Engineering Communist China: One Man's Story

Engineering Communist China: One Man's Story

Engineering Communist China: One Man's Story

Engineering Communist China: One Man's Story

Synopsis

Dan Ling, a patriotic young engineer eager to help build a new China, falls afoul of the authorities and spends 17 years as a political prisoner. Rehabilitated after Deng Xiaoping came to power, Dan returns to work with unflagging determination to help provide a good life for himself and his people after enduring prison, work camps and work farms, and the primitive lif e of the social outcast breaking new ground on the frozen northern frontier. Youli Sun is Director of American University's Beijing Program. He holds a PhD from the University of Chicago and did post-doctoral studies at Washington University; he is a specialist in American diplomatic history, modern Chinese history, and US-East Asian relations.

Excerpt

Since 1949, when the communists took over the country, Chinese society went through tremendous and fundamental changes. Many of these changes, such as the liberation of women, have become irreversible achievements that moved the nation forward. However, for the most part, the three decades from 1950 to 1980 marked a juvenile period of development characterized by enthusiastic inexperience, misguided overconfidence, political turmoil and oppression, with the Cultural Revolution standing as a stunning adolescent outburst.

The Chinese communists convinced themselves of the absolute truth of their belief and noble purpose, very much like most millennial movements — the Puritans in New England, who were building a City on a Hill, or the French Revolution and Russian Revolution that were creating new epochs in human history. They viewed any other ideas, institutions and social practices as incompatible with their ultimate goals. Individuals who differed from the new social and political norms were by definition enemies of the state and deserved to be either locked up or socially “reformed.” Only after the passing of the Mao Zedong era did the communists under Deng Xiaoping mature and recognize flaws in the ideology-driven social and economic institutions. Now reforms, economic and, to a limited extent political, are transforming China into a society that would appall Karl Marx or Mao Zedong — they would think it was time for another revolution.

During those radical and tumultuous years, how did Chinese citizens fare individually? People from different walks of life view this period from different perspectives. Some, in the early 21 century, will view the period positively and . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.