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1. China’s Geography

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capitalist-roaders.” The procedure is as follows:

  • Criticism of the school teachers: Many schools, from primary to tertiary, were shut down from 1966 to 1968.

  • Criticism of the capitalist-roaders, from senior- to middle-level Communist leaders (often referred to as cadres in English) View posters against capitalist roaders. Mao charged that there was a conspiracy against him within the Party, perpetrated by those who were high in the party leadership and who wanted to restore capitalism. This accusation resulted in the arrest and death of hundreds of thousands of Communist cadres from the middle level up, not to mention the grassroots level Communists.

The forms of criticism taken during the Cultural Revolution included massive criticism meetings, during and after which those criticized were often forced to wear tall hats and were paraded around. Children of the denounced were often asked to separate from their parents. Picture posters and large word posters (dazibao), and loudspeakers at work units became the means to communicate the latest developments of the CR. View Cultural Revolution posters. The Communist state mobilized the masses through instilling fear (“you are next”), social mobility (the promotion of those who were most actively involved in the revolutionary activities), encouraging telling on one another (some did so to settle personal scores). In the years before 1968, the main force Mao relied on to implement the revolution was the Red Guards, who initially came from high school students in Beijing, and soon included all professions in the cities. The Red Guards, however, soon broke into many factions standing for different figures in the Communist Central party committee, and often settled their differences with armed fights.

Mao also wanted to transform Chinese culture through the CR. With the overthrow of the technocrats from the Communist party, Mao wanted to usher in a completely revolutionary culture in China, which was why it was called a "Cultural Revolution." In those years, massive criticism of feudal and bourgeois cultures was followed by the banning of any and all non-revolutionary music from the West (except from Communist countries like the USSR, Yugoslavia, and Albania), and non-revolutionary or non-patriotic music from pre-1949 China. Revolutionary songs emerged in massive quantities, often Mao’s poems or quotations set to music. The traditional Peking Opera, a regional musical genre that often drew its themes from history, was now borrowed to be “filled with new wine.” Mao decided the operas were too full of emperors, generals, talented scholars and beautiful women, and did not represent the masses, therefore they should be reformed: hence the launching of eight revolutionary operas. View description of Peking Operas.

Another of Mao’s vision was to build a new society that would bridge the gap between the country and the city, and the educated and the illiterate. To do so, he sent millions of Chinese high school graduates to the countryside in the name of reeducation. Starting from 1967, the graduating classes of junior and senior high schools were required to go and work in the countryside, with no date of return. View posters of the reeducation movement. It was also at a time when the factional struggles within the urban Red Guards were getting out of control. Dispersing the Red Guards to the countryside and replacing them with the leadership of more mature industrial workers and soldiers was Mao’s plan to stabilize the cities so that the Cultural Revolution could be continued. Although many of the urban youth who went for reeducation have returned to the cities today, many have permanently settled in the countryside because they married local farmers, which was a condition that barred their return back to their hometown cities after the CR was over.

18. Women and the Cultural Revolution

The Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), aimed at a complete cultural transformation of China, including on the issue of gender. Yet it was not the first time the Communist regime tried to erase the symbolic differences between gender. A poem written by Mao Tse-tung glorifying women in military uniform was set to music and became one of the popular songs in the 1960s and 1970s. It went roughly as: Spirited and attractive, with a five feet rifle/arriving at the training ground with the first rays of morning sunshine/how magnificently ambitious Chinese women are/they prefer military uniforms to feminine clothes.
During the Cultural Revolution, violence also became women's identity, especially because they wanted to escape from a conventional perception of them as passive and gentle, which were all labeled as "bourgeois" by Mao during the Cultural Revolution. It was not uncommon for girls to interrogate and beat up the "bad elements." Women invariably dressed as men or as male army combatants because it was "considered very glorious." And often, the belt on their uniform became their instrument to beat up their suspects. Rejecting a bourgeois lifestyle and engaging in aggressive, violent attacks both mandated that girls dress like boys, cut their hair like boys, and borrow their fathers (not their mothers') leather belts.
(The above is from Emily Honig, "Maoist Mapping of Gender: Reassessing the Red Guards," 255-268, in Susan Brownell and Jeffrey Wasserstrom eds., Chinese Femininities/Chinese Masculinities: A Reader [Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002])
During the Cultural Revolution, political correctness consisted largely in women wearing the same dark colors as men, keeping their hair short, and using no make-up. On the other hand, men did not have to dress up like women. Therefore, it was women’s symbolic difference from men, reflected in their appearances (clothes, hair style, etc.), that was repressed by the state. Compared with Western feminists who try to deal with gender based on the differences between men and women, in China, gender differences were minimized. In the West, women can protest against their marginalized status. In China, women find their political identity completely determined by how the state defines it and how this definition is implemented by the All –China Women's Federation.
(The above is a paraphrasing from Lydia H. Liu, "Invention and Intervention: The Making of a Female Tradition in Modern Chinese Literature," 149-174, in Susan Brownell and Jeffrey Wasserstrom eds., Chinese Femininities/Chinese Masculinities: A Reader [Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002])

19. The End of the Cultural Revolution
One of the events that slowed down the cultural revolutionary fervor was the death of vice chairman of the Chinese Communist Party Lin Biao, long Mao’s designated heir. Mao’s longevity made Lin Biao despair of his chance to be the next number one leader of Communist China. Mao’s tendency to purge all around him made Lin Biao suspect he could be next victim. On Sept.13, 1971, Lin Biao crashed his plane in Mongolia en route to the Soviet Union. Lin was trying to flee China after his plot against Mao was discovered. Frustrated with his frail health and Mao’s increasingly suspiciousness of every one around him, Lin Biao feared that before he was able to succeed Mao, he would become his next target of persecution. In early 1971, Lin Biao plotted to place a bomb on the railroad where Mao’s train was to cross. The plot was found out. Before Mao completely ascertained that Lin Biao was behind it all, Lin decided to run for his life. Along with his wife and son, the latter being the head of the Chinese air force, they boarded a not sufficiently fueled plane. Perhaps as a sign of magnanimity to someone who had been so close to him, Mao let him go without having the plane shot down.

The so-called “Lin Biao Incident” significantly dampened Mao’s political zeal.

One of the consequences of Mao's disillusionment was the improvement of Sino-U.S. relations. Even Mao started to question his own radical revolutionary beliefs and tactics. Thus he was ready to improve relations with his archenemy the United States. Nixon was eager to improve relations with China to prove that China was more nationalist than Communist, hence providing the rhetoric for the U.S. to evacuate her troops from Vietnam: leaving Vietnam would not leave Vietnam a power vacuum for a Communist takeover from China. Nixon visited China in Dec. 1971 and signed a Communiqué with China’s premier Zhou Enlai in Jan. 1972, paving the way for normalizing the relationship between the two countries, which eventually happened in 1979 under the Carter administration.
Another event that helped bring about the end of the Cultural Revolution was Mao’s death in Sept. 1976. The moderate elements in the Communist party that survived the CR immediately arrested Mao’s wife and three of her cohorts (together called the Gang of Four) on charges that they started the Cultural Revolution and wanted to usurp the power of the country. View posters against the Gang of Four. The arrest of the Gang of Four was followed by the reinstitution of Deng Xiaoping. He was the right-hand man to the Communist Party technocrat Liu Shaoqi before the Cultural Revolution, and he was denounced as the second biggest “capitalist-roader” in the Cultural Revolution and put under house arrest for ten years. Over the next twenty years Deng served as the number one leader who directed China’s modernization program. Starting from January 1978, Deng declared that China needed to modernize in order to become strong. On his agenda were industry, commerce, and the return of Hong Kong to China. With the new policy, China slowly but gradually reopened to the outside world. Scholarly communications were reestablished with Western countries, foreign investments were encouraged, first in four coastal cities, then in a greater number of cities.
20. The loss of the "iron rice bowl": private entrepreneurship in China

The end of the Cultural Revolution was followed by an economic reform, chaired by the politically rehabilitated Deng Xiaoping, from Sichuan Province, who had been persecuted in the Cultural Revolution because he had been the chief assistant to Liu Shaoqi, chairman of the People's Republic of China and chief target of Mao in his inner party struggle for power. Having been to France as a work-study student in the 1920s, Deng was more cosmopolitan than Mao and the persecutions in the Cultural Revolution steeled his resolution to adopt a more pragmatic policy that would enable China to grow economically just as other economically advanced countries in the world. Under him, China reopened itself to the outside world, and Chinese students began to be allowed to go and study in Europe, America, and other parts of the world. The college entrance examination was revived, and high school students were no longer sent to the countryside for reeducation, but were allowed to take the college entrance examinations. Education again became important.

Following educational reform came economic reform: starting from the 1980s, the Chinese farmers started a "household responsibility" system, which allowed them to contract land from their communes for up to fifty years, sell a certain amount of their produce to the state at a price fixed by the state, and sell produce excess of the quota on the free market; thus, a dual economic system was born---free market on a limited scale, along side the dominant state regulated market. This system was a huge success.

Industrially, China also started to implement greater self-responsibility of the factories, although they continued to be owned by the state. Throughout urban China, the state encouraged the establishment of private enterprises.

The rise of private enterprises and growth of individualism

One of the biggest changes in China since the early 1980s has been the rise of private entrepreneurs and people who work in the private sectors of the economy. Many of them are college graduates who used to boast of the "iron rice bowl" they were granted---state assigned jobs guaranteed after their graduation. With the gradual implementation of the market economy, more and more graduates wanted to rise up to the challenge: giving up state-assigned but usually low-salaried jobs and landing jobs on their own that were more lucrative and enabled them to have greater responsibility over what they did. Landing one's own job has also led to changes in the value system, forcing many to become more individual-minded, independent, and competitive, qualities that were discouraged in the Mao years. This [the rise of private enterprise and individualism?] also led to the transformation of Communist Chinese society based on the work unit system, which, as described by Amy Hanser, served the function of "both social welfare and governance" (see Link, page 191).

In contrast to the political movement that encouraged people to "Learn from Lei Feng" to be frugal and selfless (click on the link to see the posters), even in the midst of those pre-1976 political movements, including the Cultural Revolution, people never really became "selfless," according to Susan Shirk. In fact, students "adapted their behavior to the structure of opportunities and the rules of the game" (Link, page 192). In other words, if the rules of the game were that you need to implicate friends and beat up capitalist-roaders to be promoted, then some people would do it to advance their careers. Social and political structures are extremely important because they can channel human ambitions to different ends, positive or negative. The Athenian political system of direct political participation enabled its citizen to make maximum use of his potential, something not achievable under many other political systems. The market economy, in its first years viewed with uncertainty by college graduates who were used to a life dependent on the state, soon proved to be very attractive although also frustrating and challenging to many. With the market economy and fresh opportunities to find jobs that one wants to do comes a sense of self-realization through one's own choice, something quite different from the Lei Feng Spirit (the desire to simply be a "screw" on the socialist machine) or the spirit of "serving the people" as championed by Mao (see Link, pages 194 and 196-97).

The economic reform brought about dramatic economic developments and also a dramatic rise in prices. The rationing system was abolished and prices were allowed to float according to the market. This situation led to an adaptation of a Maoist slogan. The original slogan exhorted people to cut back on their material needs and hope for the future: "The whole country should look forward (quan guo ren min xiang qian kan)." Now, the sentence reads the same but a word is changed. "Qian," a sound that stands for many words (typical of the Chinese language which has many words with identical pronunciation), can mean both forward and money. Now, the slogan reads "The whole country looks toward money." Material wealth, discouraged under the Communist system, becomes a high goal of pursuit. Many of the newly rich did not even know how to spend their money. They showed off wealth sometimes by burning hundred-yuan bills and breaking expensive bottles of cognac. China had increasing numbers of "ten thousand yuan households," which were lauded by the state, and eventually, with inflation and a rise in income, ten thousand yuan changed from an astronomical figure to a much less insignificant sum of money—with the growth of inflation, economic development and wage adjustments, that amount went from being out of reach for most people to suddenly being obtainable. Millionaires became the new heroes of the era. In recent years, the Communist Party wanted to cement their rule by attracting millionaires to join the party and to participate in local and provincial governments. The majority of the millionaires, however, have their highest degrees only from primary or junior high school. This fact contrasts with the people interviewed by Amy Hanser, many of whom are college graduates and pay more attention to job satisfaction as well as money, instead of simply making a lot of money (see Link, pages 196-97).

In this new economy of competition, not all college graduates are successful, and women, whether or not they have attended college, equally face the issue of how to balance family and work (see Link, pages 198-201). On the whole, Amy Hauser concludes that not every one is able to find a job that allows self-realization. "Factors such as education, locality, lack of connections, inadequate skills or ability, personality, and even luck can be perceived as barriers to success in finding, landing and keeping a good job" (Link, 202). But she also notes that China's younger generations are willing to try it out in this new economic system, and, like in the past, they are adapting to the new rules of the game (Link, 203).

Economic changes are not just economic, but entail political and social ramifications. The new market economic system and the job market have led to more independent and assertive personalities and greater ambitions of individual self-fulfillment. If the decrease in the work unit has led to great changes in the Chinese social structure, the job market has also cultivated new values among China's young. Living in high rises without access to the traditional community, thriving on individualism and self-assertiveness, the Chinese young are becoming increasingly like the youth of the West in their value system and external environment.

Market economy and geographical mobility

Besides fostering greater independence, another consequence of market economy is its promotion of geographical mobility. From the development of the family responsibility system to the ultimate disbandment of the People's Commune in recent years, peasants found they no longer needed to have the whole family live on the farm. The able-bodied ones would migrate to cities looking for unskilled jobs as construction workers, household helpers, nurses' assistants in hospitals, for example. This directly clashed with the state rule that rural residents cannot migrate to cities. In the past, this rule was maintained by the household registration system, where each household had a registration book that indicated their residence. With this book, a family would get their ration tickets for food items---such as tofu, eggs, cooking oil, sesame butter, sugar, rice, wheat flour---and for cloth. Under a state regulated economy, in the absence of a free market, this household registration system would effectively deter peasants from coming into cities because they could not survive there without the ration tickets. But with the emergence of a market economy and the demise of the ration system, the household registration system can no longer deter peasants from flocking to cities, even though peasants continue to be discriminated against: schools charge their children double or triple tuition than local children because they are not residents. Hospitals charge extra, too, for the same reason. And open discrimination happens often. The police very often charge unreasonable fees for rule violations.

21. Emergence of the job market, corruption, and mass protests

While it is sometimes occurs in the United States, corruption has been an endemic problem in developing countries. There have been debates why corruption seems to be a much more glaring problem outside the United States, and several reasons help toward its explanation: the greater affluence of the United States in contrast to the wage differentials in the developing countries, where the embezzlement of $1 million could net one the death penalty (or nothing, if one could get away with it), and the development of a healthy legal system (which many developing countries do not have). The much higher levels of affluence in the U.S. compared with developing countries not only helps explain why embezzlement of the same amount of money might not seem as big a deal here, but also why many people do not embezzle---because they are paid such astronomical sums in salaries and perks (e.g., some CEOs). Still, embezzlement or corruption can occur in the United States and on a grand scale---just look at the stock market in the past few years, how Enron, Lucent, Martha Stewart, and so many others have used insider trading or false reporting of profits to manipulate the stock market---it also shows that a well- developed legal system that effectively prosecutes such behavior is of paramount importance.

Compared with the U.S., the corruption in China is characteristic of that of the developing countries. The failure of the republican Chinese government in early twentieth century to develop an effective legal system, coupled with the Chinese Communists' hatred of everything introduced from the West (including the modern legal system) and the annihilation of authority that we see from almost every story in Chen Jo-hsi's collection of stories The Execution of Mayor Yin, led to almost a total collapse of the Chinese social order by the end of the Cultural Revolution and a pervasive cynicism among the people against any authority and any policies of the party. Lawyers had low status in society in the late 1970s and early 1980s because no one believed law was independent from the decisions of the local party secretary or the directives of the central Party government. Another legacy of the Cultural Revolution was the fear of another similar political movement. Many parents encouraged their children to study science and technology so as to keep out of politics; many state officials, not knowing how long they would stay in their positions before another political movement swept them away, used their positions to maximize their personal profit. The dual economy made the latter possible. Therefore, if the son of an industrial minister worked for a private company, the company might have better access to certain raw materials (e.g., steel, coal, or faster delivery of goods) depending on the areas governed by the father. Many private companies were headed by sons and daughters of high Chinese officials. "Government profiteering" is the term for these officials who used their children in this way or who themselves directly participated in profiting from abusing their authority. When China started moving to a monetary economy in1980s, making money was no longer considered a shameful thing. Monetary corruption was on a steep rise, as reported from Perry Link in chapter 2. It causes public resentment especially because many people's lives did not become much better off because of the economic reform, so that the gap between the rich and the poor in the urban areas has risen dramatically.

Although more laws are in place, corruption remains a pervasive phenomenon to the extent that almost every one gives bribes to someone else for something (Link, 47-49): better housing (e.g., a larger apartment on a more desirable floor, facing a better direction, even when it is purchased by oneself), better jobs, promotion and pay raises, license for business operation, and so forth. To some extent, this level of corruption may have something to do with the change of the official verdict about money: to make money is glorious now (Link, 53).

Another source of corruption was the abuse of funds by state-owned enterprises. In 1994 alone, dining and wining cost the state $18 billion. Thus, according to some people, to end corruption China needed to end state ownership of any part of the economy. This was one of the reasons why the reform prime minister Zhu Rongji pushed for China's joining the World Trade Organization---to push China into a full blown market economy as required by the WTO of its members.

Many Chinese therefore feel uncomfortably sandwiched between the choice of poverty but relatively little corruption in the Mao years and greater economic development but rampant corruption in the post-Mao years.

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