Modern China History: The Cultural Revolution in Context (Essay Sample)
Answer all three of the following questions in concise and well-reasoned essays of approximately two to three pages per question.
No use of other than assigned readings is permitted!
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Modern China History
Modern China History
Question 1: The Cultural Revolution in Context
I do not agree with the view that China’s Cultural Revolution is a complete anomaly; a phenomenon that did not have anything in common or nothing to do with the rest of the country’s modern history. In actual fact, there are linkages between the Cultural Revolution and earlier events. The Cultural Revolution in China lasted for 10 years as it began in 1966 and ended in 1976. These are widely viewed as 10 wasted years. Mao Zedong, the country’s Communist leader at the time, initiated what later came to be known as the Cultural Revolution in the year 1966 with the aim of reasserting his authority over the government of China. This charismatic leader believed that the existing Communist leaders were taking not just the Communist Party, but also the country at large towards the wrong direction. He particularly believed that Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping, who were the Chinese President and Vice Premier respectively, were taking the party and the nation in the wrong direction. Mao therefore requested the youth across China to eliminate the adulterated elements of Chinese society and revitalize the spirit of revolution which had resulted in victory in the civil war 200 years earlier and the creation of the People’s Republic of China. It is worth mentioning that the Cultural Revolution occurred in different stages until the death of Mao Zedong in the year 1976.
There are also linkages between the Cultural Revolution and earlier events. Mao Zedong in the 1960s came to believe that the leadership of the Communist Party in the country was shifting too far in a revisionist direction, emphasizing expertise instead of ideological purity. The major rationale for the Cultural Revolution that Mao Zedong gave was that the government of China and the Communist Party were becoming very remote and removed from the people. This leader criticized the growing numbers of specialists and experts within the party and in the Chinese economy. In addition, he complained that in the country’s education system, children of members of the party hierarchy and children of urban families were given preference, adding that this was forming a privileged middle class in the country.
Even so, Mao Zedong’s real reason for criticizing top government leaders was that he wanted to recover his principal position in the Chinese Communist Party and undermine the positions held by Deng and Liu. Following the failure of his Great Leap Forward that occurred from 1958 until 1960 as well as the ensuing financial crisis, Mao Zedong’s own position in the government of China had grown weaker. Since the year 1959, Zedong’s influence over policy had become much less. As such, the Cultural Revolution was his attempt to appeal to the masses over the heads of the Party leadership. According to him, the best way of doing this entailed undermining the policies as well as positions of Deng and Liu. He drew together a grouping of radicals, including the defense minister Lin Biao and his wife Jiang Qing, to aid him in attacking the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and reassert his authority. Therefore, the Cultural Revolution is connected to earlier events as abovementioned.
In addition, there is a link between the Cultural Revolution and China’s modern history and subsequent events considering that the Revolution’s violent and tormented legacy resonated in the country’s society and politics in the decades that followed. The revolution had an impact on the Chinese System as a whole, leading to many consequences. In the few years after the ending of the revolution, there was slower economic growth which led to ...
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