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Essay Question: To what extend do you consider Mao’s domestic policies more successful than his foreign policies?
Between the years 1949 and 1976 China was in a faze of changes, which varied in good and bad, the way roller coasters vary in ups and downs. Mao Zedong was the Chairman during those years whom one could make responsible for numerous successes and failures in China. His domestic and foreign policies were the causes of millions of deaths, economic highs and lows, unhappy peasants and many more factors which harmed and helped China to build up and backwards after feudalism had been removed from China.
The Five Year Plan, which was a duplicate of the plan that Russia used to overcome the countries misery, took place between 1952 and 1956 and was a success for entire China. The Hundred Flowers Campaign, which Mao started in 1957, is known to be one of his greatest failures and resulted in chaos, along with the collectivisation plan in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s and the Great Leap Forward Mao failed to help his country. As he supported the Korean War in the 1950’s Chinas budget decreased my thousand of millions of Yuan. This foreign policy was a disaster for China and even though several domestic policies were introduced, none of them could really keep China and it’s masses in population contend.
Due to the support China had provided Korea with many more people died. If Korean had not been supported by Chinas budget, then one could argue that not as many people would have been killed the Korean War. Maybe the number of deaths could have been reduced to half a million or so, one can only speculate, yet it is clear that this foreign policy did not do any good, but much more harm. It did not only destroy human lives, it also harassed the Chinese budget and as a result made China very weak.
PRC Expenditure in Percentages of Total Budget:
As is shown on the table in 1950 the percent of money which was taken away from the budget is 41,5 %. This is almost half of the entire Chinese budget. Most of this money supported the Korean War and helped Korean to defend itself. By 1957 this percentile had gone down, but all most every other one went up. For an example 51,4 % of the Chinese budget was being used to support the economic development. This is a vast amount of money needed to support the economic development of a country. Even though this foreign policy supported Korean, it was and opposition for the donator, China.
The Five Year Plan can be viewed purely as a success. Mao was impressed with what Lenin had accomplished with it and decided to do the same. Mao and the PRC, People Republic of China, build up the same Five Year Plan as Russia and succeeded. The National Resources Committee, NRC, had already taken care of several industrial ideas, which Mao had, and they were also the ones who had total control over the industrial investment sections. During the Five Year Plan a significant amount of migration took place. Families moved from the countryside into the large cities to find jobs at factories. One major factor that makes the Five Year Plan a success is of the inflation, from which China had been suffering for many years, which Mao achieved to decrease.
It dropped from over 1,000 percent to nearly 15 percent and was a result of a raise of taxes and a change of the Chinese currency from the Chinese Dollar to the Yuan. Not only did the PRC want to focus on the production of steel, coal and petrol-chemicals, but also on transportations such as the Chinese automobile. An event, which is a perfect example to demonstrate the successes of the Five Year Plan would be the construction of a road and railway bridge, which crossed the Yangzi River, which can be seen as a contribution to the modernization of China. By 1952 the PRC had introduced their goals of what they wanted to achieve during the Five Year Plan.
Their targets were to produce at least 555,000 bicycles by 1957, yet instead they produced more than 1,740,000. Also, they planned on manufacturing 4,000 trucks, but they achieved to produce more than 7,500. However magnificent this all sounds and how proud China must have been, if Russia had not helped China to industrialize, they would have never been able to compare themselves with the Soviet Union after their Five Year Plan had Worked so well. Meaning, China was not as successful as Russia had been, because China got the Soviet Unions support, whereas Russia made it on their own two feet. However, one should give credit to Mao for the Five Year Plan, because this was one of his only successful domestic policies and it gave China a better economic position in the world.
The Hundred Flowers Campaign, which was a domestic policy, introduced in 1956, was probably Mao’s greatest Failure during has dictatorship. When Mao became the Chairman in 1949 he strict freedom of speech policies, since he did not welcome any other political opinions other than those of communism. In 1956, Mao Zedong decided it was time to allow people in China to speak their minds free from fear of persecution by the government. Mao wanted to encourage free speech and healthy arguments. This was introduced with the phrase “let a hundred flowers bloom.” With this he wanted allow the expression of diverse ideas. Mao colleagues to stop this policy, due to the fact that Stalin had lost power in Poland and Hungry through this policy. However, he pressured boldly forward.
After some time thing got out of hand and Mao replaced it with the ‘anti-rightist’ operation. Mao sent intellectuals, layers and even teacher to the countryside, had them humiliated publicly, or let them be assassinated. The Hundred Flowers Campaign was a disaster. Thousands were killed because they had their own opinion and expressed it freely, just the way Mao had provoked. When Mao said: “It is only by using discussion, criticism and reasoning that we can really foster correct ideas, overcome wrong ideas and really settle issues.” and then killed the majority of those who obeyed his new policy, one must ask oneself, what he really intended with this.
One could argue that Mao did not create the Hundred Flower Campaign to get feed-back and criticism so that he can improve the countries situation, it is thought that Mao introduced the Campaign to find those who had something to say against him and his ideas in a quicker and more efficient way than before. In conclusion, Mao became more powerful, however, be betrayed his own country. This is how one can see where his domestic policies were much less successful than his foreign ones. With his foreign policy mention earlier, he provoked death due to a war, whereas in his domestic policies he provoked death due to his own ignorance and utter ruthlessness.
Once one has made one mistake, it seems as though one has released a chain of reactions. At least this is the case for Mao, because his next mistake was not far from his last one. The Great Leap Forward, which took place in 1958-1962, was a hardship on the peasants. Even though China had modernized and industrialized there were still many problems to come. Although Mao stood upright for equal treatment of all humans and even though Mao and his family were peasants, he set up a list of strict rules for the peasants to obey. This was a result of the following. Mao realized that not enough food was being produced and brought to the cities, because of the migration that took place in the Five Year Plan. Too much of the population was now working in the factories and the economic planner concluded that this was the fault of the peasants.
Since the peasant families were increasing rapidly each month, too much grain was going to the individual families, and thus, Mao decided to put the peasants under strict central control and direction. During the great peasant revolution Mao had given the serfs freedom and the land that once belonged to the landowners now belonged to them. However, the Collectivisation Plan changed everything. Now the peasants were not working for themselves anymore, but for the government, to prevent another shortage of grain in the cities. China’s agricultural land was split into 70,000 communes, each consisting of 750,000 brigades, each made up of 200 households.
The setting of prices, distribution of products, farming methods and the sales were all controlled by the PRC. Since the targets of grain production of the government were so high, there was not much grain left for the people. Hunger and death was well known during that time, and millions had died of starvation. Alone in Tibet 20% of the population had starved to death. The main problem of this crisis was that nobody told Mao about these happenings, because they were all afraid to undergo the same destiny as all the others who told him the bad news. However, one man did find the courage after all and open his heart to Mao.
Mr. Peng Dehuai was the minister of defence, and decided to let Chairman know about the disasters that were going on. He was dismissed and sent to the countryside. By now nearly all of China was afraid to say anything against or even to him. The Collectivisation system pulled China down more than ever. In 1958 200 million tons of grain were being produced, but in 1962 less than 160 million tons were produced. A similar thing happened to the meat production. In 19584,3 million tons of meat were being manufactured and by 1968 only 1,9 tons were being produced. Mao’s plan had once again not worked. Almost thirty million people died in China from his domestic policies, however, his foreign policies did not cause such harsh consequences for anyone.
One must look at the success of the domestic and foreign policies from three different perspectives. One, the Chinese citizens perspective during Mao’s dictatorship, two, Mao’s own viewpoint, and three, the perception of the success of today’s people. The Chinese people of that time lived the changes, the success and most of all the failures. Like in many situations, the negative things were paid more attention, due to the harsher memories, which are well in mind. The people suffered, lost family members and were tortured mentally and physically. Even though Mao became like a God for them after the “Little Red Book” was published in May 1964. It was a book of quotations from Mao and was there to give the Chinese citizens a better view of what he was doing. Mao was feared and therefore obeyed.
From Mao’s point of view, things seemed to be going great because be barely received feedback from his colleagues, because they were too afraid of him as well. The fear, which developed through out the years came from the punishment that people had to undergo. The rumours of what was happening did not even have to go around the country; the majority of the people saw the humiliations and various other punishments with their own eyes. Anyhow, Mao was partially not informed about the millions of deaths that were occurring, therefore he was probably satisfied with his work, and believed that he was successful. Then, if one looks at the overall damaged he caused with his domestic and foreign policies one can see that his domestic policies were much less successful than his foreign policies. If Mao would still be alive today he would possibly realize his mistakes and would think similar to the perspective of today.
Mao was a man with visions and ideas, which he thought to be most important. However, he did more harm then did he help people with his domestic and foreign policies. One can even consider his foreign policies more successful in some ways, because his support in the Korean War did not kill as many people as his domestic polices resulted in killing. Nevertheless, one mustn’t generalize everything. One must also look from different perspectives such as Mao’s for an example.
He was often left uninformed about what was really going on in the country; therefore he was most likely felt successful. The peasants had a much different point of view due to the more authentic experiences they had to undergo. But by looking at the situation form the modern eyes of today, one can clearly see the successes and failures of Chairman Mao’s dictatorship. His domestic policies were less successful than his foreign policies due to the numbers of deaths. It seems as though Mao released a chain reaction of mistakes as he did his first one with the Hundred Flowers Campaign in 1957, and that there was no way of stopping it.