China in the Cold War

Communists Take Power in China and China Reform and Reaction

Communists Take Power in China

Communist vs. Nationalist:
  • During WWII Chinese Communist and Nationalist temporarily teamed up to fight the Japanese invaders

  • After the war ended, they went right back into civil war, and the Nationalist outnumbered the Communist armies 3 to 1

  • Despite the advantage of numbers, the communist army was better trained and more determined from promises of land for the peasants

  • Mao Zedong’s victory in China caused even more U.S. anti-communist feelings

  • U.S. sent about 2 billion dollars in aid to the nationalist China

The Two Chinas Affect the Cold War:

  • When Communist won in China, the losers fled to Taiwan

  • The U.S. helped Taiwan establish a government ( Democracy )

  • The Soviets sent China aid with military, economic, and technical aid

  • China and Soviets agreed to help each other if ever attacked

  • India and China clashed over Borders in 1962

Mao Zedong:

Born December 26th, 1893 to a small family of farmers. Mao had a successful grain dealer father, and a nurturing mother. Mao attended some school as a child, but was working in the fields by the time he was thirteen. At fourteen he was supposed to have an arranged marriage, but he refused to accept. At seventeen left home to enroll in secondary school, and in 1911 joined the Nationalist movement. He later became a founding member of the Chinese Communist Party. In 1949, after a bloody Chinese Civil War, Mao established the People’s Republic of China, and then made himself the leader.

The Communists Transform China:

  • The Communist Party had goals to rapidly strengthen rule, and restore China to a powerful nation.

  • Similar to the Soviets, the Chinese Communists set up two parallel organizations, the Communist Party and the National Government. Mao headed up both until 1959.

  • Mao was determined to reshape China’s leadership and economy based on Marxist Socialism. He realized that peasants had the value to reshape the country, and gained their support. Mao’s changes also transformed industry and business in China. Mao launched a five year plan that set high production goals for industry. China’s output of coal, cement, steel, and electricity increased dramatically.

  • Mao predicted that to expand on success, the country required a “Great Leap Forward.” This plan called for peasants to live in Communes, or villages of people that lived, ate, and worked together, while all profits from labor went to the state. The project was a failure and it backfired. The overall plan was hampered and in 1961 a famine killed about 20 million Chinese citizens.

  • In the late 1950’s China and the Soviet Union’s ties began to fade, as each sought to lead the worldwide Communist movement.As they also shared the longest border in the world, they faced numerous territorial disputes. After the failure of the “Great Leap Forward”, and the split with the Soviet Union, China took a lesser role in government, but urged the youth of China to represent his ideas. In 1966, the Red Guard was formed. Groups of High School and College students who protested the new style of government. By 1968, however the Red Guards were disbanded.

Communists, Nationalists, and China's Revolutions: Crash Course World History #37

Mao Zedong

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China Reform and Reaction

Setting the Stage:
  • A political reform arose in the late 1980s and built economic reforms earlier on in the decade.

  • The leadership of the communist party supported economic reform and opposed political reform.


The Legacy of Mao:

  • Mao believed that there were 3 essentials to improving the Chinese economy: peasant equality, revolutionary spirit, hard work.
  • Lack of modern technology damaged Chinese efforts to increase agricultural and industrial input.
  • Mao stifled economic growth because there was no incentive for higher production. He tried to replace family life with life in the communes and these policies took away the peasants’ motive to work for the good of themselves and their families.
  • Mao began the Cultural Revolution in 1966 to cleanse China of anti revolutionary influences.
  • The Cultural Revolution turned many people against radical communism, when the goal of it was to get them to want it more.
  • In the early 1970s, China entered another moderate period under Zhou Enlai. Zhou, who had been premier since 1949, had tried to restrain the communists.


China and the West:

  • During the Cultural Revolution China barely played a role in world affairs.
  • China split with the Soviet Union over the leadership of world communism.
  • China’s isolation worried Zhou, he began to send signals that he was willing to form ties in the west.
  • President Nixon, Mao, and Zhou agreed to begin cultural exchanges and limited trade. In 1979 the U.S. and CHina established diplomatic relations.
  • When Mao and Zhou died in 1976, moderates took control of the communist party and jailed radicals that led the Cultural Revolution.
  • Deng Xiaoping, the most powerful leader in China, embraced a set of goals known as the “Four Moderations” to improve China’s economy.
  • Deng leased land to individual farmers who paid rent by giving food to the government. This increased food production by 50% in the years 1978 to 1984.
  • Deng’s economic policies produced huge, modern changes in Chinese life.


Massacre in Tiananmen Square:

  • Deng’s economic reforms caused many unexpected problems.
  • The gap between the rich and the poor increased simultaneously with living conditions.
  • Citizens believed that party officials profited their positions.
  • New policies admitted Western investments, tourists, and, most importantly, political ideas.
  • Chinese students studied abroad more and more and learned about the west.As the students began to learn about Western democracy, they began to question China’s lack of political freedom.
  • In 1989, students began an uprising that stunned leaders.
  • Starting in April,the students, more than 100,000 of them, began a protest in the heart of Beijing, which was Tiananmen Square, for democracy.
  • These students won much support, especially when they went on a hunger strike.
  • Many students called for Deng Xiaoping to resign.
  • Instead of considering political reform, Deng commanded martial law.
  • ordered about 100,000 troops to surround Beijing. Many students left after martial law was declared, but a brave 5,000 remained. They erected a statue that they named the Goddess of Democracy.
  • On June 4, 1898, heavily armed soldiers, tanks, and gunfire killed hundreds and wounded thousands.
  • The attack on Tiananmen Square was just the beginning of a massive government campaign to stamp out protest.
  • Police arrested thousands of people, the media was used to announce that reports of a massacre were untrue and officials claimed that a small group of criminals had plotted against the government.


China Enters the New Millennium:

  • During the last years of Deng’s life, he continued his program of economic reforms.
  • In February 1997, after a long illness, Deng passed away.
  • Communist Party General Secretary Jiang Zemin assumed the presidency.
  • Questions arose after the death of Deng about what kind of leader Jiang would be.
  • Jiang had few allies and faced challenges from rivals.
  • In the 1990s the United States pressured China to release political prisoners and ensure basic rights for political opponents.
  • The desire for freedom still ran throughout the Chinese society.
  • In 1997 Jiang paid a visit to the US. Protesters demanded more democracy in China.Jiang said that China had made mistakes but refused to promise that China’s policies would change.
  • President Jiang Zemin and Premier Zhu Rongji announced their retirement in 2002.
  • Hu became president of the country and general secretary of the Communist Party.
  • A major issue for China was the status of Hong Kong. Hong Kong was a thriving business center and a British colony.
  • On July 1, 1997 Great Britain handed over Hong Kong to China. China promised to respect Hong Kong’s economic system and political liberties for 50 years.


China Beyond 2000:

  • Major reduction in poverty
  • China managed to maintain economic growth.
  • People in China have a desire for more political freedom.
  • In 2000 the US Congress voted to normalize trade with China. People who support this argue that the best way to prompt political change in China is through engagement with other countries instead of being isolated.
  • China hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing which shows their increasing engagement with the world.

Deng Xiaoping

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Tiananmen Square