The future of communism in China is unknown, as the world economy becomes moreinternational. Communism has been in China since 1949 and is still present inthe countrys activities. Presently China is undergoing incredible economicgrowth and promises to be a dominant power early in the next century. Chinassocial tradition has come under heavy pressure from forces of modernizationgenerated in a large part by the sustained contact with the West that began inthe middle of the nineteenth century. The Western incursion, not only refinedChina militarily but brought in its course new ideas- nationalism, science andtechnology, and innovations in politics, philosophy, and art.
Chinese leadershave sought to preserve the nations cultural uniqueness by promotingspecifically Chinese blends of tradition and modernity. China has undergoneseveral major political transformations from a feudal-like system in earlyhistorical times, to a centralized bureaucratic empire that lasted through manyunpredictable changes till 1911, to a republic with a communist form ofgovernment in the mainland since 1949. Economic geography and populationpressure help account for the traditionally controlling role of the state inChina.
The constant indispensability for state interference, whether for greatpublic works programs or simply to keep such a large society together, broughtup an authoritarian political system. The family prevailed as the fundamentalsocial, economic, and religious unit. Interdependence was very prominent infamily relations while generation, age, sex and immediacy of kinship strictlygoverned relations within the family. Family rather than nation usually createdthe greatest allegiances with the result that nationalism as known to the Westcame late to the Chinese. In principle, the elite in the authoritarian politicalsystem achieved their positions through merit rather than birth or wealth. Therewas an examination system that provided a vehicle for recruiting talentedcitizens to serve the emperor, which was a valuable and unusual institution in asociety characterized by personal connections. Democracy, individualism, andprivate property were kept carefully in check. Central state authority, however,rarely penetrated to the local level. Chinese leaders invented bureaucracy tokeep the country unified and mastered the art of keeping government small. TheChinese search for a modern state began in the nineteenth century when two majorsources of disorder overwhelmed the imperial institutions: domesticdisintegration and foreign invasion. Between the eighteenth and nineteenthcenturies, Chinese population had doubled and redoubled. The problem of thepopulation explosion created tremendous pressure on the limited farmland toprovide sufficient food supply. For economic, religious, of ethnic reasons,peasant uprisings began to erupt. Moreover, beginning with the Opium War of1832-1842, the imperial army suffered a series of defeats at the hands of theindustrial powers of the West. The image of a shattering imperial dynastydirected rebellion and dissolution within China, exemplified by the TaipingRebellion 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 thiscentury were aimed at replacing dynastic rule with a new form of government.
Among the most significant changes was the abolition of the civil service examin 1905, which virtually cut off the connections among the emperor, the rulingideology, and the official gentry. This time the imperial rulers hoped to savethemselves by experimenting with some new institutional adaptations. Arevolution was menacing; students who had returned from abroad came with ideasharmful to the imperial rule. Following the overthrow of the imperial regime inthe Revolution of 1922, central authority dissipated and the country was dividedamong regional warlords. Reunification, begun by the Nationalist governmentunder the Kuomintang (KMT); was interrupted by the Japanese invasion in the1930s. The unparalleled institutional crisis hastened the Chinese search foralternative means of reorganizing China. Since the last dynasty, Qing, collapsedconstruction of a modern Chinese state had been the goal shared by many Chinesemodernizers. For them, this magnificent goal meant that China could one-daystand in the world community on an equal footing with other member states. Whilethe first two decades of this century may have saw China in Chaos, this timeperiod also produced a free intellectual environment. (Qtd. Imfeld, Chinaas a Model of Development, 10) A country in an emptiness of state power wasambiguously full of new ideas and new experiments. Chinese scholars disputedalmost every Western Concept that was known to them. Some preferred aparliamentary system, whereas others favored a presidential system. Somesupported a restored monarchy, and others sought a constitutional system of theAmerican type. Within a decade or two, China in search of a modern state hadexperienced a remarkable shift of focus from monarchy to presidency, toparliament, and to a revolutionary party. The two largest parties in modernChinese history were formed between the first two decades of this century. TheChinese Nationalist Party, or the Kuomintang (KMT), was formed in 1912 as acoalition of five factions within the alliance that overthrew the Qing dynasty.
Led by Mao Zedong, the Chinese communist Party (CCP) came into existence nearlya decade later. The ideas of Karl Marx and Lenin began to appeal to thewell-educated Chinese because their Russian Revolution has just occurred in1917. The CCP wished to modernize the economy, destroy old loyalties to thefamily and locality, mobilize mass political participation and establish newcommitments to the party and nation. The Chinese parties became involved whenthe newly installed constitutional framework was falling apart. Western-styleparliamentary systems disintegrated and the political parties had to find a wayto establish government again. The CCP and the KMT disputed the issue tillOctober 1949.In Tiananmen Square on October 1949, Mao Zedong proclaimed thePeoples Republic of Chinas (PRC) establishment. The CCP using aMarxist-Leninist system of government took control of the economy and dominatedmajor 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 ofsteel and defense related industries. Agriculture underwent major social andtechnical changes with a land-reform program that redistributed all largelandholdings to the peasants by 1952. (Lai, Grolier, 2-3) The railroad networkdeveloped further into Western and Northwestern China, giving more access toall. Striking economic and social advances occurred in many areas, but therewere also disastrous food shortages and starvation, as well as bloody violence.
War still occurred between the KMT and the CCP. Each struggled for power. Otheranti- Communist groups were also engaged in all types of sabotage activitiesagainst the new regime. Soon the Korean War breaks out and Mao Zedong commitshimself to supporting Kim II Sung. The whole country is mobilized and joins thewar against the United States. Now the PRC is left with many challenges mainlyreconstructing the economy, consolidating the revolution, and fighting two warsat home and in Korea. The country assumed military control. In November 1952,the military operations ended and the political and economic situations werestabilized. The Communist Party resumed more active control and invitedhigh-ranking military officers to administrative committees. The revolutionaryparty carried out Chinas political and economic programs through massmobilization. (Townsend, Political Parties in Communist China, 25) The PRC haddeveloped a program to reorganize and modernize a peasant army now operating ina new environment. This military modernization program includes streamlining aground force; establishing a navy, air force, and technical services; upgradingweapons and equipment; setting up military academics; promoting education andmilitary training; formulating military regulations, rules and ranks. Thesesteps were taken to regulate their army, the Peoples 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 thenext National Peoples Congress meeting, the nation was called to achievefour modernizations in agriculture, industry, national defense, andscience and technology. (Metzler, Divided Dynamism, 161.) The modernizationprogram gained momentum after Deng Xiaoping managed to return to power. TheCongress decided to change its priority of the Party from political campaigns toeconomic development. Leaders devoted tremendous attention to reestablishing alegal system. Laws and regulations were needed to regulate many new types ofeconomic activities and relationships resulting from market reform andprivatization. Local economy in China became more diversified due to regionaldevelopmental strategy and integration with the international market, provinciallegislatures were also strengthened. Although Deng Xiaoping had once inspiredmany people in China when he called for economic modernization and legaldevelopment, he often disappointed his supporters more than often than hisopponents. Dens support for establishing a legal system was not unqualified.
After he suppressed the Democracy Wall movement in March1979, Deng laiddown the four cardinal principles, namely, upholding the socialist road,the dictatorship of the proletariat, the leadership of the Communist Party, andMarxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought, thus setting the ultimate limits onlegal developments in China. Beginning with the initiation of economic reformsin 1978, efforts have been made to correct the structural imbalance this policyproduced. Abundant coal, petroleum, and natural-gas reserves aid Chinaseconomic 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 ruralreforms introduced in 1979, the land was contracted to individual peasanthouseholds, giving the peasants more freedom to choose crops they grew and tosell any output exceeding assigned levels on the open market. The reforms led todramatic gains in agricultural production and the emergence of millions ofspecialized households producing cash crops and engaging in nonagriculturalactivities. Party leadership was reshuffled in June 1989 after two months oflarge-scale pro-democracy demonstrations. Hu Yaobang, who was party chairmansince 1981, resigned in 1987 after student protests and accusations from Dengthat he didnt mind student, protests. In April 1989, news came that Hu haddied from a heart attack. Largely intellectuals and students lost all hope forthe democracy movement, because they desired for Hu to come back to power, sincewhile he was in office he had a leniency towards student movements. Saddened byHus death and angered by Dengs decision not to remove the accusations madeagainst Hu, students, intellectuals, and city residents poured into TiananmenSquare to mourn the death. This had gone on for months until June 3-4. Theefforts to seek a peaceful means to the crisis through the national legislaturewere aborted by gunfire.) Fully equipped PLA went on a rampage in TiananmenSquare and killed hundreds of innocent civilians. (Zheng, 165-166) Fundamentalhuman rights provided for in Chinas 1982 constitution has been ignored inpractice especially when citizens challenged the CCPs 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 relationswith the Peoples Republic of China and transferred diplomatic recognitionfrom Taipei to Beijing. A 1979 Joint Communiqué reflected this change, andBeijing agreed that the American people would continue to carry on commercial,cultural, and other unofficial contacts with the people of Taiwan. Taiwan wasseparated from China, but the United States accepted the One China policythat acknowledges that Chinese on both sides of Taiwan maintains that there isone China and that Taiwan is a part of China. The 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, anda Third Joint Communiqué signed in 1982, further defined the UnitedStates-China relationship as well as unofficial U.S. relations with the peopleof Taiwan. Following the Peoples Republic of China governments suppressionof the democracy movement at Tiananmen Square, the United States and othernations imposed a number of sanctions against China. Some of the Tiananmensanctions still remain in place. The Trade Act of 1974 requires an annual reviewof Chinas emigration record for China to keep its most favored nation tradingstatus. This annual review remains in effect and since 1990, has been the focusof efforts in both the executive and legislative branches to assess an overallrelationship with China including Chinas performance on human rights issues.
In May 1993, President Clinton signed an Executive Order tying renewal ofChinas most favored nation status in 1994 to progress in several human rightsareas. Although China did not achieve overall significant progress incertain areas identified in the Executive Order, the President decided to renewChinas most favored nation status in 1994. He noted that China met the twomandatory requirements of immigration and prison labor. The United States hascontinually pressed China on the core human rights issues. (Mining Co. COM,U.S.-China Relations) In economics and trade, there are two main elementsto the United States approach to China. The United States seeks to fullyintegrate China into the global system. Chinas participation in the globaleconomy will provide for the process of economic reform and increase Chinasventure in the stability and prosperity of the locale. The United States alsoseeks to expand U.S. exporters and investors access to the Chinese market. Chinawants to become a part of the World Trade Organization. In order to gain entryall prospective World Trade Organization members are required to conform tocertain fundamental trading disciplines and offer significantly expanded marketaccess to other member of the organization. Seeing Chinas entrance to theWorld Trade Organization will contribute to Chinas economic reformation andhelp the United States and other World Trade Organization members economiesgrow and will help the worlds most populated country. The United Stateseconomic relationship with Hong Kong is closely tied to United States-Chinarelations. Under the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, Hong Kong willbecome a Special Administrative Region of the Peoples Republic ofChina. United States concerns over this transition include economic andinvestment issues. The United States has substantial economic and social tieswith Hong Kong, with an estimated $8 billion to $10 billion investedthere. There are 900,000 U.S. firms and 30,000 American residents inHong Kong. The United States is Hong Kongs second largest market,importing $10.2 billion in 1995, and Hong Kong is Americas 14th largesttrading partner, $14.2 billion in United States exports in 1995.(Qtd. MiningCo. COM, U.S.-China Relations.) China today has also become moredecentralized that it used to be. If economic modernization continues to be thetop priority for the recent regime, we are going to see more deviating interestsbetween the center and localities, and among miscellaneous regions. It is likelythat China will move further toward a federalist solution to the countryschronic problems of oscillation between central control and local sovereignty. Apolitical or even military crackdown on defiant regions is not unattainable, butit can be orchestrated only at expense of economic thriving, this leading tomore regional conflicts and social tensions. Chinas fast changing economy andsociety also demand similar state institution. After more than four decades ofCommunist Party rule, China today is still confronted with the century oldproblem of how to build a modern Chinese state. The Chinese leaders and peoplehave yet to meet the most serious challenge of the 20th century. Failure toreorganize China in changing domestic and international environment will almostcertainly lead toward disastrous consequences for China.
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