Levels of power


image above is Hong Kong

As China enters the 1980s here it appears that China is really entering the world.  The revolution of 1949 appears a convulsive act that required a generation of flitting recovery for the new China to emerge from.  How is this new 1980s China really different from the one in the teens or twenties or even the one that preceded the 1911 revolution? By that I mean not the economy, or the industrial revolution both of which change China enormously, but rather the government.  Look at the bureaucracy.  What really changed?

Now in the 80s, no doubt inspired by full relations with the US and the “West”, China needs lawyers, international law, a solid education system, incentives for workers and even allows the free-wheeling Hong Kong to keep on keepin’ on.

How did all of this come about?  How does China seem to escape the fate of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union of the same time period?  What was really different here?

We are at crunch time for our little class.  I know you all have many exciting things going on and opportunities to look forward to, but the extent to which for the next simple 3 (only) or 4(stretch) weeks you can double down and focus with me on the final units and reviews as they unroll, you will see, and I will see, I think some extraordinary results.

Hang in there.

9 Responses to “Levels of power”

  1. Greg Maginn says:

    This chapter started with all of the things that seemed to be stacking against China around the time of the 1982 census. These negative factors including drastic rises in population, frustration over the one-child policy, imbalance of men and women, problems with education, and a drop in land available for agriculture. This in addition to the uprising of students outcries seemed to be creating a perfect storm for a revolution in China. However, through new laws and economic prosperity, China was able to drag its way out of the difficult times.
    Another thing I got from this chapter was the incredible mass of people in china, the fact that more babies were born into families with 5 or more children (1.7 Million) than all the people that live in San Diego. That many babies were born intp that specific family condition in just one year in China. Honestly, the ability to govern and control this many people just baffles me

  2. Sydney Christopher says:

    China’s reach to 1 billion citizens was definitely a set back and shock factor to the Chinese government. What I found interesting was that the government was trying to warn people how potentially detrimental it was that they were becoming slowly overpopulated and everyone took it as a potential fallacy and essentially ignored it at first. China has become so…almost American? Like i dunno maybe it’s just me but before they seemed so heavily controlled by one dictator and now it’s all divided up and the power is based on education and group consensus. Sounds a little democratic to me.

  3. Jordan Oliver says:

    The 80’s brought many magical things for all of us…but thank god the 80’s brought criticism of Mao to China, and made talking smack about him generally accepted and “permissible”. Also, it feels as though while the Chinese government is attempting to progress towards the goals of “modernization” and trying to allow more international influence into the country (like from the West), it is as though the government is still not able to handle artistic expression with Western influence from the people. This is made particularly clear with the case of Bai Hua, and the displeasure of his western-inspired film due to its “negative messages”. Sorry China. Sometimes people say things that aren’t 100% nice. It happens.

  4. Olivia Martinez says:

    Something I thought was interesting was that by 1982 it was acceptable to criticize Mao. Spence states that ” the consensus was that he (Mao) had been a fine leader during the formative years of the revolution, but that from the great leap onward his policies had been erratic and at times distructive.” I feel like this is a total understatement. From what we have read his policies after the Great Leap seem extremely destructive, for example the purging of intellectuals and the hundred flowers movement. Also it reminded me of how Stalin was denounced in the Soviet Union

  5. Destanie Smith says:

    Okay so I know this may sound harsh but I thought China’s family plan was kind of smart. It cut back population growth effectively because it ridiculous that their population reached 1 billion. Another think that was interesting in the chapter was Deng Xiaopings use of capitalism in trying to modernize china. Overall I liked this chapter because I actually learned China’s motives during the 80s.

  6. Nicolas Irving says:

    I understand fully what Destanie is saying. Although it was kind of cruel it did lower the population which is what was needed back in china. I also found it funny how Mao was once treated like a god and is now criticized and mocked for his “foolish decisions”. It seems odd to me that there was such a drastic change with Deng Xiaopings rise to power. All of this new stuff is emerging and people are beginning to see a new light.

  7. Elias Atienza says:

    Alright, here is my theory for why communism still exists in China (in the government). It’s because they weren’t naive like Gorbachev. Gorbachev thought that being open and being able to criticize the government was a part of communism. But once people saw the cracks in the system and reacted. It was in due to part of the Communist governments reluctance to use force. Something that the Chinese government had no qualms about doing.

    Another is the use of propaganda. The Eastern European governments sort of stopped using it (besides the anti-west rhetoric). The Communists in China didn’t. They used to erase rivals such as Lin Biao and others. They were masters of erasing history such as the Tienanmen Square protests. The CCP were also smart in using the protesters such as the Democracy Wall people against their main enemies and then turning on them. (See Hundreds Flowers Campaign.) The best way to topple a Communist government is to either rebel against it (See Romania) or have political changes initiated by the people or the party.

    China had neither of these. And unless the Chinese government changes or the people rebel, China will remain communist.

  8. John Harris says:

    I would have to agree Elias with his point for why communism stayed the predominate form of government in China. I also think the fact that Deng and leadership of the CCP were so dedicated to the ideals creating in the long march also helped. China has always been a culture based on tradition, even today they practice many archaic actions in everyday life, but this repetition gives structure to a system thats based on ideals. With capitalism, certain aspects of a cultures practices can be ignored for the sake of progress and effectiveness but with communism many people have to agree upon the same ideal standards for living. This is why the Old Guard was so effective during thier rise to power.

  9. Kalyn Hanson says:

    The family policies in this chapter are absolutely shocking. This all happened about 30 years ago but 1984 sounds so recent. It amazes me the extent that the Chinese government went to control their population growth. China’s one child policy alone is responsible for approximately 300-450 million deaths (Population Research Institute). The policy was introduced in 1980’s which is also when the second marriage law was introduced. There was evidently a giant push to control the population. This conflicts typical chinese beliefs to pass on your family’s honorable name while having an exceptional job title. Perhaps this is an unfair comparison, I see many similarities between 1980’s China and modern-day India. I agree with John in that China is a culture and tradition based society. Repetition and practice of these traditions shape the modern-day Chinese society with subtle changes into a capitalist country.

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