China is indeed still a communist nation (making money, but still communist). When was the last time a democratic vote took place (even a rigged one)? What power do the people have over their leadership? Disobey, get shot. Organize a group, they bring tanks.
The communist leadership has in the past opened the door to "capitalist" opportunities that they felt were in their interest, only to slam the same door shut as soon as they felt it had gotten out of hand. This will likely happen again, we will see. An uprising is unlikely given the size of their military-literally millions of soldiers.
As far as the amount of GDP coming from capitalism, I respectfully disagree. Most western companies attempting to do business in China are forced (by government intervention) to include Chinese partners (usually at 40-50% plus levels) in all business activities/profits. This does not happen here (USA, and all allies that I can think of), and puts our "democratic" businesses at a significant disadvantage. This is not capitalism, it is a communist government taking advantage of our desire to spread our "capitalist" ideas and consumer society. Do you really think that the senior leadership in China is moving toward democracy? We should not underestimate their intelligence by believing that they will all of a sudden change their way of doing things. They have done things their way for much longer (thousands of years) than we western allies have. They know exactly what they are doing.
My overall impression of the idea of "backpacking light" is a return to simplicity (and of course light weight), which I completely agree with. Why not simplify by buying less, but buying "democratic"?
You may spend more per item, but will be
1. supporting allies/democracy
2. combating, instead of supporting, significant human rights issues
3. not filling up landfills with disposable junk (how much made in china crap have you just thrown away because it is so cheap to replace)
4. most likely be buying higher quality products that will cost you less in the long run
Not to mention not buying products that could contain poison. Let's not forget all the instances of products being found here in America with "outlawed" substances made in China. Remember the recalls of toys over the years? If you poison children you have absolutely no regard for anything but evil. How many things do we have in our homes that were never tested? Some people have homes that were built with this stuff-see Chinese Drywall. I am sure that none of us think that our government is actually capable of protecting us from the millions of products that we import. How many of those things do we touch, drink from, eat off of, etc?
I'm just saying take where things are made into account. We consider need, price, ounces/grams, color, size, among many other things. I am arguing to take the origin of the products we buy seriously, as it really does matter in the long run.
The United States is seriously in debt to China (#1 holder of US Government bonds) so do not expect our leadership to actually do much to upset our landlord. We as individuals are left to do what we can.