"Marx sits up in heaven, and he is very powerful. He sees what we are doing, and he doesn't like it. So he has punished me by making me deaf."
--Deng Xiaoping, 1985
The Era of Deng Xiaoping was one of great economic growth for
the People's Republic of China. After a tremendous struggle to achieve
the position of Chairman of the People's Republic, Deng saw potential for
China that changed the future of the state and the path that it has taken
in the last twenty years. Holding power of the People's Republic of China
from 1980 till November of 1989, Deng took an opposite approach to Mao's
governing styles and took a capitalist view on the economy in order to
build a new system which enabled new freedoms and reforms.
When the People's Republic of China was formed in 1949, the social
and economic structures of the state changed. Following Marxist beliefs,
the commune and shared wealth were implemented across China. Those
these ideas worked in theory, in reality it was an economic disaster.
At this time, Deng Xiaoping rose to power within the communist party.
With the support of Mao Zedong in 1949, he became Vice Chairman of the
Southwest Regional Commission until1952 he then became Vice Premier of
the State Economic Commission until 1954. Deng then became Secretary
General of the Central Committee until 1966. While serving as secretary
general, having the intentions saving China's economy, Deng worked to develop
economic policies after Mao's Great Leap Forward ended in complete failure.
Mao along with other officials saw his actions and ideas as counter revolutionary
and Deng was attacked for being a capitalist roader. He was removed
from office and placed under house arrest. With the help of Zhou Enlai,
Deng returned to Beijing in 1973 and was promoted to Vice Premier of China,
and then Vice Chairman of the PRC in 1975. When Zhou Enlai died in 1976,
Deng was again removed from power and punished by the radical Gang of Four,
the leaders of Cultural Revolution. He went into exile in Guangdong and
lived under the protection of local leaders. When Mao died in September
of 1976, Premier Hua Guofeng reinstated Deng as a member of the ruling
Politburo. By 1980 Deng forced Hua from office and became the official
leader of China.
When Deng Xiaoping took office he started China on a new path. When Mao died, the revolutionary ideology also died. In 1978, Mao's slogan, "take class struggle as the key link", was abandoned and the party's priority was changed from political campaigns to economic development (Shiping). The years that Deng Xiaoping headed the PRC has been called an era of reform, it was a time that shaped China into the country it is today. Over the twenty-one years of his rule of the People's Republic of China, Deng Xiaoping personally shaped the economic policies about five times. The fact is that within those five distinct times each action was crucial and had longstanding effects. It has been said that one of his greatest accomplishments was his ability to shift the Communist party to economic construction. In 1979, Deng's government ended China's Soviet based Five-Year Plan that focused on heavy industry, like steel mills and transformed it into producing consumer goods. Deng Xiaoping was a true believer in the Communist cause, but he understood the ways of the world and wanted China to be strong and up to date with other western powers. Mao's programs sent China backwards and Deng put a halt on maters and tried to get moving in the right direction. Deng knew that the only way for China to get up to better standards was through reforming the economy. Deng allowed for the privatization of small businesses, which went against the Marxist practice. It was allowed for the first time for families to open up shops in their homes and sell goods to make a profit. In 1985, the government put an end to the Communes and stopped trying to control production and distribution of certain crops, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. The state still owned the land but let the peasants lived and work the land as long as they were producing and paying their taxes. This allowed farmers to grow and sell what they wanted in order to make a profit. Street venders were legalized and outside markets were formed. Deng's government had a hands off policy when it came to the large peasant population. The reason this approach was taken was because the government did not see the peasants as a threat so it would not have a negative effect. In the end this was all allowed by the government in order to increase the spending power of the people and in turn boost the economy. It was also known that if the populations were happy with their life they would hold no problems with the government and work harder to support the state. Deng Xiaoping saw great things in line for China and he knew the proper ways to achieve them without loosing control. He was able to bend the rules of the revolutionaries in order to take on western ideals without disrupting Communist principles. With the economy growing at a steady rate the lifestyles of the people were improving. Deng knew that Mao and or Marx would never tolerate his reforms, but it was the only way for the state to survive.
Today China is considered a world supper power in terms of strength and its economy is still growing. With a growing stock market comparable to those in the United States and Japan, China has changed dramatically over the last twenty years. Deng Xiaoping is responsible for many positive things that led to the formation of the modern Chinese state. He wanted a Socialist system ruled with Chinese characteristics. The major metropolitan cities of China are filled will people working for profit to better their own lives first before the lives of everyone in the community as it was thirty years ago. The Soviet Union fell because the government would not reform economically and the people suffered. Deng did what he could to maintain the state but satisfy the people for a greater China. The idea of "One Country two Systems", for Hong Kong and Macao was his experiment that he never got to see take place. Deng Xiaoping died February 1997 due to complications of Parkinson's disease, five months before the return of Hong Kong. Deng Xiaoping was a visionary who was able to risk his power to save China.
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China: a shared poverty to uneven wealth?: http://www.gwu.edu/~econ270/Taejoon.html#Rural-Urban-sign
World Socialist Web Site : http://www.wsws.org/history/1997/mar1997/dengx.shtml
Man of the Year Deng Xiaoping:http://www.ece.rochester.edu:8080/users/yeung/features/DXP1985.html
Mr. Deng Xiaoping: http://www.lib.rpi.edu/dept/union/csa/public.html/97/deng.html
Report by Michael Defilippis