Re-opening the doors (Spence 22/ 23 in 2nd ed)

Athens 2004 - Athletics - Men's 110m Hurdles Preliminary

OK gang (of more than 4).  Its a race.  We have many hurdles to overcome.  But we can do it.  Put your heads down.  Get the senioritis vaccine and give me one more moth.  ONE MORE MONTH.  That’s all I need, its all you need, to close up this grand game and make us all as proud as a Bucky Badger fan.

In re-opening the doors we have four significant subsections.  There is the US and the Nixon visit, attacking Confucius and Lin-Biao, defining the economy and finally the death of the old guard, Zhou and Mao. You might expect a quiz question from each one and you might be right.

The US Nixon visit is of course hugely important and we have read about it before.  Whats new here is no the invitation of the US ping pong team, or the secret arrival of HK in July 1971 but rather that this began with negotiations under JFK, stopped by his assassination, was renewed in LBJ’s time, but then crushed by the Cultural Revolution and finally begun again by the US, by the opposing political party, of JFK’s even.  In other words all the credit going to Nixon and HK is as misguided as all of the fault levied at their feet for the US role in the war in Vietnam.

The attack on Confucius and Lin-Biao is so convoluted as to be very hard to understand.  Its enough to know that it was a thing, a thing that had become a mass campaign across China by 1974 and was promulgated by those who will become known as the “gang of four”.    Its enough to know thats its an atack on old ways exemplified by the actions of two students who I’m sure you loved, Zhang and Zhong.  In protest over the return to University entrance by examination, Zhang handed in a blank exam.  In protest over the nepotism or corruption of his influential Long March veteran Father making a discrete call to guarantee admission, Zhong resigned from the University.  Cool stuff.  I wonder if each of you would do the same?

In terms of redefining the economy this is super important for understanding subsequent chapters.  Zhou En Lai, though discreetly, Deng Xiaoping and others recognize the need to reach out for foreign (US) technological support.  Others, the “gang of four” vehemently deny this. Hua Guofang, who will succeed Mao, strikes a bit of a middle-ground.  Deng Xiaoping will eventually win and go on to dominate China in the 1980s with his economic reforms and this is very likely to be the subject of your Documents exam, paper #1.

Finally the death of of the old guard, Zhou Enlai and Mao Zedong.  Hua Guofang will replace Mao, the gang of four are arrested and the future of China hangs in the balance.

Stay tuned.

5 Responses to “Re-opening the doors (Spence 22/ 23 in 2nd ed)”

  1. Jordan Oliver says:

    I thought it was funny how professors and teachers started acting like sneaky children during the time of criticism towards Confucious and Lin Biao, and that they were able to use that as a method of bringing Classical Chinese teaching back into learning. I also think that picking Confucious to criticize is sort of random, and that it was childish to refer to Lin Biao as one of “the Confuciuses of contemporary China”. Also, it seems like China feels real good about its own ideas and movements until a leader says something against them, or China decides they’re not good anymore; China has a lot of “anti” movements against things it liked. Go home, China, you’re drunk.

  2. Nicolas Irving says:

    Something id like to comment on was one of the pictures. Its a picture of a couple carrying a television and both have this look of just happiness and pure shock. I know it may seem insignificant but it truly is not. Its like what mr. steussy said, people lined up for this stuff and didnt even know what they might get. Its sad to see people happy over something so small but at the same time, it is quit exciting to see them happy. Its just strange because we may never consider television a privilege, hell i rarely watch it now, but these people treausure it.

  3. Ida Khachaturyants says:

    What I found fascinating is the equating of Lin Biao with Confucius, and also Khrushchev, and having more “China’s” Khrushchevs. What I think could have been done better is the reaction of the students could have been more fleshed out in the reading. I was slightly confused as to whether the university student body supported such propaganda or whether they protested, or whether such reactions were equal in terms of how common they are.

    I feel that Spence is talking about a very weird transitional period in China that can get super duper messy when not tackled in an organized way, and I think that for the most part he did a good job. I found him pretty easy to read in this chapter and it was actually quite short compared to Kissinger or past Spence chapters… whether we are used to such language by now or whether Spence actually eased off on us is something we will never know

  4. Elias Atienza says:

    Reopening the doors to China was a smart move; I’m always going to think that. But the assault on Confucianism was rather confusing for me. And I thin it was confusing for a lot of Chinese. Confucianism is as Chinese as the game go or the Great Wall of China. I think it was such as huge cultural shock. The way that China wanted foreign technological help is a huge leap in its thinking. If one recalls, China refused to adapt in the changing world around them back in the late 19th and early 20th century; resulting in the destruction of the Qing Empire. I think China’s leaders realized that they needed technological help otherwise they would end up like their predecessor; a lifeless husk soon to be destroyed.

  5. John Harris says:

    The key points that stood out to me in this chapter was the characterization of the Old Guard leaders and how each member was overcome with a new outlook on their ideals shortly before their death. Another key point was the lineage of Tiananmen Square square incident to the Hungarian Revolution. This stood out to me because it showed that China was not willing to succumb from revolution from below even thought it was a country designed to run off the inhabitants. This created a stand still in the government that only was replaced when the Old Guard finally died off. It was then that China could take the next steps forward.

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