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Social reform in China since 1949.

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Introduction

Mao Zedong, the supreme ruler of China since 1949, a figure who was idolised and worshipped, but also a leader who had inadvertently caused the starvation and death of twenty million of his own people, died on the 9th September 1976, at the age of eighty three. Previously he had ruled with the "Gang of Four," who comprised of Mao's wife, Jiang Qing and three radical politicians from Shanghai. Their ideologies were extreme Left and after his death the "Gang of Four" prepared to take over China. However they were widely criticised, and were then imprisoned within a month of Mao's death, on instructions of the commander of the government and the army at that time, Huo Guofeng. It was Guofeng who declared that Mao's principles should be continued, and that any decisions that he had made should be carried out. But public opinion was starting to swing towards the Right, and between 1976 and 1980, the moderates within the Communist party gained an advantage over the extreme Left wing section of the party. In 1977 Deng Xiaoping, who had returned from the exile that he was condemned during the Cultural Revolution, became Deputy Prime Minister. Even though he was acted under Guofeng he had a great influence over the other Party leaders. ...read more.

Middle

The vast improvement of the economy since the death of Mao obviously caused the standard of life for the population of China to improve significantly. The peasants, owning their own land again, experienced the freedom to produce plenty of food for themselves and benefited from the sale of the excess crop. Previously, under Mao, the regimented lives in the communes had left the workers with no motivation to work. The farming privitisation undid all this, the workers had their own interests in mind to work hard and so the bumper harvests that followed meant that food was no longer in short supply, in fact it was in plentiful supply. The people under Deng, unlike those under Mao were not starving, but were healthy and well fed. They were freed from only thinking about the mundane problems that affected them years before, such as how much food they would have after state requisition, since it no longer affected them. They could plan how to earn enough money with which to buy new televisions and refrigerators and they could consider the communist system under which they lived. This freedom allowed the welcome economic growth of consumerism to grow. Deng famously said, "it doesn't matter about the colour of the cat, as long as it catches mice." ...read more.

Conclusion

While the single child policy started to succeed in some cities, in the areas where the party had diminished power, in such areas as the economic zones, the policy was simply ignored. Education as I have said was offered readily to the only child of families. China's population was greatly affected by Deng's wish to concentrate on education. He wished that his country would move forward and modernise, not through sheer numbers and enthusiasm as Mao wanted, but by skill. Despite Mao's determination for enthusiasm to win over skill, under him illiteracy dropped in China from eighty five percent in 1949 to only twenty five percent in 1965. In schools indoctrination of young pupils was commonplace, teaching the children to be selfless and promoting Deng's communism. The days were long and involved much physical exercise. It was obvious that Deng wanted a population who was also dedicated and fit to work long hours. Deng was eager to make sure that people's lives, although vastly improved by an economy that was loosely based on that of the western world, would still revolve around the state. After Mao's death, as it is now evident, the economy developed beyond recognition. This was down to relaxation of the harsh Communist values in favour of more moderate plans of Deng Xiapeng. Society was influenced directly by the economic boom that China experienced, however not wanting to be seen as turning towards Capitalism restricted complete social reform. ...read more.

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