The 'Glue' That Holds China Together - Deng Xiaoping Encouraged the Populace to Study China's History and Past Accomplishments to Revive Feelings of Pride and Gain Support for His Economic Reforms

By Copper, John F. | The World and I, July 2002 | Go to article overview

The 'Glue' That Holds China Together - Deng Xiaoping Encouraged the Populace to Study China's History and Past Accomplishments to Revive Feelings of Pride and Gain Support for His Economic Reforms


Copper, John F., The World and I


When Deng Xiaoping assumed the mantle of political power in 1978, he set in motion reforms that significantly changed China. Maoist China had been communist, totalitarian, egalitarian, and poor. Deng's China would be very different.

Deng started by revolutionizing agriculture. He allowed the peasants small private plots and created a "free" market in rural China. Next he changed industry: getting the cadres out of the factories and putting managers in their place. Incentives were used to increase production, and quality control became a central goal. Soon factories were privatized. Deng even welcomed foreign investors.

He simultaneously stimulated nationalist sentiment to support the profound changes he engineered. He had enemies; many opposed his reforms. Deng used nationalism to fill the void left as he decimated communism.

Deng also decentralized much of economic and political decision-making. This policy complemented China's free-market approach and helped economic growth. It afforded the Chinese population some basic freedoms.

Weakening the Communist Party

His actions also weakened the Communist Party's control, generated centrifugal forces, and evoked fears that China might fragment and break up. Deng again reached for the nationalism "glue." He dealt with flagging communist control, made his reforms work better, and parried opposition criticism that China had become too beholden to Washington by further cultivating and even institutionalizing nationalist sentiment.

Deng's nationalism was "historical nationalism." Its point of reference was China's splendorous past. Deng linked this to his economic growth plans. China had fallen behind the rest of the world, he said, because it was poor. "A strong China is a rich China," he asserted.

Deng encouraged the populace to study China's history and past accomplishments. Citizens were encouraged to see the Great Wall (even though Mao had said it was built by the exploitation of workers and massive loss of life) and visit museums and other historical places. As pride was revived, he garnered further support for his reforms.

His supporters soon boasted that China had the largest zoo in the world and planned to build the largest dam and tallest building. They talked of multiplying China's economic influence and of surpassing the United States as the world's largest gross national product very soon. Indeed, this seemed possible if not likely.

Deng's reforms were eminently successful. China boomed. Incomes of Chinese citizens soon doubled and tripled. According to former New York Times correspondent Nicolas Kristoff, 250 million people were removed from the poverty rolls--almost equal to the population of the United States.

Still, his reforms were not without serious problems. They spawned crime and other social problems, unemployment, a deep and growing gap between rich and poor citizens and provinces. They created alienation and increased foreign influence in China.

Maoist remnants and others on the Left saw an opportunity. They became unified and energized by the problems created by his program. But the reforms were popular with the masses and were making the country great again. Unable to oppose them frontally, the Left instead tried to hijack and redirect Chinese nationalism.

Building anti-Americanism

Keeping their faction together and trying to lead China in a different direction would require more "glue." Communism wouldn't work anymore. Deng's opponents sought to turn nationalist sentiment based on China's proud past and its successful drive to grow economically into anti- Americanism, irredentism, and secularism. Large segments of the military, along with leftist factions in the party, the government, and the media, were behind the conversion.

They began with a credible charge: America, they proclaimed, was jealous of China's economic and other successes and frightened by its growing military strength. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The 'Glue' That Holds China Together - Deng Xiaoping Encouraged the Populace to Study China's History and Past Accomplishments to Revive Feelings of Pride and Gain Support for His Economic Reforms
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    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.