** Chinese history 20th century Great Leap Forward

Chinese History: Communist People's Republic (1949- )

Figure 1.--

Mao-Tse-Tung and the Comminist Party merged the victor in the more than two decades Civil War. The las important battles were fought in 1949. the Communists were left in control of most of the Mainland. Chang and the Natiinalists retreated to Taiwan anbd other offshore islands where the lack of a sunsrantial navy precented the Comminists from tking advantage of their military superiority. surrounding islands. On 1 October 1949, Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong proclaimed the establishment of the People's Republic of China (October 1, 1949). The PLA proceeded to capture Hainan and Tibet. Nationalist forces held out in western China during the 1950s, but were ultimately overwealmed. On Taiwan, however, the Nationalists not only held out, but prospered with proved very embarassing to Mao whose economic policies proved a disasterous failure. This led to military actions, but after Chinese intrvention in Korea, the American 7th Fleet intervenrd, esentially guaranteing the security if Taiwan. The success of the Communist Revolution led brought massive social change to China. The Communists iniitated radical reforms aimed at bringing China into the 20th century. Some efforts were effective, especially public health reforms. Others caused imense suffering. Landlords were executed as 'counter-revolutionary enemies of the people'. [Busky, p. 11.] Contacts with the West were curtailed as China looked to the Soviet Union and state planning to run their economy and begin a rapid modernization. Businesses and private land holdings were nationalized. Everyone was incouraged to think alike and dress alike. The desire was to put everyone on an equal footing. China after the victory of the Communists became a closed society. Information about China was essentially closed to the West. Effort by the CIA to penetrate the Bamboo Curtain were decidely unsuccessful. Agents droped by air or inserted along the coast simply disappeared. CIA military efforts with the Kuomintang failed. The British in an effort to save Hong Kong forbade the CIA to use the colony t penetrate China until 1968. Taiwanese intelligence was thoroughly penetrated. [Lilley] As a result, until Nixon's opening to China, the CIA had little more reliable information on China and Communist leaders than what might be found in the newspaper. This lack of information was first notable in the failure to appreciate the potential for Chinese intervention in Korea (1950). Mao encouraged population growth, and under his leadership the Chinese population almost doubled from around 550 million to over 900 million. Mao's Great Leap Forward, a large-scale economic and social reform project based on his ideological thinking, was a spectacular failure for both agriculture and industry. It cause the largest famine in Chinese histort and for propaganbda reasons, China refused to appeal for internatiinal assistance. No one know how many people died. Some estimates are as high as 45 million people (1958-61) [84] In 1966, Mao and his allies launched the Cultural Revolution, sparking a period of political recrimination and social upheaval which lasted until Mao's death in 1976. In October 1971, the PRC replaced the Republic of China in the United Nations, and took its seat as a permanent member of the Security Council. [kao, p. 188.] We notice very destinctive clothing with tge success of the Revolution.

Civil War

The Communists were an important part of the KMT coalition. They had a strong following among workers in many cities. Chiang who did not trust the Communists, fell out with them. The KMT and the Communist split was the beginning of the Civil War. Ching launched a military campaign against the CCP (1927). One of the CCP members who managed to escape was Mao Zedong. The Communists were in the 1920s a largely urban movement. Mao for example while of peasant orgins, became a Communist because he worked in a library where he read Marxist books. To escape the KMT campaign against the CCP, the Communists abandoned their urban base and fled to the countryside. Chiang with German military advisors tried to cut them off and destroy them. Chiang's goal was to "eliminate the cancer of Communism." He almost complete this, but the Communuists broke out from the KNT military encirclement (1934). The Communists were almost completely defeated. Suronded by KMT forces, Mao led the Long March and established the Communists in northwestern China. They began with about 100,000 people. After a year and 6,000 miles they were down to 6,000-8,000 people.


Since the spectacular voyages of Cheng Ho (Zheng He) in the 15th century, China showed little interest in the sea. This extended even to Taiwan whuch became know as Formosa during the Portuguese period. The Chinese made no effort to interfere with the piracy that developed from the island in the 19th century. Mariners from many countries (American, Btitain, French, Japanese, and others) complained to the Imperial government they received no satisfaction (1870s). The Manchu Emperor told them that "Taiwan is beyond our territory." The French launched an expedition to attack the pirates and occupied much of the norther part of the island (1884-85). Only with the rise of Japanese power did the Imperial Government begin to take an interest. The Emperor declared Taiwan to be a "province" of the Empire (1887). The First Sino-Japanese War was fought in part over Taiwan (1895). The Imperial Government in the Treaty of Shimonoseki, ceded Taiwan to Japan in perpetuity. The Taiwanese with some Manchu support declared independence (May 25, 1895). Yje Japanese landed 12,000 soldiers in the north (May 29). The Taiwanese firces were crushed and and Japan quickly seized control of their new possession. Japanese forces entered Tainan in the south (October 21). The Japanese occupation regime was was harsh. Unlike the Manchus, however, they were not corrupt. They supressed piracy. They founded a modern educational system. Classes were taught in Japanese. The Japanese made important investments in infrastructure, communications, trains, roads, and industry. [Kerr] The Japanese remained firmly in control of Taiwan throughout World war II. The Allies at the Cairo Conference accepted Chiang Kai-shek's request that Taiwan be "returned to China." American planners considered an invasion of the island, but the Philippines and Okinawa were selected instead. The Allies agreed to allow that Chiang's troops to "temporarily occupy Taiwan, on behalf of the Allied forces." The Taiwanese welcomed the Chinese troops, glad to be finally rid of the Japanese. The Taiwanese whole finding the Chinese at first to be less brutal than the Japanese, found the Chinese to be repressive and corrupt. A series of incidents occurred. An incident in Taipei led to a massive demonstration (February 28, 1947). Chinese authorities were surprised and brought in additional troops from China. Taiwanese leaders, students, professionals, and community leades were arrested. Large numbers were executed. Some reports suggest that about 28,000 people were killed. Scholars describe what follows as the White Terror and thousands more were arrested and tortured and many executed by the Taiwan Garrison Command. The Kuomintang (KMT) was defeated by the Communists in the Civil War on the Mainland (1949). Chiang Kai-shek withdrew to Taiwan where he declared martial Law. This was necessary in part because the Chinese population that escaped to Taiwan was only about 15 percent of the populatiojn. There he was protected by the American 6th Fleet. Taiwan thus became a flash point in the Cold war. Martial Law and dictatorial KMT rule continued for four decades. The islands of Quemoy and Matsu were an issue in the 1960 presidential election. The KMT maintained the fiction that Nationalist China was the legitimate government of China and some day they would recover the Mainland. . The Allies and Japan signed the San Francisco Peace Treaty ending World War II. Japan ceded Taiwan in the Treaty, but the future id the island was left up to the United Nations. While the KNT tightly controlled Taiwan politically, the island made considrable economic progress, becoming one of the Asian Tigers. Here the educated population and infrastructure left by the Japanese were an importnt factor. Nixon and Kissinger made their "opening" to China (1971). Beijing was awarded Taiwan's seat in the United Nations. The United States and China agreed to the Shanghai Communiqué (1972). The Communique is the basis for the United States "One China" policy.

Mao Tse-tung

Chairman Mao had humble roots. He was born in Hunan province (1893). Mao was the oldest of three brothers born to peasant farmers Yi-chang and Seventh Sister Wen. As a girl, Mao's mother did not have a real name. He reportedly had hpleasant childhood and worshipped his gentle mother. In cotrast he despised his stern father, who beat his son for disobedience. This sems to be a familiar senrio for evil dictators whi=o instead of becoming toleraht, adopted the method for ealing with people who opposed them. Mao reportedly began atvan early age, apparently 8 years old, began havinvproblem with his teachers and was expelled from at least three schools. WhileMao emphasized his peasant origins, the fact that his father could affird ti sen him to school reveals that he was a prosperius peasabt, the vert=y people he bgan eliminationg after the Communist victory. He married his first cousin when he was 14 years old (1908). He briefly enlisting in the army, nut left after only a few months because he disliked the required drilling and work details. He quit even though he hired someone to do his work details. Mao began teaching history. His students remembered him as dishevelled with holes in his socks. Traveling through Shanghai, Mao met an intellectual attempting to found the Chinese Communist Party -- CCP (1919). He was profoundly impressed by Mrxist thought. Thus at 26 years of age and with the Bolsheviks in control of Russia, Mao had found his mission.


Mao because he perpetrated a cult of personality that put stalin to shame is the enduring face of Chinese Communism. The only other figure that even appraches Mao in stature, at least, on the international scene is Zhou Enlai (周恩来 -- Chou En-lai) (1898–1976) was the first Premier of the People's Republic of China serving from 1949 and the creation of the People's Republic until his death in 1976. Beyond Mao and Zhou, very few foreigners can name any Chinese Communist leaders. A factor here isthat it was dangerous ib China to rise too high in public esteem least Mao begin seeing them as comeition. And several Chinese Communist leaders who dard to question Mao'sdiasterous ideas like the Great Leap forward were purged, most prominently Liu Shaoqi, who was once thought to be Mao's succesor. Vilified during the Cultural Revolution, he died in part because of the harsh treatment he received. Another purged official was Deng Xiaoping who would eventually lead China toward the market reforms (capitalism) which would reshape China and create a prosperous country in a way that Communsm and socialism failed to do. There are of course many other important figures although unknown in the west are familiar to Chinese readers, many playing important roles. Some wre Communists from the beginning. Others were KMT stawarts that changed sides during the Civil War. A good example is Wei Kuo-ching. It should be rembered that the KMT began asa revolutionary movement and after defeat in the Civil War, the KMT governance of Taiwan was more revolutionary than China as it not only brough its population out of poverty years before Mainland China and created a modern democracy which China has still not done.

Radical Social Reform

Public Health

Korea War (1950-53)

The North Korean Army crossed the 38th parallel on June 25, 1950 to forcibly unify Korea. The Soviets had provided modern weapons in great quantity to the North Koreans. Embolded by the Communist victory in China during 1948-49, Kim-il-Jong obtained Stalin's approval for the attack. President Truman immediately ordered war material be provided the South Koreans and then air support for the South Korean Army. Seoul fell within days. Truman went to the United Nations which, because the Soviets were boycotting the Security Council, approved a military opperation to repell the North Korean attack. Truman than ordered American military intervention. The Soviets had helped the North Koreans build a powerful military force. The United states after World War II had significantly scled back its conventional military force. As a result, the North Koreans pushed the South Koreans back to a small perimiter around the southern port of Pusan. Generl MacArthir from Japan organized an amphibious invasion at Inchon which caught the North Koreans between two forces. North Korem resistance collapsed and MacArthur rushed north accross th 38th parallel to completely defeat and occupy North Korea. Tuman was skeptical, but MacArthur assured him that Chinese warnings to intervene were bluff. They were not an America norces approaching the Yalu River were mauled by a massive Chinese attack. For a while it looked like the Chiese would tota;lly defeat the U.N. forces, but the front was finally stabilized north of Seoul. What followed was 2 years of stalemate which became a major political issue. Peace talks with the Communists were frustrating. Th major issue became the Communist demand that all POWs be returned, even the ones who did not want to be repatriated. Finally a ceasefire was reached. Stalin died in 1953. Eisenhower became president in 1953 and fulfilling a campaign promise, went to Korea. The armistice went into force (July 27, 1953). More than 3 million Koreans were killed as a result of the War. Millions more were made homeless refugees. About 1 million Chinese soldiers are believe to have been killed. American casualties totaled nearly 55,000.

Closed Society

Great Leap Forward (1957-60)

Mao and his supporters, once the Communists were firmly in power, launched a massive effort to remake the Chinese economy, convinced that "scientific" Markist ideology and central control gave them the capacity to achieve in decades what took centuries in the West. Mao and his associates conceived of the idea that the organization of large-scale rural communes could meet the country's industrial and agricultural challenges. Capital as a result of Markist ideology had negative implications. Thus Mao decided to use labor-intensive methods to develop the economy. Rather than capital and machiery, Mao set about mobilizing manpower. This was a plan prepared by poorly educated politicans who saw themnselves as infalable soicial engineeers despite the experimental nature of their undertaking. Not involved in the planning were competent agromomists and engineers. The economic goal behind the endevor was to bypass the slow, gradual process of industrialization followed by capitalist countries. The most famous example of the Great Leap Forward approaches was communities throughout China build "backyard" steel furnaces. These furnaces required little capital to build, only the mobilization of local labor. The iron and steel profuced, however, was of such poor quality that it was virtually useless. As with much of the production in Communist countries, the product produced was actually worth less that the inputs. In the Soviet Union which possessed enmense raw material resources, productive agricultural land, highly competent technicians, and the ability to expoloit its Eastern European Empire. This the impact of Communist economics was a poor standard of living compared to the Capitalit West. China was in a much more precarious situation and, as a result, the result of the Great Leap forward was a social and economic disaster of emense proportions. The Great Leap forward and adverse weather conditions generated perhaps the most dreadful famine in human history. Millions of Chinese died in the famine resulting from Mao's Great Leap Forward. The Great Leap should not only be viewed in economic terms, like the Cultural Revolution to come, there were underlying political factors. [Gabriel] Mao in the 1950s was the most important figure, but he was not a Stalinst dictator. There were other important figures in the Party. The Great Leap can be seen as anm effort to seize total control of the apparatuses of government and Communist Party as Stalin did in the Soviet Union. Other Communist Party figures had a more conservative outlook--men like Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping who saw Mao's policies as not only dangerous "adventurism", but also the underlying political implications. Many of these men wanted to follow the proven Soviet policies of transforming an agrarian society into an industrial society rather than acceppting Mao's more experimental approach. (At the time, the weaknesses of Soviet-style Communist economics were not yet exposed.)

Figure 2.--Communism in China has resulted in 45-75 million deaths, motly during the Maoist era. Mao's dearh toll exceeds that of Hitler and Stalin combined. And is far geeater than the Chinese killed by y=the Japanese durung Workd ar II. Despite this horrendous record, Mao has his defenders among Communists and even some Socialists. They refer to the millions of deaths as 'mistakes'--Orwellian New Speak at its finest. The largest numbers of deaths occured during Mao's Great Leap Formward and resulting famine. Even not considering the Great Leap, Mao oversaw the murder of tens of millions of people.

Totalitarian Crimes

The People's Republic like other Communist countries required massive application of force and control to direct and control society. Humans are naturally inquisative and creative , want to control their lives, express themselves., and to persue their own personal intrests. Because Communists believe that they have the definative vision of how human society should be shapd, they believe that a totalitarian state is necessary to contolled and limit these natural impulses. Chinese Communism was even more radical than Soviet Communism. Mao was intentnot only that everyone should think alike, but also dress alike. Fashion became an ananthema which during the Cultural Revolutuin could get you killed. The People's Republic was no different and inevitavly it led to terrible application of foirce in which millions of peoples have perished. This began with the birth of th PRC and the radical social reform which began with the killing of landlords and the prosperous peasantry. These were the kulaks which Stalin also targeted. The single most imporatnt of these crimes was Mao;s Great Leap Forward. Estimats suggest that 25-50 million people perished. These and other such crimes against humanity make Mao the single most deadly dictator in human history. Despite this record, Mao is still an honored figure in the PRC. Mao was such an esential component of Chinese Communism and the creation of the PRC, that modern PRC leaders are not willing to completely condemn him and remove him from an honored place in Chinese society. Not all of Chinese Communist crimes are of Mao's doings, but most incluing the most deadly in loss of life do relate to Mao. Mao's last crime was the Cultural Revoluion. While the body count of the Culturl Revolution was not as massive as the Great Leap Forward, the number of twisted and broken lives was monumental and China and its people lost an entire decade.


The Chinese Civil War went on for three decaedes, interpersed with the Japanese invasion n seconf Sino Japanese War (1937-45). The War caused millions of casualties and displaced millions of refugees. Most of the refugees during th 1930s-40s were fleeing the Japnese. This chnged with the Communist victory in the Civil War. The Chinese Communists defeated the Nationalist armies (1948) and founded the People's Republic of China. Few Chinese people understood what Communism was or what it meant for their and their country's future. Those associated with the Nationalist regime had a fairly good idea what it meant for them and those that could left for whee Chiang and th Nationlists made a successful stand. Chiang along with some 0.5 million Nationalist soldiers and 2 million civilian refugees was what was left of the Republic of China. Onece the Chinse Communists seized port cities along the Taiwan Srraits, futher refugee vflow of any importance ended. This mean that refugees of the Communist regime had no where to go. The Soviets to the north did not acccept regfugees and geographic barriers (mountains and deserts) blocked refugees. Geographic barriers along with historic emnities and war blocked refugee flows south. The refugee flow, however did mot end with the Civil War. As on the Soviet Union, the inherent weakness of socialist economics along with Mao's incomprtence created refugee flow. The one outlet was Hong Kong. The problem was that Hong Kong was a tiny British Crown Colony along the southern coast near Canton which could accomodate only a fraction of the Chinese peole seeking to flee the abject poverty that came with Communism. They refugees came in waves. The largest wave came with the disaster of Mao's Great Leap Forward which created the most deadly famine in Chinese history. Millions starved. And the only outlet from the uffering was tiny Hong Kong. Vast numbers of mainland refugees fled across the Shenzhen (a small fishing village) border to seek better lives in Hong Kong. As one author tells us, "Neither East Germans climbing the Berlin Wall nor the tens of thousands of North Koreans crossing the Yalu River to the Chinese city of Dandong could compare to the exodus from the mainland to Hong Kong. It’s an epic account of the fate of communists seeking a better life in a capitalist harbour, at a cost of life and blood." [Bingan] Some 2 million people goy into Hong Kong, mostly illeglly. The nu,br of people who dies along the way or were teturned to the Chinese Communists we are unsure.

Chinese-Soviet Break (1960)

One might expect the Soviets to have been strongly supportive of the Chinese Communists. Stalin's early relationwith the Chinese Communists were mixed. There were a range of crosscurrents that complicated fraternal ideological afinity. National interests led Stalin to question the growth of a strong Chinese state which would border lightly populated Siberia. And Stalin sensed from an early stage that he would not be able to control the Chinese Communist Party, unlike the Communist parties in Europe and other countries. And as concern with the Japanese grew, Stalin saw the Kumoingtung as a way of resisting Japanese military expansion. The Comminist victory in the Civil War was, however, presented to the world as another step in the inevitable triumph pf Communism. Mao traveled to Moscow to negotiate the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance, and Mutual Assistance (1950). China under the agreement confirmed certain rights to Soviet Union. One example was continued use of the naval base at Luda in Liaoning Province. The Soviets committed to military support, shipments of modern weapons, and a major economic and technological assistance program. This included technical advisers and machinery. China did not question Soviet leadership of the world communist movement. Many Chinese Communists at the time saw the Soviet Union as the model for development, especially because the Soviets turned largely rural Russia into an industrial power. China's participation in the Korean War (1950-53) strengthen China's position in the Communist world as they and not the Soviets intervened directly to support the North Koreans. The U.N.-sponsored trade embargo forced China to trade primarily with the Soviet Bloc. At this stage in their relationship, the Chinese were more closely associated and dependent on a foreign power than at any early period in history. Gradually strains in the Sino-Soviet alliance gradually began to surface. A range of issues were involved, including ideology, security, and economic development. Ironically one factor was the death of Stalin (1953). While Stalin's approach was to control other Communist movements, in China Stalin had immense prestige because of his defeat of Hitler and confrontaltional approch to the Western capitalist countries. Chinese leaders were disturbed by Nikita Khrushchev policies, especially deStalinization announced at the 20th Party Congress (1956). The idea of peaceful coexistence with the Capitalist West was another problem. The Soviet Sputnik launch seems to have strongly impressed Mao as did other early Soviet successes in the Space Race. Like many in the developing world, Mao saw these Soviet achievements as proof that Marxism was a scientific system and that because of this, the world balance of power had shifted in the communists' favor. As he phrased it, "the east wind prevails over the west wind". As a result, rather than Khrushchev's peaceful coexistence, Mao wanted a more militant policy toward the Capitalist West. And other aspects of the Soviet relationship alienated Mao and other Chinese leaders. High on the list was what was seen as a lack of support for the recovery of Taiwan. The Soviets made no effort to placate the Chinese. A Soviet proposal for a joint naval arrangement offended the Chinese (1958). It was couched so as to put China in a subordinate position. The Soviets (who had close relations with India) maintained strict neutrality during the Sino-Indian border disputed (1959). And centrally, the Soviets proved reluctant to honor its commitments to provide nuclear weapons technology. One indication of declining Soviet influnence was Mao's Great Leap forward, a significant departure from the Soviet economic model (1957-60). The first major step in the break between the two Communist powers was the Soviet decesion to withdraw military and technical advisers (1960). For China, the break with the Soviets was not unlike its break with the West after its victory in the Civil War. The Chinese were determined to pursue a policy of self-reliance and independence of action. This was more important than the benefits of technical and economic assistance. And Mao no longer was willing to be seen as Moscow's junior partner.

Cultural Revolution (1966-76)

Another major even more radical change occurred during the Cultural Revolutuion (1966-76), one of the most violent and tragic episodes in modern Chinese history. Major Chinese traditions such as respect for ones's elders were attacked. It was inspied by China's leader Mao Tse Tung and known as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Mao thought that the Chinese people were losing their revolutionary zeal. He this conceived of a cutural revolution to destroy once and for all the culture of pre-Communist China. Children were often forced to renounce their own parents. Mao sought to reinvigirate party cadre with a revolutionay commitment, to replace many in positions of rank and privilege who were no sufficently inspired, to punish the cadre for the criticisms that were lodged against Mao's disastrous Great Leap Forward experiment, and to continue attacks against the intelligentia who he thought were not sufficently committed to the Revolution. Important leaders including Peng Zhen to Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping who were not sufficently loyal to Mao suffered during the Cultural Revolution, now just as the intelligentia and those who hadn't embraced Mao's grand plan. Mao's power reached unprecedent levels during this period in a xenephobic and often irrational cult of personality, symbolized by a Little Red Book consisting of his quotations, ubiquitous buttons that bore his portrait, and statues virtually deifying him that were raised near any buildings of social significance throughout China. The attacks on people made during the Cultural Revolution were all done in Mao's name.


The success of the Communist Revolution led by Mao-Tse-Tung in 1949 brough a massive change in clothing styles. Throughout China traditional clothing was discarded for more modern Western styles approved by the Communist. European had appeared in Chinese coastal cities in the first half of the 20th century and might be worn by China's small educated middle class, but most Chinse wore largely traditiona; clothing until the Revolution. The Revolution was a thorough wide spread social revolution affecting life style and clothing in even the most remore villages of China. Boys might wear short pants in the summer and long often baggy trousers in the winter. The Young Pioneer red sacrves were everywhere. Fashion itself was looked down own as unecessary, even subversive. Contacts with the West were curtailed as China looked to the Soviet Union and state planning to run their economy. Businesses and private land holdings were nationalized. Everyone was incouraged to think alike and dress alike. The desire was to put everyone on an equal footing. Another major even more radical change occurred during the Cultural Revolutuion (1966-76), one of the most violent and tragic episodes in modern Chinese history. Major Chinese traditions such as respect for ones's elders were attacked, Red Army style uniforms became very popualar for boys. Since the end of the Cultural Revolution fashion along with a Western market economy has returned to China. Increasingly young Chinese are pursuing their on individual like styles and dressing like their counterparts in the West.

Opening to the West (1972)

President Nixon's opening to China had a major impact on international relations (1972). His ambassador to China was George H.W. Bush. President Regan's communiqué with Deng Xiaoping agreeded to limit arms sales to Taiwan (August 1982). This was, however, rendered essebntialy inoperative with Regan's simulatenous "six assurances" to Taiwan designed to insure that Taiwan would not be forced to negotiate with Beijing. [Lilley]

Market Reforms (1978- )

China’s economic reform and opening-up policy was launched under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping at the Chinese Communist Party's Third Plenum (1978). Deng had been pourged by Mao and as one of countless vuctims of the Cultural Revolution. Deng had dared to ask why under communism and socialist economics which was susposed to bring properity to workers and peasants, China languished in poverty while capitalist South Korea and Singpaore were suceededing with inprescsented prosperity. The stunnung sucesses of the Asian Tigers with their capitalist ecinomies was not what Lenin, Stalin, and Marx envisoned. Deng's very capitalist market reforms jump-started China’s transformation from a poor and underdeveloped centrally-planned economy into an economic powerhouse, increasingly driven by the free market capitalism. China talkks about 'market reforms'. This maean capitalism. The Comminisys do bot like the term mcapitalis, because socialism is susposed to be superior to capotalis. Thus tthe Comminists only talk about market reforms. Yet it was the acpitalist market reforms and opening-up policies that made private business and ikntriduced market incentives to what was the moribund, failing state-controlled communist economy. Prior to the 1978 market reforms, the private sector was basically non-existent. In fact it was illegal. Now private concerns contribute something like 70 percent of China's GDP and plays an important and growing role in the world economy. The market reforms, however, have not led to a liberalization of the country's totalitarian political system. It also has not affected the country intrenmatiinal tradinding system which was essenbtally state mercantkisism and maasive violatiin of dir tradunbg pracrices such as theft of untelectual property and slave labor. The European Union appears unwilling to confrontbChina on this. President Trump did, the first president to do so. It bis unclear if the Biden Administratiin will cointiunue this effort.

Tiananmen Square Protests (1989)

More than a decadec after China 1972 opening to the West, large numbers of Chinese people, esopecially students began asking why they did not have rights enjoyed by people in the West. This led to a series of protests and demonstrations throughout China in the spring of 1989. There was increasing interest among university students and others in China for political and economic reform. China by 1989 had experienced a decade of impressive economic growth and liberalization. Many young Chinese had been exposed to Western ideas and standards of living. Hard liners which were anott all that in favor of the reforms were apauled by these protes protests which they described as 'bourgeois liberalism'. These protests culminated on the night of June 3–4 with a bloody government crackdown on the demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. The protests were student-led demonstrations calling for the rights prevalent in Western society -- namely democracy, free speech, and a free press. Demonstrations occurred in cities throughout the country. It wasthe events in Beijing—especially in Tiananmen Square, seen as linked to other protests especially, as the May Fourth Movement (1919) have come to symbolize the entire incident. Not only was Beijing the capital, but there were large numbers of Western jourbalists present. Pro-democracy advocates, mostly universuity students, marched through Beijing to Tiananmen Square protesting the death of Hu Yaobang. Hu was a former Communist Party leader who had promoted democratic reform in China and had been demoted as a result. As a tribute to Hu, the students called for a more open, democratic Chinese government. Thousands of people joined the students in Tiananmen Square. The protesters iincreased to the tens of thousands (mid-May). They erected a reoplica of the statue of liberty in the middle of the Square. They were attacked by the People's Liberatiin Army and security forces leading to the Tiananmen Square Massacre (June 4 and 5).


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Created: 11:30 PM 4/3/2015
Last updated: 11:38 PM 2/6/2021