Courtesy Reuters

Ten Years After Mao

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A decade has passed since the death of Mao Zedong. During these years, China has embarked on a course of reform that Deng Xiaoping has called a "new revolution" and Premier Zhao Ziyang asserts represents "an extensive, profound and sustained transformation" of the country's economic structure. In a 180-degree change of direction from Mao's last years, the Chinese have moved rapidly from ideological dogmatism toward eclectic pragmatism, from extreme totalitarianism toward liberalized authoritarianism, from a command economy toward "market socialism," and from autarkic isolationism toward international interdependence. These trends signal a major new stage in China's long march toward modernization.

The central theme in the historical drama that has unfolded in China since the mid-nineteenth century has been the search for "wealth and power" and a respected role in the modern world. Repeatedly the Chinese have started a new phase with great expectations, only to end in failure. The collapse of the Manchu dynasty in 1911 led to the creation of a republic, but soon China disintegrated into warlordism. In the 1920s the Kuomintang, or Nationalist, regime began a process of national reintegration, and for a decade it made real progress. Then, in the face of Japanese aggression and communist revolution, the Nationalists also failed; during the civil war after World War II, China again disintegrated.

The victory of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1949 was a major watershed. The new regime rapidly established an effective central government that reunified the country for the first time in

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