China in the 20th Century

Topics: People's Republic of China, Deng Xiaoping, Mao Zedong Pages: 20 (3095 words) Published: October 8, 1999

China in the 20th century has been going through enormous changes. From

colonialism and imperialism to republicanism, from communism to capitalism, and from

underdevelopment to a country maintaining over 10% economic growth for over ten

years. In this research paper, I will focus on the transition of China from a Communist

command economy to a type of market economy as well as the economic fluctuations

throughout this period.

In 1949 Oct 1, the People’s Republic of China was established. Before 1949,

there was a period of civil war soon after the world war two. The confrontation was

between the Nationalist Komintang led by Chiang Kai Shek and peasant-based

Communist party led by Mao-Zedong, ended with Chiang’s defeat. Mao became the

leader of China, and he believed that Marxism was the best way to solve China’s social

and economic problems. He wanted to stop the landlords from exploiting the farmers.

Under the rule of the Communist party, the people owned all the economic areas of

China, and these would be controlled by the Communist government. All of the people

would work for the common goal of the country. As a result, Chinese socialism was born.

The pre-communist history of modern China has been essentially one of

weakness, humiliation and failure. This is the atmosphere in which the Communist Party

developed its leadership and early growth. This resulted in strong determination by

chairman Mao to eliminate foreign influence within China, to modernize the country and

envision a strong economy under Communist control. Therefore, a series of radical

reforms were introduced and the social organize was transformed under Communist


Economic growth during the first ten years of Mao’s regime was significant.

However, the Great Leap Forward (1958-61) introduced catastrophic changes resulted in

a famine in which some 30 million people may have died. The Cultural Revolution from

1966-76 led to further disruptions and the standard of life worsened. (all these will be talk

in details later) After the death of Mao Zedong in 1976, Deng Xiaoping came into power

in 1978. He was in favor of capitalist-style reforms and he also changed China

fundamentally by introducing dramatic changes in economy to cope with the growing

influence of global capitalism.

The period of Mao

Before the People’s Republic of China was established, China remained

predominantly rural and agricultural, with close to 90 percent of the population living in

the countryside and about 65 percent of the national income generated in the agricultural

sector. (Liu and Yeh 1965, 66, 212) At that time, very few people could read, inflation

was so high that prices sometimes rose daily, and the tenants were greatly exploited by

landlords (Kristof and Wudunn,61).

The period of 1949 to 1952 was largely the reconstruction and rehabilitation

period. Land reform began promptly after the founding of People’s Republic. The

Communist halted inflation, restoring confidence in its new paper currency, divided up

the land, tried to end up opium addiction and prostitution, banned child marriages, and

encouraged the peasants to go to school and breathed new hopes into the people. It was

the first time a moderate degree of equality ever existed for most of the Chinese people

(62). Most people were delighted by the communist, reconstruction works were

completed by 1952. During this rehabilitation period, output in both industry and

agriculture rose rapidly from the sharply depressed 1949 levels, and hadd been restored to

previous peak levels (Lippit 133).

The period of recovery and rehabilitation was followed by the First Five Year

plan, 1953-1957, during which output continued to rise strongly (110). During...
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