China under Communism

China under Communism

China under Communism

China under Communism


China Under Communism examines how Marxism took root, flourished and developed within the context of an ancient Chinese civilization.Through analysis of China's history and traditional culture, the author explores the nature of Chinese communism and how it has diverged from the Soviet model. This book also provides insight into the changing perceptions Westerners have of the Chinese, and vice versa.Key features include:* assessment of controversial issues: The Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution and Mao's record* coverage of gender and family, ethnicity, nationalism, and popular culture* long historical context.This timely evaluation details how China's political and economic policies have been inextricably linked, and assesses past failures and successes, as well as major problems for the future.


When the writer first went to China in 1972, the chairman of the reception committee in Shanghai said, ‘you have come from a far corner of the world and we welcome you.’ Thus he was upholding the traditional view of China (Zhongguo), literally the ‘middle kingdom’, the centre of the world as it is depicted on Chinese maps.

The inscrutable ‘middle kingdom’ has featured in many Western views of China. If some early visitors reacted to the less easily penetrable aspects of Chinese civilization with amusement or contempt, others have marvelled at the special qualities. This perceived distinctiveness of China was compounded when the Communists took over, operating in seclusion behind a ‘bamboo curtain’. How can we explain the excitement, the irrationality and sometimes both which have characterized the process of getting to know China. To take two examples: how could an American secretary of state, Dean Acheson, misinterpreting China’s past, announce in 1949 that ‘ultimately…the democratic individualism of China’ would reassert itself? Why did Henry Kissinger, as he stepped forward to shake hands with a totteringly frail old man—Chairman Mao—feel that never before had he been in the presence of someone ‘who so distilled raw concentrated willpower’?

Does the element of strangeness in the image of China impede real understanding? Certainly Westerners have been faced with variously distorted impressions in addition to the obviously hostile propaganda of the Cold War and the unquestioning adoration of everything Red and Chinese by some western (left-wing) visitors.

While serious historical scholarship has avoided such pitfalls, it has not been entirely free of the influence and uncertainties of the Cold War period and some historical controversy has reflected political attitudes. Moreover, work on China has been constrained by a lack of reliable materials.

From 1949 on the ‘China Watchers’, based largely in Hong Kong and

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