Essay, Research Paper: Communist China

Politics

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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 country’s activities. Presently China is undergoing incredible economic
growth and promises to be a dominant power early in the next century. China’s
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 nation’s 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
1930’s. 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
People’s Republic of China’s (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 China’s 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 were taken to regulate their army, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA),
as they returned from Korea. When Mao died in September 1976 (Zheng, Party vs.
State in Post-1949 China, 161) his revolutionary ideas died with him. At the
next National People’s Congress meeting, the nation was called to achieve
“four modernizations” in agriculture, industry, national defense, and
science and technology. (Metzler, Divided Dynamism, 161.) The modernization
program gained momentum after Deng Xiaoping managed to return to power. The
Congress decided to change its priority of the Party from political campaigns to
economic development. Leaders devoted tremendous attention to reestablishing a
legal system. Laws and regulations were needed to regulate many new types of
economic activities and relationships resulting from market reform and
privatization. Local economy in China became more diversified due to regional
developmental strategy and integration with the international market, provincial
legislatures were also strengthened. Although Deng Xiaoping had once inspired
many people in China when he called for economic modernization and legal
development, he often disappointed his supporters more than often than his
opponents. Den’s support for establishing a legal system was not unqualified.
After he suppressed the “Democracy Wall” movement in March1979, Deng laid
down the “four cardinal principles,” namely, upholding the socialist road,
the dictatorship of the proletariat, the leadership of the Communist Party, and
Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought, thus setting the ultimate limits on
legal developments in China. Beginning with the initiation of economic reforms
in 1978, efforts have been made to correct the structural imbalance this policy
produced. Abundant coal, petroleum, and natural-gas reserves aid China’s
economic development. Industrial machinery, chemicals, manufactured goods,
steel, and textile yarn are the chief imports. Textiles, garments,
telecommunications, and recording equipment are the leading exports. Under rural
reforms introduced in 1979, the land was contracted to individual peasant
households, giving the peasants more freedom to choose crops they grew and to
sell any output exceeding assigned levels on the open market. The reforms led to
dramatic gains in agricultural production and the emergence of millions of
specialized households producing cash crops and engaging in nonagricultural
activities. Party leadership was reshuffled in June 1989 after two months of
large-scale pro-democracy demonstrations. Hu Yaobang, who was party chairman
since 1981, resigned in 1987 after student protests and accusations from Deng
that he didn’t mind student, protests. In April 1989, news came that Hu had
died from a heart attack. Largely intellectuals and students lost all hope for
the democracy movement, because they desired for Hu to come back to power, since
while he was in office he had a leniency towards student movements. Saddened by
Hu’s death and angered by Deng’s decision not to remove the accusations made
against Hu, students, intellectuals, and city residents poured into Tiananmen
Square to mourn the death. This had gone on for months until June 3-4. The
efforts to seek a peaceful means to the crisis through the national legislature
were aborted by gunfire.) Fully equipped PLA went on a rampage in Tiananmen
Square and killed hundreds of innocent civilians. (Zheng, 165-166) Fundamental
human rights provided for in China’s 1982 constitution has been ignored in
practice especially when citizens challenged the CCP’s political authority.
This event is an example of the severe restriction of freedom of association,
religion, speech, and press. In 1979, the United States established relations
with the People’s Republic of China and transferred diplomatic recognition
from Taipei to Beijing. A 1979 Joint Communiquй reflected this change, and
Beijing agreed that the American people would continue to carry on commercial,
cultural, and other unofficial contacts with the people of Taiwan. Taiwan was
separated from China, but the United States accepted the “One China” policy
that acknowledges that Chinese on both sides of Taiwan maintains that there is
one China and that Taiwan is a part of China. The 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, and
a Third Joint Communiquй signed in 1982, further defined the United
States-China relationship as well as unofficial U.S. relations with the people
of Taiwan. Following the People’s Republic of China government’s suppression
of the democracy movement at Tiananmen Square, the United States and other
nations imposed a number of sanctions against China. Some of the Tiananmen
sanctions still remain in place. The Trade Act of 1974 requires an annual review
of China’s emigration record for China to keep its most favored nation trading
status. This annual review remains in effect and since 1990, has been the focus
of efforts in both the executive and legislative branches to assess an overall
relationship with China including China’s performance on human rights issues.
In May 1993, President Clinton signed an Executive Order tying renewal of
China’s most favored nation status in 1994 to progress in several human rights
areas. Although China did not achieve “overall significant progress” in
certain areas identified in the Executive Order, the President decided to renew
China’s most favored nation status in 1994. He noted that China met the two
mandatory requirements of immigration and prison labor. The United States has
continually pressed China on the core human rights issues. (Mining Co. COM,
“U.S.-China Relations”) In economics and trade, there are two main elements
to the United States approach to China. The United States seeks to fully
integrate China into the global system. China’s participation in the global
economy will provide for the process of economic reform and increase China’s
venture in the stability and prosperity of the locale. The United States also
seeks to expand U.S. exporters and investors access to the Chinese market. China
wants to become a part of the World Trade Organization. In order to gain entry
all prospective World Trade Organization members are required to conform to
certain fundamental trading disciplines and offer significantly expanded market
access to other member of the organization. Seeing China’s entrance to the
World Trade Organization will contribute to China’s economic reformation and
help the United States and other World Trade Organization member’s economies
grow and will help the world’s most populated country. The United States
economic relationship with Hong Kong is closely tied to United States-China
relations. Under the “1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration”, Hong Kong will
become a “Special Administrative Region” of the People’s Republic of
China. United States concerns over this transition include economic and
investment issues. The United States has substantial economic and social ties
with Hong Kong, with an “estimated $8 billion to $10 billion invested
“there. There are” 900,000 U.S. firms and 30,000 American” residents in
Hong Kong. The United States is “Hong Kong’s second largest market,
importing $10.2 billion in 1995, and Hong Kong is America’s 14th largest
trading partner, $14.2 billion in United States exports in 1995.”(Qtd. Mining
Co. COM, “U.S.-China Relations.”) China today has also become more
decentralized that it used to be. If economic modernization continues to be the
top priority for the recent regime, we are going to see more deviating interests
between the center and localities, and among miscellaneous regions. It is likely
that China will move further toward a federalist solution to the country’s
chronic problems of oscillation between central control and local sovereignty. A
political or even military crackdown on defiant regions is not unattainable, but
it can be orchestrated only at expense of economic thriving, this leading to
more regional conflicts and social tensions. China’s fast changing economy and
society also demand similar state institution. After more than four decades of
Communist Party rule, China today is still confronted with the century old
problem of how to build a modern Chinese state. The Chinese leaders and people
have yet to meet the most serious challenge of the 20th century. Failure to
reorganize China in changing domestic and international environment will almost
certainly lead toward disastrous consequences for China.
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