The history of the People's Republic of China details the history of mainland China since October 1, 1949, when, after a near complete victory by the Communist Party of China (CPC) in the Chinese Civil War, Mao Zedong proclaimed the People's Republic of China (PRC) from atop Tiananmen. The PRC has for several decades been synonymous with China, but it is only the most recent political entity to govern mainland China, preceded by the Republic of China (ROC) and thousands of years of imperial dynasties.
Following the Chinese Civil War and victory of Mao Zedong's Communist forces over the Kuomintang forces of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, who fled to Taiwan, Mao declared the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949. Mao's first goal was a total overhaul of the land ownership system, and extensive land reforms. China's old system of gentry landlord ownership of farmland and tenant peasants was replaced with a distribution system in favor of poor/landless peasants which significantly reduced economic inequality. Over a million landlords were executed. In Zhangzhuangcun, in the more thoroughly reformed north of the country, most "landlords" and "rich peasants" had lost all their land and often their lives or had fled. All formerly landless workers had received land, which eliminated this category altogether. As a result, "middling peasants," who now accounted for 90 percent of the village population, owned 90.8 percent of the land. Mao laid heavy theoretical emphasis on class struggle, and in 1953 began various campaigns to persecute former landlords and merchants, including the execution of more powerful landlords. Drug trafficking in the country as well as foreign investment were largely wiped out.
Mao believed that socialism would eventually triumph over all other ideologies, and following the First Five-Year Plan based on a Soviet-style centrally controlled economy, Mao took on the ambitious project of the Great Leap Forward in 1958, beginning an unprecedented process of collectivization in rural areas. Mao urged the use of communally organized iron smelters to increase steel production, pulling workers off of agricultural labor to the point that large amounts of crops rotted unharvested. Mao decided to continue to advocate these smelters despite a visit to a factory steel mill which proved to him that high quality steel could only be produced in a factory. He thought that ending the program would dampen peasant enthusiasm for his political mobilization, the Great Leap Forward.
The implementation of Maoist thought in China may have been responsible for 40–70 million deaths including famine during peacetime, with the Great Leap Forward, Anti-Rightist Campaign of 1957–1958, and the Cultural Revolution. Millions died from both executions and forced labour. Because of Mao's land reforms during the Great Leap Forward, which resulted in massive famines, thirty million perished between 1958 and 1961. By the end of 1961 the birth rate was nearly cut in half because of malnutrition. Active campaigns, including party purges and "reeducation" resulted in the imprisonment or execution of those deemed to hold views contrary to Maoist ideals. Mao's failure with the Leap reduced his power in government, whose administrative duties fell to Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping.
To impose socialist orthodoxy and rid China of "old elements", and at the same time serving certain political goals, Mao began the Cultural Revolution in May 1966. The campaign was far reaching into all aspects of Chinese life. Red Guards terrorized the streets as many ordinary citizens were deemed counter-revolutionaries. Education and public transportation came to a nearly complete halt. Daily life involved shouting slogans and reciting Mao quotations. Many prominent political leaders, including Liu and Deng, were purged and deemed "capitalist-roaders". The campaign would not come to a complete end until the death of Mao in 1976.
Supporters of the Maoist Era claim that under Mao, China's unity and sovereignty was assured for the first time in a century, and there was development of infrastructure, industry, healthcare, education (only 20% of the population could read in 1949, compared to 65.5% thirty years later), which raised standard of living for the average Chinese. They also claimed that campaigns such as the Great Leap Forward – an example of the concept New Democracy – and the Cultural Revolution were essential in jumpstarting China's development and "purifying" its culture. Others claim that though the consequences of both these campaigns were economically and humanly disastrous, they left behind a "clean slate" on which later economic progress could be built. Supporters often also doubt statistics or accounts given for death tolls or other damages incurred by Mao's campaigns, attributing the high death toll to natural disasters, famine, or other consequences of political chaos during the rule of Chiang Kai-shek.
Mao Zedong's death was followed by a power struggle between the Gang of Four, Hua Guofeng, and eventually Deng Xiaoping. Deng would maneuver himself to the top of China's leadership by 1980. At the Third Plenum of the Eleventh National Party Congress Central Committee, Deng embarked China on the road to Economic Reforms and Openness (改革开放 Gaige Kaifang), policies that began with the de-collectivization of the countryside, followed with industrial reforms aimed at decentralizing government controls in the industrial sector. A major document presented at the September 1979 Fourth Plenum, gave a "preliminary assessment" of the entire 30-year period of Communist rule. At the plenum, party Vice Chairman Ye Jianying declared the Cultural Revolution "an appalling catastrophe" and "the most severe setback to [the] socialist cause since ." The Chinese government's condemnation of the Cultural Revolution culminated in the Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party Since the Founding of the People's Republic of China, adopted by the Sixth Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. This stated that "Comrade Mao Zedong was a great Marxist and a great proletarian revolutionary, strategist and theorist. It is true that he made gross mistakes during the "cultural revolution", but, if we judge his activities as a whole, his contributions to the Chinese revolution far outweigh his mistakes. His merits are primary and his errors secondary."
On the subject of Mao's legacy Deng coined the famous phrase "7 parts good, 3 parts bad" and avoided denouncing Mao altogether. Deng championed the idea of Special Economic Zones (SEZs), areas where foreign investment would be allowed to pour in without strict government restraint and regulations, running on a basically capitalist system. Deng laid emphasis on light industry as a stepping stone to the development of heavy industries.
Supporters of the economic reforms point to the rapid development of the consumer and export sectors of the economy, the creation of an urban middle class that now constitutes 15% of the population, higher living standards (which is shown via dramatic increases in GDP per capita, consumer spending, life expectancy, literacy rate, and total grain output) and a much wider range of personal rights and freedoms for average Chinese as evidence of the success of the reforms.
Although standards of living improved significantly in the 1980s, Deng's reforms were not without criticism. Hard-liners asserted that Deng opened China once again to various social evils, and an overall increase in materialistic thinking, while liberals attacked Deng's unrelenting stance on political reform. Liberal forces began gathering in different forms to protest against the Party's authoritarian leadership. In 1989, the death of Hu Yaobang, a liberal figure, triggered weeks of spontaneous protests in the Tiananmen Square. The government imposed martial law and sent in tanks and soldiers to suppress the demonstrations. Western countries and multilateral organizations briefly suspended their formal ties with China's government under Premier Li Peng's leadership, which was directly responsible for the military curfew and bloody crackdown.
Critics of the economic reforms, both in China and abroad, claim that the reforms have caused wealth disparity, environmental pollution, rampant corruption, widespread unemployment associated with layoffs at inefficient state-owned enterprises, and has introduced often unwelcome cultural influences. Consequently, they believe that China's culture has been corrupted, the poor have been reduced to a hopeless abject underclass, and that the social stability is threatened. They are also of the opinion that various political reforms, such as moves towards popular elections, have been unfairly nipped in the bud. Regardless of either view, today, the public perception of Mao has improved at least superficially; images of Mao and Mao related objects have become fashionable, commonly used on novelty items and even as talismans. However, the path of modernization and market-oriented economic reforms that China started since the early 1980s appears to be fundamentally unchallenged. Even critics of China's market reforms do not wish to see a backtrack of these two decades of reforms, but rather propose corrective measures to offset some of the social issues caused by existing reforms.
In 1979, the Chinese government instituted a one child policy to try to control its rapidly increasing population. The controversial policy resulted in a dramatic decrease in child poverty. The law currently applies to about a third of mainland Chinese, with plans in place to ease it to a two-child limit.
The achievements of Lee Kuan Yew to create an economic superpower in Singapore had a profound effect on the Communist leadership in China. They made a major effort, especially under Deng Xiaoping, to emulate his policies of economic growth, entrepreneurship, and subtle suppression of dissent. Over 22,000 Chinese officials were sent to Singapore to study its methods.
After the events at Tiananmen, Deng Xiaoping retired from public view. While keeping ultimate control, power was passed onto the third generation of leadership led by Jiang Zemin, who was hailed as its "core". Economic growth, despite foreign trade embargoes, returned to a fast pace by the mid-1990s. Jiang's macroeconomic reforms furthered Deng's vision for "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics". At the same time, Jiang's period saw a continued rise in social corruption in all areas of life. Unemployment skyrocketed as unprofitable SOEs were closed to make way for more competitive ventures, internally and abroad. The ill-equipped social welfare system was put on a serious test. Jiang also laid heavy emphasis on scientific and technological advancement in areas such as space exploration. To sustain vast human consumption, the Three Gorges Dam was built, attracting supporters and widespread criticism. Environmental pollution became a very serious problem as Beijing was frequently hit by sandstorms as a result of desertification.
The 1990s saw two foreign colonies returned to China, Hong Kong from Britain in 1997, and Macau from Portugal in 1999. Hong Kong and Macau mostly continued their own governance, retaining independence in their economic, social, and judicial systems.
Jiang and President Clinton exchanged state visits, but Sino-American relations took very sour turns at the end of the decade. On May 7, 1999, during the Kosovo War, US aircraft bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. The U.S. government claimed the strike was due to bad intelligence and false target identification.
Inside the US, the Cox Report stated that China had been stealing various top US military secrets.
On the political agenda, China was once again put on the spotlight for the banning of public Falun Gong activity in 1999. Silent protesters from the spiritual movement sat outside of Zhongnanhai, asking for dialogue with China's leaders. Jiang saw it as threatening to the political situation and outlawed the group altogether, while using the mass media to denounce it as an evil cult.
Conversely, Premier Zhu Rongji's economic policies held China's economy strong during the Asian Financial Crisis. Economic growth averaged at 8% annually, pushed back by the 1998 Yangtze River Floods. After a decade of talks, China was finally admitted into the World Trade Organization. Standards of living improved significantly, although a wide urban-rural wealth gap was opened, as China saw the reappearance of the middle class. Wealth disparity between East and the Western hinterlands continued to widen by the day, prompting government programs to "develop the West", taking on such ambitious projects such as the Qinghai-Tibet railway. The burden of education was greater than ever. Rampant corruption continued despite Premier Zhu's anti-corruption campaign that executed many officials.
The first major issue faced by China in the 21st century as a new generation of leaders led by Hu Jintao after assuming power was the public health crisis involving SARS, an illness that seemed to have originated out of Guangdong province. China's position in the war on terror drew the country closer diplomatically to the United States. The economy continues to grow in double-digit numbers as the development of rural areas became the major focus of government policy. In gradual steps to consolidate his power, Hu Jintao removed Shanghai Party Chief Chen Liangyu and other potential political opponents amidst the fight against corruption, and the ongoing struggle against once powerful Shanghai clique. The assertion of the Scientific Perspective to create a Socialist Harmonious Society is the focus of the Hu-Wen administration, as some Jiang-era excesses are slowly reversed. In the years after Hu's rise to power, respect of basic human rights in China continue to be a source of concern.
The political status and future of Taiwan remain uncertain, but steps have been taken to improving relations between the Communist Party and several of Taiwan's parties that hold a less antagonistic view towards China, notably former rival Kuomintang.
The continued economic growth of the country as well as its sporting power status gained China the right to host the 2008 Summer Olympics. However, this also put Hu's administration under intense spotlight. While the 2008 Olympic was commonly understood to be a come-out party for People's Republic of China, in light of the March 2008 Tibet protests, the government received heavy scrutiny. The Olympic torch was met with protest en route. Within the country these reactions were met with a fervent wave of nationalism with accusations of Western bias against China.
In May 2008, a massive earthquake registering 8.0 on the Richter scale hit Sichuan province of China, exacting a death toll officially estimated at approximately 70,000. The government responded more quickly than it did with previous events, and has allowed foreign media access to the regions that were hit the hardest. The adequacy of the government response was generally praised, and the relief efforts extended to every corner of Chinese life. In May and June 2008, heavy rains in southern China caused severe flooding in the provinces of Anhui, Hunan, Jiangxi, Fujian and Guangdong, with dozens of fatalities and over a million people forced to evacuate. As of 2009 China has increased its internet monitoring capabilities by adding hundreds of new monitoring stations.
Mao's responsibility for the extinction of anywhere from 40 to 70 million lives brands him as a mass killer greater than Hitler or Stalin, his indifference to the suffering and the loss of humans breathtaking
The 2009 Chinese lead poisoning scandal occurred in the Shaanxi province of China when pollution from a lead plant poisoned children in the surrounding area. Over 850 were affected. Villagers have accused the local and central governments of covering up the scandal.Chinese stock bubble of 2007
The Chinese stock bubble of 2007(simplified Chinese: 中国股灾; traditional Chinese: 中國股災; pinyin: Zhōngguó gǔ zāi) was the global stock market plunge of February 27, and November 2007 which wiped out hundreds of billions of market value. After rumors that governmental Chinese economic authorities were going to raise interest rates in an attempt to curb inflation and that they planned to clamp down on speculative trading with borrowed money, the SSE Composite Index of the Shanghai Stock Exchange tumbled 9%, the largest drop in 10 years.The plunge in Asian markets sent ripples through the global market as the world reacted to the 9% meltdown in the Chinese stock market. The Chinese Correction triggered drops and major unease in nearly all financial markets around the world.After the Chinese market drop, the Dow Jones Industrial Average in the United States dropped 416 points, or 3.29% from 12,632 to 12,216 amid fears for growth prospects, then the biggest one-day slide since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The S&P 500 saw a larger 3.45% slide. Sell orders were made so fast that an additional analysis computer had to be used, causing an instantaneous 200 point drop at one point in the Dow Industrials.But, Shanghai Composite then raised to peak 6,092 in October 2007, then plunged between November 2007-November 2008.Chongqing gang trials
The Chongqing gang trials were a series of triad-busting trials in the city of Chongqing that began in October 2009 and concluded in 2011. Carried out under the auspices of municipal Communist Party chief Bo Xilai and police chief Wang Lijun, a total of 4,781 suspects were arrested, including 19 suspected crime bosses, hundreds of triad members, and a number of allegedly corrupt police, government and Communist party officials, including six district police chiefs and the city's former deputy police commissioner, Wen Qiang. Time described it as "China's trial of the 21st century". The crackdown is believed to be the largest of its kind in the history of the People's Republic of China. Concerns over due process surfaced following the trial, including allegations of torture, forced confessions, and intimidation.The trials earned significant media attention for local party chief Bo Xilai, and its implications partially contributed to Bo's downfall in March 2012. Police chief Wang Lijun was also later convicted of abuse of power and went to prison.Constitutional history of the People's Republic of China
The Constitutional history of the People's Republic of China describes the evolution of its Constitutional system. The first Constitution of the People's Republic of China was promulgated in 1954. After two intervening versions enacted in 1975 and 1978, the current Constitution was promulgated in 1982. There were significant differences between each of these versions, and the 1982 Constitution has subsequently been amended several times. In addition, changing Constitutional conventions have led to significant changes in the structure of the Chinese government in the absence of changes in the text of the Constitution.Economic history of China
The economic history of China is covered in the following articles:
Economic history of China before 1912, the economic history of China during the ancient China and imperial China, before the establishment of the Republic of China in 1912.
Economy of the Han dynasty (202 BC – AD 220)
Economy of the Song dynasty (960–1279)
Economy of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644)
Economic history of China (1912–49), the economic history of the Republic of China during the period when it controlled Chinese mainland from 1912 to 1949.For the economic history of the Republic of China during the period when it only controls Taiwan area after 1949, see Economic history of Taiwan#Modern history.
Economic history of China (1949–present), the economic history of the People's Republic of China.Eight Elders
The Eight Great Eminent Officials (Chinese: 八大元老; pinyin: Bā dà yuánlǎo), abbreviated as the Eight Elders (Chinese: 八老; pinyin: Bā lǎo), were a group of elderly members of the Communist Party of China who held substantial power during the 1980s and 1990s. In the English-speaking world, these men are often called The Eight Immortals as an allusion to the Taoist deities commonly known as the Eight Immortals.Four Modernizations
The Four Modernizations were goals first set forth by Deng Xiaoping to strengthen the fields of agriculture, industry, defense, and science and technology in China. The Four Modernizations were adopted as a means of rejuvenating China's economy in 1977, following the death of Mao Zedong, and later were among the defining features of Deng Xiaoping's tenure as head of the party.Grasping the large, letting go of the small
The “grasping the large and letting the small go” policy (Chinese: 抓大放小; pinyin: Zhuā dà fàng xiǎo) was part of a wave of industrial reforms implemented by the central government of the People's Republic of China in 1996. These reforms included efforts to corporatize state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and to downsize the state sector.
The “grasping the large and letting the small go” policy was adopted in September 1997 at the 15th Communist Party Congress. The “grasping the large” component indicated that policy-makers should focus on maintaining state control over the largest state-owned enterprises (which tended to be controlled by the central government).
“Letting the small go” meant that the central government should relinquish control over smaller state-owned enterprises. Relinquishing control over these enterprises took a variety of forms: giving local governments authority to restructure the firms, privatizing them, or shutting them down.History of the People's Liberation Army
The history of the Chinese People's Liberation Army began in 1927 with the start of the Chinese Civil War and spans to the present, having developed from a peasant guerrilla force into the largest armed force in the world.History of the People's Republic of China (1949–1976)
The history of the People's Republic of China is often divided distinctly by historians into the "Mao era" and the "post-Mao era". The country's Mao era lasted from the founding of the People's Republic on 21 September 1949 to Deng Xiaoping's consolidation of power and policy reversal at the Third Plenum of the 11th Party Congress on 22 December 1978. The Mao era focuses on Mao Zedong's social movements from the early 1950s on, including land reform, the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.History of the People's Republic of China (1976–1989)
In September 1976, after Chairman Mao Zedong's death, the People's Republic of China was left with no central authority figure, either symbolically or administratively. The Gang of Four was dismantled, but new Chairman Hua Guofeng continued to persist on Mao-era policies. After a bloodless power struggle, Deng Xiaoping came to the helm to reform the Chinese economy and government institutions in their entirety. Deng, however, was conservative with regard to wide-ranging political reform, and along with the combination of unforeseen problems that resulted from the economic reform policies, the country underwent another political crisis with the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.History of the People's Republic of China (1989–2002)
In the People's Republic of China, Deng Xiaoping formally retired after the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, to be succeeded by former Shanghai mayor Jiang Zemin. The crackdown in 1989 led to great woes in China's reputation globally, and sanctions resulted. The situation, however, would eventually stabilize. Deng's idea of checks and balances in the political system also saw its demise with Jiang consolidating power in the party, state and military. The 1990s saw healthy economic development, but the closing of state-owned enterprises and increasing levels of corruption and unemployment, along with environmental challenges continued to plague China, as the country saw the rise to materialism, crime, and new-age spiritual-religious movements such as Falun Gong. The 1990s also saw the peaceful handover of Hong Kong and Macau to Chinese control under the formula of One Country, Two Systems. China also saw a new surge of nationalism when facing crises abroad.History of the People's Republic of China (2002–present)
The People's Republic of China became more influential economically in the 1990s and 2000s and was beginning to be widely recognized as an emerging superpower. In 2010, China became the world's second largest economy by GDP. At the same time, numerous social problems emerged and intensified. As Paramount leader Jiang Zemin, NPCSC Chairman Li Peng and PRC Premier Zhu Rongji, gradually retired from their position of power, "fourth-generation" leaders, led by CPC General Secretary Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, faced with increasing social unrest, attempted to steer the country towards a new direction. From the path of focusing solely on economic development, Hu and Wen placed focus on creating an overall balance under the idea of the Scientific Outlook on Development to create a socialist harmonious society. In this process, there was an unprecedented shift in stance towards favouring rural development and farmers, as well as other generally populist policies. The Hu-Wen government, on the same token, attempted to restrict some personal freedoms, especially those associated with political content on the Internet.
China's increased prominence on the global stage has also brought with it general skepticism and intense scrutiny, especially in the lead up to the 2008 Summer Olympics and after the March 2008 protests in Tibet. The government continues to be criticized on human rights abuses and the various product quality scandals that have increasingly damaged the country's integrity and continues to raise suspicions about the country's safety standards. The majority of China's population, however, point to the immense progress the country has made and generally discredit criticisms of China as being embedded in cultural and historical misunderstandings and rooted in paranoia of China's potential dominance on the world stage. These ideological clashes, fused with rhetoric from Beijing, has led to an intense wave of nationalism (or Socialist patriotism) surfacing in Chinese populations around the world.
As of mid-2012, government statistics show that for the first time ever over 50% of the Chinese population now live in urban areas, marking a milestone in the urbanization of China. The majority of modern city dwellers are migrants and their children who moved to cities during the economic boom of the last 30 years started by Deng Xiaoping's policy of economic liberalization.Household responsibility system
The household responsibility system (simplified Chinese: 家庭联产承包责任制; traditional Chinese: 家庭聯產承包責任制; pinyin: jiātíng liánchǎn chéngbāo zérènzhì), or contract responsibility system, was a practice in China, first adopted in agriculture in 1979 and later extended to other sectors of the economy, by which local managers are held responsible for the profits and losses of an enterprise. This system partially supplanted the egalitarian distribution method, whereby the state assumed all profits and losses.
In traditional Maoist organization of the rural economy and that of other collectivised programs, farmers were given by the government a quota of goods to produce. They received compensation for meeting the quota. Going beyond the quota rarely produced a sizeable economic reward. In the early 1980s, peasants were given drastically reduced quotas. What food they grew beyond the quota was sold in the free market at unregulated prices. This system became an instant success, quickly causing one of the largest increases in standard-of-living for such a large number of people in such a short time. This system maintained quotas and thus the element of socialist societies termed in China the "iron rice-bowl" (in which the state ensured food and employment).List of wars involving the People's Republic of China
This is a list of wars involving the People's Republic of China.Made in China 2025
Made in China 2025 (Chinese: 中国制造2025; pinyin: Zhōngguó zhìzào èrlíng'èrwǔ) is a strategic plan of China issued by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and his cabinet in May 2015. With it, China aims to move away from being the world's "factory" (producing cheap, low quality goods due to lower labour costs) and move to producing higher value products and services. It is in essence a blueprint to upgrade the manufacturing capabilities of Chinese industries.Postage stamps and postal history of China
The history of the postage stamps and postal history of China is complicated by the gradual decay of Imperial China and the years of civil war and Japanese occupation in the 1930s and 1940s.Rural credit cooperative
A rural credit cooperative (RCC) (Chinese: 农村信用合作社) or (simplified Chinese: 农村信用社; traditional Chinese: 農村信用社; pinyin: nóngcūn xìnyòngshè) is a cooperative or credit union sanctioned by People's Bank of China to provide credit in the rural areas of the People's Republic of China.Technological and industrial history of China
The technological and industrial history of China is extremely varied, and extensive. China's industrial sector has shown great progress using most of its technology from the 1950s.