China's English: A History of English in Chinese Education

By Bob Adamson | Go to book overview

3 The Soviet influence, 1949–60

The establishment of the PRC on 1 October 1949 marked the end of more than twelve years' fighting, firstly arising from the Japanese invasion in 1937, and then the civil war between the CCP and Nationalist Party. Internal strife and weakness were major challenges to the CCP, whose main priority in the 1950s was nation-building. State policy addressed two major historical tensions (Hsü, 1990). The first arose from the immediate past: the need to consolidate the CCP's power in the face of the lingering influences of the Nationalist Party and traditional feudal ideas, by using mass campaigns to unite the populace in support of CCP policies. The second was connected to the long-standing strategy of national self-strengthening: the need to build a strong China politically, economically and militarily, in order to enable her to play what was viewed as an equitable role in international affairs.

The early years after the revolution were characterized by united front activities in urban areas to engage the loyalties of former Nationalist Party sympathizers, particularly the entrepreneurs in the prosperous seaboard areas who could provide the means to develop the nation's economy. At the same time, land reform in the rural areas was carried out to eradicate the influence of wealthy landowners (whom the CCP considered to exploit the peasants); to reward the poorer peasants for their support in the civil war; and to prepare for the introduction of new agricultural programmes. These programmes sought to establish a collectivized system of agricultural production that was designed to even out former inequalities and increase efficiency. Help was solicited from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), which had undergone a similar process after the revolution in 1917. Policy advisers and technical experts from the USSR arrived in China to assist in the developmental process. The CCP also initiated a series of reforms to create new political structures.

In the early 1950s, English was rarely found in the school curriculum. Education policy efforts were oriented towards mother-tongue literacy as a part of the provision of mass education, and Russian was the main foreign language in schools because of the strong link with the USSR. Political events rendered

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China's English: A History of English in Chinese Education
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Series Editor's Preface vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Note on Transliteration xi
  • 1: Introduction 1
  • 2: Barbarian as a Foreign Language 21
  • 3: The Soviet Influence, 1949–60 35
  • 4: Towards Quality in Education, 1961–66 79
  • 5: The Cultural Revolution, 1966–76 107
  • 6: Modernization under Deng Xiaoping, 1977–93 129
  • 7: Integrating with Globalization, 1993 Onwards 169
  • 8: China's English 195
  • Appendix 211
  • Notes 215
  • References 219
  • Index 227
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