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How did China change after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976? What were the consequences of this change?

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UYEN NGUYEN, 600122167 China Since Mao Lecturer: Dr Chris Waters 10. How did China change after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976? What were the consequences of this change? An understanding of political upheaval in China and the consequences it shows to everyday people can be seen in the following quote: 'Chinese people have struggled to understand the world, a world much larger and diverse than traditional Chinese culture acknowledged. Modern struggle in china is not just a history of leveling inequality and lifting peasants out of cyclical starvation, but also a history of people trying to assert a viable national identity in an often confused world.'1 With this understanding and approach to studying the effects of the reforms in China, we see the much deeper, profound implications of the political turmoil China has faced in the 20th century, and not just the economic and political implications of any reforms and changes the Chinese people might have to endure, but also the cultural changes and any possible consequences this will have on their identity. In this essay, I will attempt to demonstrate how Chinese society and views within it have changed over the course of the second half of the 20th century and the way this manifested itself in protest. ...read more.


The confusion, sense of betrayal, loss of identity and the general fearful atmosphere was taken to breaking point with the death of Zhou Enlai, the leading moderate in the CCP leadership. The protests were brutally put down, and blame was put on Deng Xiaoping, the reformer who would later seize power after Mao's death which followed soon after. It can be seen this protest's origin lay in the confusion and anger created by this period, whereas the later 1989 protest would arise, not out of confusion, but out of a very thorough understanding of the situation and the fact that an order existed which made no sense to the sensibilities of Chinese. As a matter of identity, the reforms were critical; and the transformation that resulted was not just an inner one, but also changed the outer world view of the Chinese. The reformists did not speak of 'changing souls' as it was in the Maoist era, but they challenge the meaning of Chinese culture as economic reforms stimulate a desire for self expression, and political reforms heighten the aspirations of groups of people for more participation in the political process.7 Thus, we can see the big impact on the identity of the Chinese people, and the various particular social circumstances which would allow such a globally-broadcast protest which is widely known about by the masses to occur. ...read more.


Those who might dismiss their 'patriotism' as being mostly in their own self-interest should take note of the variety of people who were willing to participate in such protests, some in seemingly comfortable positions under the new regime; One such group, 'The flying tigers', made up of young entrepreneurs, rode around on motorbikes to support the students.13 If there was any failure in the linking up of students, workers and businesspeople to make the protests effective, it was the traditional sense of superiority of the intellectuals, prevalent in Chinese culture. So it can be observed that despite the reforms, and the changes that occurred in Chinese society, a sense of the Pre-Mao social reforms was re-established in a sense, and it was the re-emergence of some of these characteristics which impeded the protests and the good intentions of those involved. The protests occurred with the realization that the rhetoric and actions of the CCP were quite different; despite its declaration to be the vanguard of the people, in many people's eyes Deng was no different from Emperors of old.14 China is still reforming and changing, and it will be interesting to see how the commitment to humanist ideals and a Confucian sense of social order will combine in the next generation's view of the world. ...read more.

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