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China, Maoism, and Popular Power - China Maoism and popular...

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China, Maoism and popular power, 1949–1969 Pierre Rousset Subject History » Political History Social Movements and Social Change » Collective Behaviour Place Eastern Asia » China Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999 People Mao Zedong Key-Topics communism , inequality , protests , rebellion , revolution DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.00345.x Sections The Social Upheaval: 1949–1953 A Succession of Crises References and Suggested Readings With the proclamation of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) found itself at the head of a country three times larger than Western Europe, with a population of some 500 million. The internal situation was favorable to the revolutionary regime. At the end of a long series of civil and foreign wars, the population sought and relied on the new leaders for peace while the ongoing people's mobilization opened the way for an in-depth reform of society. In December 1949, while fighting against the Guomindang nationalists still raged in the south, Mao Zedong flew to Moscow to meet Stalin . The USSR may have been the first country to recognize the People's Republic, but it had not yet abrogated the Sino-Soviet Friendship Treaty, signed with Mao's opponent, Chiang Kai-shek. For three consecutive weeks, the two heads of state played a game of cat and mouse before the Soviets agreed to prepare a new treaty – signed on February 14, 1950 by Zhou Enlai and A. Y. Vychinski, foreign ministers respectively of China and the USSR. After the victory of October 1949, distrust was the rule between the Russian and Chinese leaderships. Mao noted how Stalin looked down upon his experience (“He thought our revolution was fake,” he said) and did not want to commit to supporting China if it were attacked by the United States. However, it was Beijing that indirectly came to the help of Moscow when the Korean War broke out on June 25, 1950. The Korean War was not propitious timing for the Chinese leaders, who would have preferred to prioritize consolidation of the regime, revival of the economy (industry was ruined, famine hit the central plains), and reconquest of Taiwan. Faced with the advance of American forces in North Korea, the Politburo of the CPC was split on Chinese intervention. But the decision was made to join the war effort when US troops approached China's northern border, with Peng Dehuai leading the Chinese counteroffensive. Following four months of intensive and bloody fighting, the front line was stabilized around the 38th parallel. Two years later, the armistice was eventually signed, on July 27, 1953, with up to 800,000 Chinese killed or injured. The Korean War overshadowed and dominated the whole period following the 1949 Chinese communist victory. The confrontation (revolution/counterrevolution) assumed an international dimension, the United States building a security belt around China, with important military bases in South Korea, Japan (Okinawa), the Philippines, Thailand, and South Vietnam. For the United Nations, under the hegemony of the United States, there
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was only one China: that of Guomindang, retrenched in Taiwan.
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