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Before 1949, the majority of China’s history was bloodied with civil war, conflict, foreign control and humiliation, but on October 1, 1949, the communist leadership declared the foundation of the People’s Republic of China. The era of foreign control and humiliation went out and an era of social and economic reform came in.
The remnants of the Nationalist Government and army fled to the island of Taiwan. There, under US protection, they claimed to represent all of China and laid plans to eventually reconquer the mainland, China’s future finally united looked good. The Chinese Communists installed their far-reaching land reforms, adding to those already carried out in their own liberated zones before their total take over of China. They nationalised all foreign-controlled property and initiated widespread education and health programs.
The first 5-year development plan incorporated many aspects of the Soviet model; the emphasis was on industrial investment rather than consumption, and heavy industry rather than light, all under a centralised economic plan. The creation of a strong industrial base could only be achieved by extracting a large surplus from rural areas, but by 1957 agricultural production had been too over predicted and so a late attempt to regain lost food the was not sufficient to stop the onslaught of starvation.
In the name of open debate, and in search of solutions to the nation’s problems, the party launched a campaign to let a hundred flowers bloom and let a hundred schools of thought contend, the “hundred flowers movement” invited people to criticise the system and suggest alternatives. When citizens began to complain about the lack of democracy and questioned party rule, the leadership turned on them and cracked down on those who had not followed Mao’s idolised wisdom.
In 1958, Mao launched the Great Leap Forward, aimed at accelerating rural collectivisation and urban industrialisation. This heavy-handed, dogmatic and inflexible plan led the country down a disastrous path, sparking widespread famine in the countryside. The official Chinese figure for deaths between 1959 and 1961 is 20 million; one of the greatest human tragedies of the century, and one of the least widely reported. Did this benefit the Chinese people?
If you were to be totally analytical you could say it solved the population crisis, but for me it is a tragedy beyond my perception. Not only do I feel that this was the fault of Mao but I also feel it was the fault of those around him. All of whom out of greed, arrogance and ignorance left the country to rot, while they wallowed in self-elevation and un-contemplated satisfaction over the competition to win the production and advancement race with the rest of the world at the expense of the entire country.
I have analysed myself and realised that I am biased because of my knowledge and that I have seen “The Last Samurai” which I feel says a lot about modern society. The communists wiped out the samurai and the old Chinese ways, including many priceless relics and monumental architecture of the old emperors, which was a great time period I admire for its ideals of honour, self sacrifice and commitment, which the world I feel is now lacking. Modern society is still governed by greed, through advertisement and monetary wants and so if the communist rule had never occurred, then maybe the old empire would still be in place. Though maybe it would be taken advantage of by modern advertisement, and be feared and again wiped out by more advanced yet less moral countries.
In 1962, Mao was forced to deliver a public self-criticism of his economic policies and was replaced by Liu Shaoqi as state chairman. Mao still enjoyed support among many radicals and, most importantly, from the People’s Liberation Army, yet he returned to stir up the country even more in 1966 with his launch of the “Cultural Revolution”.
I therefore do not agree with the statement that China benefited from the Communist rule at all. I believe that it is a complete perversion of the truth and that history is completely opposite to this statement, the loss of 20 million people over the 3-year period is ashamedly the worst humanitarian disaster of the 20th century. As history is the greatest of all teachers, this should be a lesson to warn us against corruption and the Communist system.
Though on the surface it seems ideally perfect in its meaning, the flawed nature of the human race is epitomised in the ruler of it. Mao took advantage of the entire population of China to better his own life, and so the 20million deaths were inevitable. The corruption of one destroys Communism and therefore the system would never work until the entire human race is perfect, and we all know that’s never gonna happen.