Mao’s China

Mao’s China
1. Great Leap
a. The Great Leap Forward began in 1958 and was Mao’s attempt to
modernize China’s economy so that by 1988, China would have an
economy that rivaled America.
b. The Great Leap Forward planned to develop agriculture and industry and
to allow for this, China was reformed into a series of communes.
c. Everybody involved in communes was urged not only to meet set targets
but also to beat them. This included food production, manual labor and
“backyard” production of steel.
d. Due to bad weather for crops and the falsifying of government records, at
least 20 million peasants died of starvation during the Great Leap.
e. Peasants are allowed to leave communes and resume farming. Mao steps
away from the spotlight and allows others to lead in his place.
2. Cultural Revolution
a. The Cultural Revolution was an attempt by Mao to re-impose his authority
on the party and therefore the country.
b. Mao believed that the progress China had made since 1949 had lead to a
privileged class developing and he believed that these people were
acquiring too much power at his expense.
c. Red Guards (groups of youths who banded themselves together)
encouraged all the youth in China to criticize those who Mao deemed
untrustworthy with regards to the direction he wanted China to take.
d. However, the enthusiasm of the Red Guards nearly pushed China into
social turmoil. Groups of Red Guards fought other Red Guards because
each separate unit believed that it knew best how China should proceed.
e. In October 1968, Liu Shao-chi was expelled from the party and historians
generally see this as the end of the Cultural Revolution. Mao had
witnessed the removal of a potential rival in the party and therefore saw no
need for the Cultural Revolution to continue.
China After Mao
3. Change in Leadership
a. Mao died in September 1976 at the age of 83.
b. Deng Xiaoping became the new leader of China.
c. Deng was a moderate who seized power from the radicals and wanted to
get rid of Mao’s heavy influence.
d. Deng placed the “Gang of Four” on trial for crimes against the state and
instituted many policies designed to improve and modernize China
4. Four Modernizations
a. Deng thought that economic growth was what China needed to improve
b. Deng targeted four areas in need of modernization
1. Industry
2. Agriculture
3. Technology
4. Defense
c. Chinese people were encouraged to work hard, not only for their benefit,
but also for China as a whole
5. China Reaches Out
a. China had been in isolation for twenty years and they had fallen behind
the West
b. Part of Deng’s modernization effort was to seek foreign investors and
acquire foreign technology, including the atomic bomb
c. This outreach allowed the historic visit of President Nixon to China
1. Ping-Pong Diplomacy!
6. Economic Gains and Political Pains
a. China began to make great improvements in addressing poverty and
b. Income doubled in the 1980’s and housing, sanitation and education
c. However, critics claim that Deng did not fully address political reforms
d. Inflation and increasing corruption in the government led to the famous
Tiananmen Square student protests in 1989
1. The government brutally put down the protests
e. China continues to rise today as a world power