China: From Mao and Deng To Xi Jinping

By Neenah Payne

China’s Amazing Global Role For 2,000 Years discusses China’s history from its founding over 2,000 years ago by Ying Zheng (259-210 BCE) who united the seven warring states of Chin, Zhao, Wei, Han, Chu, Yan, and Qi.  He became Emperor Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China. As a founder of the powerful Qin Dynasty (221-207), he was the first monarch in China to be called an emperor.

The article links to a video which explains that the Chinese government lasted in much the same form from 150 BC to 1911 AD. How China Created The Modern World lists some of the many Chinese inventions that revolutionized the world including  the compass, fireworks/gunpowder, moveable type printing, paper money/bank notes, mechanical clocks, porcelain (fine “china”), matches, seismographs, oil drilling, rockets, suspension bridges, paper  (newspapers, books, wrapping paper, boxes, facial tissues, toilet paper), rudders. deep drilling, wheelbarrows, adjustable wrenches, acupuncture, lacquer, blast furnace, stirrups, crossbows, hang gliders, abacus, row crop farming, moldboard plow, iron smelting, seed drill, umbrella, decimal system, bronze, noodles, tea, silk, waterwheels, and alcohol.

The Amazing Silk Road Returns! shows that after Venetian merchant  Marco Polo (1254 –1324) traveled the Silk Road to China from 1271-1295, his book The Travels of Marco Polo  tantalized Europe with news of China’s immense wealth and advanced civilization and was one of the most influential books in history.  Swedish Explorer Sven Hadin wrote in The Silk Road, “It can be said without exaggeration that this traffic artery through the whole of the old world is the longest, and from a cultural-historical standpoint, the most significant connecting link between peoples and continents that has ever existed on Earth.”

Christopher Columbus sailed West in 1492 to find an easier route to China than the long Silk Road. That led to the conquest of the Western hemisphere which enriched and empowered Europe for the last 500 years.

From “Century of Humiliation” To Communism

Dr. Martin Jacques – How China will change almost everything explains that the Chinese economy was the largest in the world until the mid-19th century and represented one third of the global economy. China accepted only silver in exchange for the many goods the West wanted. Britain, tired of paying in silver, seduced the Chinese to accept opium as payment! The British Opium Wars in 1840 forced China to open. That led to China’s “Century of Humiliation”. China went into precipitous decline in the 19th century by the end of which, China was occupied by many foreign powers. Britain took Hong Kong and Portugal got Macau. Britain returned Hong Kong to China in 1997 and Portugal returned Macau in 1999.

People’s Republic of China, Chairman Mao Zedong

Chairman Mao declares the establishment of the People’s Republic of China on October 1st, 1949

On October 1st, 1949, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), under Chairman Mao’s leadership, officially declared the establishment of the People’s Republic of China after finally defeating the Nationalist Party of Kuomintang (KMT),Chairman Mao declares the establishment of the People’s Republic of China on October 1st, 1949

Burning Books and Burying Scholars: On the Policies of the Short-lived Qin Dynasty in Ancient China (221-207 BC) explains that Mao Zedong was

the greatest mass murderer of the 20th century. According to the authoritative “Black Book of Communism,” an estimated 65 million Chinese died as a result of Mao’s repeated, merciless attempts to create a new “socialist” China.  Anyone who got in his way was done away with—by execution, imprisonment, or forced famine.

The most inhumane example of Mao’s contempt for human life came when he ordered the collectivization of China’s agriculture under the ironic slogan, the “Great Leap Forward.” A deadly combination of lies about grain production, disastrous farming methods (profitable tea plantations, for example, were turned into rice fields), and misdistribution of food produced the worse famine in human history. Deaths from hunger reached more than 50 percent in some Chinese villages. The total number of dead from 1959 to 1961 was between 30 million and 40 million—the population of California.

Deng Xiaoping: Architect of Modern China

When Mao died in 1976, China was the second poorest among 140 countries. More than 75% of the nation lived on less than US$2 a day and the economy wasn’t even 5% the size of that of the US. Now, China is a global superpower with the second biggest economy in the world.

The Opening of China: President Nixon’s visit to China in 1972 with Henry Kissinger shows that when Nixon went to China, the world viewed images of China for the first time in over two decades. The move proved to be a geopolitical game changer – ending nearly 25 years of non-communication. The “Week that Changed the World” culminated in the announcement of the joint US-China Communiqué in Shanghai.

Deng Xiaoping was Chairman of the Central Advisory Commission from 1982-1987. After the death of Mao Zedong, Deng led China through a series of far-reaching market-economy reforms that earned him the reputation as the “Architect of Modern China”. Deng’s visit to the US in 1979 initiated a series of high-ranking exchanges that continued until 1989. Although he never held office as the head of state, Deng introduced a new brand of thinking that combined socialist ideology with free market enterprise. He opened China to foreign investment, policies that are credited with developing China into one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and raising the standard of living of hundreds of millions.

When Deng focused on economic growth, China began making cheap goods for export which became China’s engine of transformation. In 1980, the Chinese economy was 5%  of the American economy. China now has the biggest car market in the world – about 30% bigger than the American market.

The Amazon Description for the 2014 book Deng Xiaoping: A Political Biography says,

One of the most important figures in global politics during the second half of the 20th century; Deng Xiaoping is generally considered the central figure behind China’s economic liberalization programme that produced historically unprecedented growth rates and development beginning in the late 1970s.

Lifting nearly a billion people out of poverty, Deng Xiaoping’s ‘Four Modernisations’ called for reform in agriculture, industry, military, and science and technology. Today these reforms are considered to be the crucial turning point in modern Chinese history, enabling China to effectively harness its previously-latent power in its quest to become a global economic superpower. Just ten years after this tremendous achievement, Deng’s brutal suppression of the democracy movement at Tiananmen Square severely undermined his international and domestic reputation.

Deng Xiaoping has generally been given the credit for the reforms of the late 1970s that put China on the path to spectacular economic growth and development, a process that has turned it into one of the greatest powers of the twenty-first century. His ‘Four Modernisations’ — reform in agriculture, industry, military, science and technology — unveiled at the Third Plenum of the Central Committee in 1978 undoubtedly paved the way for China’s rise to superpower status.


Deng Xiaoping’s role in transforming China 11/8/08

Deng Xiaoping is regarded as the “father” or the “chief architect” of the reforms that opened up China to the rest of the world. It was 40 years ago that his ambitious economic reform and open-door policy was adopted at the Third Plenum of the Communist Party’s 11th Central Committee. Since 1978, the country has embarked on a remarkable journey of economic growth and transformation.

The video below shows that Deng’s policy was “Socialism with Chinese characteristics”. Deng was not interested in maintaining a doctrinaire communist ideology. He was flexible and adopted some capitalist principles to modernize China quickly. What he achieved is nothing short of breath-taking!

China’s 40 years of reform that turned it into a superpower 11/30/18

In 1978, China was one of the world’s poorest countries. More than three quarters of the nation lived on less than US$2 a day, and the economy wasn’t even 5% the size of the United States’. Now, China is a global superpower with the second biggest economy in the world. We take a look at some of the staggering numbers, and the reasons behind ‘China’s economic miracle’.

Xi Jinping: Mao Plus Deng

Xi Jinping, President of China and General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party since 2012, is one of the most powerful political figures in the world. By initiating an unprecedented third term as China’s leader in October 2022, Xi has signaled he may plan to remain in power for life — making him the first Chinese leader since Mao Zedong to hold unchecked power over the People’s Republic of China.

Xi Jinping isn’t China’s new Deng Xiaoping 12/20/18

“In many respects, the fifth-generation leader of the People’s Republic of China is similar to Mao Zedong – who ruled the communist-run PRC with absolute power and an iron fist from its foundation in 1949 to his death in 1976 – and antithetical to Deng, who quit all his official roles in 1989…. Many other signals and factors indicate that, under Xi Jinping, China isn’t wholeheartedly carrying forward Deng’s cause. In some key respects, Xi is upending it.”

Xi’s constitutional move: an end or a means? 3/20/18

“On March 11, a historic amendment to China’s constitution – the first in 14 years – was almost unanimously adopted by the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC), with 2,958 in favor, two against and three abstentions.

It was China’s visionary reformer Deng Xiaoping who added the term limits into the country’s constitution in 1982. The limits to two five-year terms were applied to most top positions, but the most powerful posts of general secretary of the CPC and chairman of the CMC were excepted. However, since China’s reform and opening-up, so far there has never been any top leader choosing to remain in power for life.”

Xi Jinping’s “Chinese Dream”

Xi’s constitutional move: an end or a means? discusses Xi’s “China Dream”:

The ‘Chinese Dream’

Since 2012, Xi has been firmly marching toward his “Chinese Dream” – the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” In 2017, he clearly outlined a three-step roadmap for the “Chinese Dream,” aiming for China to become a moderately well-off society by 2020 (the 100th anniversary of the CPC), a modern socialist economy by 2035, and a prosperous and strong country by 2050 (the 100th anniversary of the PRC). In the amended constitution, “to achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” was officially instituted as the ultimate national goal….

Xi has launched the following initiatives that are changing China and the world:

  1. Brought 100 million rural Chinese out of poverty
  2. Belt & Road Initiative (BRI): “New Silk Road”
  3. Building infrastructure in Africa
  4. High-Speed Rail Network
  5. BRICS nations

These initiatives are major challenges to the West. Europe and America have a relationship with Africa based on centuries of slavery and colonialism. The nations of the “Global South” are now aligning with China and the other BRICS nations to challenge the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. The West has nothing comparable to the Belt & Road Initiative which seeks to unite the world now much as the old Silk Road did for centuries. Europe and America have no high-speed rail networks comparable to China’s.

The Xi Jinping Era: His Comprehensive Strategy Toward the China Dream 8/24/15

Amazon Description

China’s development has entered a new phase since the era of Mao and Deng Xiaoping. Its GDP has grown to more than 10 trillion US dollars, twice that of Japan’s and close to that of the United States; and Chinese diplomacy has taken on a more active profile as the nation moves towards superpower status on the world stage. At the same time, all of this has resulted in serious ecological problems, and as the economy develops social contradictions are growing more prominent within the country.

Xi Jinping, who became General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party in 2012, has developed a new philosophy of governance to confront these challenges. The result is a 30-year plan that is the roadmap to The China Dream, which has led to various programs such as the ongoing campaigns to address and eliminate corruption within the CCP and reform of the Military; Market reforms and the “Belt and Road Initiatives” meant to improve domestic infrastructure and broaden Chinese economic influence on the world stage; and the evolution of a new approach to foreign relations.

In addition to an analysis by leading Chinese thinkers of the elements of this plan and its implementation, an overview of Xi’s early career and the first two years of his leadership provide readers a look at his thinking and how it has developed and provides a preview of what we might expect from China in the Xi Jinping Era.

The long game: China’s grand strategy to displace American order

The Long Game: China’s Grand Strategy to Displace American Order (Bridging the Gap)

China’s Hundred-Year Strategy

Beijing has a documented plan to be the premier global superpower by 2049. It’s over halfway there.

Americans think in four-year election cycles. Chinese leaders think in terms of centuries. Just leaf through the glossy, cream-colored, gold-flecked pages of The Governance of China. This anthology of political theories by Chinese President Xi Jinping is considered almost sacred scripture in Beijing.

Across 18 chapters about leading the most populous nation on the planet, Xi outlines his utopian vision for the Chinese people. In the world he describes, the Chinese are heirs to an ancient and unique civilization entitled to a privileged position among nations. In this world, China is an economic, cultural and military superpower, while the United States is no longer a major geopolitical power.

If the Chinese people dutifully follow the program their paramount leader has laid out in The Governance of China, Xi promises they can achieve what he terms the China Dream by the year 2049—exactly one century after the founding of the People’s Republic of China during the Chinese Communist Revolution.

Achieving the China Dream has become a trademark slogan of Xi’s administration since he first publicly uttered the phrase in a November 2012 speech.  When Xi refers to the China Dream, however, he isn’t making empty political promises like so many Westerners assume.

He is actually making a subtle reference to a geopolitical strategy. Nationalist hawks in the Chinese military have been pushing this strategy since the days of Chairman Mao Zedong.

In a book actually titled The China Dream, People’s Liberation Army (pla) Col. Liu Mingfu outlines a strategy for China to surpass and replace the United States as the world’s premier superpower. This book is a bestseller in China. Only parts of it have been translated into English. This book is where American defense policy adviser Michael Pillsbury first came across a specific written reference to the “Hundred-Year Marathon.”

The Hundred-Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower

Collapse of China in 10-20 Years?

In spite of Xi’s success and long-term vision for China, The End of The World Is Just The Beginning shows that Peter Zeihan, author The End of the World is Just the Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalization, predicts the end of China as an economic entity in 10 years and as a political entity in 10-20 years. Zeihan’s predictions are based on four big problems with the Chinese economy now.

However, American billionaire investor and hedge fund manager Ray Dalio disagrees with Zeihan. Dalio is the founder and co-chairman of Bridgewater Associates which, over the last 40 years, has become the largest and best-performing hedge fund in the world. Dalio has appeared on the Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world as well as the Bloomberg Markets list of the 50 most influential people. Dalio is the author of the 2017  #1 New York Times Bestseller and #1 Amazon Business Book of the Year Principles: Life and Work.

Yet, Dalio seems to be the only “China Bull” – perhaps because he is invested in China. All other analysts seem to be strong “China Bears” for multiple reasons. In fact, many believe China faces a much more imminent crisis than Zeihan predicts – and that has major implications for the US and the world.

An upcoming article will look at Dalio’s predictions and those of a variety of “China Bears”.

Neenah Payne writes for Activist Post

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