a firm grip thanks to the propaganda it feeds the people with from elementary school on. However, things are changing with the development of the internet, which is providing a very small outlet and inlet for news and innovative ideas.
Communism implies that the state has total control over the economy, which, as I mentioned above, is not true. China's been a part of the WTO since 2001, which enforces its reciprocal trade requirements with all member states. Foreign investment in 2005 surpassed US $700 billion, and this year's economic watershed China's banking system also opened to foreign entry.
In fact, all one has to do is come to Beijing (you can stay in our spare bedroom ) to see all the getihu - private businesspeople, selling their wares on blankets and carts at every street corner. These sales are completely unlicensed, and the government turns a blind eye to it.
Communist? Totalitarian? What's your view?