Over the past century, China has undergone many changes in terms of power, economy, politics, prosperity and population. However, despite these changes that has occurred, the Chinese Government still refuse to give its people democratic rights. The arrival of Deng Xiaoping’s to power in the Chinese Communist Party has brought new private enterprise to China. With this new wealth and freedom given to the people, many have wondered what will happen in China’s future and mostly whether China will turn capitalist and accept the grant of democracy.
A definition of a paradox is, ‘a statement that seems self-contradictory but contains a truth’. China’s encouragement of private enterprise and its refusal to grant its people democratic is paradoxical. This is due to private enterprise being a Western and capitalist idea which is associated with Western Europe, America and democracy. China still has communist ideas and maintains communism in the country and refuses to grant any form of democracy, at the moment at least. Until December 1911, China was ruled by a succession of Emperors, which was traditional way of ruling the country and was widely accepted.
The tradition of Emperors in China goes back over 2000 years where the Chinese were the most advanced civilisation in the world. During rule under the succession of Emperors, China was an authoritarian country, i. e. everyone was to obey one ruler. An example of a succession of rulers was the Manchu Dynasty, coming from an area now known as Manchuria. During these times, the wide acceptance of this system amongst the people showed that it would be hard to enforce a democracy on them.
The aims and beliefs of Confucianism was to sustain a well ordered government, to benefit people’s liberty, to make people respectable and conventional but still limit the freedom of individuals and to focus on the city dwellers. These ideas were based on teachings from ancient religions written by Confucius. These teachings supported ideas used by the Emperors since it was based on hierarchy with the ruler at the top and peasants at the bottom. Like the tradition of the Emperors it had existed for years an accepted by many.
This would be another reason why democracy would be hard to implement since many accepted that there should only be one ruler of the country. Another problem that faced introduction of democracy was history of anti-foreign attitudes by Chinese people and the use of Western democracy would be unpopular. During the years between 1900 and 1949 China was in anarchy, caught up in a civil war and faced problems from foreign interventions. At the start of the 20th Century the Manchu dynasty ruled China, but because of European influences the Chinese Empire had grown weak, (e. . military force against China, compelled to sign unequal treaties, transformation of Chinas ports to treaty ports and the division of China into spheres of influence).
Unsurprisingly western foreigners became unpopular and the Manchu’s have been for allowing China to be ‘over-run by Europeans’, likewise they were made just as unpopular and faced much opposition such as in the Boxer Rebellion. In 1908, after the death of Empress Dowager Cixi, the successor as a ruler was passed to her two year old nephew, the dynasty was weak and in trouble.
The power to rule was passed on to Prince Chun; however he disliked changes and replaced many powerful and able officials. In 1911 China had entered a period of difficulty and discontent, there was huge crop failure, which caused distress among the peasants, taxes increased to pay for the New Army and disapproval of government plans for building railways using foreign aid. Also in 1911 the Wuchang rebellion began, when police opened fire on demonstrators against the government. The Manchus dealt with this and recalled Yuan Shikai as Commander in Chief of the armies and Prime Minister.
However, instead of defeating the enemy he promised to help them overthrow the government in return for support. In 1912, Yuan Shikai became president of China, but in 1913 when Sun Yatsen’s People’s National Party or Kuomintang (KMT) became won the largest amounts of seats in the National Assembly, Yuan failed to co-operate and was not interested in sharing power. Yuan intended to govern China as a dictator, not as a democrat and the idea of democracy failed to be affectively introduced, In 1915, he made himself Emperor of China but later on he was forced to carry out the Japanese’s Twenty-One Demands or go to war.
He died in 1916. However, there was no one to become the successor. Instead China was divided and shared among the warlords; small civil wars were common as they fought other to capture each other’s land. After WW1 many movements and protests took place to enforce captured land to be returned and to remove many unfair treaties on China but none of these actually happened, this was known as the May Fourth movement. In 1918, a Beijing librarian, Mao Zedong and others formed the ‘Society for the Study of Marxism’ and later in 1921, the Chinese Communist Part (CCP).
Meanwhile, Sun Yatsen was reorganising the KMT and based them on Three Principles; National freedom, democratic government and the people’s livelihood. He was helped to do this by help from Russian diplomat Abraham Joffe, with his help Sun reorganised the KMT on Russian Communist lines, additionally they agreed that members of the CCP could belong in, for although there aims were different, both parties wanted a revolution. In 1925 Sun died and Chiang Kaishek, his brother in law became Commander of the KMT armies, with help from his military academy he set out to unify and conquer China.
He began a March to the North to capture towns and gain support. Many gladly supported him, sick of warlord rule and those who didn’t were easily bribed. As the Communists and KMT conquered all Southern China, they continued to move on. However when Chiang Kaishek arrived in Shanghai he executed thousands of Communists and forced them to flee to the countryside in the Jiangxi and Hunan provinces. During the years 1928-1934 Chiang Kaishek was determined to conquer the rest of China, which was controlled by warlords and bandits.
Also he began the extermination campaigns to wipe out the Communists in Jiangxi and destroy Mao Zedong’s CCP. However in 1933 Chiang launched his fifth campaign against the Communists and surrounded them with over half a million troops. In 1934, they broke out from the Jiangxi siege taking with them as much supplies and weaponry as they could carry, they were intending to go straight to Hunan but poor tactics from Russian Otto Braun resulted in further casualties, Instead Mao took a series of directions to reach the Yanan district, this became known as the Long March. 68 days after they set off, they arrived suffering heavy casualties; however from this they gained numerous support from peasants and towns where they had spread Communist ideas.
As a civil war broke out, China was in chaos and under threat from Japan, who were preparing to seize Chinese ports and towns to help its economic problems caused by the Great Depression. In 1932 the Japanese already controlled the area of Manchuria and were moving down to invade further provinces. This attack increased anti-foreign attitudes and reduced the foreign influence of democracy.
The Japanese destroyed many ports and towns with very little resistance; China was being wrecked and falling to ruin. In 1936, Chiang Kaishek was captured and forced to join the KMT with the Communists to repel the Japanese invaders to form a United Front and stop the civil war. Japanese wars fuelled foreign hatred pushing back the idea of democracy. As they fought, the Communists used their well-planned tactics and easily beat Japanese attackers; furthermore the Red Army spread Communist ideas to peasants. Chiang Kaishek however, was a poor leader, increased taxes, destroyed towns and land and failed at many attacks.
When the Second World War ended the civil war with the KMT and Communists resumed, the Communists used similar tactics and crushed the opposition, despite Chiang’s ability to use more effective equipment from America. Popularity increased for the Red Army which they renamed the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA). In 1948 the PLA finally defeated the KMT in a head on battle due to the amount of supportive fighters, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou were captured and China was proclaimed as the Peoples Republic of China.
At this point there was thousands of Communist followers, and because of Chiang’s faults, many despised the KMT and their democratic ideas that made the idea of introducing democracy even more difficult. When the CCP came to total control of China, due to their current huge amounts of support and popularity, many agreed that the Chinese Communist Party should take over since they had already shown their strength and superiority in the Civil and Second World War and were currently the only reliable and able leaders of the China.
Their popularity at this time was another problem for the introduction of democracy. Their rise to leadership improved many things for the citizens; such as improving women’s rights, distributing land and reorganising citizens. Because of this, large amounts of the Chinese population were willing to follow Communist orders and ideas and gave the CCP the right to govern the country. In less than 10 years after the Communists came to power, they had brought China to yet another crisis. In 1953, China’s communist neighbour, Russia, pressurised the CCP to draw up a Five-year plan to develop their economy.
This caused a huge increase in heavy industry and was extremely large scale; in contrast however the light industry such as food processing and cotton making was neglected. This increase of industry however meant an increase of workers and more mouths to feed. This put China under great strain. Population had risen by 40 million causing overcrowding, food shortages and housing problems. Seeing the great disputes, Mao Zedong quoted ‘Let a hundred flowers bloom’ meaning to encourage free speech and arguments to show what was wrong. However this caused much criticism towards Mao and the ‘Hundred Flowers’ was rapidly stopped.
In the summer of 1958, Mao was determined to turn China into the worlds leading industrial nation whilst improving her agriculture. He called his plan the ‘Great Leap Forward’. Unlike the first Five-Year Plan, the Great leap forward aimed to develop agriculture as well as industry, both heavy and light at the same time. To achieve this, the Chinese people were organised to communes. The purpose of this was to release what Mao called ‘the tremendous energy of masses’ by ensuring that time and effort were not wasted and that each worker in the commune could work at a variety of tasks.
Another key element to the Great Leap Forward was propaganda. The Party and government tried everything to keep up enthusiasm for the Chinese people to work such as newspaper articles, posters, and slogans. Although communes were expected to contribute, there was a spectacular rise of produce due to the backyard steel campaign. This was by the effect of small commune factories to help in bigger industrial products such as producing steel, fertilisers, cement etc. However, only months after Mao’s launch of the Great Leap Forward, things began to turn dreadfully wrong.
Because of being forced to work harder and faster, old and overworked machines broke and exhausted workers fell asleep at work and often causing accidents. The backyard steel campaign also began to fail; 3 million tonnes of the steel made was to impure for use and turned to scrap, the amount of furnaces made meant that 1 in 10 workers were always on, taking a large amount of people away from the fields producing food. Furnaces used up huge amounts of coal which where needed for transport such as trains and the so much extra steel produced was made meant that there was not enough for trains to take it away.
Even Mao had to admit to his people that his Great Leap Forward was a disaster. In 1958, as well as problems caused by the Great Leap Forward. The harvest failed as well. Despite the good weather conditions, too many peasants were working in the industries meaning that there were not enough workers in the fields. The government claimed that they had produced a record amount of food and food was generously given out. In 1959 however there were droughts and floods causing huge problems with the food, 20 million Chinese died of starvation and disease.
Mao was dropped from his post of Head of State, which was passed to Liu Shaoqi, and her fellow moderates. During 1962 to 1966, the leaders of the Communist Party argued about what road they should take for developing China. The moderates lead by Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping wanted the peasants to work hard again and to pay them for doing so and to give them larger private plots. They wanted another Five-Year Plan to build industry on Russian lines. Mao Zedong totally opposed their policies. He claimed they were taking the ‘capitalist road’ and they were forgetting the original aims of the CCP.
Mao launched a Socialist Education Movement to get people on the right road to Communism also launched was the ‘four clean-ups campaign’ to remove corruption and bad management in the Party and discourage people of capitalist behaviour, such as peasants spending more time on their private land than communal land. The PLA handed out ‘The Little Red Book’. Mao began his next campaign against capitalists and reactionaries known as ‘The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution’. Students from Beijing formed military groups called Red Guards and using violence, attacked anything that was remotely capitalist or foreign.
Mao Zedong encouraged this claiming ‘To rebel is justified’. Supporters of Mao became a cult worshipping and praising him in streets. Liu and Deng were expelled from the party. In 1967 Mao wanted to restore order. Schools were reopened by 1969 and order and peace was finally restored. However as a consequence, many had missed out on education, industry had failed again and farming was disrupted, again Mao had caused ‘chaos on a grand scale’. It is clear to see however, that many economic changes made by the Chinese Communist Party revolve around good intentions.
The Five-Year Plan intended to help China develop their economy, but had lead to an unexpected increase in population. Mao’s Great Leap Forward aimed to develop agriculture as well as industry and improve in the faults that occurred in the original Five-Year Plan. It was a small success for a while, however overworking lead to its downfall that also led to the farming crisis. The Cultural Revolution however occurred for Mao to rapidly return to power and gain support following from the crisis’s he had caused, despite heartlessly having over 400,000 people killed and creating more chaos later on from the consequences of his ‘cult.
Despite this of number economic problems under Mao’s leadership, within the last 20 years, China’s has undergone rapid economic progress and recovery. When Mao Zedong died in 1976, a struggle for power occurred. Eventually the public who wished for the moderate right wing moderates demanded Deng Xiaoping. Since 1978 China has moved away from a centrally planned economy and is becoming increasingly a free market economy. 1979 began Deng’s policy of modernism and ‘open door’ in which foreign exports were to be sold.
The reason why he steered away from Communist rules was to carry on the failed dream held by his predecessor Mao Zedong in launching China far ahead of all others. He exposed China to foreign influence on a scale never seen before. He was the very first Chinese leader to visit the West. He secured the return of Hong Kong to China from Great Britain and gave approval to the goal of material self-improvement enabling his people to enjoy one of the most sustained periods of economic growth China had ever known. He recognised the need to open up to the West and to abandon the economic policies of Mao.
There are many facts in China that show the economy has been expanded, for example, China is the 3rd world’s largest importer of minerals, China has improved important transport such as the railway, telecommunications have boomed in the last 10 years and it is the 2nd largest consumer of energy in the world. Thanks to the change the economy has continued to grow by nearly 10%. Similar to the success of Mao Zedong when taking control of China by the CCP, Deng Xiaoping should fairly have had the right to rule China, due to the great prosperity and economic success he set upon China, which Mao failed in doing so.
Deng Xiaoping claimed that a strong government is essential to a country’s well being. Even today, despite China’s improvement of standards, it still faces many great challenges, which may be effects or signs of a weakened government. The biggest is the public demanding and undergoing change, the Democracy Wall is a demand for a change in government, and the public powers clearly know how to get their way as shown in mass rallies. Being such a large force, the Chinese government only has small control against huge numbers and is not always powerful enough to control it, for example the Tiananmen Square massacre, where violence was resorted.
China struggles to keep up a strong belief in Communism, only a thirtieth of the Chinese are strict communist, which shows the lack of discipline in the government and how much stronger other political ideas are against it. China’s physical self also can be a problem for the government; its huge size and enormous population are the common downfall for many of past leaders, who have failed in controlling all areas to their desire and with the world’s largest population, China is a major operation to govern.
Its rough landscape, of mountains can also limit food produced in that country, but China has already overcome this problem and bearing plentiful food, by regulations from the government. These are some of the major challenges which the Chinese government faces today, however, as we can see, only a strong and well decisive government can overcome this. However, looking at the experiences of other communist states, especially the USSR, they have suffered great problems since throwing off their one party rule. After the introduction of democracy, the former USSR was broken up by conflict and civil war.
Also after giving its people democratic rights and accepting capitalism, the USSR has dropped from one of the worlds more significant power to a series of small third world countries. This is an important reason why China is reluctant to give its people democratic rights to avoid any threat of turning China into another chaotic state by accepting democracy, which would likely to cause uproars and disputes among the Chinese people. We can now see why China, a communist country, has taken an approach to capitalist industry, commerce and agriculture.
As shown by the disaster of the Five-Year plan and the Cultural Revolution, it was proven that communal efforts were not good for the Chinese economy. This explains the encouragement of private enterprise, despite it being against communist ideas. However, the success of existing capitalist economies such as in America, Europe and in Japan explain why China has promoted private enterprise but still refuses to give its people there democratic rights. Capitalist countries have all benefited from doing this.
Their living standards and wealth are often much more than those who live in a non-capitalist country. China has clearly envied this wealth and can be the main explanation for why a capitalist economy has been introduced; to be one of the richest and most powerful countries and to excel and beat capitalist countries in the economy. Looking at my evidence, there are many possible outcomes for China’s future, however, I believe that China will remain a communist state despite following in some capitalist activities such as in industry and agriculture.
This is because many Chinese people would rather stay as a communist state rather than change or do not have enough power to change it their selves. Some reasons for China staying as communist include; The current power the communists have already brought to China, under Deng Xiaoping economy reached its greatest achievements, figures in markets hit new records and land had been reclaimed, such as Hong Kong from England. This great achievement for China was a great boost for the CCP.
Secondly, the current popularity for the communist party in China, despite being a small percentage of the population, over 38 million people belong to the CCP. The reluctance of foreign policies, despite the idea being old, many Chinese people still have an anti foreign attitude due to their traditions and ancient ancestral belief. Another reason why China remains communist is because it already is. Communism has benefited China greatly, ‘if its not broken don’t bother fixing it’.
There appears to be no real desperate need for change and will remain like this for a long period of time. Also, the government control most ideas in China. It is their decision what China becomes and they have more authority than the public. Finally, an important reason that deters the government from allowing China to become a democracy is the effect it may put on China. Like Russia when it turned from a communist state to a capitalist one, it suffered years of chaos, anarchy and civil war.
It turned Russia into a ruined third world country after being a great world power. The government fear a result of chaos. To say the truth, the government are ‘scared’ of democracy. However there still remain few factors that can turn China around into a capitalist state and open up its door for democracy. Over the recent years, China has slowly begun to drift away from their strict Communist rules. As the people of China are gaining more economic rights, they will begin to demand more rights such as political ones.
Also more Chinese are finding out of new capitalist and foreign ideas due to technology such as transport around the world, books and the Internet. Finally, there is the possibility of the public to turn against Communism and revolt as happened in Russia. Despite there being private enterprise, I still do not believe that China will allow democratic rights for their people due to their traditions, its authoritarian rule, their current power they already hold and because of the failures of other ex communists countries.