Deng Xiaoping's Economic Reform

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Throughout time, many countries have needed to implement some sort of economic reform in order to strengthen their economy so that they can be more of a power on the world stage and to stabilize their country. The Chinese reforms were long in the making, an unfolding process that had spanned most of the 20th century and, unlike other countries such as Russia who were trying to do the same thing but whom eventually failed, China prospered, and increased its economy greatly. China has had the fastest growing economy in the world for the past two decades, with an annual growth rate of approximately 10 percent since the economic reforms in 1979, and now has the second largest GDP in the world, second only to the USA. Starting in 1979 they have implemented numerous economic and political tactics to open the Chinese marketplace to the rest of the world, and Deng Xiaoping’s appointment in 1978 was the catalyst to further economic development within China. Just a few areas China's government has been addressing are agricultural technology, the medical market, and infrastructures, like telecommunications, transportation and the construction industry. China is one of the very few countries that have made a successful transition from a centrally planned economy to a market economy, and done over several important periods since 1978 up until the present time. The following piece will examine these periods and the reforms put in place by Deng Xiaoping. Firstly it is important to analyze how Deng came about his position in the late 70’s and the immediate impact that he had. Deng gradually emerged as the de-facto leader of China following Mao’s death in 1976. Prior to Mao’s death, the only governmental position he held was that of First Vice Premier of the State Council (Zhiyue, 2007). By carefully mobilizing his supporters within the party, Deng was able to outmaneuver Mao’s appointed successor Hua Guofeng, who had pardoned him, then oust Hua from his leadership positions in 1980. Deng continued to outmaneuver his political opponents, by encouraging public criticism of the Cultural Revolution, he had weakened the positions of those who owed their positions to that event, while strengthening the positions of those like himself and had been purged during that time (Chang, 1991). Deng’s elevation to China’s new number-one figure meant that the historical and ideological questions around Mao Zedong had to be addressed properly. As Deng wanted to pursue deep reforms, it wasn’t possible for him to continue Mao’s hard-line “class struggle” policies and mass public campaigns, and in 1982 the Central Committee of the Communist Party released a document entitled On the Various Historical Issues since the Founding of the People's Republic of China. Mao retained his status as a "great Marxist, proletarian revolutionary, militarist, and general", and the undisputed founder and pioneer of the country and the People's Liberation Army. "His accomplishments must be considered before his mistakes", the document declared. Deng personally commented that Mao was "seven parts good, three parts bad." The document also steered the prime responsibility of the Cultural Revolution away from Mao to the "counter-revolutionary cliques" of the Gang of Four and Lin Biao (Chang, 1991). From this moment on Deng was vital to China’s economic reforms and their rise to becoming a major economic power in the world today. The years between 1978 and 1984 were when Deng really started to assert himself on the Chinese economic front. His first reforms began in agriculture, which was long neglected by the Communist Party. By the late 1970’s, food production and supplies were so deficient that another “disaster of 1959” was being talked about by many people. That was of course the famines which killed tens of millions during the Great Leap Forward (Brandt, 2008). Deng responded to this talk by decollectivizing agriculture and emphasizing the Household-responsibility...
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