CHINESE ECONOMIC REFORM

CHINESE ECONOMIC REFORM - Chinese Economic Reform under...

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Chinese Economic Reform under Communist Rule C Two years after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976, it became apparent to many of China's leaders that economic reform was necessary. During his tenure as China's premier, Mao had encouraged social movements such as the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution which had had as their bases ideologies such as serving the people and maintaining the class struggle. By 1978 "Chinese leaders were searching for a solution to serious economic problems produced by Hua Guofeng, the man who had succeeded Mao Zedong as CCP leader after Mao's death" (Shirk 35). Hua had demonstrated a desire to continue the ideologically based movements of Mao. Unfortunately, these movements had left China in a state where "agriculture was stagnant, industrial production was low, and the people's living standards had not increased in twenty years" (Nathan 200). This last area was particularly troubling. While "the gross output value of industry and agriculture increased by 810 percent and national income grew by 420 percent [between 1952 and 1980] . .. average individual income increased by only 100 percent" (Ma Hong quoted in Shirk 28). However, attempts at economic reform in China were introduced not only due to some kind of generosity on the part of the Chinese Communist Party to increase the populace's living standards. It had become clear to members of the CCP that economic reform would fulfill a political purpose as well since the party felt, properly it would seem, that it had suffered a loss of support. As Susan L. Shirk describes the situation in The Political Logic of Economic Reform in China, restoring the CCP's prestige required improving economic performance and raising living standards. The traumatic experience of the Cultural Revolution had eroded popular trust in the moral and political virtue of the CCP. The party's leaders decided to shift the base of party legitimacy from virtue to competence, and to do that they had to demonstrate that they could deliver the goods. (23) This movement "from virtue to competence" seemed to mark a serious departure from orthodox Chinese political theory. Confucius himself had posited in the fifth century BCE that those individuals who best demonstrated what he referred to as moral force should lead the nation. Using this principle as a guide, China had for centuries attempted to choose at least its bureaucratic leaders by administering a test to determine their moral force. After the Communist takeover of the country, Mao continued this emphasis on moral force by demanding that Chinese citizens demonstrate what he referred to as "correct consciousness." This correct consciousness could be exhibited, Mao believed, by the way people lived. Needless to say, that which constituted correct consciousness was often determined and assessed by Mao. Nevertheless, the ideal of moral force was still a potent one in China even after the Communist takeover. It is noteworthy that Shirk feels that the
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This note was uploaded on 05/21/2011 for the course ACCT 101 taught by Professor All during the Spring '11 term at Kaplan University.

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CHINESE ECONOMIC REFORM - Chinese Economic Reform under...

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