Communist China Communism in an Economically Developing China The future of communism in China is unknown, as the world economy becomes more international. Communism has been in China since 1949 and is still present in the countrys activities. Presently China is undergoing incredible economic growth and promises to be a dominant power early in the next century. Chinas social tradition has come under heavy pressure from forces of modernization generated in a large part by the sustained contact with the West that began in the middle of the nineteenth century. The Western incursion, not only refined China militarily but brought in its course new ideas- nationalism, science and technology, and innovations in politics, philosophy, and art. Chinese leaders have sought to preserve the nations cultural uniqueness by promoting specifically Chinese blends of tradition and modernity.
China has undergone several major political transformations from a feudal-like system in early historical times, to a centralized bureaucratic empire that lasted through many unpredictable changes till 1911, to a republic with a communist form of government in the mainland since 1949. Economic geography and population pressure help account for the traditionally controlling role of the state in China. The constant indispensability for state interference, whether for great public works programs or simply to keep such a large society together, brought up an authoritarian political system. The family prevailed as the fundamental social, economic, and religious unit. Interdependence was very prominent in family relations while generation, age, sex and immediacy of kinship strictly governed relations within the family. Family rather than nation usually created the greatest allegiances with the result that nationalism as known to the West came late to the Chinese.
In principle, the elite in the authoritarian political system achieved their positions through merit rather than birth or wealth. There was an examination system that provided a vehicle for recruiting talented citizens to serve the emperor, which was a valuable and unusual institution in a society characterized by personal connections. Democracy, individualism, and private property were kept carefully in check. Central state authority, however, rarely penetrated to the local level. Chinese leaders invented bureaucracy to keep the country unified and mastered the art of keeping government small. The Chinese search for a modern state began in the nineteenth century when two major sources of disorder overwhelmed the imperial institutions: domestic disintegration and foreign invasion.
Between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Chinese population had doubled and redoubled. The problem of the population explosion created tremendous pressure on the limited farmland to provide sufficient food supply. For economic, religious, of ethnic reasons, peasant uprisings began to erupt. Moreover, beginning with the Opium War of 1832-1842, the imperial army suffered a series of defeats at the hands of the industrial powers of the West. The image of a shattering imperial dynasty directed rebellion and dissolution within China, exemplified by the Taiping Rebellion of 1851-1864 that nearly toppled the Qing dynasty.
(Zheng, Party vs. State in Post-1949 China, 30) The reform measures in the first decade of this century were aimed at replacing dynastic rule with a new form of government. Among the most significant changes was the abolition of the civil service exam in 1905, which virtually cut off the connections among the emperor, the ruling ideology, and the official gentry. This time the imperial rulers hoped to save themselves by experimenting with some new institutional adaptations. A revolution was menacing; students who had returned from abroad came with ideas harmful to the imperial rule. Following the overthrow of the imperial regime in the Revolution of 1922, central authority dissipated and the country was divided among regional warlords.
Reunification, begun by the Nationalist government under the Kuomintang (KMT); was interrupted by the Japanese invasion in the 1930s. The unparalleled institutional crisis hastened the Chinese search for alternative means of reorganizing China. Since the last dynasty, Qing, collapsed construction of a modern Chinese state had been the goal shared by many Chinese modernizers. For them, this magnificent goal meant that China could one-day stand in the world community on an equal footing with other member states. While the first two decades of this century may have saw China in Chaos, this time period also produced a free intellectual environment.
(Qtd. Imfeld, China as a Model of Development, 10) A country in an emptiness of state power was ambiguously full of new ideas and new experiments. Chinese scholars disputed almost every Western Concept that was known to them. Some preferred a parliamentary system, whereas others favored a presidential system. Some supported a restored monarchy, and others sought a constitutional system of the American type.
Within a decade or two, China in search of a modern state had experienced a remarkable shift of focus from monarchy to presidency, to parliament, and to a revolutionary party. The two largest parties in modern Chinese history were formed between the first two decades of this century. The Chinese Nationalist Party, or the Kuomintang (KMT), was formed in 1912 as a coalition of five factions within the alliance that overthrew the Qing dynasty. Led by Mao Zedong, the Chinese communist Party (CCP) came into existence nearly a decade later. The ideas of Karl Marx and Lenin began to appeal to the well-educated Chinese because their Russian Revolution has just occurred in 1917.
The CCP wished to modernize the economy, destroy old loyalties to the family and locality, mobilize mass political participation and establish new commitments to the party and nation. The Chinese parties became involved when the newly installed constitutional framework was falling apart. Western-style parliamentary systems disintegrated and the political parties had to find a way to establish government again. The CCP and the KMT disputed the issue till October 1949.In Tiananmen Square on October 1949, Mao Zedong proclaimed the Peoples Republic of Chinas (PRC) establishment. The CCP using a Marxist-Leninist system of government took control of the economy and dominated major institutions including schools, labor unions and peasant associations. China nationalized all capital-goods industries and pursued a policy of rapid, state-directed industrialization with the special emphasis on the development of steel and defense related industries. Agriculture underwent major social and technical changes with a land-reform program that redistributed all large landholdings to the peasants by 1952.
(Lai, Grolier, 2-3) The railroad network developed further into Western and Northwestern China, giving more access to all. Striking economic and social advances occurred in many areas, but there were also disastrous food shortages and starvation, as well as bloody violence. War still occurred between the KMT and the CCP. Each struggled for power. Other anti- Communist groups were also engaged in all types of sabotage activities against the new regime. Soon the Korean War breaks out and Mao Zedong commits himself to supporting Kim II Sung.
The whole country is mobilized and joins the war against the United States. Now the PRC is left with many challenges mainly reconstructing the economy, consolidating the revolution, and fighting two wars at home and in Korea. The country assumed military control. In November 1952, the military operations ended and the political and economic situations were stabilized. The Communist Party resumed more active control and invited high-ranking military officers to administrative committees.
The revolutionary party carried out Chinas political and economic programs through mass mobilization. (Townsend, Political Parties in Communist China, 25) The PRC had developed a program to reorganize and modernize a peasant army now operating in a new environment. This military modernization program includes streamlining a ground force; establishing a navy, air force, and technical services; upgrading weapons and equipment; setting up military academics; promoting education and military training; formulating military regulations, rules and ranks. These steps …