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Have the Chinese people been better off in each of these areas since the death of Mao?

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Introduction

Have the Chinese people been better off in each of these areas since the death of Mao? Since Mao's death in 1976, there have been economic, social, and political areas of both change and continuity. The leadership that came into power after Mao's death shared his aspirations to develop an economy sufficiently strong to compete with the rest of the world. This, however, is virtually the only element of economic continuity. The methods employed by Deng Xiaoping and his government contrasted significantly with Mao's. Their 'four modernisations' of 1978, two of whose aims included agricultural and industrial advances, removed several of Mao's restrictions on the economy and so allowed for a much freer market. In the 1980's this gave the economy a growth rate of 10% per annum, one of the largest worldwide. Today, in fact, it is the fastest growing economy, as China experiences unprecedented economic expansion - foreign investment in 2003 amounted to $50 billion, and Chinese steel comprised over one quarter of total global production. Naturally, this has led to the migration of (ten million) ...read more.

Middle

Other changes that China experienced after Mao's death were social benefits and improvements. One of the aforementioned 'Four Modernisations' was progress in levels of education, which were indeed realised. Further improvements came as a result of the economic expansion, in housing, healthcare, and hygiene - many people in towns and cities were eating far better than in Mao's time. These changes, however, belie many of the social aspects of life in post-Mao China. The massive economic growth and consequent social developments in the urban areas potentially blind one from the abject poverty in many rural areas that had not changed since 1976 (and Mao's death). The growth the country experienced ought to have filtered down to the lowest classes in society and aided their lives too, but this was not the case and in this respect there has been little change since Mao's death. In all, there may be some elements of the social spectrum that suggest improvements (living standards in urbanised areas) but there was no nationwide enhancements, especially considering the potential there was for such developments, and in general the changes are not quite as significant as they may initially seem. ...read more.

Conclusion

In the longer term however it is clear that freedom of speech and other features of democratic states are never really more than ideals in China, and the brief flirtations the country enjoys with such things are soon crushed by the government, Mao's or otherwise, as they become insecure for the safety and security of their power. In reality, the fundamental political principles underpinning China have remained as they were before Mao's death. This continuity is most brutally exemplified in the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, during which forces dispatched by the government began to use tear-gas shells and violence to disperse the crowds, eventually open fire and killing five thousand citizens. Harsh crackdowns on pro-democracy leaders ensued and since then little opposition of any sort has emerged in China. This epitomises the approach of both Mao and the post-Mao government of China to resistance and general disagreement and it is an area of significant continuity between the two. Overall, the political elements of China have experienced little lasting change, and its people have not therefore been better off in this area since Mao's death. ...read more.

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