Monthly Archives: May 2012

The forming of the People’s Republic of China

Major combat in the Chinese Civil War ended in 1949 with the Communist Party in control of mainland China, and the Kuomintang retreating offshore, reducing the ROC’s territory to only Taiwan, Hainan, and their surrounding islands. On 1 October 1949, Mao Zedong proclaimed the People’s Republic of China, which was commonly known in the West as “Communist China” or “Red China” during the Cold War. In 1950, the People’s Liberation Army succeeded in capturing Hainan from the ROC, occupying Tibet, and defeating the majority of the remaining Kuomintang forces in Yunnan and Xinjiang provinces, though some Kuomintang holdouts survived until much later.

Mao Zedong proclaiming the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.
Mao encouraged population growth, and under his leadership the Chinese population almost doubled from around 550 million to over 900 million. However, Mao’s Great Leap Forward, a large-scale economic and social reform project, resulted in an estimated 45 million deaths between 1958 and 1961, mostly from starvation. Between 1 and 2 million landlords were executed as “counterrevolutionaries.” In 1966, Mao and his allies launched the Cultural Revolution, which would last until Mao’s death a decade later. The Cultural Revolution, motivated by power struggles within the Party and a fear of the Soviet Union, led to a major upheaval in Chinese society. 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. In that same year, for the first time, the number of countries recognizing the PRC surpassed those recognizing the ROC in Taipei as the government of China.In February 1972, at the peak of the Sino-Soviet split, Mao and Zhou Enlai met Richard Nixon in Beijing. However, the US did not officially recognise the PRC as China’s sole legitimate government until 1 January 1979.

Mao Zedong

After Mao’s death in 1976 and the arrest of the faction known as the Gang of Four, who were blamed for the excesses of the Cultural Revolution, Deng Xiaoping quickly wrested power from Mao’s anointed successor Hua Guofeng. Although he never became the head of the party or state himself, Deng was in fact the “paramount leader” of China at that time, his influence within the Party led the country to significant economic reforms. The Communist Party subsequently loosened governmental control over citizens’ personal lives and the communes were disbanded with many peasants receiving multiple land leases, which greatly increased incentives and agricultural production. This turn of events marked China’s transition from a planned economy to a mixed economy with an increasingly open market environment, a system termed by some “market socialism”;the Communist Party of China officially describes it as “socialism with Chinese characteristics”. China adopted its current constitution on 4 December 1982.

Many anthems of The People’s Republic of China have been considered before《义勇军进行曲》Yìyǒngjūn Jìnxíngqǔ “March of the Volunteers” was eventually decided on. Several western songs were considered including a chinese translation of John Lennon’s Imagine that was declined by the artist quoted saying that it, “…turned my message into sinister propaganda.” Despite the strange request which may have been an effect of the strange attempt to improve relations with the west, the majority voted for a indigeonous song for the national anthem that would be played at various international events such as the 1972 Olympics.

The death of pro-reform official Hu Yaobang sparked the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, during which students and others campaigned for several months, speaking out against corruption and in favour of greater political reform, including democratic rights and freedom of speech. The protests were eventually put down when the PLA enforced martial law in Beijing, resulting in thousands of casualties. This event was widely reported and brought worldwide condemnation and sanctions against the Chinese government. The “Tank Man” incident gained particular fame abroad, although the events in Tiananmen Square remain a sensitive and often-censored topic in China itself.

The “Tank man”

The city of Shanghai has become a symbol of China’s rapid economic expansion since the 1990s.
President Jiang Zemin and Premier Zhu Rongji, both former mayors of Shanghai, led the nation in the 1990s. Under Jiang and Zhu’s ten years of administration, China’s economic performance pulled an estimated 150 million peasants out of poverty and sustained an average annual gross domestic product growth rate of 11.2%. The country formally joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.
Although rapid economic growth has made the Chinese economy the world’s second-largest, this growth has also severely impacted the country’s resources and environment.Another concern is that the benefits of economic development has not been distributed evenly, resulting in a wide development gap between urban and rural areas. As a result, under President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, the Chinese government initiated policies to address these issues of equitable distribution of resources, though the outcome remains to be seen.More than 40 million farmers have been displaced from their land, usually for economic development, contributing to the 87,000 demonstrations and riots which took place across China in 2005 alone.Living standards have improved significantly, but centralized political control remains tight. Although China largely succeeded in maintaining its rapid rate of economic growth despite the late-2000s recession, its growth rate began to slow in the early 2010s, and the economy remains overly focused on exports and fixed investment.
Preparations for a major Communist Party leadership change in late 2012 were marked by factional disputes and political scandals, such as the fall from power of Chongqing official Bo Xilai.During China’s decadal leadership reshuffle in November 2012, Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao were replaced as President and Premier by Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, who formally took office in 2013.



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