From the Wall Street Journal's corrections and amplifications column: "Actress Liu Yifei is a cherished household name in China. A Sept. 3 Personal Journal article said she is a cherished name in Communist China. The Wall Street Journal's style is to refer to mainland China as China except in some historical political contexts."
We used to get complaints at the New York Sun when we used "Red China" in headlines. It's certainly hard reasonably to fault the Wall Street Journal for being soft on Communist China when the newspaper's reporters have been kicked out of the country. Even so, this correction was an eyebrow raiser. Communist China has adopted some capitalist practices, such as permitting entrepreneurs to get rich, but it remains deeply Communist in other ways, such as one-party rule, the absence of a free press, the deep involvement of the government in ownership and planning of many sectors of the economy, and the absence of civil liberties or meaningful rule of law. Those entrepreneurs can only get rich so long as they don't run afoul of the communist government. Describing the country as "Communist China" has the useful virtue of reminding people of those flaws.
The "historical political contexts" the Journal refers to probably means the time before Nixon adopted the "one China policy," the time when people thought of "free China" on Taiwan and "Communist China" on the mainland. That's why "Communist China" is not redundant. The Journal, as a U.S.-based news organization, is of course free to call China whatever it chooses, and it is probably wise to stick in the news columns closely to describing the reality of China with nuance rather than applying labels that risk oversimplification. Just in case anyone is wondering, though, here at FutureOfCapitalism, we will not issue any corrections after we describe Communist China, accurately, as that.