Legal Disclaimer

This blog wishes it be known that the opinions presented herein are the sole responsibility of the author, and do not represent the feelings, opinions, ideas, or conclusions of any affiliated organization or group. Additionally, the author has chosen to keep the blog confidential during the Olympic Games 2008, as the reaction of the PRC towards foreign opinion remains ungauged. Thanks for reading.
Beijingfuturesdreams, 2008

Friday, June 27, 2008

Mao's China

After fighting for and against the Kuomintang in the 1930’s and 1940’s Mao and the CPC army finally gained control of the Chinese government in 1949 and began the current regime of the People’s Republic of China. From 1949 until his death in 1976, Mao sat atop the Chinese government, issuing edicts, giving speeches, and bringing about a new vision for the Chinese land, people, and culture.

Though much of his legacy has come under fierce debate by Eastern and Western historians alike, this historical recap will attempt to shy away from these debates as much as possible…for now.

Various political highlights speckle Mao’s tenure as leader of Communist China. Here we will briefly list them and the intentions that drove them. We will also, VERY briefly discuss the impacts of each.

1) The Great Leap Forward

Though this policy implementation is highly regarded as a failure in many regards, it foundation and repercussions should be understood.

Following the first of the five-year plans issued to bring the whole of China into a Communist social order similar to those of the Soviet Union, "The Leap" was intended to develop China's agricultural and industrial sectors in tandem. Collectivization in the rural areas into mega communes consisting of thousands of households, and the redistribution and sometimes complete abolition of privately held land set the scene for such a bold move.

The state called for a doubling of steel production in one year, and took many of the rural agricultural workers from their duties in the fields to build the backyard steel industry. 1958's disastrous crop output was followed by a 3-4 year famine, and for sources for the PRC were very limited. Urban demand for available food channeled available resources away from the rural areas, and resulted in a mass starvation. Resulting starvation led to death tolls that are estimated between 14-40 million.

To further underline the great failure of this project, much of the produced steel was of a low grade and unfit for real industrial growth.

The resulting negative impression of Communism and Mao's leadership abilities led to his withdrawal from the position of State Chairman of the PRC, and the public eye. However, he maintained his position of Chairman of the CPC, and continued to influence the face and direction of the Chinese political topology.

2) The 100 Flowers Campaign

This brief period of encouraged open criticism and opposition to official state policy was initially lauded by the intellectual and peasant classes. However, some consider this campaign as a strategic enticement by Mao and the CPC to uncover center of dissent and possible unrest. Many critics who voiced their discontent found themselves stripped of political rank, and often dispersed to the countryside or executed. It ran concurrent to the Great Leap Forward.

3) The Cultural Revolution

This was Mao's final campaign as the voice of Communism, and the reformation of Chinese society. Officially this set of reforms lasted only from 1966 until 1969, however, many Chinese and Western analysts alike state that the policies and movements propagated by the early stages of the Cultural Revolution would remain intact and widely powerful until the Chairman's death.

Drawing strength from the iconic status that he had culminated during the early part of his political and military career, Mao began to orchestrate a purging of Chinese culture aimed at political ideals and entities that he termed backwards and detrimental. Through the CPC he was able to form a nation-wide organization known as the Red Guard to carry through this final political aims.

The Red Guard, following the edicts and statements of Mao Zedong, violently moved through the intellectual, political, and business sectors, eliminating any voices opposed to Mao's Communist platform. Millions of member strong, The Red Guard stood outside the reach of state police, and, it is argued, outside of the control of anyone save Mao.

Through 1976, The Cultural Revolution effectively silenced all opposition to the CPC, and closely monitored all aspects of culture for anti-communist content. This included the performing arts, literature, mass-media, academia, and party approved documents. These policing efforts were not limited to domestically developed content, but were (and many argue still are) pointed at information coming into the PRC.

Repercussions of the above

The effects of Mao's tenure as State Chair and Chairman of the CPC are still widely felt in much of Chinese society. The ideals he promoted, and restriction of opposing viewpoints are still widely held as positive aspects of China's modern face. The effective dissembly of all political factions opposed to the CPC has left the government in a political monopoly, the effects of which are under heated critical review even today. The deaths of millions, even in a land of billions, still leave penetrating scars.

Positive effects of the Chairman's implementation of policy include national healthcare programs, free education, and a supple social struture that was ready for the various changes that have occured in the past 30 years. High literacy, lower poverty, and an invigorated social spectrum of 1.3 billion people remain testaments to Mao's "Revolutionary" vision.

Finally, the eyes of Mao still watch over the entrance to the forbidden city in the heart of China's political heart.

No comments: