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China - Acknowledgments

The authors wish to acknowledge their use and adaptation of several chapters from the 1981 edition of China: A Country Study, edited by Frederica M. Bunge and Rinn-Sup Shinn. In particular, substantial parts of the following chapters were incorporated by the authors of the new edition: Martin Weil's "Physical Environment and Population," Joel N. Glassman's "Education and Culture," Thomas R. Gottschang's "Industry" and "Trade and Transportation," Rinn-Sup Shinn's "Party and Government," and David G. Barlow and Daniel W. Wagner's "Public Order and Internal Security."

The authors also are indebted to a number of individuals in the United States government and in international, diplomatic, and private organizations who gave of their time and special knowledge on Chinese affairs to provide research data and perspective. Those who were particularly helpful were Judith Banister of the United States Bureau of the Census; Paul Schroeder of the Map Library, Department of State; Edward P. Parris of the Department of Defense; Chi Wang of the Asian Division, Library of Congress; and Constance A. Johnson of the Far Eastern Law Library, Library of Congress. 

The authors also wish to express their appreciation to members of the staff of the Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, who contributed to the preparation of the book. Foremost among these was Barbara L. Dash, who meticulously reviewed the text. Without her assistance the entire effort would not have been as complete and as finely tuned as it has come to be. Ms. Dash was assisted in editing by Martha E. Hopkins and Glenn E. Curtis. Mervin J. Shello and Ly H. Burnham examined specialized and technical sections of the manuscript, and Carolina E. Forrester reviewed textual references to China's geography. David P. Cabitto, Sandra K. Cotugno, and Kimberly Lord provided copious graphic arts support. Tracy M. Henry assisted on numerous phases of the book including word processing of chapter texts, formatting and typing much of the tabular data, and proof reading. Alberta Jones King, Barbara Edgerton, and Izella Watson diligently provided word processing. Richard F. Nyrop reviewed all parts of the book and made valuable suggestions throughout its development.

Others who contributed to this edition were Teresa E. Kamp, who prepared several of the maps; and Editorial Experts, which did the index. Andrea T. Merrill made a very important contribution to the overall consistency and quality of the book in performing the final, prepublication review. Also, the late John G. Early, head of the Printing and Processing Section, Library of Congress, was instrumental in establishing procedures for typesetting the final text. Peggy F. Pixley, of the same section, directed the actual typesetting which was accomplished by Diann Johnson.

China - Preface

This volume is one in a continuing series of books prepared by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress under the Country Studies/Area Handbook Program sponsored by the Department of the Army.

Most books in the series deal with a particular foreign country, describing and analyzing its political, economic, social, and national security systems and institutions, and examining the interrelationships of those systems and the ways they are shaped by cultural factors. The authors seek to provide a basic understanding of the observed society, striving for a dynamic rather than a static portrayal. Particular attention is devoted to the people who make up the society, their origins, dominant beliefs and values, their common interests and the issues on which they are divided, the nature and extent of their involvement with national institutions, and their attitudes toward each other and toward their social system and political order.

The books represent the analysis of the authors and should not be construed as an expression of an official United States government position, policy, or decision. The authors have sought to adhere to accepted standards of scholarly objectivity. Corrections, additions, and suggestions for changes from readers will be welcomed for use in future editions.

China - Historical Setting

THE HISTORY OF CHINA, as documented in ancient writings, dates back some 3,300 years. Modern archaeological studies provide evidence of still more ancient origins in a culture that flourished between 2500 and 2000 B.C. in what is now central China and the lower Huang He (Yellow River) Valley of north China. Centuries of migration, amalgamation, and development brought about a distinctive system of writing, philosophy, art, and political organization that came to be recognizable as Chinese civilization. What makes the civilization unique in world history is its continuity through over 4,000 years to the present century.

The Chinese have developed a strong sense of their real and mythological origins and have kept voluminous records since very early times. It is largely as a result of these records that knowledge concerning the ancient past, not only of China but also of its neighbors, has survived.

Chinese history, until the twentieth century, was written mostly by members of the ruling scholar-official class and was meant to provide the ruler with precedents to guide or justify his policies. These accounts focused on dynastic politics and colorful court histories and included developments among the commoners only as backdrops. The historians described a Chinese political pattern of dynasties, one following another in a cycle of ascent, achievement, decay, and rebirth under a new family.

Of the consistent traits identified by independent historians, a salient one has been the capacity of the Chinese to absorb the people of surrounding areas into their own civilization. Their success can be attributed to the superiority of their ideographic written language, their technology, and their political institutions; the refinement of their artistic and intellectual creativity; and the sheer weight of their numbers. The process of assimilation continued over the centuries through conquest and colonization until what is now known as China Proper was brought under unified rule. The Chinese also left an enduring mark on people beyond their borders, especially the Koreans, Japanese, and Vietnamese.

Another recurrent historical theme has been the unceasing struggle of the sedentary Chinese against the threat posed to their safety and way of life by non-Chinese peoples on the margins of their territory in the north, northeast, and northwest. In the thirteenth century, the Mongols from the northern steppes became the first alien people to conquer all China. Although not as culturally developed as the Chinese, they left some imprint on Chinese civilization while heightening Chinese perceptions of threat from the north. China came under alien rule for the second time in the mid-seventeenth century; the conquerors--the Manchus-- came again from the north and northeast.

For centuries virtually all the foreigners that Chinese rulers saw came from the less developed societies along their land borders. This circumstance conditioned the Chinese view of the outside world. The Chinese saw their domain as the self-sufficient center of the universe and derived from this image the traditional (and still used) Chinese name for their country--Zhongguo, literally, Middle Kingdom or Central Nation. China saw itself surrounded on all sides by so-called barbarian peoples whose cultures were demonstrably inferior by Chinese standards. This China-centered ("sinocentric") view of the world was still undisturbed in the nineteenth century, at the time of the first serious confrontation with the West. China had taken it for granted that its relations with Europeans would be conducted according to the tributary system that had evolved over the centuries between the emperor and representatives of the lesser states on China's borders as well as between the emperor and some earlier European visitors. But by the mid-nineteenth century, humiliated militarily by superior Western weaponry and technology and faced with imminent territorial dismemberment, China began to reassess its position with respect to Western civilization. By 1911 the two-millennia-old dynastic system of imperial government was brought down by its inability to make this adjustment successfully.

Because of its length and complexity, the history of the Middle Kingdom lends itself to varied interpretation. After the communist takeover in 1949, historians in mainland China wrote their own version of the past--a history of China built on a Marxist model of progression from primitive communism to slavery, feudalism, capitalism, and finally socialism. The events of history came to be presented as a function of the class struggle. Historiography became subordinated to proletarian politics fashioned and directed by the Chinese Communist Party. A series of thought-reform and antirightist campaigns were directed against intellectuals in the arts, sciences, and academic community. The Cultural Revolution (1966-76) further altered the objectivity of historians. In the years after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976, however, interest grew within the party, and outside it as well, in restoring the integrity of historical inquiry. This trend was consistent with the party's commitment to "seeking truth from facts." As a result, historians and social scientists raised probing questions concerning the state of historiography in China. Their investigations included not only historical study of traditional China but penetrating inquiries into modern Chinese history and the history of the Chinese Communist Party.

In post-Mao China, the discipline of historiography has not been separated from politics, although a much greater range of historical topics has been discussed. Figures from Confucius--who was bitterly excoriated for his "feudal" outlook by Cultural Revolution-era historians--to Mao himself have been evaluated with increasing flexibility. Among the criticisms made by Chinese social scientists is that Maoist-era historiography distorted Marxist and Leninist interpretations. This meant that considerable revision of historical texts was in order in the 1980s, although no substantive change away from the conventional Marxist approach was likely. Historical institutes were restored within the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and a growing corps of trained historians, in institutes and academia alike, returned to their work with the blessing of the Chinese Communist Party. This in itself was a potentially significant development.


Chinese civilization, as described in mythology, begins with Pangu, the creator of the universe, and a succession of legendary sage-emperors and culture heroes who taught the ancient Chinese to communicate and to find sustenance, clothing, and shelter. The first prehistoric dynasty is said to be Xia, from about the twentyfirst to the sixteenth century B.C. Until scientific excavations were made at early bronze-age sites at Anyang, Henan Province, in 1928, it was difficult to separate myth from reality in regard to the Xia. But since then, and especially in the 1960s and 1970s, archaeologists have uncovered urban sites, bronze implements, and tombs that point to the existence of Xia civilization in the same locations cited in ancient Chinese historical texts. At minimum, the Xia period marked an evolutionary stage between the late neolithic cultures and the typical Chinese urban civilization of the Shang dynasty.

The Dawn of History

Thousands of archaeological finds in the Huang He Valley--the apparent cradle of Chinese civilization--provide evidence about the Shang dynasty, which endured roughly from 1700 to 1027 B.C. The Shang dynasty (also called the Yin dynasty in its later stages) is believed to have been founded by a rebel leader who overthrew the last Xia ruler. Its civilization was based on agriculture, augmented by hunting and animal husbandry. Two important events of the period were the development of a writing system, as revealed in archaic Chinese inscriptions found on tortoise shells and flat cattle bones (commonly called oracle bones), and the use of bronze metallurgy. A number of ceremonial bronze vessels with inscriptions date from the Shang period; the workmanship on the bronzes attests to a high level of civilization.

A line of hereditary Shang kings ruled over much of northern China, and Shang troops fought frequent wars with neighboring settlements and nomadic herdsmen from the inner Asian steppes. The capitals, one of which was at the site of the modern city of Anyang, were centers of glittering court life. Court rituals to propitiate spirits and to honor sacred ancestors were highly developed. In addition to his secular position, the king was the head of the ancestor- and spirit-worship cult. Evidence from the royal tombs indicates that royal personages were buried with articles of value, presumably for use in the afterlife. Perhaps for the same reason, hundreds of commoners, who may have been slaves, were buried alive with the royal corpse.

China - The Zhou Period

The last Shang ruler, a despot according to standard Chinese accounts, was overthrown by a chieftain of a frontier tribe called Zhou, which had settled in the Wei Valley in modern Shaanxi Province. The Zhou dynasty had its capital at Hao, near the city of Xi'an, or Chang'an, as it was known in its heyday in the imperial period. Sharing the language and culture of the Shang, the early Zhou rulers, through conquest and colonization, gradually sinicized, that is, extended Shang culture through much of China Proper north of the Chang Jiang (Yangtze River). The Zhou dynasty lasted longer than any other, from 1027 to 221 B.C. It was philosophers of this period who first enunciated the doctrine of the "mandate of heaven" (tianming), the notion that the ruler (the "son of heaven") governed by divine right but that his dethronement would prove that he had lost the mandate. The doctrine explained and justified the demise of the two earlier dynasties and at the same time supported the legitimacy of present and future rulers.

The term feudal has often been applied to the Zhou period because the Zhou's early decentralized rule invites comparison with medieval rule in Europe. At most, however, the early Zhou system was proto-feudal, being a more sophisticated version of earlier tribal organization, in which effective control depended more on familial ties than on feudal legal bonds. Whatever feudal elements there may have been decreased as time went on. The Zhou amalgam of city-states became progressively centralized and established increasingly impersonal political and economic institutions. These developments, which probably occurred in the latter Zhou period, were manifested in greater central control over local governments and a more routinized agricultural taxation.

In 771 B.C. the Zhou court was sacked, and its king was killed by invading barbarians who were allied with rebel lords. The capital was moved eastward to Luoyang in present-day Henan Province. Because of this shift, historians divide the Zhou era into Western Zhou (1027-771 B.C.) and Eastern Zhou (770-221 B.C.). With the royal line broken, the power of the Zhou court gradually diminished; the fragmentation of the kingdom accelerated. Eastern Zhou divides into two subperiods. The first, from 770 to 476 B.C., is called the Spring and Autumn Period, after a famous historical chronicle of the time; the second is known as the Warring States Period (475-221 B.C.).

China - The Hundred Schools of Thought

The Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods, though marked by disunity and civil strife, witnessed an unprecedented era of cultural prosperity--the "golden age" of China. The atmosphere of reform and new ideas was attributed to the struggle for survival among warring regional lords who competed in building strong and loyal armies and in increasing economic production to ensure a broader base for tax collection. To effect these economic, military, and cultural developments, the regional lords needed ever-increasing numbers of skilled, literate officials and teachers, the recruitment of whom was based on merit. Also during this time, commerce was stimulated through the introduction of coinage and technological improvements. Iron came into general use, making possible not only the forging of weapons of war but also the manufacture of farm implements. Public works on a grand scale--such as flood control, irrigation projects, and canal digging--were executed. Enormous walls were built around cities and along the broad stretches of the northern frontier.

So many different philosophies developed during the late Spring and Autumn and early Warring States periods that the era is often known as that of the Hundred Schools of Thought. From the Hundred Schools of Thought came many of the great classical writings on which Chinese practices were to be based for the next two and onehalf millennia. Many of the thinkers were itinerant intellectuals who, besides teaching their disciples, were employed as advisers to one or another of the various state rulers on the methods of government, war, and diplomacy.

The body of thought that had the most enduring effect on subsequent Chinese life was that of the School of Literati (ru), often called the Confucian school in the West. The written legacy of the School of Literati is embodied in the Confucian Classics, which were to become the basis for the order of traditional society. Confucius (551-479 B.C.), also called Kong Zi, or Master Kong, looked to the early days of Zhou rule for an ideal social and political order. He believed that the only way such a system could be made to work properly was for each person to act according to prescribed relationships. "Let the ruler be a ruler and the subject a subject," he said, but he added that to rule properly a king must be virtuous. To Confucius, the functions of government and social stratification were facts of life to be sustained by ethical values. His ideal was the junzi (ruler's son), which came to mean gentleman in the sense of a cultivated or superior man.

Mencius (372-289 B.C.), or Meng Zi, was a Confucian disciple who made major contributions to the humanism of Confucian thought. Mencius declared that man was by nature good. He expostulated the idea that a ruler could not govern without the people's tacit consent and that the penalty for unpopular, despotic rule was the loss of the "mandate of heaven."

The effect of the combined work of Confucius, the codifier and interpreter of a system of relationships based on ethical behavior, and Mencius, the synthesizer and developer of applied Confucian thought, was to provide traditional Chinese society with a comprehensive framework on which to order virtually every aspect of life.

There were to be accretions to the corpus of Confucian thought, both immediately and over the millennia, and from within and outside the Confucian school. Interpretations made to suit or influence contemporary society made Confucianism dynamic while preserving a fundamental system of model behavior based on ancient texts.

Diametrically opposed to Mencius, for example, was the interpretation of Xun Zi (ca. 300-237 B.C.), another Confucian follower. Xun Zi preached that man is innately selfish and evil and that goodness is attainable only through education and conduct befitting one's status. He also argued that the best government is one based on authoritarian control, not ethical or moral persuasion.

Xun Zi's unsentimental and authoritarian inclinations were developed into the doctrine embodied in the School of Law (fa), or Legalism. The doctrine was formulated by Han Fei Zi (d. 233 B.C.) and Li Si (d. 208 B.C.), who maintained that human nature was incorrigibly selfish and therefore the only way to preserve the social order was to impose discipline from above and to enforce laws strictly. The Legalists exalted the state and sought its prosperity and martial prowess above the welfare of the common people. Legalism became the philosophic basis for the imperial form of government. When the most practical and useful aspects of Confucianism and Legalism were synthesized in the Han period (206 B.C.-A.D. 220), a system of governance came into existence that was to survive largely intact until the late nineteenth century. Taoism (or Daoism in pinyin), the second most important stream of Chinese thought, also developed during the Zhou period. Its formulation is attributed to the legendary sage Lao Zi (Old Master), said to predate Confucius, and Zhuang Zi (369-286 B.C.). The focus of Taoism is the individual in nature rather than the individual in society. It holds that the goal of life for each individual is to find one's own personal adjustment to the rhythm of the natural (and supernatural) world, to follow the Way (dao) of the universe. In many ways the opposite of rigid Confucian moralism, Taoism served many of its adherents as a complement to their ordered daily lives. A scholar on duty as an official would usually follow Confucian teachings but at leisure or in retirement might seek harmony with nature as a Taoist recluse.

Another strain of thought dating to the Warring States Period is the school of yin-yang and the five elements. The theories of this school attempted to explain the universe in terms of basic forces in nature, the complementary agents of yin (dark, cold, female, negative) and yang (light, hot, male, positive) and the five elements (water, fire, wood, metal, and earth). In later periods these theories came to have importance both in philosophy and in popular belief.

Still another school of thought was based on the doctrine of Mo Zi (470-391 B.C.?), or Mo Di. Mo Zi believed that "all men are equal before God" and that mankind should follow heaven by practicing universal love. Advocating that all action must be utilitarian, Mo Zi condemned the Confucian emphasis on ritual and music. He regarded warfare as wasteful and advocated pacificism. Mo Zi also believed that unity of thought and action were necessary to achieve social goals. He maintained that the people should obey their leaders and that the leaders should follow the will of heaven. Although Moism failed to establish itself as a major school of thought, its views are said to be "strongly echoed" in Legalist thought. In general, the teachings of Mo Zi left an indelible impression on the Chinese mind.


The First Imperial Period

Much of what came to constitute China Proper was unified for the first time in 221 B.C. In that year the western frontier state of Qin, the most aggressive of the Warring States, subjugated the last of its rival states. (Qin in Wade-Giles romanization is Ch'in, from which the English China probably derived.) Once the king of Qin consolidated his power, he took the title Shi Huangdi (First Emperor), a formulation previously reserved for deities and the mythological sage-emperors, and imposed Qin's centralized, nonhereditary bureaucratic system on his new empire. In subjugating the six other major states of Eastern Zhou, the Qin kings had relied heavily on Legalist scholaradvisers . Centralization, achieved by ruthless methods, was focused on standardizing legal codes and bureaucratic procedures, the forms of writing and coinage, and the pattern of thought and scholarship. To silence criticism of imperial rule, the kings banished or put to death many dissenting Confucian scholars and confiscated and burned their books. Qin aggrandizement was aided by frequent military expeditions pushing forward the frontiers in the north and south. To fend off barbarian intrusion, the fortification walls built by the various warring states were connected to make a 5,000- kilometer-long great wall. (What is commonly referred to as the Great Wall is actually four great walls rebuilt or extended during the Western Han, Sui, Jin, and Ming periods, rather than a single, continuous wall. At its extremities, the Great Wall reaches from northeastern Heilongjiang Province to northwestern Gansu. A number of public works projects were also undertaken to consolidate and strengthen imperial rule. These activities required enormous levies of manpower and resources, not to mention repressive measures. Revolts broke out as soon as the first Qin emperor died in 210 B.C. His dynasty was extinguished less than twenty years after its triumph. The imperial system initiated during the Qin dynasty, however, set a pattern that was developed over the next two millennia.

After a short civil war, a new dynasty, called Han (206 B.C.- A.D. 220), emerged with its capital at Chang'an. The new empire retained much of the Qin administrative structure but retreated a bit from centralized rule by establishing vassal principalities in some areas for the sake of political convenience. The Han rulers modified some of the harsher aspects of the previous dynasty; Confucian ideals of government, out of favor during the Qin period, were adopted as the creed of the Han empire, and Confucian scholars gained prominent status as the core of the civil service. A civil service examination system also was initiated. Intellectual, literary, and artistic endeavors revived and flourished. The Han period produced China's most famous historian, Sima Qian (145-87 B.C.?), whose Shiji (Historical Records) provides a detailed chronicle from the time of a legendary Xia emperor to that of the Han emperor Wu Di(141-87 B.C.). Technological advances also marked this period. Two of the great Chinese inventions, paper and porcelain, date from Han times.

The Han dynasty, after which the members of the ethnic majority in China, the "people of Han," are named, was notable also for its military prowess. The empire expanded westward as far as the rim of the Tarim Basin (in modern Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region), making possible relatively secure caravan traffic across Central Asia to Antioch, Baghdad, and Alexandria. The paths of caravan traffic are often called the "silk route" because the route was used to export Chinese silk to the Roman Empire. Chinese armies also invaded and annexed parts of northern Vietnam and northern Korea toward the end of the second century B.C. Han control of peripheral regions was generally insecure, however. To ensure peace with non-Chinese local powers, the Han court developed a mutually beneficial "tributary system." Non-Chinese states were allowed to remain autonomous in exchange for symbolic acceptance of Han overlordship. Tributary ties were confirmed and strengthened through intermarriages at the ruling level and periodic exchanges of gifts and goods.

After 200 years, Han rule was interrupted briefly (in A.D. 9-24 by Wang Mang, a reformer), and then restored for another 200 years. The Han rulers, however, were unable to adjust to what centralization had wrought: a growing population, increasing wealth and resultant financial difficulties and rivalries, and ever-more complex political institutions. Riddled with the corruption characteristic of the dynastic cycle, by A.D. 220 the Han empire collapsed.

China - Era of Disunity

The collapse of the Han dynasty was followed by nearly four centuries of rule by warlords. The age of civil wars and disunity began with the era of the Three Kingdoms (Wei, Shu, and Wu, which had overlapping reigns during the period A.D. 220-80). In later times, fiction and drama greatly romanticized the reputed chivalry of this period. Unity was restored briefly in the early years of the Jin dynasty (A.D. 265-420), but the Jin could not long contain the invasions of the nomadic peoples. In A.D. 317 the Jin court was forced to flee from Luoyang and reestablished itself at Nanjing to the south. The transfer of the capital coincided with China's political fragmentation into a succession of dynasties that was to last from A.D. 304 to 589. During this period the process of sinicization accelerated among the non-Chinese arrivals in the north and among the aboriginal tribesmen in the south. This process was also accompanied by the increasing popularity of Buddhism (introduced into China in the first century A.D.) in both north and south China. Despite the political disunity of the times, there were notable technological advances. The invention of gunpowder (at that time for use only in fireworks) and the wheelbarrow is believed to date from the sixth or seventh century. Advances in medicine, astronomy, and cartography are also noted by historians.

China - Restoration of Empire

China was reunified in A.D. 589 by the short-lived Sui dynasty (A.D. 581-617), which has often been compared to the earlier Qin dynasty in tenure and the ruthlessness of its accomplishments. The Sui dynasty's early demise was attributed to the government's tyrannical demands on the people, who bore the crushing burden of taxes and compulsory labor. These resources were overstrained in the completion of the Grand Canal--a monumental engineering feat-- and in the undertaking of other construction projects, including the reconstruction of the Great Wall. Weakened by costly and disastrous military campaigns against Korea in the early seventh century, the dynasty disintegrated through a combination of popular revolts, disloyalty, and assassination.

The Tang dynasty (A.D. 618-907), with its capital at Chang'an, is regarded by historians as a high point in Chinese civilization-- equal, or even superior, to the Han period. Its territory, acquired through the military exploits of its early rulers, was greater than that of the Han. Stimulated by contact with India and the Middle East, the empire saw a flowering of creativity in many fields. Buddhism, originating in India around the time of Confucius, flourished during the Tang period, becoming thoroughly sinicized and a permanent part of Chinese traditional culture. Block printing was invented, making the written word available to vastly greater audiences. The Tang period was the golden age of literature and art. A government system supported by a large class of Confucian literati selected through civil service examinations was perfected under Tang rule. This competitive procedure was designed to draw the best talents into government. But perhaps an even greater consideration for the Tang rulers, aware that imperial dependence on powerful aristocratic families and warlords would have destabilizing consequences, was to create a body of career officials having no autonomous territorial or functional power base. As it turned out, these scholar-officials acquired status in their local communities, family ties, and shared values that connected them to the imperial court. From Tang times until the closing days of the Qing empire in 1911, scholarofficials functioned often as intermediaries between the grassroots level and the government.

By the middle of the eighth century A.D., Tang power had ebbed. Domestic economic instability and military defeat in 751 by Arabs at Talas, in Central Asia, marked the beginning of five centuries of steady military decline for the Chinese empire. Misrule, court intrigues, economic exploitation, and popular rebellions weakened the empire, making it possible for northern invaders to terminate the dynasty in 907. The next half-century saw the fragmentation of China into five northern dynasties and ten southern kingdoms. But in 960 a new power, Song (960-1279), reunified most of China Proper. The Song period divides into two phases: Northern Song (960-1127) and Southern Song (1127-1279). The division was caused by the forced abandonment of north China in 1127 by the Song court, which could not push back the nomadic invaders.

The founders of the Song dynasty built an effective centralized bureaucracy staffed with civilian scholar-officials. Regional military governors and their supporters were replaced by centrally appointed officials. This system of civilian rule led to a greater concentration of power in the emperor and his palace bureaucracy than had been achieved in the previous dynasties.

The Song dynasty is notable for the development of cities not only for administrative purposes but also as centers of trade, industry, and maritime commerce. The landed scholar-officials, sometimes collectively referred to as the gentry, lived in the provincial centers alongside the shopkeepers, artisans, and merchants. A new group of wealthy commoners--the mercantile class-- arose as printing and education spread, private trade grew, and a market economy began to link the coastal provinces and the interior. Landholding and government employment were no longer the only means of gaining wealth and prestige.

Culturally, the Song refined many of the developments of the previous centuries. Included in these refinements were not only the Tang ideal of the universal man, who combined the qualities of scholar, poet, painter, and statesman, but also historical writings, painting, calligraphy, and hard-glazed porcelain. Song intellectuals sought answers to all philosophical and political questions in the Confucian Classics. This renewed interest in the Confucian ideals and society of ancient times coincided with the decline of Buddhism, which the Chinese regarded as foreign and offering few practical guidelines for the solution of political and other mundane problems.

The Song Neo-Confucian philosophers, finding a certain purity in the originality of the ancient classical texts, wrote commentaries on them. The most influential of these philosophers was Zhu Xi (1130-1200), whose synthesis of Confucian thought and Buddhist, Taoist, and other ideas became the official imperial ideology from late Song times to the late nineteenth century. As incorporated into the examination system, Zhu Xi's philosophy evolved into a rigid official creed, which stressed the one-sided obligations of obedience and compliance of subject to ruler, child to father, wife to husband, and younger brother to elder brother. The effect was to inhibit the societal development of premodern China, resulting both in many generations of political, social, and spiritual stability and in a slowness of cultural and institutional change up to the nineteenth century. Neo-Confucian doctrines also came to play the dominant role in the intellectual life of Korea, Vietnam, and Japan.

China - Mongolian Interlude

By the mid-thirteenth century, the Mongols had subjugated north China, Korea, and the Muslim kingdoms of Central Asia and had twice penetrated Europe. With the resources of his vast empire, Kublai Khan (1215-94), a grandson of Genghis Khan (1167?-1227) and the supreme leader of all Mongol tribes, began his drive against the Southern Song. Even before the extinction of the Song dynasty, Kublai Khan had established the first alien dynasty to rule all China--the Yuan (1279-1368).

Although the Mongols sought to govern China through traditional institutions, using Chinese (Han) bureaucrats, they were not up to the task. The Han were discriminated against socially and politically. All important central and regional posts were monopolized by Mongols, who also preferred employing non-Chinese from other parts of the Mongol domain--Central Asia, the Middle East, and even Europe--in those positions for which no Mongol could be found. Chinese were more often employed in non-Chinese regions of the empire.

As in other periods of alien dynastic rule of China, a rich cultural diversity developed during the Yuan dynasty. The major cultural achievements were the development of drama and the novel and the increased use of the written vernacular. The Mongols' extensive West Asian and European contacts produced a fair amount of cultural exchange. Western musical instruments were introduced to enrich the Chinese performing arts. From this period dates the conversion to Islam, by Muslims of Central Asia, of growing numbers of Chinese in the northwest and southwest. Nestorianism and Roman Catholicism also enjoyed a period of toleration. Lamaism (Tibetan Buddhism) flourished, although native Taoism endured Mongol persecutions. Confucian governmental practices and examinations based on the Classics, which had fallen into disuse in north China during the period of disunity, were reinstated by the Mongols in the hope of maintaining order over Han society. Advances were realized in the fields of travel literature, cartography and geography, and scientific education. Certain key Chinese innovations, such as printing techniques, porcelain production, playing cards, and medical literature, were introduced in Europe, while the production of thin glass and cloisonne became popular in China. The first records of travel by Westerners date from this time. The most famous traveler of the period was the Venetian Marco Polo, whose account of his trip to "Cambaluc," the Great Khan's capital (now Beijing), and of life there astounded the people of Europe. The Mongols undertook extensive public works. Road and water communications were reorganized and improved. To provide against possible famines, granaries were ordered built throughout the empire. The city of Beijing was rebuilt with new palace grounds that included artificial lakes, hills and mountains, and parks. During the Yuan period, Beijing became the terminus of the Grand Canal, which was completely renovated. These commercially oriented improvements encouraged overland as well as maritime commerce throughout Asia and facilitated the first direct Chinese contacts with Europe. Chinese and Mongol travelers to the West were able to provide assistance in such areas as hydraulic engineering, while bringing back to the Middle Kingdom new scientific discoveries and architectural innovations. Contacts with the West also brought the introduction to China of a major new food crop--sorghum--along with other foreign food products and methods of preparation.

China - The Chinese Regain Power

Rivalry among the Mongol imperial heirs, natural disasters, and numerous peasant uprisings led to the collapse of the Yuan dynasty. The Ming dynasty (1368-1644) was founded by a Han Chinese peasant and former Buddhist monk turned rebel army leader. Having its capital first at Nanjing (which means Southern Capital) and later at Beijing (Northern Capital), the Ming reached the zenith of power during the first quarter of the fifteenth century. The Chinese armies reconquered Annam, as northern Vietnam was then known, in Southeast Asia and kept back the Mongols, while the Chinese fleet sailed the China seas and the Indian Ocean, cruising as far as the east coast of Africa. The maritime Asian nations sent envoys with tribute for the Chinese emperor. Internally, the Grand Canal was expanded to its farthest limits and proved to be a stimulus to domestic trade.

The Ming maritime expeditions stopped rather suddenly after 1433, the date of the last voyage. Historians have given as one of the reasons the great expense of large-scale expeditions at a time of preoccupation with northern defenses against the Mongols. Opposition at court also may have been a contributing factor, as conservative officials found the concept of expansion and commercial ventures alien to Chinese ideas of government. Pressure from the powerful Neo-Confucian bureaucracy led to a revival of strict agrarian-centered society. The stability of the Ming dynasty, which was without major disruptions of the population (then around 100 million), economy, arts, society, or politics, promoted a belief among the Chinese that they had achieved the most satisfactory civilization on earth and that nothing foreign was needed or welcome.

Long wars with the Mongols, incursions by the Japanese into Korea, and harassment of Chinese coastal cities by the Japanese in the sixteenth century weakened Ming rule, which became, as earlier Chinese dynasties had, ripe for an alien takeover. In 1644 the Manchus took Beijing from the north and became masters of north China, establishing the last imperial dynasty, the Qing (1644- 1911).

China - The Rise of the Manchus

Although the Manchus were not Han Chinese and were strongly resisted, especially in the south, they had assimilated a great deal of Chinese culture before conquering China Proper. Realizing that to dominate the empire they would have to do things the Chinese way, the Manchus retained many institutions of Ming and earlier Chinese derivation. They continued the Confucian court practices and temple rituals, over which the emperors had traditionally presided.

The Manchus continued the Confucian civil service system. Although Chinese were barred from the highest offices, Chinese officials predominated over Manchu officeholders outside the capital, except in military positions. The Neo-Confucian philosophy, emphasizing the obedience of subject to ruler, was enforced as the state creed. The Manchu emperors also supported Chinese literary and historical projects of enormous scope; the survival of much of China's ancient literature is attributed to these projects.

Ever suspicious of Han Chinese, the Qing rulers put into effect measures aimed at preventing the absorption of the Manchus into the dominant Han Chinese population. Han Chinese were prohibited from migrating into the Manchu homeland, and Manchus were forbidden to engage in trade or manual labor. Intermarriage between the two groups was forbidden. In many government positions a system of dual appointments was used--the Chinese appointee was required to do the substantive work and the Manchu to ensure Han loyalty to Qing rule.

The Qing regime was determined to protect itself not only from internal rebellion but also from foreign invasion. After China Proper had been subdued, the Manchus conquered Outer Mongolia (now the Mongolian People's Republic) in the late seventeenth century. In the eighteenth century they gained control of Central Asia as far as the Pamir Mountains and established a protectorate over the area the Chinese call Xizang but commonly known in the West as Tibet. The Qing thus became the first dynasty to eliminate successfully all danger to China Proper from across its land borders. Under Manchu rule the empire grew to include a larger area than before or since; Taiwan, the last outpost of anti-Manchu resistance, was also incorporated into China for the first time. In addition, Qing emperors received tribute from the various border states.

The chief threat to China's integrity did not come overland, as it had so often in the past, but by sea, reaching the southern coastal area first. Western traders, missionaries, and soldiers of fortune began to arrive in large numbers even before the Qing, in the sixteenth century. The empire's inability to evaluate correctly the nature of the new challenge or to respond flexibly to it resulted in the demise of the Qing and the collapse of the entire millennia-old framework of dynastic rule.


The success of the Qing dynasty in maintaining the old order proved a liability when the empire was confronted with growing challenges from seafaring Western powers. The centuries of peace and self-satisfaction dating back to Ming times had encouraged little change in the attitudes of the ruling elite. The imperial Neo-Confucian scholars accepted as axiomatic the cultural superiority of Chinese civilization and the position of the empire at the hub of their perceived world. To question this assumption, to suggest innovation, or to promote the adoption of foreign ideas was viewed as tantamount to heresy. Imperial purges dealt severely with those who deviated from orthodoxy.

By the nineteenth century, China was experiencing growing internal pressures of economic origin. By the start of the century, there were over 300 million Chinese, but there was no industry or trade of sufficient scope to absorb the surplus labor. Moreover, the scarcity of land led to widespread rural discontent and a breakdown in law and order. The weakening through corruption of the bureaucratic and military systems and mounting urban pauperism also contributed to these disturbances. Localized revolts erupted in various parts of the empire in the early nineteenth century. Secret societies, such as the White Lotus sect in the north and the Triad Society in the south, gained ground, combining anti-Manchu subversion with banditry.

China - The Western Powers Arrive

As elsewhere in Asia, in China the Portuguese were the pioneers, establishing a foothold at Macao (Aomen in pinyin), from which they monopolized foreign trade at the Chinese port of Guangzhou (Canton). Soon the Spanish arrived, followed by the British and the French.

Trade between China and the West was carried on in the guise of tribute: foreigners were obliged to follow the elaborate, centuries-old ritual imposed on envoys from China's tributary states. There was no conception at the imperial court that the Europeans would expect or deserve to be treated as cultural or political equals. The sole exception was Russia, the most powerful inland neighbor.

The Manchus were sensitive to the need for security along the northern land frontier and therefore were prepared to be realistic in dealing with Russia. The Treaty of Nerchinsk (1689) with the Russians, drafted to bring to an end a series of border incidents and to establish a border between Siberia and Manchuria (northeast China) along the Heilong Jiang (Amur River), was China's first bilateral agreement with a European power. In 1727 the Treaty of Kiakhta delimited the remainder of the eastern portion of the SinoRussian border. Western diplomatic efforts to expand trade on equal terms were rebuffed, the official Chinese assumption being that the empire was not in need of foreign--and thus inferior--products. Despite this attitude, trade flourished, even though after 1760 all foreign trade was confined to Guangzhou, where the foreign traders had to limit their dealings to a dozen officially licensed Chinese merchant firms.

Trade was not the sole basis of contact with the West. Since the thirteenth century, Roman Catholic missionaries had been attempting to establish their church in China. Although by 1800 only a few hundred thousand Chinese had been converted, the missionaries--mostly Jesuits--contributed greatly to Chinese knowledge in such fields as cannon casting, calendar making, geography, mathematics, cartography, music, art, and architecture. The Jesuits were especially adept at fitting Christianity into a Chinese framework and were condemned by a papal decision in 1704 for having tolerated the continuance of Confucian ancestor rites among Christian converts. The papal decision quickly weakened the Christian movement, which it proscribed as heterodox and disloyal.

China - The Opium War, 1839-42

During the eighteenth century, the market in Europe and America for tea, a new drink in the West, expanded greatly. Additionally, there was a continuing demand for Chinese silk and porcelain. But China, still in its preindustrial stage, wanted little that the West had to offer, causing the Westerners, mostly British, to incur an unfavorable balance of trade. To remedy the situation, the foreigners developed a third-party trade, exchanging their merchandise in India and Southeast Asia for raw materials and semiprocessed goods, which found a ready market in Guangzhou. By the early nineteenth century, raw cotton and opium from India had become the staple British imports into China, in spite of the fact that opium was prohibited entry by imperial decree. The opium traffic was made possible through the connivance of profit-seeking merchants and a corrupt bureaucracy.

In 1839 the Qing government, after a decade of unsuccessful anti-opium campaigns, adopted drastic prohibitory laws against the opium trade. The emperor dispatched a commissioner, Lin Zexu (1785- 1850), to Guangzhou to suppress illicit opium traffic. Lin seized illegal stocks of opium owned by Chinese dealers and then detained the entire foreign community and confiscated and destroyed some 20,000 chests of illicit British opium. The British retaliated with a punitive expedition, thus initiating the first Anglo-Chinese war, better known as the Opium War (1839-42). Unprepared for war and grossly underestimating the capabilities of the enemy, the Chinese were disastrously defeated, and their image of their own imperial power was tarnished beyond repair. The Treaty of Nanjing (1842), signed on board a British warship by two Manchu imperial commissioners and the British plenipotentiary, was the first of a series of agreements with the Western trading nations later called by the Chinese the "unequal treaties." Under the Treaty of Nanjing, China ceded the island of Hong Kong (Xianggang in pinyin) to the British; abolished the licensed monopoly system of trade; opened 5 ports to British residence and foreign trade; limited the tariff on trade to 5 percent ad valorem; granted British nationals extraterritoriality (exemption from Chinese laws); and paid a large indemnity. In addition, Britain was to have most-favored-nation treatment, that is, it would receive whatever trading concessions the Chinese granted other powers then or later. The Treaty of Nanjing set the scope and character of an unequal relationship for the ensuing century of what the Chinese would call "national humiliations." The treaty was followed by other incursions, wars, and treaties that granted new concessions and added new privileges for the foreigners.

China - The Taiping Rebellion, 1851-64

During the mid-nineteenth century, China's problems were compounded by natural calamities of unprecedented proportions, including droughts, famines, and floods. Government neglect of public works was in part responsible for this and other disasters, and the Qing administration did little to relieve the widespread misery caused by them. Economic tensions, military defeats at Western hands, and anti-Manchu sentiments all combined to produce widespread unrest, especially in the south. South China had been the last area to yield to the Qing conquerors and the first to be exposed to Western influence. It provided a likely setting for the largest uprising in modern Chinese history--the Taiping Rebellion.

The Taiping rebels were led by Hong Xiuquan (1814-64), a village teacher and unsuccessful imperial examination candidate. Hong formulated an eclectic ideology combining the ideals of preConfucian utopianism with Protestant beliefs. He soon had a following in the thousands who were heavily anti-Manchu and antiestablishment . Hong's followers formed a military organization to protect against bandits and recruited troops not only among believers but also from among other armed peasant groups and secret societies. In 1851 Hong Xiuquan and others launched an uprising in Guizhou Province. Hong proclaimed the Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace (Taiping Tianguo, or Taiping for short) with himself as king. The new order was to reconstitute a legendary ancient state in which the peasantry owned and tilled the land in common; slavery, concubinage, arranged marriage, opium smoking, footbinding, judicial torture, and the worship of idols were all to be eliminated. The Taiping tolerance of the esoteric rituals and quasi-religious societies of south China--themselves a threat to Qing stability--and their relentless attacks on Confucianism--still widely accepted as the moral foundation of Chinese behavior-- contributed to the ultimate defeat of the rebellion. Its advocacy of radical social reforms alienated the Han Chinese scholar-gentry class. The Taiping army, although it had captured Nanjing and driven as far north as Tianjin, failed to establish stable base areas. The movement's leaders found themselves in a net of internal feuds, defections, and corruption. Additionally, British and French forces, being more willing to deal with the weak Qing administration than contend with the uncertainties of a Taiping regime, came to the assistance of the imperial army. Before the Chinese army succeeded in crushing the revolt, however, 14 years had passed, and well over 30 million people were reported killed.

To defeat the rebellion, the Qing court needed, besides Western help, an army stronger and more popular than the demoralized imperial forces. In 1860, scholar-official Zeng Guofan (1811-72), from Hunan Province, was appointed imperial commissioner and governor-general of the Taiping-controlled territories and placed in command of the war against the rebels. Zeng's Hunan army, created and paid for by local taxes, became a powerful new fighting force under the command of eminent scholar-generals. Zeng's success gave new power to an emerging Han Chinese elite and eroded Qing authority. Simultaneous uprisings in north China (the Nian Rebellion) and southwest China (the Muslim Rebellion) further demonstrated Qing weakness.

China - The Self-Strengthening Movement

The rude realities of the Opium War, the unequal treaties, and the mid-century mass uprisings caused Qing courtiers and officials to recognize the need to strengthen China. Chinese scholars and officials had been examining and translating "Western learning" since the 1840s. Under the direction of modern-thinking Han officials, Western science and languages were studied, special schools were opened in the larger cities, and arsenals, factories, and shipyards were established according to Western models. Western diplomatic practices were adopted by the Qing, and students were sent abroad by the government and on individual or community initiative in the hope that national regeneration could be achieved through the application of Western practical methods.

Amid these activities came an attempt to arrest the dynastic decline by restoring the traditional order. The effort was known as the Tongzhi Restoration, named for the Tongzhi Emperor (1862-74), and was engineered by the young emperor's mother, the Empress Dowager Ci Xi (1835-1908). The restoration, however, which applied "practical knowledge" while reaffirming the old mentality, was not a genuine program of modernization.

The effort to graft Western technology onto Chinese institutions became known as the Self-Strengthening Movement. The movement was championed by scholar-generals like Li Hongzhang (1823-1901) and Zuo Zongtang (1812-85), who had fought with the government forces in the Taiping Rebellion. From 1861 to 1894, leaders such as these, now turned scholar-administrators, were responsible for establishing modern institutions, developing basic industries, communications, and transportation, and modernizing the military. But despite its leaders' accomplishments, the SelfStrengthening Movement did not recognize the significance of the political institutions and social theories that had fostered Western advances and innovations. This weakness led to the movement's failure. Modernization during this period would have been difficult under the best of circumstances. The bureaucracy was still deeply influenced by Neo-Confucian orthodoxy. Chinese society was still reeling from the ravages of the Taiping and other rebellions, and foreign encroachments continued to threaten the integrity of China.

The first step in the foreign powers' effort to carve up the empire was taken by Russia, which had been expanding into Central Asia. By the 1850s, tsarist troops also had invaded the Heilong Jiang watershed of Manchuria, from which their countrymen had been ejected under the Treaty of Nerchinsk. The Russians used the superior knowledge of China they had acquired through their century-long residence in Beijing to further their aggrandizement. In 1860 Russian diplomats secured the secession of all of Manchuria north of the Heilong Jiang and east of the Wusuli Jiang (Ussuri River). Foreign encroachments increased after 1860 by means of a series of treaties imposed on China on one pretext or another. The foreign stranglehold on the vital sectors of the Chinese economy was reinforced through a lengthening list of concessions. Foreign settlements in the treaty ports became extraterritorial--sovereign pockets of territories over which China had no jurisdiction. The safety of these foreign settlements was ensured by the menacing presence of warships and gunboats.

At this time the foreign powers also took over the peripheral states that had acknowledged Chinese suzerainty and given tribute to the emperor. France colonized Cochin China, as southern Vietnam was then called, and by 1864 established a protectorate over Cambodia. Following a victorious war against China in 1884-85, France also took Annam. Britain gained control over Burma. Russia penetrated into Chinese Turkestan (the modern-day Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region). Japan, having emerged from its century-and-a- half-long seclusion and having gone through its own modernization movement, defeated China in the war of 1894-95. The Treaty of Shimonoseki forced China to cede Taiwan and the Penghu Islands to Japan, pay a huge indemnity, permit the establishment of Japanese industries in four treaty ports, and recognize Japanese hegemony over Korea. In 1898 the British acquired a ninety-nine-year lease over the so-called New Territories of Kowloon (Jiulong in pinyin), which increased the size of their Hong Kong colony. Britain, Japan, Russia, Germany, France, and Belgium each gained spheres of influence in China. The United States, which had not acquired any territorial cessions, proposed in 1899 that there be an "open door" policy in China, whereby all foreign countries would have equal duties and privileges in all treaty ports within and outside the various spheres of influence. All but Russia agreed to the United States overture.

China - The Hundred Days' Reform and the Aftermath

In the 103 days from June 11 to September 21, 1898, the Qing emperor, Guangxu (1875-1908), ordered a series of reforms aimed at making sweeping social and institutional changes. This effort reflected the thinking of a group of progressive scholar-reformers who had impressed the court with the urgency of making innovations for the nation's survival. Influenced by the Japanese success with modernization, the reformers declared that China needed more than "self-strengthening" and that innovation must be accompanied by institutional and ideological change.

The imperial edicts for reform covered a broad range of subjects, including stamping out corruption and remaking, among other things, the academic and civil-service examination systems, legal system, governmental structure, defense establishment, and postal services. The edicts attempted to modernize agriculture, medicine, and mining and to promote practical studies instead of Neo-Confucian orthodoxy. The court also planned to send students abroad for firsthand observation and technical studies. All these changes were to be brought about under a de facto constitutional monarchy.

Opposition to the reform was intense among the conservative ruling elite, especially the Manchus, who, in condemning the announced reform as too radical, proposed instead a more moderate and gradualist course of change. Supported by ultraconservatives and with the tacit support of the political opportunist Yuan Shikai (1859-1916), Empress Dowager Ci Xi engineered a coup d'etat on September 21, 1898, forcing the young reform-minded Guangxu into seclusion. Ci Xi took over the government as regent. The Hundred Days' Reform ended with the rescindment of the new edicts and the execution of six of the reform's chief advocates. The two principal leaders, Kang Youwei (1858-1927) and Liang Qichao (1873-1929), fled abroad to found the Baohuang Hui (Protect the Emperor Society) and to work, unsuccessfully, for a constitutional monarchy in China.

The conservatives then gave clandestine backing to the antiforeign and anti-Christian movement of secret societies known as Yihetuan (Society of Righteousness and Harmony). The movement has been better known in the West as the Boxers (from an earlier name--Yihequan, Righteousness and Harmony Boxers). In 1900 Boxer bands spread over the north China countryside, burning missionary facilities and killing Chinese Christians. Finally, in June 1900, the Boxers besieged the foreign concessions in Beijing and Tianjin, an action that provoked an allied relief expedition by the offended nations. The Qing declared war against the invaders, who easily crushed their opposition and occupied north China. Under the Protocol of 1901, the court was made to consent to the execution of ten high officials and the punishment of hundreds of others, expansion of the Legation Quarter, payment of war reparations, stationing of foreign troops in China, and razing of some Chinese fortifications.

In the decade that followed, the court belatedly put into effect some reform measures. These included the abolition of the moribund Confucian-based examination, educational and military modernization patterned after the model of Japan, and an experiment, if half-hearted, in constitutional and parliamentary government. The suddenness and ambitiousness of the reform effort actually hindered its success. One effect, to be felt for decades to come, was the establishment of new armies, which, in turn, gave rise to warlordism.

China - The Republican Revolution of 1911

Failure of reform from the top and the fiasco of the Boxer Uprising convinced many Chinese that the only real solution lay in outright revolution, in sweeping away the old order and erecting a new one patterned preferably after the example of Japan. The revolutionary leader was Sun Yat-sen (Sun Yixian in pinyin, 1866- 1925), a republican and anti-Qing activist who became increasingly popular among the overseas Chinese and Chinese students abroad, especially in Japan. In 1905 Sun founded the Tongmeng Hui (United League) in Tokyo with Huang Xing (1874-1916), a popular leader of the Chinese revolutionary movement in Japan, as his deputy. This movement, generously supported by overseas Chinese funds, also gained political support with regional military officers and some of the reformers who had fled China after the Hundred Days' Reform. Sun's political philosophy was conceptualized in 1897, first enunciated in Tokyo in 1905, and modified through the early 1920s. It centered on the Three Principles of the People (san min zhuyi): "nationalism, democracy, and people's livelihood." The principle of nationalism called for overthrowing the Manchus and ending foreign hegemony over China. The second principle, democracy, was used to describe Sun's goal of a popularly elected republican form of government. People's livelihood, often referred to as socialism, was aimed at helping the common people through regulation of the ownership of the means of production and land.

The republican revolution broke out on October 10, 1911, in Wuchang, the capital of Hubei Province, among discontented modernized army units whose anti-Qing plot had been uncovered. It had been preceded by numerous abortive uprisings and organized protests inside China. The revolt quickly spread to neighboring cities, and Tongmeng Hui members throughout the country rose in immediate support of the Wuchang revolutionary forces. By late November, fifteen of the twenty-four provinces had declared their independence of the Qing empire. A month later, Sun Yat-sen returned to China from the United States, where he had been raising funds among overseas Chinese and American sympathizers. On January 1, 1912, Sun was inaugurated in Nanjing as the provisional president of the new Chinese republic. But power in Beijing already had passed to the commander-in-chief of the imperial army, Yuan Shikai, the strongest regional military leader at the time. To prevent civil war and possible foreign intervention from undermining the infant republic, Sun agreed to Yuan's demand that China be united under a Beijing government headed by Yuan. On February 12, 1912, the last Manchu emperor, the child Puyi, abdicated. On March 10, in Beijing, Yuan Shikai was sworn in as provisional president of the Republic of China.


The republic that Sun Yat-sen and his associates envisioned evolved slowly. The revolutionists lacked an army, and the power of Yuan Shikai began to outstrip that of parliament. Yuan revised the constitution at will and became dictatorial. In August 1912 a new political party was founded by Song Jiaoren (1882-1913), one of Sun's associates. The party, the Guomindang (Kuomintang or KMT--the National People's Party, frequently referred to as the Nationalist Party), was an amalgamation of small political groups, including Sun's Tongmeng Hui. In the national elections held in February 1913 for the new bicameral parliament, Song campaigned against the Yuan administration, and his party won a majority of seats. Yuan had Song assassinated in March; he had already arranged the assassination of several pro-revolutionist generals. Animosity toward Yuan grew. In the summer of 1913 seven southern provinces rebelled against Yuan. When the rebellion was suppressed, Sun and other instigators fled to Japan. In October 1913 an intimidated parliament formally elected Yuan president of the Republic of China, and the major powers extended recognition to his government. To achieve international recognition, Yuan Shikai had to agree to autonomy for Outer Mongolia and Xizang. China was still to be suzerain, but it would have to allow Russia a free hand in Outer Mongolia and Britain continuance of its influence in Xizang.

In November Yuan Shikai, legally president, ordered the Guomindang dissolved and its members removed from parliament. Within a few months, he suspended parliament and the provincial assemblies and forced the promulgation of a new constitution, which, in effect, made him president for life. Yuan's ambitions still were not satisfied, and, by the end of 1915, it was announced that he would reestablish the monarchy. Widespread rebellions ensued, and numerous provinces declared independence. With opposition at every quarter and the nation breaking up into warlord factions, Yuan Shikai died of natural causes in June 1916, deserted by his lieutenants.

China - Nationalism and Communism

After Yuan Shikai's death, shifting alliances of regional warlords fought for control of the Beijing government. The nation also was threatened from without by the Japanese. When World War I broke out in 1914, Japan fought on the Allied side and seized German holdings in Shandong Province. In 1915 the Japanese set before the warlord government in Beijing the so-called Twenty-One Demands, which would have made China a Japanese protectorate. The Beijing government rejected some of these demands but yielded to the Japanese insistence on keeping the Shandong territory already in its possession. Beijing also recognized Tokyo's authority over southern Manchuria and eastern Inner Mongolia. In 1917, in secret communiques, Britain, France, and Italy assented to the Japanese claim in exchange for the Japan's naval action against Germany.

In 1917 China declared war on Germany in the hope of recovering its lost province, then under Japanese control. But in 1918 the Beijing government signed a secret deal with Japan accepting the latter's claim to Shandong. When the Paris peace conference of 1919 confirmed the Japanese claim to Shandong and Beijing's sellout became public, internal reaction was shattering. On May 4, 1919, there were massive student demonstrations against the Beijing government and Japan. The political fervor, student activism, and iconoclastic and reformist intellectual currents set in motion by the patriotic student protest developed into a national awakening known as the May Fourth Movement. The intellectual milieu in which the May Fourth Movement developed was known as the New Culture Movement and occupied the period from 1917 to 1923. The student demonstrations of May 4, 1919 were the high point of the New Culture Movement, and the terms are often used synonymously. Students returned from abroad advocating social and political theories ranging from complete Westernization of China to the socialism that one day would be adopted by China's communist rulers.

Opposing the Warlords

The May Fourth Movement helped to rekindle the then-fading cause of republican revolution. In 1917 Sun Yat-sen had become commander-in-chief of a rival military government in <"http://worldfacts.us/China-Guangzhou.htm"> Guangzhou in collaboration with southern warlords. In October 1919 Sun reestablished the Guomindang to counter the government in Beijing. The latter, under a succession of warlords, still maintained its facade of legitimacy and its relations with the West. By 1921 Sun had become president of the southern government. He spent his remaining years trying to consolidate his regime and achieve unity with the north. His efforts to obtain aid from the Western democracies were ignored, however, and in 1921 he turned to the Soviet Union, which had recently achieved its own revolution. The Soviets sought to befriend the Chinese revolutionists by offering scathing attacks on "Western imperialism." But for political expediency, the Soviet leadership initiated a dual policy of support for both Sun and the newly established Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The Soviets hoped for consolidation but were prepared for either side to emerge victorious. In this way the struggle for power in China began between the Nationalists and the Communists. In 1922 the Guomindang-warlord alliance in Guangzhou was ruptured, and Sun fled to Shanghai. By then Sun saw the need to seek Soviet support for his cause. In 1923 a joint statement by Sun and a Soviet representative in Shanghai pledged Soviet assistance for China's national unification. Soviet advisers--the most prominent of whom was an agent of the Comintern, Mikhail Borodin--began to arrive in China in 1923 to aid in the reorganization and consolidation of the Guomindang along the lines of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The CCP was under Comintern instructions to cooperate with the Guomindang, and its members were encouraged to join while maintaining their party identities. The CCP was still small at the time, having a membership of 300 in 1922 and only 1,500 by 1925. The Guomindang in 1922 already had 150,000 members. Soviet advisers also helped the Nationalists set up a political institute to train propagandists in mass mobilization techniques and in 1923 sent Chiang Kai-shek (Jiang Jieshi in pinyin), one of Sun's lieutenants from Tongmeng Hui days, for several months' military and political study in Moscow. After Chiang's return in late 1923, he participated in the establishment of the Whampoa (Huangpu in pinyin) Military Academy outside Guangzhou, which was the seat of government under the Guomindang-CCP alliance. In 1924 Chiang became head of the academy and began the rise to prominence that would make him Sun's successor as head of the Guomindang and the unifier of all China under the right-wing nationalist government.

Sun Yat-sen died of cancer in Beijing in March 1925, but the Nationalist movement he had helped to initiate was gaining momentum. During the summer of 1925, Chiang, as commander-in-chief of the National Revolutionary Army, set out on the long-delayed Northern Expedition against the northern warlords. Within nine months, half of China had been conquered. By 1926, however, the Guomindang had divided into left- and right-wing factions, and the Communist bloc within it was also growing. In March 1926, after thwarting a kidnapping attempt against him, Chiang abruptly dismissed his Soviet advisers, imposed restrictions on CCP members' participation in the top leadership, and emerged as the preeminent Guomindang leader. The Soviet Union, still hoping to prevent a split between Chiang and the CCP, ordered Communist underground activities to facilitate the Northern Expedition, which was finally launched by Chiang from Guangzhou in July 1926.

In early 1927 the Guomindang-CCP rivalry led to a split in the revolutionary ranks. The CCP and the left wing of the Guomindang had decided to move the seat of the Nationalist government from Guangzhou to Wuhan. But Chiang, whose Northern Expedition was proving successful, set his forces to destroying the Shanghai CCP apparatus and established an anti-Communist government at Nanjing in April 1927. There now were three capitals in China: the internationally recognized warlord regime in Beijing; the Communist and left-wing Guomindang regime at Wuhan; and the right-wing civilian-military regime at Nanjing, which would remain the Nationalist capital for the next decade.

The Comintern cause appeared bankrupt. A new policy was instituted calling on the CCP to foment armed insurrections in both urban and rural areas in preparation for an expected rising tide of revolution. Unsuccessful attempts were made by Communists to take cities such as Nanchang, Changsha, Shantou, and Guangzhou, and an armed rural insurrection, known as the Autumn Harvest Uprising, was staged by peasants in Hunan Province. The insurrection was led by Mao Zedong (1893-1976), who would later become chairman of the CCP and head of state of the People's Republic of China. Mao was of peasant origins and was one of the founders of the CCP.

But in mid-1927 the CCP was at a low ebb. The Communists had been expelled from Wuhan by their left-wing Guomindang allies, who in turn were toppled by a military regime. By 1928 all of China was at least nominally under Chiang's control, and the Nanjing government received prompt international recognition as the sole legitimate government of China. The Nationalist government announced that in conformity with Sun Yat-sen's formula for the three stages of revolution--military unification, political tutelage, and constitutional democracy--China had reached the end of the first phase and would embark on the second, which would be under Guomindang direction.

Consolidation under the Guomindang

The decade of 1928-37 was one of consolidation and accomplishment by the Guomindang. Some of the harsh aspects of foreign concessions and privileges in China were moderated through diplomacy. The government acted energetically to modernize the legal and penal systems, stabilize prices, amortize debts, reform the banking and currency systems, build railroads and highways, improve public health facilities, legislate against traffic in narcotics, and augment industrial and agricultural production. Great strides also were made in education and, in an effort to help unify Chinese society, in a program to popularize the national language and overcome dialectal variations. The widespread establishment of communications facilities further encouraged a sense of unity and pride among the people.

Rise of the Communists

There were forces at work during this period of progress that would eventually undermine the Chiang Kai-shek government. The first was the gradual rise of the Communists.

Mao Zedong, who had become a Marxist at the time of the emergence of the May Fourth Movement (he was working as a librarian at Beijing University), had boundless faith in the revolutionary potential of the peasantry. He advocated that revolution in China focus on them rather than on the urban proletariat, as prescribed by orthodox Marxist-Leninist theoreticians. Despite the failure of the Autumn Harvest Uprising of 1927, Mao continued to work among the peasants of Hunan Province. Without waiting for the sanction of the CCP center, then in Shanghai, he began establishing peasantbased soviets (Communist-run local governments) along the border between Hunan and Jiangxi provinces. In collaboration with military commander Zhu De (1886-1976), Mao turned the local peasants into a politicized guerrilla force. By the winter of 1927-28, the combined "peasants' and workers'" army had some 10,000 troops.

Mao's prestige rose steadily after the failure of the Comintern-directed urban insurrections. In late 1931 he was able to proclaim the establishment of the Chinese Soviet Republic under his chairmanship in Ruijin, Jiangxi Province. The Soviet-oriented CCP Political Bureau came to Ruijin at Mao's invitation with the intent of dismantling his apparatus. But, although he had yet to gain membership in the Political Bureau, Mao dominated the proceedings.

In the early 1930s, amid continued Political Bureau opposition to his military and agrarian policies and the deadly annihilation campaigns being waged against the Red Army by Chiang Kai-shek's forces, Mao's control of the Chinese Communist movement increased. The epic Long March of his Red Army and its supporters, which began in October 1934, would ensure his place in history. Forced to evacuate their camps and homes, Communist soldiers and government and party leaders and functionaries numbering about 100,000 (including only 35 women, the spouses of high leaders) set out on a circuitous retreat of some 12,500 kilometers through 11 provinces, 18 mountain ranges, and 24 rivers in southwest and northwest China. During the Long March, Mao finally gained unchallenged command of the CCP, ousting his rivals and reasserting guerrilla strategy. As a final destination, he selected southern Shaanxi Province, where some 8,000 survivors of the original group from Jiangxi Province (joined by some 22,000 from other areas) arrived in October 1935. The Communists set up their headquarters at Yan'an, where the movement would grow rapidly for the next ten years. Contributing to this growth would be a combination of internal and external circumstances, of which aggression by the Japanese was perhaps the most significant. Conflict with Japan, which would continue from the 1930s to the end of World War II, was the other force (besides the Communists themselves) that would undermine the Nationalist government.

China - Anti-Japanese War

Few Chinese had any illusions about Japanese designs on China. Hungry for raw materials and pressed by a growing population, Japan initiated the seizure of Manchuria in September 1931 and established ex-Qing emperor Puyi as head of the puppet regime of Manchukuo in 1932. The loss of Manchuria, and its vast potential for industrial development and war industries, was a blow to the Nationalist economy. The League of Nations, established at the end of World War I, was unable to act in the face of the Japanese defiance. The Japanese began to push from south of the Great Wall into northern China and into the coastal provinces. Chinese fury against Japan was predictable, but anger was also directed against the Guomindang government, which at the time was more preoccupied with anti-Communist extermination campaigns than with resisting the Japanese invaders. The importance of "internal unity before external danger" was forcefully brought home in December 1936, when Nationalist troops (who had been ousted from Manchuria by the Japanese) mutinied at Xi'an. The mutineers forcibly detained Chiang Kai-shek for several days until he agreed to cease hostilities against the Communist forces in northwest China and to assign Communist units combat duties in designated anti-Japanese front areas.

The Chinese resistance stiffened after July 7, 1937, when a clash occurred between Chinese and Japanese troops outside Beijing (then renamed Beiping) near the Marco Polo Bridge. This skirmish not only marked the beginning of open, though undeclared, war between China and Japan but also hastened the formal announcement of the second Guomindang-CCP united front against Japan. The collaboration took place with salutary effects for the beleaguered CCP. The distrust between the two parties, however, was scarcely veiled. The uneasy alliance began to break down after late 1938, despite Japan's steady territorial gains in northern China, the coastal regions, and the rich Chang Jiang Valley in central China. After 1940, conflicts between the Nationalists and Communists became more frequent in the areas not under Japanese control. The Communists expanded their influence wherever opportunities presented themselves through mass organizations, administrative reforms, and the land- and tax-reform measures favoring the peasants--while the Nationalists attempted to neutralize the spread of Communist influence.

At Yan'an and elsewhere in the "liberated areas," Mao was able to adapt Marxism-Leninism to Chinese conditions. He taught party cadres to lead the masses by living and working with them, eating their food, and thinking their thoughts. The Red Army fostered an image of conducting guerrilla warfare in defense of the people. Communist troops adapted to changing wartime conditions and became a seasoned fighting force. Mao also began preparing for the establishment of a new China. In 1940 he outlined the program of the Chinese Communists for an eventual seizure of power. His teachings became the central tenets of the CCP doctrine that came to be formalized as Mao Zedong Thought. With skillful organizational and propaganda work, the Communists increased party membership from 100,000 in 1937 to 1.2 million by 1945.

In 1945 China emerged from the war nominally a great military power but actually a nation economically prostrate and on the verge of all-out civil war. The economy deteriorated, sapped by the military demands of foreign war and internal strife, by spiraling inflation, and by Nationalist profiteering, speculation, and hoarding. Starvation came in the wake of the war, and millions were rendered homeless by floods and the unsettled conditions in many parts of the country. The situation was further complicated by an Allied agreement at the Yalta Conference in February 1945 that brought Soviet troops into Manchuria to hasten the termination of war against Japan. Although the Chinese had not been present at Yalta, they had been consulted; they had agreed to have the Soviets enter the war in the belief that the Soviet Union would deal only with the Nationalist government. After the war, the Soviet Union, as part of the Yalta agreement's allowing a Soviet sphere of influence in Manchuria, dismantled and removed more than half the industrial equipment left there by the Japanese. The Soviet presence in northeast China enabled the Communists to move in long enough to arm themselves with the equipment surrendered by the withdrawing Japanese army. The problems of rehabilitating the formerly Japanese-occupied areas and of reconstructing the nation from the ravages of a protracted war were staggering, to say the least.

China - Return to Civil War

During World War II, the United States emerged as a major actor in Chinese affairs. As an ally it embarked in late 1941 on a program of massive military and financial aid to the hard-pressed Nationalist government. In January 1943 the United States and Britain led the way in revising their treaties with China, bringing to an end a century of unequal treaty relations. Within a few months, a new agreement was signed between the United States and China for the stationing of American troops in China for the common war effort against Japan. In December 1943 the Chinese exclusion acts of the 1880s and subsequent laws enacted by the United States Congress to restrict Chinese immigration into the United States were repealed.

The wartime policy of the United States was initially to help China become a strong ally and a stabilizing force in postwar East Asia. As the conflict between the Nationalists and the Communists intensified, however, the United States sought unsuccessfully to reconcile the rival forces for a more effective anti-Japanese war effort. Toward the end of the war, United States Marines were used to hold Beiping and Tianjin against a possible Soviet incursion, and logistic support was given to Nationalist forces in north and northeast China.

Through the mediatory influence of the United States a military truce was arranged in January 1946, but battles between Nationalists and Communists soon resumed. Realizing that American efforts short of large-scale armed intervention could not stop the war, the United States withdrew the American mission, headed by General George C. Marshall, in early 1947. The civil war, in which the United States aided the Nationalists with massive economic loans but no military support, became more widespread. Battles raged not only for territories but also for the allegiance of cross sections of the population.

Belatedly, the Nationalist government sought to enlist popular support through internal reforms. The effort was in vain, however, because of the rampant corruption in government and the accompanying political and economic chaos. By late 1948 the Nationalist position was bleak. The demoralized and undisciplined Nationalist troops proved no match for the People's Liberation Army (PLA). The Communists were well established in the north and northeast. Although the Nationalists had an advantage in numbers of men and weapons, controlled a much larger territory and population than their adversaries, and enjoyed considerable international support, they were exhausted by the long war with Japan and the attendant internal responsibilities. In January 1949 Beiping was taken by the Communists without a fight, and its name changed back to Beijing. Between April and November, major cities passed from Guomindang to Communist control with minimal resistance. In most cases the surrounding countryside and small towns had come under Communist influence long before the cities. After Chiang Kai-shek and a few hundred thousand Nationalist troops fled from the mainland to the island of Taiwan, there remained only isolated pockets of resistance. In December 1949 Chiang proclaimed Taipei, Taiwan, the temporary capital of China.


On October 1, 1949, the People's Republic of China was formally established, with its national capital at Beijing. "The Chinese people have stood up!" declared Mao as he announced the creation of a "people's democratic dictatorship." The people were defined as a coalition of four social classes: the workers, the peasants, the petite bourgeoisie, and the national-capitalists. The four classes were to be led by the CCP, as the vanguard of the working class. At that time the CCP claimed a membership of 4.5 million, of which members of peasant origin accounted for nearly 90 percent. The party was under Mao's chairmanship, and the government was headed by Zhou Enlai (1898-1976) as premier of the State Administrative Council (the predecessor of the State Council).

The Soviet Union recognized the People's Republic on October 2, 1949. Earlier in the year, Mao had proclaimed his policy of "leaning to one side" as a commitment to the socialist bloc. In February 1950, after months of hard bargaining, China and the Soviet Union signed the Treaty of Friendship, Alliance, and Mutual Assistance, valid until 1980. The pact also was intended to counter Japan or any power's joining Japan for the purpose of aggression.

For the first time in decades a Chinese government was met with peace, instead of massive military opposition, within its territory. The new leadership was highly disciplined and, having a decade of wartime administrative experience to draw on, was able to embark on a program of national integration and reform. In the first year of Communist administration, moderate social and economic policies were implemented with skill and effectiveness. The leadership realized that the overwhelming and multitudinous task of economic reconstruction and achievement of political and social stability required the goodwill and cooperation of all classes of people. Results were impressive by any standard, and popular support was widespread.

By 1950 international recognition of the Communist government had increased considerably, but it was slowed by China's involvement in the Korean War. In October 1950, sensing a threat to the industrial heartland in northeast China from the advancing United Nations (UN) forces in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), units of the PLA--calling themselves the Chinese People's Volunteers--crossed the Yalu Jiang River into North Korea in response to a North Korean request for aid. Almost simultaneously the PLA forces also marched into Xizang to reassert Chinese sovereignty over a region that had been in effect independent of Chinese rule since the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1911. In 1951 the UN declared China to be an aggressor in Korea and sanctioned a global embargo on the shipment of arms and war materiel to China. This step foreclosed for the time being any possibility that the People's Republic might replace Nationalist China (on Taiwan) as a member of the UN and as a veto-holding member of the UN Security Council.

After China entered the Korean War, the initial moderation in Chinese domestic policies gave way to a massive campaign against the "enemies of the state," actual and potential. These enemies consisted of "war criminals, traitors, bureaucratic capitalists, and counterrevolutionaries." The campaign was combined with partysponsored trials attended by huge numbers of people. The major targets in this drive were foreigners and Christian missionaries who were branded as United States agents at these mass trials. The 1951-52 drive against political enemies was accompanied by land reform, which had actually begun under the Agrarian Reform Law of June 28, 1950. The redistribution of land was accelerated, and a class struggle against landlords and wealthy peasants was launched. An ideological reform campaign requiring self-criticisms and public confessions by university faculty members, scientists, and other professional workers was given wide publicity. Artists and writers were soon the objects of similar treatment for failing to heed Mao's dictum that culture and literature must reflect the class interest of the working people, led by the CCP. These campaigns were accompanied in 1951 and 1952 by the san fan ("three anti") and wu fan ("five anti") movements. The former was directed ostensibly against the evils of "corruption, waste, and bureaucratism"; its real aim was to eliminate incompetent and politically unreliable public officials and to bring about an efficient, disciplined, and responsive bureaucratic system. The wu fan movement aimed at eliminating recalcitrant and corrupt businessmen and industrialists, who were in effect the targets of the CCP's condemnation of "tax evasion, bribery, cheating in government contracts, thefts of economic intelligence, and stealing of state assets." In the course of this campaign the party claimed to have uncovered a well-organized attempt by businessmen and industrialists to corrupt party and government officials. This charge was enlarged into an assault on the bourgeoisie as a whole. The number of people affected by the various punitive or reform campaigns was estimated in the millions.

China - The Transition to Socialism, 1953-57

The period of officially designated "transition to socialism" corresponded to China's First Five-Year Plan (1953-57). The period was characterized by efforts to achieve industrialization, collectivization of agriculture, and political centralization.

The First Five-Year Plan stressed the development of heavy industry on the Soviet model. Soviet economic and technical assistance was expected to play a significant part in the implementation of the plan, and technical agreements were signed with the Soviets in 1953 and 1954. For the purpose of economic planning, the first modern census was taken in 1953; the population of mainland China was shown to be 583 million, a figure far greater than had been anticipated.

Among China's most pressing needs in the early 1950s were food for its burgeoning population, domestic capital for investment, and purchase of Soviet-supplied technology, capital equipment, and military hardware. To satisfy these needs, the government began to collectivize agriculture. Despite internal disagreement as to the speed of collectivization, which at least for the time being was resolved in Mao's favor, preliminary collectivization was 90 percent completed by the end of 1956. In addition, the government nationalized banking, industry, and trade. Private enterprise in mainland China was virtually abolished.

Major political developments included the centralization of party and government administration. Elections were held in 1953 for delegates to the First National People's Congress, China's national legislature, which met in 1954. The congress promulgated the state constitution of 1954 and formally elected Mao chairman (or president) of the People's Republic; it elected Liu Shaoqi (1898-1969) chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress; and named Zhou Enlai premier of the new State Council.

In the midst of these major governmental changes, and helping to precipitate them, was a power struggle within the CCP leading to the 1954 purge of Political Bureau member Gao Gang and Party Organization Department head Rao Shushi, who were accused of illicitly trying to seize control of the party.

The process of national integration also was characterized by improvements in party organization under the administrative direction of the secretary general of the party Deng Xiaoping (who served concurrently as vice premier of the State Council). There was a marked emphasis on recruiting intellectuals, who by 1956 constituted nearly 12 percent of the party's 10.8 million members. Peasant membership had decreased to 69 percent, while there was an increasing number of "experts", who were needed for the party and governmental infrastructures, in the party ranks.

As part of the effort to encourage the participation of intellectuals in the new regime, in mid-1956 there began an official effort to liberalize the political climate. Cultural and intellectual figures were encouraged to speak their minds on the state of CCP rule and programs. Mao personally took the lead in the movement, which was launched under the classical slogan "Let a hundred flowers bloom, let the hundred schools of thought contend." At first the party's repeated invitation to air constructive views freely and openly was met with caution. By mid-1957, however, the movement unexpectedly mounted, bringing denunciation and criticism against the party in general and the excesses of its cadres in particular. Startled and embarrassed, leaders turned on the critics as "bourgeois rightists" and launched the Anti-Rightist Campaign. The Hundred Flowers Campaign, sometimes called the Double Hundred Campaign, apparently had a sobering effect on the CCP leadership.

China - The Great Leap Forward, 1958-60

The antirightist drive was followed by a militant approach toward economic development. In 1958 the CCP launched the Great Leap Forward campaign under the new "General Line for Socialist Construction." The Great Leap Forward was aimed at accomplishing the economic and technical development of the country at a vastly faster pace and with greater results. The shift to the left that the new "General Line" represented was brought on by a combination of domestic and external factors. Although the party leaders appeared generally satisfied with the accomplishments of the First Five-Year Plan, they--Mao and his fellow radicals in particular-- believed that more could be achieved in the Second Five-Year Plan (1958-62) if the people could be ideologically aroused and if domestic resources could be utilized more efficiently for the simultaneous development of industry and agriculture. These assumptions led the party to an intensified mobilization of the peasantry and mass organizations, stepped-up ideological guidance and indoctrination of technical experts, and efforts to build a more responsive political system. The last of these undertakings was to be accomplished through a new xiafang (down to the countryside) movement, under which cadres inside and outside the party would be sent to factories, communes, mines, and public works projects for manual labor and firsthand familiarization with grassroots conditions. Although evidence is sketchy, Mao's decision to embark on the Great Leap Forward was based in part on his uncertainty about the Soviet policy of economic, financial, and technical assistance to China. That policy, in Mao's view, not only fell far short of his expectations and needs but also made him wary of the political and economic dependence in which China might find itself .

The Great Leap Forward centered on a new socioeconomic and political system created in the countryside and in a few urban areas--the people's communes. By the fall of 1958, some 750,000 agricultural producers' cooperatives, now designated as production brigades, had been amalgamated into about 23,500 communes, each averaging 5,000 households, or 22,000 people. The individual commune was placed in control of all the means of production and was to operate as the sole accounting unit; it was subdivided into production brigades (generally coterminous with traditional villages) and production teams. Each commune was planned as a self-supporting community for agriculture, small-scale local industry (for example, the famous backyard pig-iron furnaces), schooling, marketing, administration, and local security (maintained by militia organizations). Organized along paramilitary and laborsaving lines, the commune had communal kitchens, mess halls, and nurseries. In a way, the people's communes constituted a fundamental attack on the institution of the family, especially in a few model areas where radical experiments in communal living-- large dormitories in place of the traditional nuclear family housing-- occurred. (These were quickly dropped.) The system also was based on the assumption that it would release additional manpower for such major projects as irrigation works and hydroelectric dams, which were seen as integral parts of the plan for the simultaneous development of industry and agriculture.

The Great Leap Forward was an economic failure. In early 1959, amid signs of rising popular restiveness, the CCP admitted that the favorable production report for 1958 had been exaggerated. Among the Great Leap Forward's economic consequences were a shortage of food (in which natural disasters also played a part); shortages of raw materials for industry; overproduction of poor-quality goods; deterioration of industrial plants through mismanagement; and exhaustion and demoralization of the peasantry and of the intellectuals, not to mention the party and government cadres at all levels. Throughout 1959 efforts to modify the administration of the communes got under way; these were intended partly to restore some material incentives to the production brigades and teams, partly to decentralize control, and partly to house families that had been reunited as household units.

Political consequences were not inconsiderable. In April 1959 Mao, who bore the chief responsibility for the Great Leap Forward fiasco, stepped down from his position as chairman of the People's Republic. The National People's Congress elected Liu Shaoqi as Mao's successor, though Mao remained chairman of the CCP. Moreover, Mao's Great Leap Forward policy came under open criticism at a party conference at Lushan, Jiangxi Province. The attack was led by Minister of National Defense Peng Dehuai, who had become troubled by the potentially adverse effect Mao's policies would have on the modernization of the armed forces. Peng argued that "putting politics in command" was no substitute for economic laws and realistic economic policy; unnamed party leaders were also admonished for trying to "jump into communism in one step." After the Lushan showdown, Peng Dehuai, who allegedly had been encouraged by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to oppose Mao, was deposed. Peng was replaced by Lin Biao, a radical and opportunist Maoist. The new defense minister initiated a systematic purge of Peng's supporters from the military.

Militancy on the domestic front was echoed in external policies. The "soft" foreign policy based on the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence to which China had subscribed in the mid-1950s gave way to a "hard" line in 1958. From August through October of that year, the Chinese resumed a massive artillery bombardment of the Nationalist-held offshore islands of Jinmen (Chin-men in Wade Giles but often referred to as Kinmen or Quemoy) and Mazu (Ma-tsu in Wade-Giles). This was accompanied by an aggressive propaganda assault on the United States and a declaration of intent to "liberate" Taiwan.

Chinese control over Xizang had been reasserted in 1950. The socialist revolution that took place thereafter increasingly became a process of sinicization for the Tibetans. Tension culminated in a revolt in 1958-59 and the flight to India by the Dalai Lama, the Tibetans' spiritual and de facto temporal leader. Relations with India--where sympathy for the rebels was aroused--deteriorated as thousands of Tibetan refugees crossed the Indian border. There were several border incidents in 1959, and a brief Sino-Indian border war erupted in October 1962 as China laid claim to Aksai Chin, nearly 103,600 square kilometers of territory that India regarded as its own. The Soviet Union gave India its moral support in the dispute, thus contributing to the growing tension between Beijing and Moscow.

The Sino-Soviet dispute of the late 1950s was the most important development in Chinese foreign relations. The Soviet Union had been China's principal benefactor and ally, but relations between the two were cooling. The Soviet agreement in late 1957 to help China produce its own nuclear weapons and missiles was terminated by mid-1959. From that point until the mid-1960s, the Soviets recalled all of their technicians and advisers from China and reduced or canceled economic and technical aid to China. The discord was occasioned by several factors. The two countries differed in their interpretation of the nature of "peaceful coexistence." The Chinese took a more militant and unyielding position on the issue of anti-imperialist struggle, but the Soviets were unwilling, for example, to give their support on the Taiwan question. In addition, the two communist powers disagreed on doctrinal matters. The Chinese accused the Soviets of "revisionism"; the latter countered with charges of "dogmatism." Rivalry within the international communist movement also exacerbated Sino-Soviet relations. An additional complication was the history of suspicion each side had toward the other, especially the Chinese, who had lost a substantial part of territory to tsarist Russia in the mid-nineteenth century. Whatever the causes of the dispute, the Soviet suspension of aid was a blow to the Chinese scheme for developing industrial and high-level (including nuclear) technology.

China - Readjustment and Recovery, 1961-65

In 1961 the political tide at home began to swing to the right, as evidenced by the ascendancy of a more moderate leadership. In an effort to stabilize the economic front, for example, the party-- still under Mao's titular leadership but under the dominant influence of Liu Shaoqi, Deng Xiaoping, Chen Yun, Peng Zhen, Bo Yibo, and others--initiated a series of corrective measures. Among these measures was the reorganization of the commune system, with the result that production brigades and teams had more say in their own administrative and economic planning. To gain more effective control from the center, the CCP reestablished its six regional bureaus and initiated steps aimed at tightening party discipline and encouraging the leading party cadres to develop populist-style leadership at all levels. The efforts were prompted by the party's realization that the arrogance of party and government functionaries had engendered only public apathy. On the industrial front, much emphasis was now placed on realistic and efficient planning; ideological fervor and mass movements were no longer the controlling themes of industrial management. Production authority was restored to factory managers. Another notable emphasis after 1961 was the party's greater interest in strengthening the defense and internal security establishment. By early 1965 the country was well on its way to recovery under the direction of the party apparatus, or, to be more specific, the Central Committee's Secretariat headed by Secretary General Deng Xiaoping.

China - The Cultural Revolution, 1966-76

In the early 1960s, Mao was on the political sidelines and in semiseclusion. By 1962, however, he began an offensive to purify the party, having grown increasingly uneasy about what he believed were the creeping "capitalist" and antisocialist tendencies in the country. As a hardened veteran revolutionary who had overcome the severest adversities, Mao continued to believe that the material incentives that had been restored to the peasants and others were corrupting the masses and were counterrevolutionary.

To arrest the so-called capitalist trend, Mao launched the Socialist Education Movement, in which the primary emphasis was on restoring ideological purity, reinfusing revolutionary fervor into the party and government bureaucracies, and intensifying class struggle. There were internal disagreements, however, not on the aim of the movement but on the methods of carrying it out. Opposition came mainly from the moderates represented by Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping, who were unsympathetic to Mao's policies. The Socialist Education Movement was soon paired with another Mao campaign, the theme of which was "to learn from the People's Liberation Army." Minister of National Defense Lin Biao's rise to the center of power was increasingly conspicuous. It was accompanied by his call on the PLA and the CCP to accentuate Maoist thought as the guiding principle for the Socialist Education Movement and for all revolutionary undertakings in China.

In connection with the Socialist Education Movement, a thorough reform of the school system, which had been planned earlier to coincide with the Great Leap Forward, went into effect. The reform was intended as a work-study program--a new xiafang movement--in which schooling was slated to accommodate the work schedule of communes and factories. It had the dual purpose of providing mass education less expensively than previously and of re-educating intellectuals and scholars to accept the need for their own participation in manual labor. The drafting of intellectuals for manual labor was part of the party's rectification campaign, publicized through the mass media as an effort to remove "bourgeois" influences from professional workers-- particularly, their tendency to have greater regard for their own specialized fields than for the goals of the party. Official propaganda accused them of being more concerned with having "expertise" than being "red".

The Militant Phase, 1966-68

By mid-1965 Mao had gradually but systematically regained control of the party with the support of Lin Biao, Jiang Qing (Mao's fourth wife), and Chen Boda, a leading theoretician. In late 1965 a leading member of Mao's "Shanghai Mafia," Yao Wenyuan, wrote a thinly veiled attack on the deputy mayor of Beijing, Wu Han. In the next six months, under the guise of upholding ideological purity, Mao and his supporters purged or attacked a wide variety of public figures, including State Chairman Liu Shaoqi and other party and state leaders. By mid-1966 Mao's campaign had erupted into what came to be known as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, the first mass action to have emerged against the CCP apparatus itself.

Considerable intraparty opposition to the Cultural Revolution was evident. On the one side was the Mao-Lin Biao group, supported by the PLA; on the other side was a faction led by Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping, which had its strength in the regular party machine. Premier Zhou Enlai, while remaining personally loyal to Mao, tried to mediate or to reconcile the two factions.

Mao felt that he could no longer depend on the formal party organization, convinced that it had been permeated with the "capitalist" and bourgeois obstructionists. He turned to Lin Biao and the PLA to counteract the influence of those who were allegedly "`left' in form but `right' in essence." The PLA was widely extolled as a "great school" for the training of a new generation of revolutionary fighters and leaders. Maoists also turned to middle-school students for political demonstrations on their behalf. These students, joined also by some university students, came to be known as the Red Guards. Millions of Red Guards were encouraged by the Cultural Revolution group to become a "shock force" and to "bombard" with criticism both the regular party headquarters in Beijing and those at the regional and provincial levels.

Red Guard activities were promoted as a reflection of Mao's policy of rekindling revolutionary enthusiasm and destroying "outdated," "counterrevolutionary" symbols and values. Mao's ideas, popularized in the Quotations from Chairman Mao, became the standard by which all revolutionary efforts were to be judged. The "four big rights"--speaking out freely, airing views fully, holding great debates, and writing big-character posters --became an important factor in encouraging Mao's youthful followers to criticize his intraparty rivals. The "four big rights" became such a major feature during the period that they were later institutionalized in the state constitution of 1975. The result of the unfettered criticism of established organs of control by China's exuberant youth was massive civil disorder, punctuated also by clashes among rival Red Guard gangs and between the gangs and local security authorities. The party organization was shattered from top to bottom. (The Central Committee's Secretariat ceased functioning in late 1966.) The resources of the public security organs were severely strained. Faced with imminent anarchy, the PLA--the only organization whose ranks for the most part had not been radicalized by Red Guard-style activities--emerged as the principal guarantor of law and order and the de facto political authority. And although the PLA was under Mao's rallying call to "support the left," PLA regional military commanders ordered their forces to restrain the leftist radicals, thus restoring order throughout much of China. The PLA also was responsible for the appearance in early 1967 of the revolutionary committees, a new form of local control that replaced local party committees and administrative bodies. The revolutionary committees were staffed with Cultural Revolution activists, trusted cadres, and military commanders, the latter frequently holding the greatest power.

The radical tide receded somewhat beginning in late 1967, but it was not until after mid-1968 that Mao came to realize the uselessness of further revolutionary violence. Liu Shaoqi, Deng Xiaoping, and their fellow "revisionists" and "capitalist roaders" had been purged from public life by early 1967, and the Maoist group had since been in full command of the political scene.

Viewed in larger perspective, the need for domestic calm and stability was occasioned perhaps even more by pressures emanating from outside China. The Chinese were alarmed in 1966-68 by steady Soviet military buildups along their common border. The Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 heightened Chinese apprehensions. In March 1969 Chinese and Soviet troops clashed on Zhenbao Island (known to the Soviets as Damanskiy Island) in the disputed Wusuli Jiang (Ussuri River) border area. The tension on the border had a sobering effect on the fractious Chinese political scene and provided the regime with a new and unifying rallying call.

The Ninth National Party Congress to the Demise of Lin Biao, 1969-71

The activist phase of the Cultural Revolution--considered to be the first in a series of cultural revolutions--was brought to an end in April 1969. This end was formally signaled at the CCP's Ninth National Party Congress, which convened under the dominance of the Maoist group. Mao was confirmed as the supreme leader. Lin Biao was promoted to the post of CCP vice chairman and was named as Mao's successor. Others who had risen to power by means of Cultural Revolution machinations were rewarded with positions on the Political Bureau; a significant number of military commanders were appointed to the Central Committee. The party congress also marked the rising influence of two opposing forces, Mao's wife, Jiang Qing, and Premier Zhou Enlai.

The general emphasis after 1969 was on reconstruction through rebuilding of the party, economic stabilization, and greater sensitivity to foreign affairs. Pragmatism gained momentum as a central theme of the years following the Ninth National Party Congress, but this tendency was paralleled by efforts of the radical group to reassert itself. The radical group--Kang Sheng, Xie Fuzhi, Jiang Qing, Zhang Chunqiao, Yao Wenyuan, and Wang Hongwen--no longer had Mao's unqualified support. By 1970 Mao viewed his role more as that of the supreme elder statesman than of an activist in the policy-making process. This was probably the result as much of his declining health as of his view that a stabilizing influence should be brought to bear on a divided nation. As Mao saw it, China needed both pragmatism and revolutionary enthusiasm, each acting as a check on the other. Factional infighting would continue unabated through the mid-1970s, although an uneasy coexistence was maintained while Mao was alive.

The rebuilding of the CCP got under way in 1969. The process was difficult, however, given the pervasiveness of factional tensions and the discord carried over from the Cultural Revolution years. Differences persisted among the military, the party, and left-dominated mass organizations over a wide range of policy issues, to say nothing of the radical-moderate rivalry. It was not until December 1970 that a party committee could be reestablished at the provincial level. In political reconstruction two developments were noteworthy. As the only institution of power for the most part left unscathed by the Cultural Revolution, the PLA was particularly important in the politics of transition and reconstruction. The PLA was, however, not a homogeneous body. In 1970-71 Zhou Enlai was able to forge a centrist-rightist alliance with a group of PLA regional military commanders who had taken exception to certain of Lin Biao's policies. This coalition paved the way for a more moderate party and government leadership in the late 1970s and 1980s.

The PLA was divided largely on policy issues. On one side of the infighting was the Lin Biao faction, which continued to exhort the need for "politics in command" and for an unremitting struggle against both the Soviet Union and the United States. On the other side was a majority of the regional military commanders, who had become concerned about the effect Lin Biao's political ambitions would have on military modernization and economic development. These commanders' views generally were in tune with the positions taken by Zhou Enlai and his moderate associates. Specifically, the moderate groups within the civilian bureaucracy and the armed forces spoke for more material incentives for the peasantry, efficient economic planning, and a thorough reassessment of the Cultural Revolution. They also advocated improved relations with the West in general and the United States in particular--if for no other reason than to counter the perceived expansionist aims of the Soviet Union. Generally, the radicals' objection notwithstanding, the Chinese political tide shifted steadily toward the right of center. Among the notable achievements of the early 1970s was China's decision to seek rapprochement with the United States, as dramatized by President Richard M. Nixon's visit in February 1972. In September 1972 diplomatic relations were established with Japan.

Without question, the turning point in the decade of the Cultural Revolution was Lin Biao's abortive coup attempt and his subsequent death in a plane crash as he fled China in September 1971. The immediate consequence was a steady erosion of the fundamentalist influence of the left-wing radicals. Lin Biao's closest supporters were purged systematically. Efforts to depoliticize and promote professionalism were intensified within the PLA. These were also accompanied by the rehabilitation of those persons who had been persecuted or fallen into disgrace in 1966-68.

End of the Era of Mao Zedong, 1972-76

Among the most prominent of those rehabilitated was Deng Xiaoping, who was reinstated as a vice premier in April 1973, ostensibly under the aegis of Premier Zhou Enlai but certainly with the concurrence of Mao Zedong. Together, Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping came to exert strong influence. Their moderate line favoring modernization of all sectors of the economy was formally confirmed at the Tenth National Party Congress in August 1973, at which time Deng Xiaoping was made a member of the party's Central Committee (but not yet of the Political Bureau).

The radical camp fought back by building an armed urban militia, but its mass base of support was limited to Shanghai and parts of northeastern China--hardly sufficient to arrest what it denounced as "revisionist" and "capitalist" tendencies. In January 1975 Zhou Enlai, speaking before the Fourth National People's Congress, outlined a program of what has come to be known as the Four Modernizations for the four sectors of agriculture, industry, national defense, and science and technology. This program would be reaffirmed at the Eleventh National Party Congress, which convened in August 1977. Also in January 1975, Deng Xiaoping's position was solidified by his election as a vice chairman of the CCP and as a member of the Political Bureau and its Standing Committee. Deng also was installed as China's first civilian chief of PLA General Staff Department.

The year 1976 saw the deaths of the three most senior officials in the CCP and the state apparatus: Zhou Enlai in January, Zhu De (then chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress and de jure head of state) in July, and Mao Zedong in September. In April of the same year, masses of demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in Beijing memorialized Zhou Enlai and criticized Mao's closest associates, Zhou's opponents. In June the government announced that Mao would no longer receive foreign visitors. In July an earthquake devastated the city of Tangshan in Hebei Province. These events, added to the deaths of the three Communist leaders, contributed to a popular sense that the "mandate of heaven" had been withdrawn from the ruling party. At best the nation was in a state of serious political uncertainty.

Deng Xiaoping, the logical successor as premier, received a temporary setback after Zhou's death, when radicals launched a major counterassault against him. In April 1976 Deng was once more removed from all his public posts, and a relative political unknown, Hua Guofeng, a Political Bureau member, vice premier, and minister of public security, was named acting premier and party first vice chairman.

Even though Mao Zedong's role in political life had been sporadic and shallow in his later years, it was crucial. Despite Mao's alleged lack of mental acuity, his influence in the months before his death remained such that his orders to dismiss Deng and appoint Hua Guofeng were accepted immediately by the Political Bureau. The political system had polarized in the years before Mao's death into increasingly bitter and irreconcilable factions. While Mao was alive--and playing these factions off against each other--the contending forces were held in check. His death resolved only some of the problems inherent in the succession struggle.

The radical clique most closely associated with Mao and the Cultural Revolution became vulnerable after Mao died, as Deng had been after Zhou Enlai's demise. In October, less than a month after Mao's death, Jiang Qing and her three principal associates-- denounced as the Gang of Four--were arrested with the assistance of two senior Political Bureau members, Minister of National Defense Ye Jianying (1897-1986) and Wang Dongxing, commander of the CCP's elite bodyguard. Within days it was formally announced that Hua Guofeng had assumed the positions of party chairman, chairman of the party's Central Military Commission, and premier.

China - The Post-Mao Period, 1976-78

The jubilation following the incarceration of the Gang of Four and the popularity of the new ruling triumvirate (Hua Guofeng, Ye Jianying, and Li Xiannian, a temporary alliance of necessity) were succeeded by calls for the restoration to power of Deng Xiaoping and the elimination of leftist influence throughout the political system. By July 1977, at no small risk to undercutting Hua Guofeng's legitimacy as Mao's successor and seeming to contradict Mao's apparent will, the Central Committee exonerated Deng Xiaoping from responsibility for the Tiananmen Square incident. Deng admitted some shortcomings in the events of 1975, and finally, at a party Central Committee session, he resumed all the posts from which he had been removed in 1976.

The post-Mao political order was given its first vote of confidence at the Eleventh National Party Congress, held August 12- 18, 1977. Hua was confirmed as party chairman, and Ye Jianying, Deng Xiaoping, Li Xiannian, and Wang Dongxing were elected vice chairmen. The congress proclaimed the formal end of the Cultural Revolution, blamed it entirely on the Gang of Four, and reiterated that "the fundamental task of the party in the new historical period is to build China into a modern, powerful socialist country by the end of the twentieth century." Many contradictions still were apparent, however, in regard to the Maoist legacy and the possibility of future cultural revolutions.

The new balance of power clearly was unsatisfactory to Deng, who sought genuine party reform and, soon after the National Party Congress, took the initiative to reorganize the bureaucracy and redirect policy. His longtime protege Hu Yaobang replaced Hua supporter Wang Dongxing as head of the CCP Organization Department. Educational reforms were instituted, and Cultural Revolution-era verdicts on literature, art, and intellectuals were overturned. The year 1978 proved a crucial one for the reformers. Differences among the two competing factions--that headed by Hua Guofeng (soon to be branded as a leftist) and that led by Deng and the more moderate figures--became readily apparent by the time the Fifth National People's Congress was held in February and March 1978. Serious disputes arose over the apparently disproportionate development of the national economy, the Hua forces calling for still more largescale projects that China could ill afford. In the face of substantive losses in leadership positions and policy decisions, the leftists sought to counterattack with calls for strict adherence to Mao Zedong Thought and the party line of class struggle. Rehabilitations of Deng's associates and others sympathetic to his reform plans were stepped up. Not only were many of those purged during the Cultural Revolution returned to power, but individuals who had fallen from favor as early as the mid-1950s were rehabilitated. It was a time of increased political activism by students, whose big-character posters attacking Deng's opponents--and even Mao himself--appeared with regularity.

China - The Four Modernizations, 1979-82

The culmination of Deng Xiaoping's re-ascent to power and the start in earnest of political, economic, social, and cultural reforms were achieved at the Third Plenum of the Eleventh National Party Congress Central Committee in December 1978. The Third Plenum is considered a major turning point in modern Chinese political history. "Left" mistakes committed before and during the Cultural Revolution were "corrected," and the "two whatevers" policy ("support whatever policy decisions Chairman Mao made and follow whatever instructions Chairman Mao gave") was repudiated. The classic party line calling for protracted class struggle was officially exchanged for one promoting the Four Modernizations. In the future, the attainment of economic goals would be the measure of the success or failure of policies and individual leadership; in other words, economics, not politics, was in command. To effect such a broad policy redirection, Deng placed key allies on the Political Bureau (including Chen Yun as an additional vice chairman and Hu Yaobang as a member) while positioning Hu Yaobang as secretary general of the CCP and head of the party's Propaganda Department. Although assessments of the Cultural Revolution and Mao were deferred, a decision was announced on "historical questions left over from an earlier period." The 1976 Tiananmen Square incident, the 1959 removal of Peng Dehuai, and other now infamous political machinations were reversed in favor of the new leadership. New agricultural policies intended to loosen political restrictions on peasants and allow them to produce more on their own initiative were approved.

Rapid change occurred in the subsequent months and years. The year 1979 witnessed the formal exchange of diplomatic recognition between the People's Republic and the United States, a border war between China and Vietnam, the fledgling "democracy movement" (which had begun in earnest in November 1978), and the determination not to extend the thirty-year-old Treaty of Friendship, Alliance, and Mutual Assistance with the Soviet Union. All these events led to some criticism of Deng Xiaoping, who had to alter his strategy temporarily while directing his own political warfare against Hua Guofeng and the leftist elements in the party and government. As part of this campaign, a major document was presented at the September 1979 Fourth Plenum of the Eleventh National Party Congress Central Committee, giving a "preliminary assessment" of the entire thirty-year period of Communist rule. At the plenum, party Vice Chairman Ye Jianying pointed out the achievements of the CCP while admitting that the leadership had made serious political errors affecting the people. Furthermore, Ye declared the Cultural Revolution "an appalling catastrophe" and "the most severe setback to [the] socialist cause since [1949]." Although Mao was not specifically blamed, there was no doubt about his share of responsibility. The plenum also marked official acceptance of a new ideological line that called for "seeking truth from facts" and of other elements of Deng Xiaoping's thinking. A further setback for Hua was the approval of the resignations of other leftists from leading party and state posts. In the months following the plenum, a party rectification campaign ensued, replete with a purge of party members whose political credentials were largely achieved as a result of the Cultural Revolution. The campaign went beyond the civilian ranks of the CCP, extending to party members in the PLA as well.

Economic advances and political achievements had strengthened the position of the Deng reformists enough that by February 1980 they were able to call the Fifth Plenum of the Eleventh National Party Congress Central Committee. One major effect of the plenum was the resignation of the members of the "Little Gang of Four" (an allusion to the original Gang of Four, Mao's allies)--Hua's closest collaborators and the backbone of opposition to Deng. Wang Dongxing, Wu De, Ji Dengkui, and Chen Xilian were charged with "grave [but unspecified] errors" in the struggle against the Gang of Four and demoted from the Political Bureau to mere Central Committee membership. In turn, the Central Committee elevated Deng's proteges Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang to the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau and the newly restored party Secretariat. Under the title of secretary general, Hu Yaobang took over day-to-day running of the party. Especially poignant was the posthumous rehabilitation of the late president and one-time successor to Mao, Liu Shaoqi, at the Fifth Plenum. Finally, at the Fifth National People's Congress session in August and September that year, Deng's preeminence in government was consolidated when he gave up his vice premiership and Hua Guofeng resigned as premier in favor of Zhao Ziyang.

One of the more spectacular political events of modern Chinese history was the month-long trial of the Gang of Four and six of Lin Biao's closest associates. A 35-judge special court was convened in November 1980 and issued a 20,000-word indictment against the defendants. The indictment came more than four years after the arrest of Jiang Qing and her associates and more than nine years after the arrests of the Lin Biao group. Beyond the trial of ten political pariahs, it appeared that the intimate involvement of Mao Zedong, current party chairman Hua Guofeng, and the CCP itself were on trial. The prosecution wisely separated political errors from actual crimes. Among the latter were the usurpation of state power and party leadership; the persecution of some 750,000 people, 34,375 of whom died during the period 1966-76; and, in the case of the Lin Biao defendants, the plotting of the assassination of Mao. In January 1981 the court rendered guilty verdicts against the ten. Jiang Qing, despite her spirited self-vindication and defense of her late husband, received a death sentence with a two-year suspension; later, Jiang Qing's death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. So enduring was Mao's legacy that Jiang Qing appeared to be protected by it from execution. The same sentence was given to Zhang Chunqiao, while Wang Hongwen was given life and Yao Wenyuan twenty years. Chen Boda and the other Lin Biao faction members were given sentences of between sixteen and eighteen years. The net effect of the trial was a further erosion of Mao's prestige and the system he created. In pre-trial meetings, the party Central Committee posthumously expelled CCP vice chairman Kang Sheng and Political Bureau member Xie Fuzhi from the party because of their participation in the "counterrevolutionary plots" of Lin Biao and Jiang Qing. The memorial speeches delivered at their funerals were also rescinded. There was enough adverse pre-trial testimony that Hua Guofeng reportedly offered to resign the chairmanship before the trial started. In June 1981 the Sixth Plenum of the Eleventh National Party Congress Central Committee marked a major milestone in the passing of the Maoist era. The Central Committee accepted Hua's resignation from the chairmanship and granted him the face- saving position of vice chairman. In his place, CCP secretary general Hu Yaobang became chairman. Hua also gave up his position as chairman of the party's Central Military Commission in favor of Deng Xiaoping. The plenum adopted the 35,000-word "Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party Since the Founding of the People's Republic of China." The resolution reviewed the sixty years since the founding of the CCP, emphasizing party activities since 1949. A major part of the document condemned the ten-year Cultural Revolution and assessed Mao Zedong's role in it. "Chief responsibility for the grave `Left' error of the `cultural revolution,' an error comprehensive in magnitude and protracted in duration, does indeed lie with Comrade Mao Zedong . . . . [and] far from making a correct analysis of many problems, he confused right and wrong and the people with the enemy. . . . Herein lies his tragedy." At the same time, Mao was praised for seeking to correct personal and party shortcomings throughout his life, for leading the effort that brought the demise of Lin Biao, and for having criticized Jiang Qing and her cohort. Hua too was recognized for his contributions in defeating the Gang of Four but was branded a "whateverist." Hua also was criticized for his anti-Deng Xiaoping posture in the period 1976-77.

Several days after the closing of the plenum, on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of the CCP, new party chairman Hu Yaobang declared that "although Comrade Mao Zedong made grave mistakes in his later years, it is clear that if we consider his life work, his contributions to the Chinese revolution far outweigh his errors. . . . His immense contributions are immortal." These remarks may have been offered in an effort to repair the extensive damage done to the Maoist legacy and by extension to the party itself. Hu went on, however, to praise the contributions of Zhou Enlai, Liu Shaoqi, Zhu De, Peng Dehuai, and a score of other erstwhile enemies of the late chairman. Thus the new party hierarchy sought to assess, and thus close the books on, the Maoist era and move on to the era of the Four Modernizations. The culmination of Deng's drive to consolidate his power and ensure the continuity of his reformist policies among his successors was the calling of the Twelfth National Party Congress in September 1982 and the Fifth Session of the Fifth National People's Congress in December 1982.

China - Physical Environment and Population

REMARKABLY VARIED LANDSCAPES suggest the disparate climate and broad reach of China, the third largest country in the world in terms of area. China's climate ranges from subarctic to tropical. Its topography includes the world's highest peaks, tortuous but picturesque river valleys, and vast plains subject to lifethreatening but soil-enriching flooding. These characteristics have dictated where the Chinese people live and how they make their livelihood.

The majority of China's people live in the eastern segment of the country, the traditional China Proper. Most are peasants living, as did their forebears, in the low-lying hills and central plains that stretch from the highlands eastward and southward to the sea. Agriculture predominates in this vast area, generally favored by a temperate or subtropical climate. The meticulously tilled fields are evidence in part of the government's continuing concern over farm output and the food supply.

Although migration to urban areas has been restricted since the late 1950s, as of the end of 1985 about 37 percent of the population was urban. An urban and industrial corridor formed a broad arc stretching from <"http://worldfacts.us/China-Harbin.htm"> Harbin in the northeast through the Beijing area and south to China's largest city, the huge industrial metropolitan complex of Shanghai.

The uneven pattern of internal development, so strongly weighted toward the eastern part of the country, doubtless will change little even with developing interest in exploiting the mineral-rich and agriculturally productive portions of the vast northwest and southwest regions. The adverse terrain and climate of most of those regions have discouraged dense population. For the most part, only ethnic minority groups have settled there.

The "minority nationalities" are an important element of Chinese society. In 1987 there were 55 recognized minority groups, comprising nearly 7 percent of the total population. Because some of the groups were located in militarily sensitive border areas and in regions with strategic minerals, the government tried to maintain benevolent relations with the minorities. But the minorities played only a superficial role in the major affairs of the nation.

China's ethnically diverse population is the largest in the world, and the Chinese Communist Party and the government work strenuously to count, control, and care for their people. In 1982 China conducted its first population census since 1964. It was by far the most thorough and accurate census taken under Communist rule and confirmed that China was a nation of more than 1 billion people, or about one-fifth of the world's population. The census provided demographers with a wealth of accurate data on China's age-sex structure, fertility and mortality rates, and population density and distribution. Useful information also was gathered on minority ethnic groups, urban population, and marital status. For the first time since the People's Republic of China was founded, demographers had reliable information on the size and composition of the Chinese work force.

Beginning in the mid-1950s, the Chinese government introduced, with varying degrees of enthusiasm and success, a number of family planning, or population control, campaigns and programs. The most radical and controversial was the one-child policy publicly announced in 1979. Under this policy, which had different guidelines for national minorities, married couples were officially permitted only one child. Enforcement of the program, however, varied considerably from place to place, depending on the vigilance of local population control workers.

Health care has improved dramatically in China since 1949. Major diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and scarlet fever have been brought under control. Life expectancy has more than doubled, and infant mortality has dropped significantly. On the negative side, the incidence of cancer, cerebrovascular disease, and heart disease has increased to the extent that these have become the leading causes of death. Economic reforms initiated in the late 1970s fundamentally altered methods of providing health care; the collective medical care system was gradually replaced by a more individual-oriented approach.

More liberalized emigration policies enacted in the 1980s facilitated the legal departure of increasing numbers of Chinese who joined their overseas Chinese relatives and friends. The Four Modernizations program, which required access of Chinese students and scholars, particularly scientists, to foreign education and research institutions, brought about increased contact with the outside world, particularly the industrialized nations. Thus, as China moved toward the twenty-first century, the diverse resources and immense population that it had committed to a comprehensive process of modernization became ever more important in the interdependent world.


China stretches some 5,000 kilometers across the East Asian landmass in an erratically changing configuration of broad plains, expansive deserts, and lofty mountain ranges, including vast areas of inhospitable terrain. The eastern half of the country, its seacoast fringed with offshore islands, is a region of fertile lowlands, foothills and mountains, desert, steppes, and subtropical areas. The western half of China is a region of sunken basins, rolling plateaus, and towering massifs, including a portion of the highest tableland on earth. The vastness of the country and the barrenness of the western hinterland have important implications for defense strategy. In spite of many good harbors along the approximately 18,000- kilometer coastline, the nation has traditionally oriented itself not toward the sea but inland, developing as an imperial power whose center lay in the middle and lower reaches of the Huang He (Yellow River) on the northern plains.

Figures for the size of China differ slightly depending on where one draws a number of ill-defined boundaries. The official Chinese figure is 9.6 million square kilometers, making the country substantially smaller than the Soviet Union, slightly smaller than Canada, and somewhat larger than the United States. China's contour is reasonably comparable to that of the United States and lies largely at the same latitudes.


In 1987 China's borders, more than 20,000 kilometers of land frontier shared with nearly all the nations of mainland East Asia, were disputed at a number of points. In the western sector, China claimed portions of the 41,000-square-kilometer Pamir Mountains area, a region of soaring mountain peaks and glacial valleys where the borders of Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Soviet Union, and China meet in Central Asia. North and east of this region, some sections of the border remained undemarcated in 1987. The 6,542-kilometer frontier with the Soviet Union has been a source of continual friction. In 1954 China published maps showing substantial portions of Soviet Siberian territory as its own. In the northeast, border friction with the Soviet Union produced a tense situation in remote regions of Nei Monggol Autonomous Region (Inner Mongolia) and Heilongjiang Province along segments of the Ergun He (Argun River), Heilong Jiang (Amur River), and Wusuli Jiang (Ussuri River). Each side had massed troops and had exchanged charges of border provocation in this area. In a September 1986 speech in Vladivostok, Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev offered the Chinese a more conciliatory position on Sino-Soviet border rivers. In 1987 the two sides resumed border talks that had been broken off after the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Although the border issue remained unresolved as of late 1987, China and the Soviet Union agreed to consider the northeastern sector first.

A major dispute between China and India focuses on the northern edge of their shared border, where the Aksai Chin area of northeastern Jammu and Kashmir is under Chinese control but claimed by India. Eastward from Bhutan and north of the Brahmaputra River (Yarlung Zangbo Jiang) lies a large area controlled and administered by India but claimed by the Chinese in the aftermath of the 1959 Tibetan revolt. The area was demarcated by the British McMahon Line, drawn along the Himalayas in 1914 as the Sino-Indian border; India accepts and China rejects this boundary. In June 1980 China made its first move in twenty years to settle the border disputes with India, proposing that India cede the Aksai Chin area in Jammu and Kashmir to China in return for China's recognition of the McMahon Line; India did not accept the offer, however, preferring a sector-by-sector approach to the problem. In July 1986 China and India held their seventh round of border talks, but they made little headway toward resolving the dispute. Each side, but primarily India, continued to make allegations of incursions into its territory by the other.

China, Taiwan, and Vietnam all claim sovereignty over both the Xisha (Paracel) and the Nansha (Spratly) islands, but the major islands of the Xisha are occupied by China. The Philippines claims an area known as Kalayaan (Freedom Land), which excludes the Nansha in the west and some reefs in the south. Malaysia claims the islands and reefs in the southernmost area, and there also is a potential for dispute over the islands with Brunei.

The China-Burma border issue was settled October 1, 1960, by the signing of the Sino-Burmese Boundary Treaty. The first joint inspection of the border was completed successfully in June 1986. In 1987 the island province of Taiwan continued to be under the control of the Guomindang authorities.

Terrain and Drainage

Terrain and vegetation vary greatly in China. Mountains, hills, and highlands cover about 66 percent of the nation's territory, impeding communication and leaving limited level land for agriculture. Most ranges, including all the major ones, trend eastwest . In the southwest, the Himalayas and the Kunlun Mountains enclose the Qing Zang Plateau, which encompasses most of Xizang Autonomous Region (also known as Tibet) and part of Qinghai Province. It is the most extensive plateau in the world, where elevations average more than 4,000 meters above sea level and the loftiest summits rise to more than 7,200 meters.

From the Qing Zang Plateau, other less-elevated highlands, rugged east-west trending mountains, and plateaus interrupted by deep depressions fan out to the north and east. A continental scarp marks the eastern margin of this territory extending from the Greater Hinggan Range in northeastern China, through the Taihang Shan (a range of mountains overlooking the North China Plain) to the eastern edge of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau in the south. Virtually all of the low-lying areas of China--the regions of dense population and intensive cultivation--are found east of this scarp line.

East-west ranges include some of Asia's greatest mountains. In addition to the Himalayas and the Kunlun Mountains, there are the Gangdise Shan (Kailas) and the Tian Shan ranges. The latter stands between two great basins, the massive Tarim Basin to the south and the Junggar Basin to the north. Rich deposits of coal, oil, and metallic ores lie in the Tian Shan area. The largest inland basin in China, the Tarim Basin measures 1,500 kilometers from east to west and 600 kilometers from north to south at its widest parts.

The Himalayas form a natural boundary on the southwest as the Altai Mountains do on the northwest. Lesser ranges branch out, some at sharp angles from the major ranges. The mountains give rise to all the principal rivers.

The spine of the Kunlun Mountains separates into several branches as it runs eastward from the Pamir Mountains. The northernmost branches, the Altun Shan and the Qilian Shan, rim the Qing Zang Plateau in west-central China and overlook the Qaidam Basin, a sandy and swampy region containing many salt lakes. A southern branch of the Kunlun Mountains divides the watersheds of the Huang He and the Chang Jiang (Yangtze River). The Gansu Corridor, west of the great bend in the Huang He, was traditionally an important communications link with Central Asia.

North of the 3,300-kilometer-long Great Wall, between Gansu Province on the west and the Greater Hinggan Range on the east, lies the Nei Monggol Plateau, at an average elevation of 1,000 meters above sea level. The Yin Shan, a system of mountains with average elevations of 1,400 meters, extends east-west through the center of this vast desert steppe peneplain. To the south is the largest loess plateau in the world, covering 600,000 square kilometers in Shaanxi Province, parts of Gansu and Shanxi provinces, and some of Ningxia-Hui Autonomous Region. Loess is a yellowish soil blown in from the Nei Monggol deserts. The loose, loamy material travels easily in the wind, and through the centuries it has veneered the plateau and choked the Huang He with silt.

Because the river level drops precipitously toward the North China Plain, where it continues a sluggish course across the delta, it transports a heavy load of sand and mud from the upper reaches, much of which is deposited on the flat plain. The flow is channeled mainly by constantly repaired manmade embankments; as a result the river flows on a raised ridge fifty meters or more above the plain, and waterlogging, floods, and course changes have recurred over the centuries. Traditionally, rulers were judged by their concern for or indifference to preservation of the embankments. In the modern era, the new leadership has been deeply committed to dealing with the problem and has undertaken extensive flood control and conservation measures.

Flowing from its source in the Qing Zang highlands, the Huang He courses toward the sea through the North China Plain, the historic center of Chinese expansion and influence. Han people have farmed the rich alluvial soils of the plain since ancient times, constructing the Grand Canal for north-south transport. The plain itself is actually a continuation of the Dongbei (Manchurian) Plain to the northeast but is separated from it by the Bo Hai Gulf, an extension of the Huang Hai (Yellow Sea).

Like other densely populated areas of China, the plain is subject not only to floods but to earthquakes. For example, the mining and industrial center of Tangshan, about 165 kilometers east of Beijing, was leveled by an earthquake in July 1976 that reportedly also killed 242,000 people and injured 164,000.

The Qin Ling mountain range, a continuation of the Kunlun Mountains, divides the North China Plain from the Chang Jiang Delta and is the major physiographic boundary between the two great parts of China Proper. It is in a sense a cultural boundary as well, influencing the distribution of custom and language. South of the Qin Ling divide are the densely populated and highly developed areas of the lower and middle plains of the Chang Jiang and, on its upper reaches, the Sichuan Basin, an area encircled by a high barrier of mountain ranges.

The country's longest and most important waterway, the Chang Jiang is navigable over much of its length and has a vast hydroelectric potential. Rising on the Qing Zang Plateau, the Chang Jiang traverses 6,300 kilometers through the heart of the country, draining an area of 1.8 million square kilometers before emptying into the East China Sea. The roughly 300 million people who live along its middle and lower reaches cultivate a great rice- and wheat-producing area. The Sichuan Basin, favored by a mild, humid climate and a long growing season, produces a rich variety of crops; it is also a leading silk-producing area and an important industrial region with substantial mineral resources.

Second only to the Qin Ling as an internal boundary is the Nan Ling, the southernmost of the east-west mountain ranges. The Nan Ling overlooks the part of China where a tropical climate permits two crops of rice to be grown each year. Southeast of the mountains lies a coastal, hilly region of small deltas and narrow valley plains; the drainage area of the Zhu Jiang (Pearl River) and its associated network of rivers occupies much of the region to the south. West of the Nan Ling, the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau rises in two steps, averaging 1,200 and 1,800 meters in elevation, respectively, toward the precipitous mountain regions of the eastern Qing Zang Plateau.

The Hai He, like the Zhu Jiang and other major waterways, flows from west to east. Its upper course consists of five rivers that converge near Tianjin, then flow seventy kilometers before emptying into the Bo Hai Gulf. Another major river, the Huai He, rises in Henan Province and flows through several lakes before joining the Chang Jiang near Yangzhou.

Inland drainage involving a number of upland basins in the north and northeast accounts for about 40 percent of the country's total drainage area. Many rivers and streams flow into lakes or diminish in the desert. Some are useful for irrigation.

China's extensive territorial waters are principally marginal seas of the western Pacific Ocean; these waters wash the shores of a long and much-indented coastline and approximately 5,000 islands. The Yellow, East China, and South China seas, too, are marginal seas of the Pacific Ocean. More than half the coastline (predominantly in the south) is rocky; most of the remainder is sandy. The Bay of Hangzhou roughly divides the two kinds of shoreline.


Monsoon winds, caused by differences in the heat-absorbing capacity of the continent and the ocean, dominate the climate. Alternating seasonal air-mass movements and accompanying winds are moist in summer and dry in winter. The advance and retreat of the monsoons account in large degree for the timing of the rainy season and the amount of rainfall throughout the country. Tremendous differences in latitude, longitude, and altitude give rise to sharp variations in precipitation and temperature within China. Although most of the country lies in the temperate belt, its climatic patterns are complex.

China's northernmost point lies along the Heilong Jiang in Heilongjiang Province in the cold-temperate zone; its southernmost point, Hainan Island, has a tropical climate (see table 4, Appendix A). Temperature differences in winter are great, but in summer the diversity is considerably less. For example, the northern portions of Heilongjiang Province experience an average January mean temperature of below 0C, and the reading may drop to minus 30C; the average July mean in the same area may exceed 20C. By contrast, the central and southern parts of Guangdong Province experience an average January temperature of above 10C, while the July mean is about 28C.

Precipitation varies regionally even more than temperature. China south of the Qin Ling experiences abundant rainfall, most of it coming with the summer monsoons. To the north and west of the range, however, rainfall is uncertain. The farther north and west one moves, the scantier and more uncertain it becomes. The northwest has the lowest annual rainfall in the country and no precipitation at all in its desert areas.


China lies in two of the world's major zoogeographic regions, the Palearctic and the Oriental. The Qing Zang Plateau, Xinjiang and Nei Monggol autonomous regions, northeastern China, and all areas north of the Huang He are in the Palearctic region. Central, southern, and southwest China lie in the Oriental region. In the Palearctic zone are found such important mammals as the river fox, horse, camel, tapir, mouse hare, hamster, and jerboa. Among the species found in the Oriental region are the civet cat, Chinese pangolin, bamboo rat, tree shrew, and also gibbon and various other species of monkeys and apes. Some overlap exists between the two regions because of natural dispersal and migration, and deer or antelope, bears, wolves, pigs, and rodents are found in all of the diverse climatic and geological environments. The famous giant panda is found only in a limited area along the Chang Jiang.

China - Population

The Data Base

The People's Republic conducted censuses in 1953, 1964, and 1982. In 1987 the government announced that the fourth national census would take place in 1990 and that there would be one every ten years thereafter. The 1982 census, which reported a total population of 1,008,180,738, is generally accepted as significantly more reliable, accurate, and thorough than the previous two. Various international organizations eagerly assisted the Chinese in conducting the 1982 census, including the United Nations Fund for Population Activities which donated US$15.6 million for the preparation and execution of the census.

The nation began preparing for the 1982 census in late 1976. Chinese census workers were sent to the United States and Japan to study modern census-taking techniques and automation. Computers were installed in every provincial-level unit except Xizang and were connected to a central processing system in the Beijing headquarters of the State Statistical Bureau. Pretests and smallscale trial runs were conducted and checked for accuracy between 1980 and 1981 in twenty-four provincial-level units. Census stations were opened in rural production brigades and urban neighborhoods. Beginning July 1, 1982, each household sent a representative to a census station to be enumerated. The census required about a month to complete and employed approximately 5 million census takers.

The 1982 census collected data in nineteen demographic categories relating to individuals and households. The thirteen areas concerning individuals were name, relationship to head of household, sex, age, nationality, registration status, educational level, profession, occupation, status of nonworking persons, marital status, number of children born and still living, and number of births in 1981. The six items pertaining to households were type (domestic or collective), serial number, number of persons, number of births in 1981, number of deaths in 1981, and number of registered persons absent for more than one year. Information was gathered in a number of important areas for which previous data were either extremely inaccurate or simply nonexistent, including fertility, marital status, urban population, minority ethnic groups, sex composition, age distribution, and employment and unemployment.

A fundamental anomaly in the 1982 statistics was noted by some Western analysts. They pointed out that although the birth and death rates recorded by the census and those recorded through the household registration system were different, the two systems arrived at similar population totals. The discrepancies in the vital rates were the result of the underreporting of both births and deaths to the authorities under the registration system; families would not report some births because of the one-child policy and would not report some deaths so as to hold on to the rations of the deceased. Nevertheless, the 1982 census was a watershed for both Chinese and world demographics. After an eighteen-year gap, population specialists were given a wealth of reliable, up-to-date figures on which to reconstruct past demographic patterns, measure current population conditions, and predict future population trends. For example, Chinese and foreign demographers used the 1982 census age-sex structure as the base population for forecasting and making assumptions about future fertility trends. The data on age-specific fertility and mortality rates provided the necessary base-line information for making population projections. The census data also were useful for estimating future manpower potential, consumer needs, and utility, energy, and health-service requirements. The sudden abundance of demographic data helped population specialists immeasurably in their efforts to estimate world population. Previously, there had been no accurate information on these 21 percent of the earth's inhabitants. Demographers who had been conducting research on global population without accurate data on the Chinese fifth of the world's population were particularly thankful for the 1982 census.

Mortality and Fertility

In 1949 crude death rates were probably higher than 30 per 1,000, and the average life expectancy was only 32 years. Beginning in the early 1950s, mortality steadily declined; it continued to decline through 1978 and remained relatively constant through 1987. One major fluctuation was reported in a computer reconstruction of China's population trends from 1953 to 1987 produced by the United States Bureau of the Census (see table 6, Appendix A; data in this table may vary from officially reported statistics). The computer model showed that the crude death rate increased dramatically during the famine years associated with the Great Leap Forward, resulting in approximately 30 million deaths above the expected level.

According to Chinese government statistics, the crude birth rate followed five distinct patterns from 1949 to 1982. It remained stable from 1949 to 1954, varied widely from 1955 to 1965, experienced fluctuations between 1966 and 1969, dropped sharply in the late 1970s, and increased from 1980 to 1981. Between 1970 and 1980, the crude birth rate dropped from 36.9 per 1,000 to 17.6 per 1,000. The government attributed this dramatic decline in fertility to the wan xi shao (later marriages, longer intervals between births, and fewer children) birth control campaign. However, elements of socioeconomic change, such as increased employment of women in both urban and rural areas and reduced infant mortality (a greater percentage of surviving children would tend to reduce demand for additional children), may have played some role. To the dismay of authorities, the birth rate increased in both 1981 and 1982 to a level of 21 per 1,000, primarily as a result of a marked rise in marriages and first births. The rise was an indication of problems with the one-child policy of 1979. Chinese sources, however, indicated that the birth rate decreased to 17.8 in 1985 and remained relatively constant thereafter.

In urban areas, the housing shortage may have been at least partly responsible for the decreased birth rate. Also, the policy in force during most of the 1960s and the early 1970s of sending large numbers of high school graduates to the countryside deprived cities of a significant proportion of persons of childbearing age and undoubtedly had some effect on birth rates.

Primarily for economic reasons, rural birth rates tended to decline less than urban rates. The right to grow and sell agricultural products for personal profit and the lack of an oldage welfare system were incentives for rural people to produce many children, especially sons, for help in the fields and for support in old age. Because of these conditions, it is unclear to what degree propaganda and education improvements had been able to erode traditional values favoring large families.

Density and Distribution

Overall population density in 1986 was about 109 people per square kilometer. Density was only about one-third that of Japan and less than that of many other countries in Asia and in Europe. The overall figure, however, concealed major regional variations and the high person-land ratio in densely populated areas. In the 11 provinces, special municipalities, and autonomous regions along the southeast coast, population density was 320.6 people per square kilometer.

In 1986 about 94 percent of the population lived on approximately 36 percent of the land. Broadly speaking, the population was concentrated in China Proper, east of the mountains and south of the Great Wall. The most densely populated areas included the Chang Jiang Valley (of which the delta region was the most populous), Sichuan Basin, North China Plain, Zhu Jiang Delta, and the industrial area around the city of Shenyang in the northeast.

Population is most sparse in the mountainous, desert, and grassland regions of the northwest and southwest. In Nei Monggol Autonomous Region, portions are completely uninhabited, and only a few sections have populations more dense than ten people per square kilometer. The Nei Monggol, Xinjiang, and Xizang autonomous regions and Gansu and Qinghai provinces comprise 55 percent of the country's land area but in 1985 contained only 5.7 percent of its population.

<>Population Control Programs

Updated population figures for China.

China - Population Control Programs

Initially, China's post-1949 leaders were ideologically disposed to view a large population as an asset. But the liabilities of a large, rapidly growing population soon became apparent. For one year, starting in August 1956, vigorous propaganda support was given to the Ministry of Public Health's mass birth control efforts. These efforts, however, had little impact on fertility. After the interval of the Great Leap Forward, Chinese leaders again saw rapid population growth as an obstacle to development, and their interest in birth control revived. In the early 1960s, propaganda, somewhat more muted than during the first campaign, emphasized the virtues of late marriage. Birth control offices were set up in the central government and some provinciallevel governments in 1964. The second campaign was particularly successful in the cities, where the birth rate was cut in half during the 1963-66 period. The chaos of the Cultural Revolution brought the program to a halt, however.

In 1972 and 1973 the party mobilized its resources for a nationwide birth control campaign administered by a group in the State Council. Committees to oversee birth control activities were established at all administrative levels and in various collective enterprises. This extensive and seemingly effective network covered both the rural and the urban population. In urban areas public security headquarters included population control sections. In rural areas the country's "barefoot doctors" distributed information and contraceptives to people's commun members. By 1973 Mao Zedong was personally identified with the family planning movement, signifying a greater leadership commitment to controlled population growth than ever before. Yet until several years after Mao's death in 1976, the leadership was reluctant to put forth directly the rationale that population control was necessary for economic growth and improved living standards.

Population growth targets were set for both administrative units and individual families. In the mid-1970s the maximum recommended family size was two children in cities and three or four in the country. Since 1979 the government has advocated a onechild limit for both rural and urban areas and has generally set a maximum of two children in special circumstances. As of 1986 the policy for minority nationalities was two children per couple, three in special circumstances, and no limit for ethnic groups with very small populations. The overall goal of the one-child policy was to keep the total population within 1.2 billion through the year 2000, on the premise that the Four Modernizations program would be of little value if population growth was not brought under control.

The one-child policy was a highly ambitious population control program. Like previous programs of the 1960s and 1970s, the onechild policy employed a combination of propaganda, social pressure, and in some cases coercion. The one-child policy was unique, however, in that it linked reproduction with economic cost or benefit.

Under the one-child program, a sophisticated system rewarded those who observed the policy and penalized those who did not. Couples with only one child were given a "one-child certificate" entitling them to such benefits as cash bonuses, longer maternity leave, better child care, and preferential housing assignments. In return, they were required to pledge that they would not have more children. In the countryside, there was great pressure to adhere to the one-child limit. Because the rural population accounted for approximately 60 percent of the total, the effectiveness of the one-child policy in rural areas was considered the key to the success or failure of the program as a whole.

In rural areas the day-to-day work of family planning was done by cadres at the team and brigade levels who were responsible for women's affairs and by health workers. The women's team leader made regular household visits to keep track of the status of each family under her jurisdiction and collected information on which women were using contraceptives, the methods used, and which had become pregnant. She then reported to the brigade women's leader, who documented the information and took it to a monthly meeting of the commune birth-planning committee. According to reports, ceilings or quotas had to be adhered to; to satisfy these cutoffs, unmarried young people were persuaded to postpone marriage, couples without children were advised to "wait their turn," women with unauthorized pregnancies were pressured to have abortions, and those who already had children were urged to use contraception or undergo sterilization. Couples with more than one child were exhorted to be sterilized.

The one-child policy enjoyed much greater success in urban than in rural areas. Even without state intervention, there were compelling reasons for urban couples to limit the family to a single child. Raising a child required a significant portion of family income, and in the cities a child did not become an economic asset until he or she entered the work force at age sixteen. Couples with only one child were given preferential treatment in housing allocation. In addition, because city dwellers who were employed in state enterprises received pensions after retirement, the sex of their first child was less important to them than it was to those in rural areas.

Numerous reports surfaced of coercive measures used to achieve the desired results of the one-child policy. The alleged methods ranged from intense psychological pressure to the use of physical force, including some grisly accounts of forced abortions and infanticide. Chinese officials admitted that isolated, uncondoned abuses of the program occurred and that they condemned such acts, but they insisted that the family planning program was administered on a voluntary basis using persuasion and economic measures only. International reaction to the allegations were mixed. The UN Fund for Population Activities and the International Planned Parenthood Association were generally supportive of China's family planning program. The United States Agency for International Development, however, withdrew US$10 million from the Fund in March 1985 based on allegations that coercion had been used.

Observers suggested that an accurate assessment of the onechild program would not be possible until all women who came of childbearing age in the early 1980s passed their fertile years. As of 1987 the one-child program had achieved mixed results. In general, it was very successful in almost all urban areas but less successful in rural areas. The Chinese authorities must have been disturbed by the increase in the officially reported annual population growth rate (birth rate minus death rate): from 12 per 1,000, or 1.2 percent in 1980 to 14.1 per 1,000, or 1.4 percent in 1986. If the 1986 rate is maintained to the year 2000, the population will exceed 1.2 billion.

Rapid fertility reduction associated with the one-child policy has potentially negative results. For instance, in the future the elderly might not be able to rely on their children to care for them as they have in the past, leaving the state to assume the expense, which could be considerable. Based on United Nations statistics and data provided by the Chinese government, it was estimated in 1987 that by the year 2000 the population 60 years and older (the retirement age is 60 in urban areas) would number 127 million, or 10.1 percent of the total population; the projection for 2025 was 234 million elderly, or 16.4 percent. According to one Western analyst, projections based on the 1982 census show that if the one-child policy were maintained to the year 2000, 25 percent of China's population would be age 65 or older by the year 2040.


China - Migration


China has restricted internal movement in various ways. Official efforts to limit free migration between villages and cities began as early as 1952 with a series of measures designed to prevent individuals without special permission from moving to cities to take advantage of the generally higher living standards there.

The party decreased migration to cities during the 1960s and 1970s for economic and political reasons. In the early stages of the Cultural Revolution, large numbers of urban youths were "sent down" to the countryside for political and ideological reasons. Many relocated youths were eventually permitted to return to the cities, and by the mid-1980s most had done so.

The success of the agricultural reforms under Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s and early 1980s dramatically increased the food supply in China's cities, making it possible for more people to come in from rural areas and survive without food ration cards. Because of the increased food supply, the authorities temporarily relaxed the enforcement of migration restrictions. This relaxation, however, was short-lived, and in May 1984 new measures strengthened residence regulations and reinstated official control over internal migration. Additionally, in March 1986 a draft revision of the 1957 migration regulations was presented to the Standing Committee of the Sixth National People's Congress calling for stricter population control policies.

Nonetheless, migration from rural areas to urban centers continued. The problem of too-rapid urbanization was exacerbated by the agricultural responsibility system, which forced a reallocation of labor and left many agricultural workers unemployed.

The central government attempted to control movement through the household registration system and promote development of small cities and towns, but within this system many people were still able to migrate primarily for employment or educational purposes. Leaving their place of official registration for days, months, or even years, unemployed agricultural workers found jobs in construction, housekeeping, or commune-run shops or restaurants. This temporary mobility was permitted by authorities because it simultaneously absorbed a large amount of surplus rural labor, improved the economies of rural areas, and satisfied urban requirements for service and other workers. The most significant aspect of the temporary migration, however, was that it was viewed as a possible initial step toward the development of small, rural-oriented urban centers that could bring employment and urban amenities to rural areas.

Although the temporary migration into the cities was seen as beneficial, controlling it was a serious concern of the central government. An April 1985 survey showed that the "floating" or nonresident population in eight selected areas of Beijing was 662,000, or 12.5 percent of the total population. The survey also showed that people entered or left Beijing 880,000 times a day. In an effort to control this activity, neighborhood committees and work units (danwei) were required to comply with municipal regulations issued in January 1986. These regulations stipulated that communities and work units keep records on visitors, that those staying in Beijing for up to three days must be registered, and that those planning to stay longer must obtain temporary residence permits from local police stations.

Although some cities were crowded, other areas of China were underpopulated. For example, China had little success populating the frontier regions. As early as the 1950s, the government began to organize and fund migration for land reclamation, industrialization, and construction in the interior and frontier regions. Land reclamation was carried out by state farms located largely in Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region and Heilongjiang Province. Large numbers of migrants were sent to such outlying regions as Nei Monggol Autonomous Region and Qinghai Province to work in factories and mines and to Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region to develop agriculture and industry. In the late 1950s, and especially in the 1960s, during the Cultural Revolution, many city youths were sent to the frontier areas. Much of the resettled population returned home, however, because of insufficient government support, harsh climate, and a general inability to adjust to life in the outlying regions. China's regional population distribution was consequently as unbalanced in 1986 as it had been in 1953. Nevertheless, efforts were still underway in 1987 to encourage migration to the frontier regions.


In 1987 China had a total of twenty-nine provincial-level administrative units directly under the central government in Beijing. In addition to the twenty-one provinces (sheng), there were five autonomous regions (zizhiqu) for minority nationalities, and three special municipalities (shi)--the three largest cities, Shanghai, Beijing, and Tianjin. (The establishment of Hainan Island as a provincial-level unit separate from Guangdong Province was scheduled to take place in 1988.) A 1979 change in provincial-level administrative boundaries in the northeast region restored Nei Monggol Autonomous Region to its original size (it had been reduced by a third in 1969) at the expense of Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning provinces. Urban areas were further subdivided into lower-level administrative units beginning with municipalities and extending down to the neighborhood level.

The pace of urbanization in China from 1949 to 1982 was relatively slow because of both rapid growth of the rural population and tight restrictions on rural-urban migration for most of that period. According to the 1953 and 1982 censuses, the urban population as a percentage of total population increased from 13.3 to 20.6 percent during that period. From 1982 to 1986, however, the urban population increased dramatically to 37 percent of the total population. This large jump resulted from a combination of factors. One was the migration of large numbers of surplus agricultural workers, displaced by the agricultural responsibility system, from rural to urban areas. Another was a 1984 decision to broaden the criteria for classifying an area as a city or town. During 1984 the number of towns meeting the new urban criteria increased more than twofold, and the urban town population doubled. In the mid-1980s demographers expected the proportion of the population living in cities and towns to be around 50 percent by the turn of the century. This urban growth was expected to result primarily from the increase in the number of small- and medium-sized cities and towns rather than from an expansion of existing large cities.

China's statistics regarding urban population sometimes can be misleading because of the various criteria used to calculate urban population. In the 1953 census, urban essentially referred to settlements with populations of more than 2,500, in which more than 50 percent of the labor force were involved in nonagricultural pursuits. The 1964 census raised the cut-off to 3,000 and the requirement for nonagricultural labor to 70 percent. The 1982 census used the 3,000/70 percent minimum but introduced criteria of 2,500 to 3,000 and 85 percent as well. Also, in calculating urban population, the 1982 census made a radical change by including the agricultural population residing within the city boundaries. This explains the dramatic jump in urban population from the 138.7 million reported for year-end 1981 to the 206.6 million counted by the 1982 census. In 1984 the urban guidelines were further loosened, allowing for lower minimum population totals and nonagricultural percentages. The criteria varied among provinciallevel units.

Although China's urban population--382 million, or 37 percent of the total population in the mid-1980s--was relatively low by comparison with developed nations, the number of people living in urban areas in China was greater than the total population of any country in the world except India and the Soviet Union. The four Chinese cities with the largest populations in 1985 were Shanghai, with 7 million; Beijing, with 5.9 million; Tianjin, with 5.4 million; and Shenyang, with 4.2 million. The disproportionate distribution of population in large cities occurred as a result of the government's emphasis after 1949 on the development of large cities over smaller urban areas. In 1985 the 22 most populous cities in China had a total population of 47.5 million, or about 12 percent of China's total urban population. The number of cities with populations of at least 100,000 increased from 200 in 1976 to 342 in 1986 (see table 8, Appendix A).

In 1987 China was committed to a three-part strategy to control urban growth: strictly limiting the size of big cities (those of 500,000 or more people); developing medium-sized cities (200,000 to 500,000); and encouraging the growth of small cities (100,000 to 200,000). The government also encouraged the development of small market and commune centers that were not then officially designated as urban places, hoping that they eventually would be transformed into towns and small cities. The big and medium-sized cities were viewed as centers of heavy and light industry, and small cities and towns were looked on as possible locations for handicraft and workshop activities, using labor provided mainly from rural overflow.

Emigration and Immigration

Through most of China's history, strict controls prevented large numbers of people from leaving the country. In modern times, however, periodically some have been allowed to leave for various reasons. For example, in the early 1960s, about 100,000 people were allowed to enter Hong Kong. In the late 1970s, vigilance against illegal migration to Hong Kong was again relaxed somewhat. Perhaps as many as 200,000 reached Hong Kong in 1979, but in 1980 authorities on both sides resumed concerted efforts to reduce the flow.

In 1983 emigration restrictions were eased as a result in part of the economic open-door policy. In 1984 more than 11,500 business visas were issued to Chinese citizens, and in 1985 approximately 15,000 Chinese scholars and students were in the United States alone. Any student who had the economic resources, from whatever source, could apply for permission to study abroad. United States consular offices issued more than 12,500 immigrant visas in 1984, and there were 60,000 Chinese with approved visa petitions in the immigration queue.

Export of labor to foreign countries also increased. The Soviet Union, Iraq, and the Federal Republic of Germany requested 500,000 workers, and as of 1986 China had sent 50,000. The signing of the United States-China Consular Convention in 1983 demonstrated the commitment to more liberal emigration policies. The two sides agreed to permit travel for the purpose of family reunification and to facilitate travel for individuals who claim both Chinese and United States citizenship. Emigrating from China remained a complicated and lengthy process, however, mainly because many countries were unwilling or unable to accept the large numbers of people who wished to emigrate. Other difficulties included bureaucratic delays and in some cases a reluctance on the part of Chinese authorities to issue passports and exit permits to individuals making notable contributions to the modernization effort.

The only significant immigration to China has been by the overseas Chinese, who in the years since 1949 have been offered various enticements to return to their homeland. Several million may have done so since 1949. The largest influx came in 1978-79, when about 160,000 to 250,000 ethnic Chinese fled Vietnam for southern China as relations between the two countries worsened. Many of these refugees were reportedly settled in state farms on Hainan Island in the South China Sea.


China - Minorities

Demographic Overview

Approximately 93 percent of China's population is considered Han. Sharp regional and cultural differences, including major variations in spoken Chinese, exist among the Han, who are a mingling of many peoples. All the Han nonetheless use a common written form of Chinese and share the social organization, values, and cultural characteristics universally recognized as Chinese.

Officially, China has fifty-six "nationality" groups, including the Han. The Chinese define a nationality as a group of people of common origin living in a common area, using a common language, and having a sense of group identity in economic and social organization and behavior. Altogether, China has fifteen major linguistic regions generally coinciding with the geographic distribution of the major minority nationalities. Members of non-Han groups, referred to as the "minority nationalities," constitute only about 7 percent of the total population but number more than 70 million people and are distributed over 60 percent of the land.

Some minority nationalities can be found only in a single region; others may have settlements in two or more. In general, however, the minorities are concentrated in the provinces and autonomous regions of the northwest and the southwest. In Xizang, Xinjiang, and Nei Monggol autonomous regions, minorities occupy large frontier areas; many are traditionally nomadic and engage primarily in agriculture or pastoral pursuits. Minority groups in Yunnan and Guizhou provinces and in the Guangxi-Zhuang Autonomous Region are more fragmented and inhabit smaller areas.

According to the 1982 census, approximately 95 percent of Xizang's civilian population of 1.9 million are Tibetan (Zang nationality). An internally cohesive group, the Tibetans have proven the most resistant of the minority groups to the government's integration efforts. Xinjiang, which is as vast and distant from Beijing as Xizang, is the minority area next in demographic and political significance. Despite a large-scale immigration of Han since the 1950s, in 1985 around 60 percent of Xinjiang's 13.4 million population belonged to minority nationalities. Of these, the most important were 6.1 million Uygurs and more than 900,000 Kazaks, both Turkic-speaking Central Asian peoples (see table 9, Appendix A).

Provinces with large concentrations of minorities include Yunnan, where the Yi and other minority groups comprised an estimated 32 percent of the population in 1985; Guizhou, home of more than half of the approximately 4 million Miao; and sparsely populated Qinghai, which except for the area around the provincial capital of Xining is inhabited primarily by Tibetans and other minority nationality members, amounting in 1986 to approximately 37 percent of the total provincial population. Additionally, in 1986 minority nationalities constituted approximately 16 percent of the population of Nei Monggol Autonomous Region. The Guangxi-Zhuang Autonomous Region contains almost all of the approximately 13.5 million members of what is China's largest minority nationality, the Zhuang; most of them, however, are highly assimilated.

Because many of the minority nationalities are located in politically sensitive frontier areas, they have acquired an importance greater than their numbers. Some groups have common ancestry with peoples in neighboring countries. For example, members of the Shan, Korean, Mongol, Uygur and Kazak, and Yao nationalities are found not only in China but also in Burma, Korea, the Mongolian People's Republic, the Soviet Union, and Thailand, respectively. If the central government failed to maintain good relations with these groups, China's border security could be jeopardized. Since 1949 Chinese officials have declared that the minorities are politically equal to the Han majority and in fact should be accorded preferential treatment because of their small numbers and poor economic circumstances. The government has tried to ensure that the minorities are well represented at national conferences and has relaxed certain policies that might have impeded their socioeconomic development.

The minority areas are economically as well as politically important. China's leaders have suggested that by the turn of the century the focus of economic development should shift to the northwest. The area is rich in natural resources, with uranium deposits and abundant oil reserves in Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region. Much of China's forestland is located in the border regions of the northeast and southwest, and large numbers of livestock are raised in the arid and semiarid northwest. Also, the vast amount of virgin land in minority areas can be used for resettlement to relieve population pressures in the densely populated regions of the country.

In the early 1980s, the central government adopted various measures to provide financial and economic assistance to the minority areas. The government allotted subsidies totaling approximately -Y6,000 million in 1984 to balance any deficits experienced in autonomous areas inhabited by minority nationalities. After 1980 the autonomous regions of Nei Monggol, Xinjiang, Xizang, Guangxi, and Ningxia and the provinces of Yunnan, Guizhou, and Qinghai were permitted to keep all revenues for themselves. The draft state budget written in April 1986 allocated a special grant of -Y800 million to the underdeveloped minority nationality areas over and above the regular state subsidies. The standard of living in the minority areas improved dramatically from the early to the mid-1980s. In Xizang Autonomous Region, annual per capita income increased from - Y216 in 1983 to -Y317 in 1984 (national per capita income was -Y663 in 1983 and -Y721 in 1984). The per capita net income of the minority areas in Yunnan Province increased from -Y118 in 1980 to - Y263 in 1984, for an increase of 81.3 percent. Overall, however, the minority areas remained relatively undeveloped in 1986.


Since 1949 government policy toward minorities has been based on the somewhat contradictory goals of national unity and the protection of minority equality and identity. The state constitution of 1954 declared the country to be a "unified, multinational state" and prohibited "discrimination against or oppression of any nationality and acts which undermine the unity of the nationalities." All nationalities were granted equal rights and duties. Policy toward the ethnic minorities in the 1950s was based on the assumption that they could and should be integrated into the Han polity by gradual assimilation, while permitted initially to retain their own cultural identity and to enjoy a modicum of selfrule . Accordingly, autonomous regions were established in which minority languages were recognized, special efforts were mandated to recruit a certain percentage of minority cadres, and minority culture and religion were ostensibly protected. The minority areas also benefited from substantial government investment.

Yet the attention to minority rights took place within the larger framework of strong central control. Minority nationalities, many with strong historical and recent separatist or anti-Han tendencies, were given no rights of self-determination. With the special exception of Xizang in the 1950s, Beijing administered minority regions as vigorously as Han areas, and Han cadres filled the most important leadership positions. Minority nationalities were integrated into the national political and economic institutions and structures. Party statements hammered home the idea of the unity of all the nationalities and downplayed any part of minority history that identified insufficiently with China Proper. Relations with the minorities were strained because of traditional Han attitudes of cultural superiority. Central authorities criticized this "Han chauvinism" but found its influence difficult to eradicate.

Pressure on the minority peoples to conform were stepped up in the late 1950s and subsequently during the Cultural Revolution. Ultraleftist ideology maintained that minority distinctness was an inherently reactionary barrier to socialist progress. Although in theory the commitment to minority rights remained, repressive assimilationist policies were pursued. Minority languages were looked down upon by the central authorities, and cultural and religious freedom was severely curtailed or abolished. Minority group members were forced to give up animal husbandry in order to grow crops that in some cases were unfamiliar. State subsidies were reduced, and some autonomous areas were abolished. These policies caused a great deal of resentment, resulting in a major rebellion in Xizang in 1959 and a smaller one in Xinjiang in 1962, the latter bringing about the flight of some 60,000 Kazak herders across the border to the Soviet Union. Scattered reports of violence in minority areas in the 1966-76 decade suggest that discontent was high at that time also.

After the arrest of the Gang of Four in 1976, policies toward the ethnic minorities were moderated regarding language, religion and culture, and land-use patterns, with the admission that the assimilationist policies had caused considerable alienation. The new leadership pledged to implement a bona fide system of autonomy for the ethnic minorities and placed great emphasis on the need to recruit minority cadres.

Although the minorities accounted for only about 7 percent of China's population, the minority deputies to the National People's Congress made up 13.5 percent of all representatives to the congress in 1985, and 5 of the 22 vice chairmen of its Standing Committee (23 percent) in 1983 were minority nationals. A Mongol, Ulanhu, was elected vice president of China in June 1983. Nevertheless, political administration of the minority areas was the same as that in Han regions, and the minority nationalities were subject to the dictates of the Chinese Communist Party. Despite the avowed desire to integrate the minorities into the political mainstream, the party was not willing to share key decision-making powers with the ethnic minorities. As of the late 1970s, the minority nationality cadres accounted for only 3 to 5 percent of all cadres.

Under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping, the Chinese government in the mid-1980s was pursuing a liberal policy toward the national minorities. Full autonomy became a constitutional right, and policy stipulated that Han cadres working in the minority areas learn the local spoken and written languages. Significant concessions were made to Xizang, historically the most nationalistic of the minority areas. The number of Tibetan cadres as a percentage of all cadres in Xizang increased from 50 percent in 1979 to 62 percent in 1985. In Zhejiang Province the government formally decided to assign only cadres familiar with nationality policy and sympathetic to minorities to cities, prefectures, and counties with large numbers of minority people. In Xinjiang the leaders of the region's fourteen prefectural and city governments and seventy-seven of all eighty-six rural and urban leaders were of minority nationality.


China - Labor Force

A 10-percent sample tabulation of census questionnaires from the 1982 census provided badly needed statistical data on China's working population and allowed the first reliable estimates of the labor force's size and characteristics. The quality of the data was considered to be quite high, although a 40-million-person discrepancy existed between the 10-percent sample and the regular employment statistics. This discrepancy can be explained by the combination of inaccurate employment statistics and varying methods of calculation and scope of coverage. The estimated mid-1982 labor force was 546 million, or approximately 54 percent of the total population. Males accounted for slightly more than half of the estimated labor force, and the labor force participation rates for persons age fifteen years and older were among the highest in the world.

The 10-percent sample showed that approximately three-fourths of the labor force worked in the agricultural sector. According to the State Statistical Bureau, in the mid-1980s more than 120 million people worked in the nonagricultural sector. The sample revealed that men occupied the great majority of leadership positions. The average worker was a youthful thirty-three years old, and three out of every four workers were under forty-five years of age. The working population had a low education level. Less than 40 percent of the labor force had more than a primary school education, and 30 percent were illiterate or semiliterate.

In mid-1982 the overall unemployment rate was estimated to be about 5 percent. Of the approximately 25 million unemployed, 12 million were men and 13 million were women. The unemployment rate was highest in the northeast and lowest in the south. The unemployment rates were higher than those of East Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific island countries for which data were available but were lower than the rates found in North America and Europe. Virtually all of the unemployed persons in cities and towns were under twenty years of age.

China - Health Care

Since the founding of the People's Republic, the goal of health programs has been to provide care to every member of the population and to make maximum use of limited health-care personnel, equipment, and financial resources. The emphasis has been on preventive rather than curative medicine on the premise that preventive medicine is "active" while curative medicine is "passive." The health-care system has dramatically improved the health of the people, as reflected by the remarkable increase in average life expectancy from about thirty-two years in 1950 to sixty-nine years in 1985.

After 1949 the Ministry of Public Health was responsible for all health-care activities and established and supervised all facets of health policy. Along with a system of national, provincial-level, and local facilities, the ministry regulated a network of industrial and state enterprise hospitals and other facilities covering the health needs of workers of those enterprises. In 1981 this additional network provided approximately 25 percent of the country's total health services. Health care was provided in both rural and urban areas through a three-tiered system. In rural areas the first tier was made up of barefoot doctors working out of village medical centers. They provided preventive and primary-care services, with an average of two doctors per 1,000 people. At the next level were the township health centers, which functioned primarily as out-patient clinics for about 10,000 to 30,000 people each. These centers had about ten to thirty beds each, and the most qualified members of the staff were assistant doctors. The two lower-level tiers made up the "rural collective health system" that provided most of the country's medical care. Only the most seriously ill patients were referred to the third and final tier, the county hospitals, which served 200,000 to 600,000 people each and were staffed by senior doctors who held degrees from 5-year medical schools. Health care in urban areas was provided by paramedical personnel assigned to factories and neighborhood health stations. If more professional care was necessary the patient was sent to a district hospital, and the most serious cases were handled by municipal hospitals. To ensure a higher level of care, a number of state enterprises and government agencies sent their employees directly to district or municipal hospitals, circumventing the paramedical, or barefoot doctor, stage.

An emphasis on public health and preventive treatment characterized health policy from the beginning of the 1950s. At that time the party began to mobilize the population to engage in mass "patriotic health campaigns" aimed at improving the low level of environmental sanitation and hygiene and attacking certain diseases. One of the best examples of this approach was the mass assaults on the "four pests"--rats, sparrows, flies, and mosquitoes--and on schistosoma-carrying snails. Particular efforts were devoted in the health campaigns to improving water quality through such measures as deep-well construction and human-waste treatment. Only in the larger cities had human waste been centrally disposed. In the countryside, where "night soil" has always been collected and applied to the fields as fertilizer, it was a major source of disease. Since the 1950s, rudimentary treatments such as storage in pits, composting, and mixture with chemicals have been implemented.

As a result of preventive efforts, such epidemic diseases as cholera, plague, typhoid, and scarlet fever have almost been eradicated. The mass mobilization approach proved particularly successful in the fight against syphilis, which was reportedly eliminated by the 1960s. The incidence of other infectious and parasitic diseases was reduced and controlled. Relaxation of certain sanitation and antiepidemic programs since the 1960s, however, may have resulted in some increased incidence of disease. In the early 1980s, continuing deficiencies in human-waste treatment were indicated by the persistence of such diseases as hookworm and schistosomiasis. Tuberculosis, a major health hazard in 1949, remained a problem to some extent in the 1980s, as did hepatitis, malaria, and dysentery. In the late 1980s, the need for health education and improved sanitation was still apparent, but it was more difficult to carry out the health-care campaigns because of the breakdown of the brigade system. By the mid-1980s, China recognized the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) virus as a serious health threat but remained relatively unaffected by the deadly disease. As of mid-1987 there was confirmation of only two deaths of Chinese citizens from AIDS, and monitoring of foreigners had begun. Following a 1987 regional World Health Organization meeting, the Chinese government announced it would join the global fight against AIDS, which would involve quarantine inspection of people entering China from abroad, medical supervision of people vulnerable to AIDS, and establishment of AIDS laboratories in coastal cities. Additionally, it was announced that China was experimenting with the use of traditional medicine to treat AIDS.

In the mid-1980s the leading causes of death in China were similar to those in the industrialized world: cancer, cerebrovascular disease, and heart disease. Some of the more prevalent forms of fatal cancers included cancer of the stomach, esophagus, liver, lung, and colon-rectum. The frequency of these diseases was greater for men than for women, and lung cancer mortality was much greater in higher income areas. The degree of risk for the different kinds of cancers varied widely by region. For example, nasopharyngeal cancer was found primarily in south China, while the incidence of esophageal cancer was higher in the north.

To address concerns over health, the Chinese greatly increased the number and quality of health-care personnel, although in 1986 serious shortages still existed. In 1949 only 33,000 nurses and 363,000 physicians were practicing; by 1985 the numbers had risen dramatically to 637,000 nurses and 1.4 million physicians. Some 436,000 physicians' assistants were trained in Western medicine and had 2 years of medical education after junior high school. Official Chinese statistics also reported that the number of paramedics increased from about 485,400 in 1975 to more than 853,400 in 1982. The number of students in medical and pharmaceutical colleges in China rose from about 100,000 in 1975 to approximately 160,000 in 1982.

Efforts were made to improve and expand medical facilities. The number of hospital beds increased from 1.7 million in 1976 to 2.2 million in 1984, or to 2 beds per 1,000 compared with 4.5 beds per 1,000 in 1981 in the United States. The number of hospitals increased from 63,000 in 1976 to 67,000 in 1984, and the number of specialized hospitals and scientific research institutions doubled during the same period.

The availability and quality of health care varied widely from city to countryside. According to 1982 census data, in rural areas the crude death rate was 1.6 per 1,000 higher than in urban areas, and life expectancy was about 4 years lower. The number of senior physicians per 1,000 population was about 10 times greater in urban areas than in rural ones; state expenditure on medical care was more than -Y26 per capita in urban areas and less than -Y3 per capita in rural areas. There were also about twice as many hospital beds in urban areas as in rural areas. These are aggregate figures, however, and certain rural areas had much better medical care and nutritional levels than others.

In 1987 economic reforms were causing a fundamental transformation of the rural health-care system. The decollectivization of agriculture resulted in a decreased desire on the part of the rural populations to support the collective welfare system, of which health care was a part. In 1984 surveys showed that only 40 to 45 percent of the rural population was covered by an organized cooperative medical system, as compared with 80 to 90 percent in 1979.

This shift entailed a number of important consequences for rural health care. The lack of financial resources for the cooperatives resulted in a decrease in the number of barefoot doctors, which meant that health education and primary and home care suffered and that in some villages sanitation and water supplies were checked less frequently. Also, the failure of the cooperative health-care system limited the funds available for continuing education for barefoot doctors, thereby hindering their ability to provide adequate preventive and curative services. The costs of medical treatment increased, deterring some patients from obtaining necessary medical attention. If the patients could not pay for services received, then the financial responsibility fell on the hospitals and commune health centers, in some cases creating large debts.

Consequently, in the post-Mao era of modernization, the rural areas were forced to adapt to a changing health-care environment. Many barefoot doctors went into private practice, operating on a fee-for-service basis and charging for medication. But soon farmers demanded better medical services as their incomes increased, bypassing the barefoot doctors and going straight to the commune health centers or county hospitals. A number of barefoot doctors left the medical profession after discovering that they could earn a better living from farming, and their services were not replaced. The leaders of brigades, through which local health care was administered, also found farming to be more lucrative than their salaried positions, and many of them left their jobs. Many of the cooperative medical programs collapsed. Farmers in some brigades established voluntary health-insurance programs but had difficulty organizing and administering them.

Although the practice of traditional Chinese medicine was strongly promoted by the Chinese leadership and remained a major component of health care, Western medicine was gaining increasing acceptance in the 1970s and 1980s. For example, the number of physicians and pharmacists trained in Western medicine reportedly increased by 225,000 from 1976 to 1981, and the number of physicians' assistants trained in Western medicine increased by about 50,000. In 1981 there were reportedly 516,000 senior physicians trained in Western medicine and 290,000 senior physicians trained in traditional Chinese medicine. The goal of China's medical professionals is to synthesize the best elements of traditional and Western approaches.

In practice, however, this combination has not always worked smoothly. In many respects, physicians trained in traditional medicine and those trained in Western medicine constitute separate groups with different interests. For instance, physicians trained in Western medicine have been somewhat reluctant to accept "unscientific" traditional practices, and traditional practitioners have sought to preserve authority in their own sphere. Although Chinese medical schools that provided training in Western medicine also provided some instruction in traditional medicine, relatively few physicians were regarded as competent in both areas in the mid- 1980s.

The extent to which traditional and Western treatment methods were combined and integrated in the major hospitals varied greatly. Some hospitals and medical schools of purely traditional medicine were established. In most urban hospitals, the pattern seemed to be to establish separate departments for traditional and Western treatment. In the county hospitals, however, traditional medicine received greater emphasis.

Traditional medicine depends on herbal treatments, acupuncture, acupressure, moxibustion (the burning of herbs over acupuncture points), and "cupping" of skin with heated bamboo. Such approaches are believed to be most effective in treating minor and chronic diseases, in part because of milder side effects. Traditional treatments may be used for more serious conditions as well, particularly for such acute abdominal conditions as appendicitis, pancreatitis, and gallstones; sometimes traditional treatments are used in combination with Western treatments. A traditional method of orthopedic treatment, involving less immobilization than Western methods, continued to be widely used in the 1980s.

Although health care in China developed in very positive ways by the mid-1980s, it exacerbated the problem of overpopulation. In 1987 China was faced with a population four times that of the United States and over three times that of the Soviet Union. Efforts to distribute the population over a larger portion of the country had failed: only the minority nationalities seemed able to thrive in the mountainous or desert-covered frontiers. Birth control programs implemented in the 1970s succeeded in reducing the birth rate, but estimates in the mid-1980s projected that China's population will surpass the 1.2 billion mark by the turn of the century, putting still greater pressure on the land and resources of the nation.

China - Society

CHINA, THE WORLD'S LARGEST SOCIETY, is united by a set of values and institutions that cut across extensive linguistic, environmental, and subcultural differences. Residents of the southern and northern regions of the country might not understand each other's speech, enjoy each other's favorite foods, or make a living from each other's land, and they might describe each other with derogatory stereotypes. Nonetheless, they would regard each other as fellow Chinese, members of the same society, and different from the Vietnamese or Koreans, with whom some Chinese might seem to have more in common.

Chinese society, since the second decade of the twentieth century, has been the object of a revolution intended to change it in fundamental ways. In its more radical phases, such as the Great Leap Forward (1958-60) and the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), the revolution aimed at nothing less than the complete transformation of everything from the practice of medicine, to higher education, to family life. In the 1980s China's leaders and intellectuals considered the revolution far from completed, and they intended further social change to make China a fully modernized country. It had become increasingly clear that although many aspects of Chinese social life had indeed undergone fundamental changes as a result of both political movements and economic development, the transformation was less than total. Much of the past either lived on in modified form or served to shape revolutionary initiatives and to limit the choices open to even the most radical of revolutionaries.


China is, like all large states, multiethnic; but one ethnic group--the Han Chinese --dominates the politics, government, and economy. This account focuses on the Han, and it considers the minority peoples only in relation to the Han ethnic group.

Over the centuries a great many peoples who were originally not Chinese have been assimilated into Chinese society. Entry into Han society has not demanded religious conversion or formal initiation. It has depended on command of the Chinese written language and evidence of adherence to Chinese values and customs. For the most part, what has distinguished those groups that have been assimilated from those that have not has been the suitability of their environment for Han agriculture. People living in areas where Chinese-style agriculture is feasible have either been displaced or assimilated. The consequence is that most of China's minorities inhabit extensive tracts of land unsuited for Han-style agriculture; they are not usually found as long-term inhabitants of Chinese cities or in close proximity to most Han villages. Those living on steppes, near desert oases, or in high mountains, and dependent on pastoral nomadism or shifting cultivation, have retained their ethnic distinctiveness outside Han society. The sharpest ethnic boundary has been between the Han and the steppe pastoralists, a boundary sharpened by centuries of conflict and cycles of conquest and subjugation. Reminders of these differences are the absence of dairy products from the otherwise extensive repertoire of Han cuisine and the distaste most Chinese feel for such typical steppe specialties as tea laced with butter.

Official policy recognizes the multiethnic nature of the Chinese state, within which all "nationalities" are formally equal. On the one hand, it is not state policy to force the assimilation of minority nationalities, and such nonpolitical expressions of ethnicity as native costumes and folk dances are encouraged. On the other hand, China's government is a highly centralized one that recognizes no legitimate limits to its authority, and minority peoples in far western Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region, for example, are considered Chinese citizens just as much as Han farmers on the outskirts of Beijing are.

Official attitudes toward minority peoples are inconsistent, if not contradictory. Since 1949 policies toward minorities have fluctuated between tolerance and coercive attempts to impose Han standards. Tolerant periods have been marked by subsidized material benefits intended to win loyalty, while coercive periods such as the Cultural Revolution have attempted to eradicate "superstition" and to overthrow insufficiently radical or insufficiently nationalistic local leaders.

What has not varied has been the assumption that it is the central government that decides what is best for minority peoples and that national citizenship takes precedence over ethnic identity. In fact, minority nationality is a legal status in China. The government reserves for itself the right to determine whether or not a group is a minority nationality, and the list has been revised several times since the 1950s. In the mid-1980s the state recognized 55 minority nationalities, some with as few as 1,1000 members. Minority nationalities are guaranteed special representation in the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. Areas where minorities form the majority of the population may be designated "autonomous" counties, prefectures, or regions, subject to the authority of the central government in Beijing rather than to provincial or subprovincial administrations. It is expected that local administrations in such regions will be staffed at least in part by minority nationals and that application of national policies will take into account local circumstances and special needs. In the early 1980s, for example, minority peoples were exempted from the strict limitations on the number of children per family dictated to the Han population.

Most Han Chinese have no contact with members of minority groups. But in areas such as the Xizang (also known as Tibet) or Xinjiang autonomous regions, where large numbers of Han have settled since the assertion of Chinese central government authority over them in the 1950s, there is clearly some ethnic tension. The tension stems from Han dominance over such previously independent or semi-autonomous peoples as the Tibetans and Uygurs, from Cultural Revolution attacks on religious observances, and from Han disdain for and lack of sensitivity to minority cultures. In the autonomous areas the ethnic groups appear to lead largely separate lives, and most Han in those areas either work as urban-based administrators and professionals or serve in military installations or on state farms. Since the late 1970s, the central authorities have made efforts to conciliate major ethnic minorities by sponsoring the revival of religious festivals and by increasing the level of subsidies to the poorest minority regions. Because of these efforts, other moderate government policies, and the geographic distribution and relatively small size of minority groups in China, the country has not suffered widespread or severe ethnic conflict.


The differences among regional and linguistic subgroups of Han Chinese are at least as great as those among many European nationalities. Han Chinese speak seven or eight mutually unintelligible dialects, each of which has many local subdialects. Cultural differences (cuisine, costume, and custom) are equally great. Modern Chinese history provides many examples of conflict, up to the level of small-scale regional wars, between linguistic and regional groups.

Such diversities, however, have not generated exclusive loyalties, and distinctions in religion or political affiliation have not reinforced regional differences. Rather, there has been a consistent tendency in Chinese thought and practice to downplay intra-Han distinctions, which are regarded as minor and superficial. What all Han share is more significant than the ways in which they differ. In conceptual terms, the boundary between Han and non-Han is absolute and sharp, while boundaries between subsets of Han are subject to continual shifts, are dictated by local conditions, and do not produce the isolation inherent in relations between Han and minority groups.

Han ethnic unity is the result of two ancient and culturally central Chinese institutions, one of which is the written language. Chinese is written with ideographs (sometimes called characters) that represent meanings rather than sounds, and so written Chinese does not reflect the speech of its author. The disjunction between written and spoken Chinese means that a newspaper published in Beijing can be read in Shanghai or Guangzhou, although the residents of the three cities would not understand each other's speech. It also means that there can be no specifically Cantonese (Guangzhou dialect) or Hunanese literature because the local speech of a region cannot be directly or easily represented in writing. (It is possible to add local color to fiction, cite colloquialisms, or transcribe folk songs, but it is not commonly done.) Therefore, local languages have not become a focus for regional selfconsciousness or nationalism. Educated Chinese tend to regard the written ideographs as primary, and they regard the seven or eight spoken Han Chinese dialects as simply variant ways of pronouncing the same ideographs. This is linguistically inaccurate, but the attitude has significant political and social consequences. The uniform written language in 1987 continued to be a powerful force for Han unity.

The other major force contributing to Han ethnic unity has been the centralized imperial state. The ethnic group takes its name from the Han dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 220). Although the imperial government never directly controlled the villages, it did have a strong influence on popular values and culture. The average peasant could not read and was not familiar with the details of state administration or national geography, but he was aware of belonging to a group of subcontinental scope. Being Han, even for illiterate peasants, has meant conscious identification with a glorious history and a state of immense proportions. Peasant folklore and folk religion assumed that the imperial state, with an emperor and an administrative bureaucracy, was the normal order of society. In the imperial period, the highest prestige went to scholar-officials, and every schoolboy had the possibility, at least theoretically, of passing the civil service examinations and becoming an official.

The prestige of the state and its popular identification with the highest values of Chinese civilization were not accidents; they were the final result of a centuries-long program of indoctrination and education directed by the Confucian scholar-officials. Traditional Chinese society can be distinguished from other premodern civilizations to the extent that the state, rather than organized religious groups or ethnic segments of society, was able to appropriate the symbols of wisdom, morality, and the common good. The legacy for modern Chinese society has been a strong centralized government that has the right to impose its values on the population and against which there is no legitimate right of dissent or secession.


The leaders who directed the efforts to change Chinese society after the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949 were raised in the old society and had been marked with its values. Although they were conscious revolutionaries, they could not wholly escape the culture into which they had been born. Nationalists as well as revolutionaries, they had no intention of transforming China into a replica of any foreign country. They had an ambivalent attitude toward their country's past and its traditional society, condemning some aspects and praising others. Furthermore, as practical administrators, China's post-1949 leaders devoted energy and attention to changing some aspects of traditional society, such as rural land tenure and the content of education, while leaving other aspects, such as family structure, largely untouched. Change in Chinese society, therefore, has been less than total and less consistent than has often been claimed by official spokesmen. To understand contemporary society, it is necessary to be familiar with past legacies, particularly in the realm of values and in areas of social life, such as family organization, where transformation has not been a high-priority political goal.

China's traditional values were contained in the orthodox version of Confucianism, which was taught in the academies and tested in the imperial civil service examinations. These values are distinctive for their this-worldly emphasis on society and public administration and for their wide diffusion throughout Chinese society. Confucianism, never a religion in any accepted sense, is primarily concerned with social order. Social harmony is to be achieved within the state, whose administrators consciously select the proper policies and act to educate both the rulers and the subject masses. Confucianism originated and developed as the ideology of professional administrators and continued to bear the impress of its origins.

Imperial-era Confucianists concentrated on this world and had an agnostic attitude toward the supernatural. They approved of ritual and ceremony, but primarily for their supposed educational and psychological effects on those participating. Confucianists tended to regard religious specialists (who historically were often rivals for authority or imperial favor) as either misguided or intent on squeezing money from the credulous masses. The major metaphysical element in Confucian thought was the belief in an impersonal ultimate natural order that included the social order. Confucianists asserted that they understood the inherent pattern for social and political organization and therefore had the authority to run society and the state.

The Confucianists claimed authority based on their knowledge, which came from direct mastery of a set of books. These books, the Confucian Classics, were thought to contain the distilled wisdom of the past and to apply to all human beings everywhere at all times. The mastery of the Classics was the highest form of education and the best possible qualification for holding public office. The way to achieve the ideal society was to teach the entire people as much of the content of the Classics as possible. It was assumed that everyone was educable and that everyone needed educating. The social order may have been natural, but it was not assumed to be instinctive. Confucianism put great stress on learning, study, and all aspects of socialization. Confucianists preferred internalized moral guidance to the external force of law, which they regarded as a punitive force applied to those unable to learn morality. Confucianists saw the ideal society as a hierarchy, in which everyone knew his or her proper place and duties. The existence of a ruler and of a state were taken for granted, but Confucianists held that rulers had to demonstrate their fitness to rule by their "merit." The essential point was that heredity was an insufficient qualification for legitimate authority. As practical administrators, Confucianists came to terms with hereditary kings and emperors but insisted on their right to educate rulers in the principles of Confucian thought. Traditional Chinese thought thus combined an ideally rigid and hierarchical social order with an appreciation for education, individual achievement, and mobility within the rigid structure.

Diffusion of Values

While ideally everyone would benefit from direct study of the Classics, this was not a realistic goal in a society composed largely of illiterate peasants. But Confucianists had a keen appreciation for the influence of social models and for the socializing and teaching functions of public rituals and ceremonies. The common people were thought to be influenced by the examples of their rulers and officials, as well as by public events. Vehicles of cultural transmission, such as folk songs, popular drama, and literature and the arts, were the objects of government and scholarly attention. Many scholars, even if they did not hold public office, put a great deal of effort into popularizing Confucian values by lecturing on morality, publicly praising local examples of proper conduct, and "reforming" local customs, such as bawdy harvest festivals. In this manner, over hundreds of years, the values of Confucianism were diffused across China and into scattered peasant villages and rural culture.

The Confucian Legacy

Traditional values have clearly shaped much of contemporary Chinese life. The belief in rule by an educated and functionally unspecialized elite, the value placed on learning and propagating an orthodox ideology that focuses on society and government, and the stress on hierarchy and the preeminent role of the state were all carried over from traditional society. Some of the more radical and extreme policies of the 1950s and 1960s, such as attacks on intellectuals and compulsory manual labor for bureaucrats, can only be understood as responses to deep-rooted traditional attitudes. The role of model workers and soldiers, as well as official concern for the content and form of popular literature and the arts, also reflects characteristically Chinese themes. In the mid-1980s a number of Chinese writers and political leaders identified the lingering hold of "feudal" attitudes, even within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), as a major obstacle to modernization. They identified such phenomena as authoritarianism, unthinking obedience to leaders, deprecation of expert knowledge, lack of appreciation for law, and the failure to apply laws to leaders as "feudal" legacies that were not addressed in the early years of China's revolution.

Traditional Social Structure

Throughout the centuries some 80 to 90 percent of the Chinese population have been farmers. The farmers supported a small number of specialized craftsmen and traders and also an even smaller number of land- and office-holding elite families who ran the society. Although the peasant farmers and their families resembled counterparts in other societies, the traditional Chinese elite, often referred to in English as the gentry, had no peers in other societies. The national elite, who comprised perhaps 1 percent of China's population, had a number of distinctive features. They were dispersed across the country and often lived in rural areas, where they were the dominant figures on the local scene. Although they held land, which they rented to tenant farmers, they neither possessed large estates like European nobles nor held hereditary titles. They achieved their highest and most prestigious titles by their performance on the central government's triennial civil service examinations. These titles had to be earned by each generation, and since the examinations had strict numerical quotas, competition was fierce. Government officials were selected from those who passed the examinations, which tested for mastery of the Confucian Classics. Elite families, like everyone else in China, practiced partible inheritance, dividing the estate equally among all sons. The combination of partible inheritance and the competition for success in the examinations meant that rates of mobility into and out of the elite were relatively high for a traditional agrarian society.

The imperial state was staffed by a small civil bureaucracy. Civil officials were directly appointed and paid by the emperor and had to have passed the civil service examinations. Officials, who were supposed to owe their primary loyalty to the emperor, did not serve in their home provinces and were generally assigned to different places for each tour of duty. Although the salary of central officials was low, the positions offered great opportunities for personal enrichment, which was one reason that families competed so fiercely to pass the examinations and then obtain an appointment. For most officials, officeholding was not a lifetime career. They served one or a few tours and then returned to their home districts and families, where their wealth, prestige, and network of official contacts made them dominant figures on the local scene.

The Examination System

In late imperial China the status of local-level elites was ratified by contact with the central government, which maintained a monopoly on society's most prestigious titles. The examination system and associated methods of recruitment to the central bureaucracy were major mechanisms by which the central government captured and held the loyalty of local-level elites. Their loyalty, in turn, ensured the integration of the Chinese state and countered tendencies toward regional autonomy and the breakup of the centralized system. The examination system distributed its prizes according to provincial and prefectural quotas, which meant that imperial officials were recruited from the whole country, in numbers roughly proportional to a province's population. Elites all over China, even in the disadvantaged peripheral regions, had a chance at succeeding in the examinations and achieving the rewards of officeholding.

The examination system also served to maintain cultural unity and consensus on basic values. The uniformity of the content of the examinations meant that the local elite and ambitious would-be elite all across China were being indoctrinated with the same values. Even though only a small fraction (about 5 percent) of those who attempted the examinations passed them and received titles, the study, self-indoctrination, and hope of eventual success on a subsequent examination served to sustain the interest of those who took them. Those who failed to pass (most of the candidates at any single examination) did not lose wealth or local social standing; as dedicated believers in Confucian orthodoxy, they served, without the benefit of state appointments, as teachers, patrons of the arts, and managers of local projects, such as irrigation works, schools, or charitable foundations.

In late traditional China, then, education was valued in part because of its possible payoff in the examination system. The overall result of the examination system and its associated study was cultural uniformity--identification of the educated with national rather than regional goals and values. This self-conscious national identity underlies the nationalism so important in China's politics in the twentieth century.

Social Stratification

Traditional thought accepted social stratification as natural and considered most social groups to be organized on hierarchical principles. In the ideal Confucian scheme of social stratification, scholars were at the highest level of society, followed by farmers, then by artisans, with merchants and soldiers in last place.

In society at large, the highest and most prestigious positions were those of political generalists, such as members of the emperor's council or provincial governors. Experts, such as tax specialists or physicians, ranked below the ruling political generalists. Although commerce has been a major element of Chinese life since the early imperial period, and wealthy merchants have been major figures in Chinese cities, Confucianists disparaged merchants. Commercial success never won respect, and wealth based on commerce was subject to official taxes, fees, and even confiscation. Upward mobility by merchants was achieved by cultivating good relations with powerful officials and educating their sons in the hope they might become officials. Although dynasties were founded by military conquest, Confucian ideology derogated military skill. Common soldiers occupied a low position in society and were recruited from its lowest ranks. Chinese civilization, however, includes a significant military tradition, and generals and strategists usually were held in high esteem.

Most of China's population was composed of peasant farmers, whose basic role in supporting the rulers and the rest of society was recognized as a positive one in Confucian ideology. In practical terms, farming was considered a hard and insecure life and one that was best left if an opportunity was available.

In Chinese communities the factors generating prestige were education, abstention from manual labor, wealth expended on the arts and education, a large family with many sons, and community service and acts of charity. Another asset was an extensive personal network that permitted one to grant favors and make introductions and recommendations. There was no sharp line dividing the elite from the masses, and social mobility was possible and common.

Stratification and Families

Before 1950 the basic units of social stratification and social mobility were families. Although wealthy families were often quite large, with as many as thirty people in three or four generations living together on a common budget, most families contained five or six people. In socioeconomic terms, late traditional China was composed of a large number of small enterprises, perhaps as many as 100 million farms and small businesses. Each was operated by a family, which acted not only as a household but also as a commercial enterprise. The family head also was the trustee of the estate and manager of the family business. Families could own property, such as land or shops, and pass it on to the next generation.

About 80 percent of the population were peasant farmers, and land was the fundamental form of property. Although many peasant families owned no land, large estates were rare by the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Peasant families might own all of the land they worked, or own some and rent some from a landowner, or rent all their land. Regardless of the form of tenure, the farm was managed as a unit, and the head of household was free to decide what to plant and how to use the labor of family members. Land could be bought and sold in small parcels, as well as mortgaged and rented in various forms of short-term and long-term contracts. The consequence was that in most villages peasant families occupied different steps on the ladder of stratification; they did not form a uniformly impoverished mass. At any time, peasant families were distinguished by the amount of land that they owned and worked compared with the percentage of their income they paid in rent. Over time, peasant families rose or fell in small steps as they bought land or were forced to sell it.

Most non-farm enterprises, commercial or craft, were similarly small businesses run by families. The basic units were owned by families, which took a long-term view of their prospects and attempted to shift resources and family personnel from occupation to occupation to adapt to economic circumstances. In all cases, the long-term goal of the head of the family was to ensure the survival and prosperity of the family and to pass the estate along to the next generation. The most common family strategy was to diversify the family's economic activities. Such strategies lay behind the large number of small-scale enterprises that characterized Chinese society before 1950. Farming and landowning were secure but not very profitable. Commerce and money-lending brought in greater returns but also carried greater risks. A successful farm family might invest in a shop or a food-processing business, while a successful restaurant owner might buy farmland, worked by a sharecropping peasant family, as a secure investment. All well-to- do families invested in the education of sons, with the hope of getting at least one son into a government job. The consequence was that it was difficult to draw a class line dividing landlords, merchants, and government workers or officials.

Social Mobility

Formal education provided the best and most respected avenue of upward mobility, and by the nineteenth century literacy rates in China were high for a traditional peasant society. Chances of receiving a good education were highest for the upper classes in and around coastal cities and lowest for the farmers of the interior. If schooling was not available, there were other avenues of mobility. Rural people could move to cities to seek their fortunes (and in some cases the cities were in Southeast Asia or the Americas). People could go into business, gamble on the market for perishable cash crops, try money-lending on a small scale or, as a long shot, join the army or a bandit group. Late traditional society offered alternate routes to worldly success and a number of ways to change one's position in society; but in all routes except education the chances of failure outweighed those of success.

In many cases, whether in business or banditry, success or failure depended to a great degree on luck. The combination of population pressure, the low rate of economic growth, natural disasters, and endemic war that afflicted the Chinese population in the first half of the twentieth century meant that many families lost their property, some starved, and almost all faced the probability of misfortune. From the perspective of individuals and individual families, it is likely that from 1850 to 1950 the chances of downward mobility increased and the ability to plan ahead with confidence decreased.


After the establishment of the People's Republic in 1949, the uncertainty and risks facing small-scale socioeconomic units were replaced by an increase in the scale of organization and bureaucratization, with a consequent increase in predictability and personal security. The tens of millions of small enterprises were replaced by a much smaller number of larger enterprises, which were organized in a bureaucratic and hierarchical manner. Collectivization of land and nationalization of most private businesses meant that families no longer had estates to pass along. Long-term interests for families resided primarily with the work unit (collective farm, office, or factory) to which they belonged.

Mobility in most cases consisted of gaining administrative promotions within such work units. Many of the alternate routes to social mobility were closed off, and formal education continued to be the primary avenue of upward mobility. In villages the army offered the only reasonable alternative to a lifetime spent in the fields, and demobilized soldiers staffed much of the local administrative structure in rural areas. For the first time in Chinese history, the peasant masses were brought into direct contact with the national government and the ruling party, and national-level politics came to have a direct impact on the lives of ordinary people. The formerly local, small-scale, and fragmented power structure was replaced by a national and well-integrated structure, operating by bureaucratic norms. The unpredictable consequences of market forces were replaced by administrative allocation and changing economic policies enforced by the government bureaucracy.

The principal transformation of society took place during the 1950s in a series of major campaigns carried out by the party. In the countryside, an initial land reform redistributed some land from those families with an excess to those with none. This was quickly followed by a series of reforms that increased the scale of organization, from seasonal mutual aid teams (groups of jointsupport laborers from individual farming households), to permanent mutual aid teams, to voluntary agricultural cooperatives, to compulsory agricultural cooperatives, and finally to large people's communes. In each step, which came at roughly two-year intervals, the size of the unit was increased, and the role of inherited land or private ownership was decreased. By the early 1960s, an estimated 90 million family farms had been replaced by about 74,000 communes. During the same period, local governments took over commerce, and private traders, shops, and markets were replaced by supply and marketing cooperatives and the commercial bureaus of local government. In the cities, large industries were nationalized and craft enterprises were organized into large-scale cooperatives that became branches of local government. Many small shops and restaurants were closed down, and those that remained were under municipal management.

In both city and countryside, the 1950s saw a major expansion of the party and state bureaucracies, and many young people with relatively scarce secondary or college educations found secure white-collar jobs in the new organizations. The old society's set of formal associations--everything from lineages (clans), to irrigation cooperatives, to urban guilds and associations of persons from the same place of origin, all of which were private, small-scale, and usually devoted to a single purpose--were closed down. They were replaced by government bureaus or state-sponsored mass associations, and their parochial leaders were replaced by party members. The new institutions were run by party members and served as channels of information, communication, and political influence.

The basic pattern of contemporary society was established by 1960, and all changes since then, including the reforms of the early and mid-1980s, have represented only modifications and adjustments to the pattern. The pattern is cellular; most people belong to one large, all-embracing unit, such as a factory, government office, or village. The unit is run by party branch, operates (or should operate) under common administrative rules and procedures, and reflects the current policies of the party. The consequence has been that most aspects of social differentiation, stratification, mobility, and tensions are now played out within an institutional framework. Most of the questions about any individual's life and prospects can be answered by specifying the unit--the social cell--with which that individual is associated.


Although much of the social structure of modern China can be interpreted as reflecting basic drives for security and equality, qualities in short supply before 1950, not all organizations and units are alike or equal. There are four major axes of social differentiation in modern China. To some extent they overlap and reinforce each other, but each rests on distinct and separate grounds. The Work Place

Work units (danwei) belong to the state or to collectives. State-owned units, typically administrative offices, research institutes, and large factories, offer lifetime security, stable salaries, and benefits that include pensions and free health care. Collectives include the entire agricultural sector and many small-scale factories, repair shops, and village- or township-run factories, workshops, or service enterprises. Employees on the state payroll enjoy the best benefits modern China has to offer. The incomes of those in the collective sector are usually lower and depend on the performance of the enterprise. They generally lack health benefits or pensions, and the collective units usually do not provide housing or child-care facilities. In 1981 collective enterprises employed about 40 percent of the nonagricultural labor force, and most of the growth of employment since 1980 has come in this sector. Even though the growth since 1980 of individual businesses and small private enterprises, such as restaurants and repair services, has provided some individuals with substantial cash incomes, employment in the state sector remains most people's first choice. This reflects the public's recognition of that sector's superior material benefits as well as the traditional high prestige of government service.

"Security and equality" have been high priorities in modern China and have usually been offered within single work units. Because there is no nationwide insurance or social security system and because the income of work units varies, the actual level of benefits and the degree of equality (of incomes, housing, or opportunities for advancement) depend on the particular work unit with which individuals are affiliated. Work units are responsible for chronic invalids or old people without families, as well as for families confronted with the severe illness or injury of the breadwinner. Equality has always been sought within work units (so that all factory workers, for example, received the same basic wage, or members of a collective farm the same share of the harvest), and distinctions among units have not been publicly acknowledged. During the Cultural Revolution, however, great stress was placed on equality in an abstract or general sense and on its symbolic acting out. Administrators and intellectuals were compelled to do manual labor, and the uneducated and unskilled were held up as examples of revolutionary virtue.

In the mid-1980s many people on the lower fringes of administration were not on the state payroll, and it was at this broad, lower level that the distinction between government employees and nongovernment workers assumed the greatest importance. In the countryside, village heads were collectivesector workers, as were the teachers in village primary schools, while workers for township governments (and for all levels above them) and teachers in middle schools and universities were state employees. In the armed forces, the rank and file who served a three- to five-year enlistment at very low pay were considered citizens serving their military obligation rather than state employees. Officers, however, were state employees, and that distinction was far more significant than their rank. The distinction between state and collective-sector employment was one of the first things considered when people tried to find jobs for their children or a suitable marriage partner.

Communist Party Membership

Every unit in China, from the villages through the armed forces, is run by the party, which has a monopoly on political power. Party members are in a sense the heirs of the traditional gentry. They are a power-holding elite, dispersed over the whole country, and serve as intermediaries between their own communities or units and the nation. They are recruited from the population at large on universalistic grounds of "merit," and they claim authority by their mastery of an ideology that focuses on government and public order. The ideology is contained in books, and party members are expected to be familiar with the basic texts, to continue studying them throughout their careers, and to apply them in concrete situations.

The differences between the traditional elite and the party are obvious. Party members are supposed to be revolutionaries, be devoted to changing society rather than restoring it, come from and represent the peasants and workers, and be willing to submit themselves totally and unreservedly to the party. On the whole, party members are distinctly less bookish and more militaryoriented and outwardly egalitarian than traditional elites. Party members have been preferentially recruited from the poor peasantry of the interior, from the army, and from the ranks of industrial workers; intellectuals have usually found it difficult to enter the party. The party is represented in every village and every large or medium-sized enterprise in the country. The scope of its actions and concerns is much greater than that of its traditional predecessors.

Relatively speaking, there are more party members than there were traditional gentry. In 1986 the Chinese Communist Party had 44 million members in 2.6 million local party branches. This meant that about 8 percent of China's adult population belonged to the party. Not all party members hold state jobs: some hold village and township-level positions, and many armed forces enlisted personnel join the party during their service. (Indeed, a chance to join the party has been one of the major attractions of military service for peasant youth.)

Party members direct all enterprises and institutions and dominate public life and discussion. Anyone with ambitions to do more than his or her daily job or work in a narrow professional specialty must join the party. Membership is selective, and candidates must demonstrate their zeal, devotion to party principles, and willingness to make a total commitment to the party. Ideally, membership is a complete way of life, not a job, and selection for membership depends more on assessment of an individual's total personality and "moral" character than on specific qualifications or technical skills. While this could probably be said of all communist parties, Chinese Communist Party members certainly mirror China's traditional mandarins, who were political generalists rather than technical specialists. Party members are the intermediaries who link enterprises and communities with high-level structures, and they can belong to more than one organization, such as a factory and a municipal party body. Party membership is virtually a requirement for upward mobility or for opportunities to leave one's original work unit.

Urban-Rural Distinctions

In modern China, legal distinction is made between urban and rural dwellers, and movement from rural to urban status is difficult. Urban life is felt to be far preferable, and living standards and opportunities for such advantages as education are much better in the cities. This firm and absolute distinction, which had no precedent in traditional society, is the result of a set of administrative decisions and policies that have had major, if unintended, consequences for social organization. Modern Chinese society has been marked by an extraordinary degree of residential immobility, and internal migration and population movement have been limited by state control. For most of the period since 1958, there has been no legal way to move out of villages or from small cities to large cities. Although people have not inherited estates and private property, they have inherited rural or urban status, which has been a major determinant of living standards and life chances.

China's cities grew rapidly in the early and mid-1950s as rural people moved in to take advantage of the employment opportunities generated by economic growth and the expansion of heavy industry. The authorities became alarmed at this influx, both because of the cost of providing urban services (food supply, waste disposal) and because of the potential problems of unemployed or semi-employed migrants creating squatter settlements. Additionally, Chinese leaders held a certain anti-urban bias and tended to regard China's cities as unproductive. They accused city residents of living off the countryside and indulging in luxury consumption. Extolling large, smoking factories, they sought to engage the population in the manufacture of utilitarian commodities, like steel or trucks. The authorities demonstrated their bias against commerce and service trades by closing down many shops and markets. Since 1958 they have employed household registration and food rationing systems to control urban growth and general migration .

In the 1980s the distinction between urban and rural status grew mainly out of the food distribution and rationing system. Rural registrants were assumed to be growing their own staple foods, and there was no provision for state allocation of grain to them. The state monopolized the trade in grain; it collected grain in the countryside as a tax or as compulsory purchase and used it to supply its functionaries and the urban population. Urban status entitled one to purchase an allotment of grain, oil, and various other staple items. These were rationed, and a ration coupon as well as money was necessary to obtain grain legally. Ration coupons were good only in their own localities. The rationing system served several purposes. They included the fair distribution of scarce goods, prevention of private speculation in staple foods, and residence control. In addition, the police in cities kept household registration records and could make unannounced inspections, usually at night, looking for people who did not have legal permission to reside in a city. The controls have not been foolproof and have worked more effectively in times of shortages and strict political control.

In the 1980s the reasons for the administrative barriers around cities were fairly straightforward. Incomes and living standards in China's cities are two to three times higher than in the countryside. In addition, more urban dwellers have secure state jobs with their associated benefits. State investment has been concentrated in heavy industry, mostly urban, and agriculture and the rural sector have been left to their own devices, after meeting their tax obligations. The ironic consequence of a rural and peasant-based revolution has been a system that has acted, intentionally or not, to increase the social and economic gap between country and city.

Regional Distinctions

Regional distinctions in ways of life and standards of living were marked in traditional China and continue to have a strong influence on contemporary Chinese society. China's size, poorly developed transportation system, and state controls on migration mean that regional differences in income and in life chances remain large. Contemporary Chinese commentary, while certainly explicit on the role of class, has tended to ignore regional variation. This may reflect the characteristic emphasis on Chinese unity and uniformity, as well as the difficulty of fitting regional analysis into a Marxist framework. Nevertheless, both geographical position and a community's position in administrative and regional hierarchies act to limit income from sideline occupations, cash crops, village industries, and even such matters as marriage choices.

Incomes and educational standards in the 1980s were highest in the productive lower Chang Jiang (Yangtze River) Valley and central Guangdong Province regions and lowest in the semi-arid highlands of the northwest and the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau, as they had been since the late nineteenth century. The lowest incomes and living standards were in the peripheral areas inhabited by minority nationalities. Within all regions, there were distinctions between urban cores, intermediate areas, and peripheries. Villages on the outskirts of major cities had more opportunities for production of cash crops such as vegetables, more opportunities in sideline occupations or subcontracting for urban factories, and easier access to urban services and amenities. Higher village incomes were reflected in better housing, higher school attendance, wellappointed village meeting halls, and a high level of farm and domestic mechanization. For settlements on the periphery, however, even if only a short distance from urban centers, transportation was difficult. Such settlements had changed little in appearance since the 1950s and devoted most of their land and work force to growing staple grains. Many children in these villages dropped out of school before completing primary education, as physical strength and endurance were more highly regarded than book learning.

There is clearly a degree of overlap in the four fields of social differentiation (work units, party membership, urban-rural distinctions, and regional distinctions). The top of the hierarchy is occupied by those who work in state organizations, belong to the party, live in a major city, and inhabit a prosperous region. Correspondingly, the least favored inhabitants are peasants whose villages are located in the remote parts of poor regions. What is most impressive about social differentiation in modern China is the extent to which key variables such as region and rural or urban status are ascribed, and not easily changed by individual effort. This is the negative side of the security and stability that attracted China's populace to the party and its programs.


The cellular structure of contemporary Chinese society and the Chinese Communist Party's single-party rule mean that almost all social organizations share common characteristics. The same general description (an all-embracing social unit, whose members are assigned to it for life and which is organized on bureaucratic principles, subordinate to higher administrative levels, and managed by a branch of the party) applies to villages, schools, administrative offices, factories, or army units. All of these are work units.

Work Units

In some ways, Chinese work units (danwei) resemble the large-scale bureaucratic organizations that employ most people in economically developed societies. The unit is functionally specialized, producing a single product or service, and is internally organized into functional departments, with employees classified and rewarded according to their work skills. Professional managers run the organization, enforce internal regulations and work rules, and negotiate with other work units and administrative superiors.

Chinese work units, however, have many distinctive qualities. Workers usually belong to the same unit for their entire working life. The degree of commitment to the unit and the extent to which the unit affects many aspects of the individual worker's life have no parallel in other societies. Chinese work units are highly corporate, closed, permanent, and all-embracing groups. In most cases, people are either born into their units (villages count as units) or are assigned to them when they enter the work force.

Units supply their members with much more than a wage. Housing in the cities is usually controlled and assigned by work units. Consequently, one's neighbors are often one's workmates. If childcare facilities are available, they will most often be provided by the work unit. Recreation facilities will be provided by the work unit. Political study is carried out with one's workmates. In the cities many people meet prospective spouses either at work or through the introduction of fellow workers. For most people, social mobility takes the form of working their way up within the organization.

If goods are in short supply, they will be rationed through work units. This was the case with bicycles and sewing machines in the 1970s. The same can apply to babies. As part of China's planned birth policy, unit supervisors monitor the fertility of married women and may decide whose turn it is to have a baby. At the other end of the life cycle, pensions and funeral expenses are provided by work units. Travel to another city usually requires the written permission of one's work unit before a ticket can be purchased or food coupons for one's destination issued. Every unit is managed by party members, who are responsible for personnel matters. Outside the farm sector, a written dossier is kept for every member of a unit. Units are often physically distinct, occupying walled compounds whose exits are monitored by gatekeepers. The unit is thus a total community, if not a total institution, and unit membership is the single most significant aspect of individual identity in contemporary China.

Since the 1950s the individual's political life too has been centered in the work unit. Political campaigns have meant endless meetings and rallies within the unit, and when individuals were to be criticized or condemned for political deviation or bad class origins, it was done within the work unit, by fellow workers. In the post-Mao Zedong era, many people were working side by side with others whom they had publicly condemned, humiliated, or physically beaten fifteen or twenty years before. Much of the quality of life within a unit derives from the long-term nature of membership and human relations and from the impossibility of leaving. Members seem most often to aim for affable but somewhat distant ties of "comradeship" with each other, reserving intimate friendships for a few whom they have known since childhood or schooldays.

The work-unit system, with its lifetime membership--sometimes referred to as the "iron rice bowl"--and lack of job mobility, is unique to contemporary China. It was developed during the 1950s and early 1960s with little discussion or publicity. Its origins are obscure; it most likely arose through the efforts of party cadres whose background was rural and whose experience was largely in the army and in the disciplined and all-embracing life of party branches.

The special characteristics of the Chinese work unit--such as its control over the work and lives of its members and its strict subordination to administrative superiors who control the resources necessary to its operation--make the unit an insular, closed entity. Units are subject to various administrative hierarchies; reports go up and orders come down. The Chinese Communist Party, as a nationwide body, links all units and, in theory, monopolizes channels of communication and command. Vertical, command relations seem to work quite effectively, and the degree of local compliance with the orders of superior bodies is impressive. Conversely, horizontal relations with other units are often weak and tenuous, presenting a problem especially for the economy.

Wages and Benefits

Much of any worker's total compensation (wages, benefits, and official and unofficial perquisites) is determined by membership in a particular work unit. There is considerable variation in the benefits associated with different work units. Although the wage structure is quite egalitarian when compared with those of other countries, wages are only part of the picture. Many of the limited goods available in China cannot be bought for money. Rather, they are available only to certain favored work units. Housing is an obvious example. Many collective enterprises may have no housing at all or offer only rudimentary dormitories for young, unmarried workers.

High-level administrative cadres and military officers may earn three or four times more than ordinary workers; in addition, the government often grants them superior housing, the unlimited use of official automobiles and drivers, access to the best medical care in the country, opportunities for travel and vacations, and the right to purchase rare consumer goods either at elite shops or through special channels. Although China is a socialist state, it is not exactly a welfare state. Pensions, medical benefits, and survivors' benefits are provided through work units and come out of the unit's budget. The amount and nature of benefits may vary from unit to unit. The state, through local government bodies, does provide some minimal welfare benefits, but only to those with no unit benefits or family members able to support them.

Retirees who have put in twenty-five or thirty years in a state-run factory or a central government office can expect a steady pension, most often at about 70 percent of their salary, and often continue to live in unit housing, especially if they have no grown children with whom they can live. In many cases, workers have been able to retire and have their children replace them. In other cases, some large state enterprises have started smaller sideline or subcontracting enterprises specifically to provide employment for the grown children of their workers. In contrast, peasants and those employed in collective enterprises generally receive no pensions and must depend on family members for support.

Informal Mechanisms of Exchange

In China formal exchanges of everything from goods and services to information are expected to go through official channels, under the supervision of bureaucrats. Administrative channels, however, are widely acknowledged to be inadequate and subject to inordinate delays. People respond by using and developing informal mechanisms of exchange and coordination. The most general term for such informal relations is guanxi (personal connections). Such ties are the affair of individuals rather than institutions and depend on the mutually beneficial exchange of favors, services, introductions, and so on. In China such ties are created or cultivated through invitations to meals and presentation of gifts.

Personal relations are morally and legally ambiguous, existing in a gray and ill-defined zone. In some cases, personal connections involve corruption and favoritism, as when powerful cadres "go through the back door" to win admission to college or university for their children or to place their relatives or clients in secure, state-sector jobs. In other cases, though, the use of such contacts is absolutely necessary for the survival of enterprises. Most Chinese factories, for example, employ full-time "purchasing agents," whose task is to procure essential supplies that are not available through the cumbersome state allocation system. As the economic reforms of the early 1980s have expanded the scope of market exchanges and the ability of enterprises to make their own decisions on what to produce, the role of brokers and agents of all sorts has expanded. In the countryside, village and township cadres often act as brokers, finding markets for the commodities produced by specialized farming households and tracking down scarce inputs, such as fertilizer or fuel or spare parts for agricultural machinery.

Although the form and operation of guanxi networks clearly has traditional roots, as well as parallels in overseas Chinese societies and in Hong Kong and Taiwan, they are not simply inheritances or holdovers from the traditional past. Personal connections and informal exchanges are a basic part of modern Chinese society, are essential to its regular functioning, and are in many ways a response to the specific political and economic structures of that society. They thrive in the absence of formal, public, and overt means of exchange and may be considered a response to scarcity and to blocked official channels of communication. In modern China, those with the most extensive networks of personal connections are cadres and party members, who have both the opportunity to meet people outside their work units and the power to do favors.


Collectivization and Class Status

The first major action to alter village society was the land reform of the late 1940s and early 1950s, in which the party sent work teams to every village to carry out its land reform policy. This in itself was an unprecedented display of administrative and political power. The land reform had several related goals. The work teams were to redistribute some (though not all) land from the wealthier families or land-owning trusts to the poorest segments of the population and so to effect a more equitable distribution of the basic means of production; to overthrow the village elites, who might be expected to oppose the party and its programs; to recruit new village leaders from among those who demonstrated the most commitment to the party's goals; and to teach everyone to think in terms of class status rather than kinship group or patron-client ties. In pursuit of the last goal, the party work teams convened extensive series of meetings, and they classified all the village families either as landlords, rich peasants, middle peasants, or poor peasants. These labels, based on family landholdings and overall economic position roughly between 1945 and 1950, became a permanent and hereditary part of every family's identity and, as late as 1980, still affected, for example, such things as chances for admission to the armed forces, colleges, universities, and local administrative posts and even marriage prospects.

The collectivization of agriculture was essentially completed with the establishment of the people's communes in 1958. Communes were large, embracing scores of villages. They were intended to be multipurpose organizations, combining economic and local administrative functions. Under the commune system the household remained the basic unit of consumption, and some differences in standards of living remained, although they were not as marked as they had been before land reform. Under such a system, however, upward mobility required becoming a team or commune cadre or obtaining a scarce technical position such as a truck driver's.

<>The Role of the Household
<>Consequences of Rural Reform
<>Regulations and Favors
<>Family and Household
<>Community Structure

China - Decollectivization


Under the collectivized system, grain production kept up with population growth (China's population nearly doubled from 1950 to 1980), and the rural population was guaranteed a secure but low level of subsistence. But the collectivized system seemed to offer few possibilities for rapid economic growth. There was some discontent with a system that relied so heavily on orders from above and made so little allowance for local conditions or local initiative. In the late 1970s, administrators in provincial-level units with extensive regions of low yields and consequent low standards of living began experimenting with new forms of tenure and production. In most cases, these took the form of breaking up the collective production team, contracting with individual households to work assigned portions of collective land, and expanding the variety of crops or livestock that could be produced. The experiments were deemed successful and popular, and they soon spread to all districts. By the winter of 1982-83, the people's communes were abolished; they were replaced by administrative townships and a number of specialized teams or businesses that often leased such collective assets as tractors and provided services for money.

The agricultural reforms of the early 1980s led to a confusingly large number of new production arrangements and contracts. Underlying the variability of administrative and contractual forms were several basic principles and trends. In the first place, land, the fundamental means of production, remained collective property. It was leased, allocated, or contracted to individual households, but the households did not own the land and could not transfer it to other households. The household became, in most cases, the basic economic unit and was responsible for its own production and losses. Most economic activity was arranged through contracts, which typically secured promises to provide a certain amount of a commodity or sum of money to the township government in return for the use of land, or workshops, or tractors.

The goal of the contracting system was to increase efficiency in the use of resources and to tap peasant initiative. The rigid requirement that all villages produce grain was replaced by recognition of the advantages of specialization and exchange, as well as a much greater role for markets. Some "specialized households" devoted themselves entirely to production of cash crops or provision of services and reaped large rewards. The overall picture was one of increasing specialization, differentiation, and exchange in the rural economy and in society in general. Rural incomes increased rapidly, in part because the state substantially increased the prices it paid for staple crops and in part because of economic growth stimulated by the expansion of markets and the rediscovery of comparative advantage.

China - The Role of the Household

Decollectivization increased the options available to individual households and made household heads increasingly responsible for the economic success of their households. In 1987, for example, it was legally possible to leave the village and move into a nearby town to work in a small factory, open a noodle stand, or set up a machine repair business. Farmers, however, still could not legally move into medium-sized or large cities. The Chinese press reported an increased appreciation in the countryside for education and an increased desire for agriculturally oriented newspapers and journals, as well as clearly written manuals on such profitable trades as rabbit-raising and beekeeping. As specialization and division of labor increased, along with increasingly visible differences in income and living standards, it became more difficult to encompass most of the rural population in a few large categories. During the early 1980s, the pace of economic and social change in rural China was rapid, and the people caught up in the change had difficulty making sense of the process.

China - Consequences of Rural Reform

The state retained both its powers and its role in the rural economy in the 1980s. Decollectivization, like the collectivization of the 1950s, was directed from the top down. Sometimes, apparently, it was imposed on communities that had been content with their collective methods. But in permitting households and communities greater leeway to decide what to produce and in allowing the growth of rural markets and small-scale industries, the state stepped back from the close supervision and mandatory quotas of the 1960s and 1970s.

Decollectivization obviated the supervisory functions of lowlevel cadres, who no longer needed to oversee work on the collective fields. Some cadres became full-time administrators in township offices, and others took advantage of the reforms by establishing specialized production households or by leasing collective property at favorable rates. Former cadres, with their networks of connections and familiarity with administrative procedures, were in a better position than ordinary farmers to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the growth of markets and commercial activity. Even those cadres not wholly devoted to increasing their own families' income found that to serve their fellow villagers as expected it was necessary to act as entrepreneurs. Village-level cadres in the mid-1980s were functioning less as overseers and more as extension agents and marketing consultants.

By 1987 rural society was more open and diverse than in the 1960s and 1970s, and the rigid collective units of that period, which had reflected the state's overwhelming concern for security, had been replaced by networks and clusters of smaller units. The new, looser structure demonstrated the priority placed on efficiency and economic growth. Basic security, in the sense of an adequate supply of food and guarantees of support for the disabled, orphaned, or aged, was taken for granted. Less than half of China's population remembered the insecurity and risks of pre-1950 society, but the costs and inefficiencies of the collective system were fresh in their minds. Increased specialization and division of labor were trends not likely to be reversed. In the rural areas the significance of the work unit appeared to have diminished, although people still lived in villages, and the actions of low-level administrative cadres still affected ordinary farmers or petty traders in immediate ways.

The state and its officials still dominated the economy, controlled supplies of essential goods, taxed and regulated businesses and markets, and awarded contracts. The stratification system of the Maoist period had been based on a hierarchy of functionally unspecialized cadres directing the labors of a fairly uniform mass of peasants. It was replaced in the 1980s by a new elite of economically specialized households and entrepreneurs who had managed to come to terms with the administrative cadres who controlled access to many of the resources necessary for economic success. Local cadres still had the power to impose fees, taxes, and all manner of exactions. The norms of the new system were not clear, and the economic and social system continued to change in response to the rapid growth of rural commerce and industry and to national economic policies and reforms.

China - Regulations and Favors

Increased commercial activity produced a high degree of normative ambiguity, especially in areas like central Guangdong and Jiangsu provinces, where rural economic growth was fastest. Neither the proper role of local officials nor the rights and obligations of new entrepreneurs or traders were clear. The line between the normal use of personal contacts and hospitality and extraordinary and criminal favoritism and corruption was ambiguous. There were hints of the development of a system of patron-client ties, in which administrative cadres granted favors to ordinary farmers in return for support, esteem, and an occasional gift. The increased number of corruption cases reported in the Chinese press and the widespread assumption that the decollectivization and rural economic reforms had led to growing corruption probably reflected both the increased opportunities for deals and favors of all sorts and the ambiguous nature of many of the transactions and relationships. The party's repeated calls for improved "socialist spiritual civilization" and the attempts of the central authorities both to create a system of civil law and to foster respect for it can be interpreted as responses to the problem. On the local level, where cadres and entrepreneurs were engaged in constant negotiation on the rules of their game, the problem was presumably being addressed in a more straightforward fashion.

China - Family and Household

In past Chinese society, the family provided every individual's support, livelihood, and long-term security. Today the state guarantees such security to those with no families to provide for them, and families and work units share long-term responsibility for the individual. The role of families has changed, but they remain important, especially in the countryside. Family members are bound, in law and custom, to support their aged or disabled members. The state, acting through work units, provides support and benefits only when families cannot. Households routinely pool income, and any individual's standard of living depends on the number of household wage earners and the number of dependents. In both cities and villages, the highest incomes usually are earned by households with several wage earners, such as unmarried adult sons or daughters.

In late traditional society, family size and structural complexity varied directly with class. Rural landlords and government officials had the largest families, poor peasants the smallest. The poorest segment of the population, landless laborers, could not afford to marry and start families. The need to provide for old age and the general association between the numbers of sons surviving to adulthood and long-term family success motivated individuals to create various nonstandard family forms. Couples who produced no sons, or no children at all, adopted or purchased infants outright. Families with daughters but no sons tried to find men willing to marry their daughters and move into their families, abandoning their original families and sometimes even their original surnames. Families with daughters but no property to attract a son-in-law were sometimes forced to sell their daughters as concubines or prostitutes. The variation in family size and complexity was the result of variation in class position and of the dual role of the household as both family and economic enterprise.

In contemporary society, rural families no longer own land or pass it down to the next generation. They may, however, own and transmit houses. Rural families pay medical expenses and school fees for their children. Under the people's commune system in force from 1958 to 1982, the income of a peasant family depended directly on the number of laborers it contributed to the collective fields. This, combined with concern over the level of support for the aged or disabled provided by the collective unit, encouraged peasants to have many sons. Under the agricultural reforms that began in the late 1970s, households took on an increased and more responsible economic role. The labor of family members is still the primary determinant of income. But rural economic growth and commercialization increasingly have rewarded managerial and technical skills and have made unskilled farm labor less desirable. As long as this economic trend continues in the countryside in the late 1980s, peasant families are likely to opt for fewer but better educated children.

The consequence of the general changes in China's economy and the greater separation of families and economic enterprises has been a greater standardization of family forms since 1950. In 1987 most families approximated the middle peasant (a peasant owning some land) norm of the past. Such a family consisted of five or six people and was based on marriage between an adult son and an adult woman who moved into her husband's family. The variant family forms--either the very large and complex or those based on minor, nonstandard forms of marriage--were much less common. The state had outlawed concubinage, child betrothal, and the sale of infants or females, all of which were formerly practiced, though not common. Increased life expectancy meant that a greater proportion of infants survived to adulthood and that more adults lived into their sixties or seventies. More rural families were able to achieve the traditional goal of a three-generation family in the 1980s. There were fewer orphans and young or middle-aged widows or widowers. Far fewer men were forced to retain lifelong single status. Divorce, although possible, was rare, and families were stable, on-going units.

A number of traditional attitudes toward the family have survived without being questioned. It is taken for granted that everyone should marry, and marriage remains part of the definition of normal adult status. Marriage is expected to be permanent. That marriage requires a woman to move into her husband's family and to become a daughter-in-law as well as a wife is still largely accepted. The norm of patrilineal descent and the assumption that it is sons who bear the primary responsibility for their aged parents remain. The party and government have devoted great effort to controlling the number of births and have attempted to limit the number of children per couple. But the authorities have not attempted to control population growth by suggesting that some people should not marry at all.

In the past, kinship principles were extended beyond the domestic group and were used to form large-scale groups, such as lineages. Lineages were quite distinct from families; they were essentially corporate economic-political groups. They controlled land and, in some areas of China, dominated whole villages and sets of villages and held title to most of the farmland. Like most other late traditional associations, lineages were dominated by wealthy and educated elites. Ordinary peasants paid as much of their crop to their lineage group as they might have to a landlord. The Communists denounced these organizations as feudal systems by means of which landlords exploited others. The lineages were suppressed in the early 1950s and their land confiscated and redistributed in the land reform. Communal worship of distant lineage ancestors lost much of its justification with the dissolution of the lineage estate and was easily suppressed over the next several years. Domestic ancestor worship, in which members of a single family worshiped and memorialized their immediate ancestors, continued at least until 1966 and 1967, in the early stages of the Cultural Revolution, when Red Guards destroyed altars and ancestral tablets. In 1987 the party was still condemning ancestor worship as superstitious but had made little effort to end it.

China - Marriage

The Marriage Law of 1950 guarantees everyone the freedom to choose his or her marriage partner. Nevertheless, especially in the countryside, there are few opportunities to meet potential mates. Rural China offers little privacy for courtship, and in villages there is little public tolerance for flirting or even extended conversation between unmarried men and women. Introductions and gobetweens continue to play a major role in the arrangement of marriages. In most cases each of the young people, and their parents, has an effective veto over any proposed match.

In the past, marriage was seen as the concern of families as well as of the two parties to the match. Families united by marriage were expected to be of equivalent status, or the groom's family to be of somewhat higher status. This aspect of marriage patterns has continued while the definitions of status have changed. Because inherited wealth has been eliminated as a significant factor, evaluation has shifted to estimates of earning power and future prosperity. The most desirable husbands have been administrative cadres, party members, and employees of large state enterprises. Conversely, men from poor villages have had difficulty finding wives. From the early 1950s to the late 1970s, when hereditary class labels were very significant, anyone with a "counterrevolutionary" background, that is, anyone previously identified with the landlord or even rich peasant class, was a bad prospect for marriage. Such pariahs often had no choice but to marry the offspring of other families with "bad" class backgrounds. At the other end of the social scale, there appears to be a high level of intermarriage among the children of high-level cadres.

China - Community Structure

Most rural Chinese live in one of some 900,000 villages, which have an average population of from 1,000 to 2,000 people. Villages have never been self-contained, self-sufficient units, and the social world of Chinese peasants has extended beyond their home villages. Almost all new wives come into a village from other settlements, and daughters marry out. All villagers have close kinship ties with families in other villages, and marriage gobetweens shuttle from village to village.

Before 1950 clusters of villages centered on small market towns that linked them to the wider economy and society. Most peasants were only a few hours' walk or less from a market town, which provided not only opportunities to buy and sell but also opportunities for entertainment, information, social life, and a host of specialized services. The villages around a market formed a social unit that, although less immediately visible than the villages, was equally significant.

From the early 1950s on, China's revolutionary government made great efforts to put the state and its ideology into direct contact with the villages and to sweep aside the intermediaries and brokers who had traditionally interpreted central policies and national values for villagers. The state and the party were generally successful, establishing unprecedented degrees of political and ideological integration of villages into the state and of villagelevel awareness of state policies and political goals.

The unintended consequence of the economic and political policies of the 1950s and 1960s was to increase the closed, corporate quality of China's villages and to narrow the social horizons of villagers. Land reform and the reorganization of villages as subunits of people's communes meant that villages became collective landholding units and had clear boundaries between their lands and those of adjacent villages. Central direction of labor on collective fields made the former practices of swapping labor between villages impossible. The household registration and rationing systems confined villagers to their home settlements and made it impossible for them to seek their fortune elsewhere. Cooperation with fellow villagers and good relations with village leaders became even more important than they had been in the past. The suppression of rural markets, which accompanied the drive for self-sufficiency in grain production and other economic activities, had severe social as well as economic consequences. Most peasants had neither reason nor opportunity for regular trips to town, and their opportunities for exchange and cooperation with residents of other villages were diminished. Villages became work units, with all that that implied.

Decollectivization in the early 1980s resulted in the revival of rural marketing, and a limited relaxation of controls on outmigration opened villages and diminished the social boundaries around them. The social world of peasants expanded, and the larger marketing community took on more significance as that of the village proper was diminished. Village membership, once the single most important determinant of an individual's circumstances, became only one of a number of significant factors, which also included occupation, personal connections, and managerial talent.


There is considerable confusion in both Chinese and foreign sources over definitions of urban places and hence considerable variation in estimates of China's urban population. The problem of determining the size of the urban population reflects inconsistent and changing administrative categories; the distinction between rural and urban household registry and between categories of settlements; the practice of placing suburban or rural districts under the administration of municipal governments; and the differences in the status accorded to small towns. In sociological terms, urban refers to an area characterized by a relatively high degree of specialization in occupational roles, many special-purpose institutions, and uniform treatment of people in impersonal settings. In this sense, a Chinese market town is more urban than a village, and settlements become more urban as they grow in size and economic complexity. Special municipalities like Beijing and Shanghai have the highest degree of division of labor and the most specialized institutions.

Distinctive Features

Legal status as an urban dweller in China is prized. As a result of various state policies and practices, contemporary Chinese urban society has a distinctive character, and life in Chinese cities differs in many ways from that in cities in otherwise comparable developing societies. The most consequential policies have been the household registration system, the legal barriers to migration, the fostering of the allembracing work unit, and the restriction of commerce and markets, including the housing market. In many ways, the weight of official control and supervision is felt more in the cities, whose administrators are concerned with controlling the population and do so through a dual administrative hierarchy. The two principles on which these control structures are based are locality and occupation. Household registers are maintained by the police, whose presence is much stronger in the cities than in the countryside. Cities are subdivided into districts, wards, and finally into small units of some fifteen to thirty households, such as all those in one apartment building or on a small lane. For those employed in large organizations, the work unit either is coterminous with the residential unit or takes precedence over it; for those employed in small collective enterprises or neighborhood shops, the residential committee is their unit of registration and provides a range of services.

The control of housing by work units and local governments and the absence of a housing market have led to a high degree of residential stability. Most urban residents have spent decades in the same house or apartment. For this reason, urban neighborhoods are closely knit, which in turn contributes to the generally low level of crime in Chinese cities.

Since the early 1950s, the party leadership has consistently made rapid industrialization a primary goal and, to this end, has generally favored investment in heavy industry over consumption. For cities, these policies have meant an expansion of factories and industrial employment, along with a very low level of spending in such "nonproductive" areas as housing or urban transit systems. The emphasis on production, and heavy industry and the discouragement of consumption and exchange, along with state takeovers of commerce and the service sector, led to cities having many factories but no peddlers, snack stalls, or entertainment districts. In the 1950s and early 1960s, major efforts were made to bring women into the paid labor force. This served the goals of increasing production and achieving sexual equality through equal participation in productive labor, a classic Marxist remedy for sexual inequality. By 1987 almost all young and middle-aged women in the cities worked outside the home.

Chinese cities, in contrast to those in many developing countries, contain a high proportion of workers in factories and offices and a low proportion of workers in the service sector. Workers enjoy a high level of job security but receive low wages. Between 1963 and 1977 most wages were frozen, and promotions and raises were very rare. Even with the restoration of material incentives in the late 1970s, two general wage raises in the 1980s, and increased opportunities for bonuses and promotions, wages remained low and increased primarily with seniority. As in most parts of the world, one reason that so many Chinese urban women are in the work force is that one income is not enough to support a family.

In the 1980s it was possible to purchase such consumer durables as television sets and bicycles on the market, but housing remained scarce and subject to allocation by work units or municipal housing bureaus. Although housing was poor and crowded, Chinese neighborhoods had improved greatly over the slum conditions that existed before 1950. Most people were gainfully employed at secure if low-paying jobs; the municipal government provided a minimal level of services and utilities (water and sanitation); the streets were fairly clean and orderly; and the crime rate was low.

<>Families and Marriage
<>Providing for the Next Generation
<>Opportunities and Competition
<>Examinations, Hereditary Transmission of Jobs, and Connections

China - Housing

Chinese urban dwellers, as a category, receive subsidies on food, housing, and transportation services. In the 1980s such subsidies came to occupy an increasingly large share of the state budget. Even with subsidies, food purchases took the largest share of household budgets. Rents, in contrast, were very low, seldom taking more than 5 percent of household income even with water and electricity charges included. Little new housing was built between 1950 and 1980, and although more urban housing was erected between 1980 and 1985 than in the previous thirty years, housing remained in short supply. Entire families often lived in one room and shared cooking and toilet facilities with other families. Marriages were sometimes delayed until housing became available from the municipal office or the work unit. Young people were expected to live with their parents at least until marriage. This was consonant with traditional family patterns but was also reinforced by the shortage of housing. The pattern of long-term residential stability and great pressure on the stock of available housing meant that city neighborhoods were less stratified by occupation or income than those of many other countries. Not only were incomes more egalitarian to begin with, but more money could not buy a bigger or better equipped apartment. Managers and technical specialists lived under much the same conditions as manual workers, often in the same buildings. While many urban families enjoyed higher real incomes in the 1980s, they usually could not translate those incomes into better housing, as peasants could.

The combination of full adult employment with a minimal service sector put heavy burdens on urban households. By the 1980s both the public and the government recognized the burdens on urban households and the associated drain on the energies of workers, managers, and professionals. After 1985 more money was budgeted for housing and such municipal services as piped-in cooking gas. But state encouragement of the private or collective service sector had greater effect. Unemployed urban youth were permitted and sometimes advised to set up small restaurants or service establishments. Peasants were permitted to come into cities to sell produce or local products. Municipal authorities seemed to ignore the movement of substantial numbers of rural people into the urban service sector as peddlers, carpenters, and other skilled workers or, occasionally, as domestic workers. In the mid-1980s the Chinese press reported an influx of teenage girls from the country seeking short-term work as housekeepers or nannies. Like other rural migrants, they usually used ties with relatives or fellow villagers resident in the city to find positions.

China - Families and Marriage

Urban families differ from their rural counterparts primarily in being composed largely of wage earners who look to their work units for the housing, old-age security, and opportunities for a better life that in the countryside are still the responsibility of the family. With the exception of those employed in the recently revived urban service sector (restaurants, tailoring, or repair shops) who sometimes operate family businesses, urban families do not combine family and enterprise in the manner of peasant families. Urban families usually have multiple wage earners, but children do not bring in extra income or wages as readily as in the countryside. Urban families are generally smaller than their rural counterparts, and, in a reversal of traditional patterns, it is the highest level managers and cadres who have the smallest families. Late marriages and one or two children are characteristic of urban managerial and professional groups. As in the past, elite family forms are being promoted as the model for everyone.

Three-generation families are not uncommon in cities, and a healthy grandparent is probably the ideal solution to the childcare and housework problems of most families. About as many young children are cared for by a grandparent as are enrolled in a workunit nursery or kindergarten, institutions that are far from universal. Decisions on where a newly married couple is to live often depend on the availability of housing. Couples most often establish their own household, frequently move in with the husband's parents, or, much less often, may move in with the wife's parents. Both the state and the society expect children to look after their aged parents. In addition, a retired worker from a state enterprise will have a pension and often a relatively desirable apartment as well. Under these circumstances elderly people are assets to a family. Those urban families employing unregistered maids from the countryside are most likely those without healthy grandparents.

Families play less of a role in marriage choices in cities than in the countryside, at least in part because the family itself is not the unit promising long-term security and benefits to its members. By the late 1970s, perhaps half of all urban marriages were the result of introductions by workmates, relatives, or parents. The marriage age in cities has been later than that in the countryside, which reflects greater compliance with state rules and guidelines as well as social and economic factors common to many other countries. People in cities and those with secondary and postsecondary education or professional jobs tend to marry later than farmers. In China it is felt that marriage is appropriate only for those who have jobs and thus are in a position to be full members of society. Peasant youth, who have an automatic claim on a share of the collective fields and the family house, qualify, but college students or urban youths who are "waiting for assignment" to a lifetime job do not. In any case, work-unit approval is necessary for marriage.

Urban weddings are usually smaller and more subdued than their rural counterparts, which reflects the diminished role of the families in the process. More guests will be workmates or friends of the bride and groom than distant kin or associates of the parents. The wedding ceremony focuses on the bride and groom as a couple rather than on their status as members of families. Similarly, a brief honeymoon trip rather than a three-day celebration in which the entire village plays a part is an increasingly common practice. Long engagements are common in cities, sometimes because the couple is waiting for housing to become available.

China - Providing for the Next Generation

Although Chinese families continue to be marked by respect for parents and a substantial degree of filial subordination, parents have weighty obligations toward their children as well. Children are obliged to support parents in their old age, and parents are obliged to give their children as favorable a place in the world as they can. In the past this meant leaving them property and providing the best education or training possible. For most rural parents today the choice of a career for their children is not a major issue. Most children of peasants will be peasants like their parents, and the highest realistic ambition is a position as a lowlevel cadre or teacher or perhaps a technician. The primary determinant of a rural child's status and well-being remains his or her family, which is one reason for the intense concern with the marriage choices of sons and daughters and for the greater degree of parental involvement in those decisions.

Urban parents are less concerned with whom their children marry but are more concerned with their education and eventual careers. Urban parents can expect to leave their children very little in the way of property, but they do their best to prepare them for secure and desirable jobs in the state sector. The difficulty is that such jobs are limited, competition is intense, and the criteria for entry have changed radically several times since the early 1950s. Many of the dynamics of urban society revolve around the issue of job allocation and the attempts of parents in the better-off segments of society to transmit their favored position to their children. The allocation of scarce and desirable goods, in this case jobs, is a political issue and one that has been endemic since the late 1950s. These questions lie behind the changes in educational policy, the attempts in the 1960s and 1970s to settle urban youth in the countryside, the upheaval of the Cultural Revolution, and the post-1980 encouragement of small-scale private and collective commerce and service occupations in the cities. All are attempts to solve the problem, and each attempt has its own costs and drawbacks.

China - Opportunities and Competition

Cities, by definition, are places with a high degree of occupational specialization and division of labor. They are places offering their inhabitants a range of occupational choice and also, to the degree that some occupations are seen as better than others, competition for the better occupations. Cities also provide the training for specialized occupations, either in schools or on the job.

In China there is a cultural pattern stressing individual achievement and upward mobility. These are best attained through formal education and are bound up with the mutual expectations and obligations of parents and children. There is also a social structure in which a single, bureaucratic framework defines desirable positions, that is, managerial or professional jobs in the state sector or secure jobs in state factories. Banned migration, lifetime employment, egalitarian wage structures, and the insular nature of work units were intended by the state, at least in part, to curtail individual competition. Nevertheless, some jobs are still seen as preferable to others, and it is urbanites and their children who have the greatest opportunities to compete for scarce jobs. The question for most families is how individuals are selected and allocated to those positions. The lifetime tenure of most jobs and the firm control of job allocation by the party make these central issues for parents in the favored groups and for local authorities and party organizations.

Between the early 1950s and mid-1980s, policies on recruitment of personnel and their allocation to desirable jobs changed several times. As the costs and drawbacks of each method became apparent, pressure mounted to change the policy. In the early and mid-1950s, the problem was not acute. State offices were expanding rapidly, and there were more positions than people qualified to fill them. Peasants moved into cities and found employment in the expanding industrial sector. Most of those who staffed the new bureaucratic sectors were young and would not begin to retire until the 1980s and 1990s. Those who graduated from secondary schools or universities, however, or were discharged from the armed forces in the late 1950s and early 1960s found few jobs of the sort they were qualified for or had expected to hold.

Attempts to manage the competition for secure jobs were among the many causes of the radical, utopian policies of the period from 1962 to 1976. Among these, the administrative barriers erected between cities and countryside and the confinement of peasants and their children to their villages served to diminish competition and perhaps to lower unrealistic expectations. Wage freezes and the rationing of both staples and scarce consumer goods in cities attempted to diminish stratification and hence competition. The focusing of attention on the sufferings and egalitarian communal traditions of the past, which was so prominent in Maoist rhetoric and replaced the future orientation of the 1950s, in part diverted attention from frustrations with the present. Tensions were most acute within the education system, which served, as it does in most societies, to sort children and select those who would go on to managerial and professional jobs. It was for this reason that the Cultural Revolution focused so negatively on the education system. Because of the rising competition in the schools and for the jobs to which schooling could lead, it became increasingly evident that those who did best in school were the children of the "bourgeoisie" and urban professional groups rather than the children of workers and peasants.

Cultural Revolution-era policies responded with public deprecation of schooling and expertise, including closing of all schools for a year or more and of universities for nearly a decade, exaltation of on-the-job training and of political motivation over expertise, and preferential treatment for workers and peasant youth. Educated urban youth, most of whom came from "bourgeois" families, were persuaded or coerced to settle in the countryside, often in remote frontier districts. Because there were no jobs in the cities, the party expected urban youth to apply their education in the countryside as primary school teachers, production team accountants, or barefoot doctors; many did manual labor. The policy was intensely unpopular, not only with urban parents and youth but also with peasants and was dropped soon after the fall of the Gang of Four in late 1976. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, many of the youth who had been sent down to the countryside managed to make their way back to the cities, where they had neither jobs nor ration books. By the mid1980s most of them had found jobs in the newly expanded service sector.

In terms of creating jobs and mollifying urban parents, the 1980s policies on urban employment have been quite successful. The jobs in many cases are not the sort that educated young people or their parents would choose, but they are considerably better than a lifelong assignment to remote frontier areas.

The Maoist policies on education and job assignment were successful in preventing a great many urban "bourgeois" parents from passing their favored social status on to their children. This reform, however, came at great cost to the economy and to the prestige and authority of the party itself.

China - Examinations, Hereditary Transmission of Jobs, and Connections

Beginning in the late 1970s, China's leaders stressed expertise and education over motivation and ideology and consequently placed emphasis again on examinations. Competition in the schools was explicit, and examinations were frequent. A major step in the competition for desirable jobs was the passage from senior middle school to college and university, and success was determined by performance on a nationwide college and university entrance examination. Examinations also were used to select applicants for jobs in factories, and even factory managers had to pass examinations to keep their positions. The content of these examinations has not been made public, but their use represents a logical response to the problem of unfair competition, favoritism, and corruption.

One extreme form of selection by favoritism in the 1980s was simple hereditary transmission, and this principle, which operated on a de facto basis in rural work units, seems to have been fairly widely used in China's industrial sector. From the 1960s to the 1980s, factories and mines in many cases permitted children to replace their parents in jobs, which simplified recruitment and was an effective way of encouraging aging workers to retire. The government forbade this practice in the 1980s, but in some instances state-run factories and mines, especially those located in rural or remote areas, used their resources to set up subsidiaries or sideline enterprises to provide employment for their workers' children. The leaders of these work units evidently felt responsible for providing employment to the children of unit members.

The party and its role in personnel matters, including job assignments, can be an obstacle to the consistent application of hiring standards. At the grass-roots level, the party branch's control of job assignments and promotions is one of the foundations of its power, and some local party cadres in the mid-1980s apparently viewed the expanded use of examinations and educational qualifications as a threat to their power. The party, acting through local employment commissions, controlled all job assignments. Party members occupied the most powerful and desirable positions; the way party members were evaluated and selected for positions remained obscure. Local party cadres were frequently suspected by the authorities of using their connections to secure jobs for their relatives or clients.

China - WOMEN

Traditional Chinese society was male-centered. Sons were preferred to daughters, and women were expected to be subordinate to fathers, husbands, and sons. A young woman had little voice in the decision on her marriage partner (neither did a young man). When married, it was she who left her natal family and community and went to live in a family and community of strangers where she was subordinate to her mother-in-law. Far fewer women were educated than men, and sketchy but consistent demographic evidence would seem to show that female infants and children had higher death rates and less chance of surviving to adulthood than males. In extreme cases, female infants were the victims of infanticide, and daughters were sold, as chattels, to brothels or to wealthy families. Bound feet, which were customary even for peasant women, symbolized the painful constraints of the female role.

Protests and concerted efforts to alter women's place in society began in China's coastal cities in the early years of the twentieth century. By the 1920s formal acceptance of female equality was common among urban intellectuals. Increasing numbers of girls attended schools, and young secondary school and college students approved of marriages based on free choice. Footbinding declined rapidly in the second decade of the century, the object of a nationwide campaign led by intellectuals who associated it with national backwardness.

Nevertheless, while party leaders condemned the oppression and subordination of women as one more aspect of the traditional society they were intent on changing, they did not accord feminist issues very high priority. In the villages, party members were interested in winning the loyalty and cooperation of poor and lower-middle-class male peasants, who could be expected to resist public criticism of their treatment of their wives and daughters. Many party members were poor and lower-middle-class peasants from the interior, and their attitudes toward women reflected their background. The party saw the liberation of women as depending, in a standard Marxist way, on their participation in the labor force outside the household.

The position of women in contemporary society has changed from the past, and public verbal assent to propositions about the equality of the sexes and of sons and daughters seems universal. Women attend schools and universities, serve in the People's Liberation Army, and join the party. Almost all urban women and the majority of rural women work outside the home. But women remain disadvantaged in many ways, economic and social, and there seems no prospect for substantive change.

The greatest change in women's status has been their movement into the paid labor force. The jobs they held in the 1980s, though, were generally lower paying and less desirable than those of men. Industries staffed largely by women, such as the textiles industry, paid lower wages than those staffed by men, such as the steel or mining industries. Women were disproportionately represented in collective enterprises, which paid lower wages and offered fewer benefits than state-owned industries. In the countryside, the work of males was consistently better rewarded than that of women, and most skilled and desirable jobs, such as driving trucks or repairing machines, were held by men. In addition, Chinese women suffered the familiar double burden of full-time wage work and most of the household chores as well.

As there come to be both more opportunities and more explicit competition for them in both city and countryside, there are some hints of women's being excluded from the competition. In the countryside, a disproportionate number of girls drop out of primary school because parents do not see the point of educating a daughter who will marry and leave the family and because they need her labor in the home. There are fewer female students in key rural and urban secondary schools and universities. As economic growth in rural areas generates new and potentially lucrative jobs, there is a tendency in at least some areas for women to be relegated to agricultural labor, which is poorly rewarded. There have been reports in the Chinese press of outright discrimination against women in hiring for urban jobs and of enterprises requiring female applicants to score higher than males on examinations for hiring.

On the whole, in the 1980s women were better off than their counterparts 50 or a 100 years before, and they had full legal equality with men. In practice, their opportunities and rewards were not entirely equal, and they tended to get less desirable jobs and to retain the burden of domestic chores in addition to fulltime jobs.


Traditionally, China's Confucian elite disparaged religion and religious practitioners, and the state suppressed or controlled organized religious groups. The social status of Buddhist monks and Taoist priests was low, and ordinary people did not generally look up to them as models. In the past, religion was diffused throughout the society, a matter as much of practice as of belief, and had a weak institutional structure. Essentially the same pattern continues in contemporary society, except that the ruling elite is even less religious and there are even fewer religious practitioners.

The attitude of the party has been that religion is a relic of the past, evidence of prescientific thinking, and something that will fade away as people become educated and acquire a scientific view of the world. On the whole, religion has not been a major issue. Cadres and party members, in ways very similar to those of Confucian elites, tend to regard many religious practitioners as charlatans out to take advantage of credulous people, who need protection. In the 1950s many Buddhist monks were returned to secular life, and monasteries and temples lost their lands in the land reform. Foreign missionaries were expelled, often after being accused of spying, and Chinese Christians, who made up only a very small proportion of the population, were the objects of suspicion because of their foreign contacts. Chinese Christian organizations were established, one for Protestants and one for Roman Catholics, which stressed that their members were loyal to the state and party. Seminaries were established to train "patriotic" Chinese clergy, and the Chinese Catholic Church rejected the authority of the Vatican, ordaining its own priests and installing its own bishops. The issue in all cases, whether involving Christians, Buddhists, or members of underground Chinese sects, was not so much doctrine or theology as recognition of the primacy of loyalty to the state and party. Folk religion was dismissed as superstition. Temples were for the most part converted to other uses, and public celebration of communal festivals stopped, but the state did not put much energy into suppressing folk religion.

During the early stages of the Cultural Revolution, in 1966 and 1967, Red Guards destroyed temples, statues, and domestic ancestral tablets as part of their violent assault on the "four olds" (old ideas, culture, customs, and habits). Public observances of ritual essentially halted during the Cultural Revolution decade. After 1978, the year marking the return to power of the Deng Xiaoping reformers, the party and state were more tolerant of the public expression of religion as long as it remained within carefully defined limits. Some showcase temples were restored and opened as historical sites, and some Buddhist and even Taoist practitioners were permitted to wear their robes, train a few successors, and perform rituals in the reopened temples. These actions on the part of the state can be interpreted as a confident regime's recognition of China's traditional past, in the same way that the shrine at the home of Confucius in Shandong Province has been refurbished and opened to the public. Confucian and Buddhist doctrines are not seen as a threat, and the motive is primarily one of nationalistic identification with China's past civilization.

Similar tolerance and even mild encouragement is accorded to Chinese Christians, whose churches were reopened starting in the late 1970s. As of 1987 missionaries were not permitted in China, and some Chinese Catholic clergy were imprisoned for refusing to recognize the authority of China's "patriotic" Catholic Church and its bishops.

The most important result of state toleration of religion has been improved relations with China's Islamic and Tibetan Buddhist minority populations. State patronage of Islam and Buddhism also plays a part in China's foreign relations. Much of traditional ritual and religion survives or has been revived, especially in the countryside. In the mid-1980s the official press condemned such activities as wasteful and reminded rural party members that they should neither participate in nor lead such events, but it did not make the subject a major issue. Families could worship their ancestors or traditional gods in the privacy of their homes but had to make all ritual paraphernalia (incense sticks, ancestral tablets, and so forth) themselves, as it was no longer sold in shops. The scale of public celebrations was muted, and full-time professional clergy played no role. Folk religious festivals were revived in some localities, and there was occasional rebuilding of temples and ancestral halls. In rural areas, funerals were the ritual having the least change, although observances were carried out only by family members and kin, with no professional clergy in attendance. Such modest, mostly household-based folk religious activity was largely irrelevant to the concerns of the authorities, who ignored or tolerated it.


By the mid-1980s the pace of social change in China was increasing, and, more than in any decade since the 1950s, fundamental changes in the structure of society seemed possible. The ultimate direction of social changes remained unclear, but social trends and tensions that could generate social change were evident. These trends were toward greater specialization and division of labor and toward new, more open and loosely structured forms of association. The uniform pattern of organization of work units in agriculture, industry, public administration, and the military was beginning to shift to an organization structured to reflect its purpose. Education and technical qualification were becoming more significant for attaining high status in villages, industries, the government, or the armed forces. Opportunities for desirable jobs remained limited, however, and competition for those jobs or for housing, urban residence, or college admission was keen.

The primary tension in Chinese society resulted from the value political leaders and ordinary citizens placed on both the social values of security and equality and the goals of economic growth and modernization. China remained a society in which all desired goods were in short supply, from arable land to secure nonmanual jobs, to a seat on a city bus. Crowding was normal and pervasive. Competition and open social strife were restrained by the public belief that scarce goods were being distributed as equitably as possible and that no individual or group was being deprived of livelihood or a fair share. In the mid-1980s Chinese authorities feared that social disorder might result from popular discontent over price increases or the conspicuous wealth of small segments of the population, such as free-market traders. The press frequently condemned the expressions of jealousy and envy that some people directed at those who were prospering by taking advantage of the opportunities the reformed economy offered. The rise in living standards in the 1980s may have contributed to rising expectations that could not be met without considerably more economic growth.

The tension between security and economic growth was reflected in the people's attitudes toward the work unit and the degree of control it exercised over their lives. There was no apparent reason why even a socialist, planned economy had to organize its work force into closed, insular, and sometimes nearly hereditary units. People generally liked the security and benefits provided by their units but disliked many other aspects of "unit life," such as the prohibition on changing jobs. Limited surveys in cities indicated that most people were assigned to work units arbitrarily, without regard to their wishes or skills, and felt little loyalty toward or identification with their work units. People adapted to unit life but reserved loyalties for their families at the one extreme and for the nation and "the people" at the other.

Rural reforms had essentially abolished the work unit in the countryside, along with its close control over people's activities. State and party control over the rural economy and society persisted, but individuals were accorded more autonomy, and most rural people seemed to welcome the end of production teams and production brigades. The success of these rural reforms made modification or even abolition of work units in the urban and state sectors a possibility.

By the mid-1980s the Chinese press and academic journals were discussing recruitment and movement of employees among work units. Although the discussion initially focused on scientists and technicians, whose talents were often wasted in units where they could not make full use of them, the questions raised were of general import. Such blocked mobility was recognized by China's leadership as an impediment to economic growth, and a "rational" flow of labor was listed as a goal for reform of the economy and the science and technology system. But few concrete steps had been taken to promote labor mobility, although government resolutions granted scientists and technicians the right to transfer to another unit, subject to the approval of their original work unit. The issue was politically sensitive, as it touched on the powers and perquisites of the party and of managers. Managers often refused permission to leave the unit, even to those scientists and engineers who had the formal right to apply for a transfer.

Similarly, foreign-funded joint ventures, on which China's government placed its hopes for technology transfer, found it impossible to hire the engineers and technicians they needed for high-technology work. There may have been personnel at other enterprises in the same city eager to work for the new firm, but there was no way to transfer them. In 1986 the State Council, in a move that had little immediate effect but considerable potential, decreed that henceforth state enterprises would hire people on contracts good for only a few years and that these contract employees would be free to seek other jobs when their contracts expired. The contract system did not apply, as of late 1986, to workers already employed in state enterprises, but it did indicate the direction in which at least some leaders wished to go.

The fundamental issues of scarcity, equity, and opportunity lay behind problems of balance and exchange among work units, among the larger systems of units such as those under one industry ministry, or between city and country. One of the major goals of the economic reform program in the mid-1980s was to break down barriers to the exchange of information, personnel, and goods and services that separated units, industrial systems, and geographic regions. National-level leaders decried the waste of scarce resources inherent in the attempts of industries or administrative divisions to be self-sufficient in as many areas as possible, in their duplication of research and production, and in their tendencies to hoard raw materials and skilled workers. Attempts to break down administrative barriers (such as bans on the sale of industrial products from other administrative divisions or the refusal of municipal authorities to permit factories subordinate to national ministries to collaborate with those subordinate to the municipality) were often frustrated by the efforts of those organizations that perceived themselves as advantageously placed to maintain the barriers and their unduly large share of the limited goods. Economic growth and development, which accelerated in the 1980s, was giving rise to an increasingly differentiated economic and occupational structure, within which some individuals and enterprises succeeded quite well.

Economic reforms in rural areas generated a great income spread among households, and some geographically favored areas, such as central Guangdong and southern Jiangsu provinces, experienced more rapid economic growth than the interior or mountainous areas. The official position was that while some households were getting rich first, no one was worse off and that the economy as a whole was growing. Press commentary, however, indicated a fairly high level of official concern over public perceptions of growing inequality. The problem confronting China's leaders was to promote economic growth while retaining public confidence in society's fundamental equity and fair allocation of burdens and rewards.

The major question was whether the basic pattern of Chinese society, a cellular structure of equivalent units coordinated by the ruling party, would continue with modifications, or whether its costs were such that it would be replaced by a different and less uniform system. In the late 1980s, either alternative seemed possible. The outcome would depend on both political forces and economic pressures. In either case, balancing individual security with opportunity would remain the fundamental task of those who direct Chinese society.

China - Education and Culture

SINCE THE REPUDIATION of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), the development of the education system in China has been geared particularly to the advancement of economic modernization. Among the notable official efforts to improve the system were a 1984 decision to formulate major laws on education in the next several years and a 1985 plan to reform the education system. In unveiling the education reform plan in May 1985, the authorities called for nine years of compulsory education and the establishment of the State Education Commission (created the following month). Official commitment to improved education was nowhere more evident than in the substantial increase in funds for education in the Seventh Five-Year Plan (1986-90), which amounted to 72 percent more than funds allotted to education in the previous plan period (1981-85). In 1986 some 16.8 percent of the state budget was earmarked for education, compared with 10.4 percent in 1984. Since 1949, education has been a focus of controversy in China. As a result of continual intraparty realignments, official policy alternated between ideological imperatives and practical efforts to further national development. But ideology and pragmatism often have been incompatible. The Great Leap Forward (1958-60) and the Socialist Education Movement (1962-65) sought to end deeply rooted academic elitism, to narrow social and cultural gaps between workers and peasants and between urban and rural populations, and to "rectify" the tendency of scholars and intellectuals disdain manual labor. During the Cultural Revolution, universal education in the interest of fostering social equality was an overriding priority.

The post-Mao Zedong Chinese Communist Party leadership viewed education as the foundation of the Four Modernizations. In the early 1980s, science and technology education became an important focus of education policy. By 1986 training skilled personnel and expanding scientific and technical knowledge had been assigned the highest priority. Although the humanities were considered important, vocational and technical skills were considered paramount for meeting China's modernization goals. The reorientation of educational priorities paralleled Deng Xiaoping's strategy for economic development. Emphasis also was placed on the further training of the already-educated elite, who would carry on the modernization program in the coming decades. Renewed emphasis on modern science and technology, coupled with the recognition of the relative scientific superiority of the West, led to the adoption, beginning in 1976, of an outward-looking policy that encouraged learning and borrowing from abroad for advanced training in a wide range of scientific fields.

Beginning at the Third Plenum of the Eleventh National Party Congress Central Committee in December 1978, intellectuals were encouraged to pursue research in support of the Four Modernizations and, as long as they complied with the party's "four cardinal principles"--upholding socialism, the dictatorship of the proletariat, the leadership of the party, and Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought--they were given relatively free rein. But when the party and the government determined that the strictures of the four cardinal principles had been stretched beyond tolerable limits, they did not hesitate to restrict intellectual expression.

Literature and the arts also experienced a great revival in the late 1970s and 1980s. Traditional forms flourished once again, and many new kinds of literature and cultural expression were introduced from abroad.


During the Cultural Revolution, higher education in particular suffered tremendous losses; the system was shut down, and a rising generation of college and graduate students, academicians and technicians, professionals and teachers, was lost. The result was a lack of trained talent to meet the needs of society, an irrationally structured higher education system unequal to the needs of the economic and technological boom, and an uneven development in secondary technical and vocational education. In the post-Mao period, China's education policy continued to evolve. The pragmatist leadership, under Deng Xiaoping, recognized that to meet the goals of modernization it was necessary to develop science, technology, and intellectual resources and to raise the population's education level. Demands on education--for new technology, information science, and advanced management expertise--were levied as a result of the reform of the economic structure and the emergence of new economic forms. In particular, China needed an educated labor force to feed and provision its 1- billion-plus population.

By 1980 achievement was once again accepted as the basis for admission and promotion in education. This fundamental change reflected the critical role of scientific and technical knowledge and professional skills in the Four Modernizations. Also, political activism was no longer regarded as an important measure of individual performance, and even the development of commonly approved political attitudes and political background was secondary to achievement. Education policy promoted expanded enrollments, with the long-term objective of achieving universal primary and secondary education. This policy contrasted with the previous one, which touted increased enrollments for egalitarian reasons. In 1985 the commitment to modernization was reinforced by plans for nine-year compulsory education and for providing good quality higher education.

Deng Xiaoping's far-ranging educational reform policy, which involved all levels of the education system, aimed to narrow the gap between China and other developing countries. Modernizing China was tied to modernizing education. Devolution of educational management from the central to the local level was the means chosen to improve the education system. Centralized authority was not abandoned, however, as evidenced by the creation of the State Education Commission. Academically, the goals of reform were to enhance and universalize elementary and junior middle school education; to increase the number of schools and qualified teachers; and to develop vocational and technical education. A uniform standard for curricula, textbooks, examinations, and teacher qualifications (especially at the middle-school level) was established, and considerable autonomy and variations in and among the autonomous regions, provinces, and special municipalities were allowed. Further, the system of enrollment and job assignment in higher education was changed, and excessive government control over colleges and universities was reduced.


To provide for its population, China has a vast and varied school system. There are preschools, kindergartens, schools for the deaf and blind, key schools (similar to college preparatory schools), primary schools, secondary schools (comprising junior and senior middle schools, secondary agricultural and vocational schools, regular secondary schools, secondary teachers' schools, secondary technical schools, and secondary professional schools), and various institutions of higher learning (consisting of regular colleges and universities, professional colleges, and short-term vocational universities). In terms of access to education, China's system represented a pyramid; because of the scarcity of resources allotted to higher education, student numbers decreased sharply at the higher levels. Although there were dramatic advances in primary education after 1949, achievements in secondary and higher education were not as great.

Although the government has authority over the education system, the Chinese Communist Party has played a role in managing education since 1949. The party established broad education policies and under Deng Xiaoping, tied improvements in the quality of education to its modernization plan. The party also monitored the government's implementation of its policies at the local level and within educational institutions through its party committees. Party members within educational institutions, who often have a leading management role, are responsible for steering their schools in the direction mandated by party policy.

New Directions

The May 1985 National Conference on Education recognized five fundamental areas for reform to be discussed in connection with implementing the party Central Committee's "Draft Decision on Reforming the Education System." The reforms were intended to produce "more able people"; to make the localities responsible for developing "basic education" and systematically implement a nine-year compulsory education program; to improve secondary education develop vocational and technical education; to reform and the graduate-assignment system of institutions of higher education and to expand their management and decision-making powers; and to give administrators the necessary encouragement and authority to ensure smooth progress in educational reform.

The National Conference on Education paved the way for the abolition of the Ministry of Education and the establishment of the State Education Commission, both of which occurred in June 1985. Created to coordinate education policy, the commission assumed roles previously played by the State Planning Commission and the Ministry of Education. As a State Council commission, the new State Education Commission had greater status than the old Ministry of Education had had and was in charge of all education organizations except military ones. Although the State Education Commission assumed a central role in the administration of education, the reform decentralized much of the power previously wielded by the Ministry of Education and its constituent offices and bureaus, which had established curriculum and admissions policies in response to the State Planning Commission's requirements.

The State Education Commission, with its expanded administrative scope and power, was responsible for formulating guiding principles for education, establishing regulations, planning the progress of educational projects, coordinating the educational programs of different departments, and standardization educational reforms. Simplification of administration and delegation of authority were made the bases for improving the education system. This devolution of management to the autonomous regions, provinces, and special municipalities meant local governments had more decision-making power and were able to develop basic education. State-owned enterprises, mass organizations, and individuals were encouraged to pool funds to accomplish education reform. Local authorities used state appropriations and a percentage of local reserve financial resources (basically township financial revenues) to finance educational projects.

Compulsory Education Law

The Law on Nine-Year Compulsory Education, which took effect July 1, 1986, established requirements and deadlines for attaining universal education tailored to local conditions and guaranteed school-age children the right to receive education. People's congresses at various local levels were, within certain guidelines and according to local conditions, to decide the steps, methods, and deadlines for implementing nine-year compulsory education in accordance with the guidelines formulated by the central authorities. The program sought to bring rural areas, which had four to six years of compulsory schooling, into line with their urban counterparts. Education departments were exhorted to train millions of skilled workers for all trades and professions and to offer guidelines, curricula, and methods to comply with the reform program and modernization needs.

Provincial-level authorities were to develop plans, enact decrees and rules, distribute funds to counties, and administer directly a few key secondary schools. County authorities were to distribute funds to each township government, which were to make up any deficiencies. County authorities were to supervise education and teaching and to manage their own senior middle schools, teachers' schools, teachers' in-service training schools, agricultural vocational schools, and exemplary primary and junior middle schools. The remaining schools were to be managed separately by the county and township authorities.

The compulsory education law divided China into three categories: cities and economically developed areas in coastal provinces and a small number of developed areas in the hinterland; towns and villages with medium development; and economically backward areas. By November 1985 the first category--the larger cities and approximately 20 percent of the counties (mainly in the more developed coastal and southeastern areas of China) had achieved universal 9-year education. By 1990 cities, economically developed areas in coastal provincial-level units, and a small number of developed interior areas (approximately 25 percent of China's population) and areas where junior middle schools were already popularized were targeted to have universal junior-middle- school education. Education planners envisioned that by the mid-1990s all workers and staff in coastal areas, inland cities, and moderately developed areas (with a combined population of 300 million to 400 million people) would have either compulsory 9-year or vocational education and that 5 percent of the people in these areas would have a college education--building a solid intellectual foundation for China. Further, the planners expected that secondary education and university entrants would also increase by the year 2000.

The second category targeted under the 9-year compulsory education law consisted of towns and villages with medium-level development (around 50 percent of China's population), where universal education was expected to reach the junior-middle-school level by 1995. Technical and higher education was projected to develop at the same rate.

The third category, economically backward (rural) areas (around 25 percent of China's population) were to popularize basic education without a timetable and at various levels according to local economic development, though the state would "do its best" to support educational development. The state also would assist education in minority nationality areas. In the past, rural areas, which lacked a standardized and universal primary education system, had produced generations of illiterates; only 60 percent of their primary school graduates had met established standards.

As a further example of the government's commitment to nine-year compulsory education, in January 1986 the State Council drafted a bill passed at the Fourteenth Session of the Standing Committee of the Sixth National People's Congress that made it illegal for any organization or individual to employ youths before they had completed their nine years of schooling. The bill also authorized free education and subsidies for students whose families had financial difficulties.

Key Schools

"Key schools," shut down during the Cultural Revolution, reappeared in the late 1970s and, in the early 1980s, became an integral part of the effort to revive the lapsed education system. Because educational resources were scarce, selected ("key") institutions--usually those with records of past educational accomplishment--were given priority in the assignment of teachers, equipment, and funds. They also were allowed to recruit the best students for special training to compete for admission to top schools at the next level. Key schools constituted only a small percentage of all regular senior middle schools and funneled the best students into the best secondary schools, largely on the basis of entrance scores. In 1980 the greatest resources were allocated to the key schools that would produce the greatest number of college entrants.

In early 1987 efforts had begun to develop the key school from a preparatory school into a vehicle for diffusing improved curricula, materials, and teaching practices to local schools. Moreover, the appropriateness of a key school's role in the nine-year basic education plan was questioned by some officials because key schools favored urban areas and the children of more affluent and better educated parents. In 1985 entrance examinations and the key-school system had already been abolished in Changchun, Shenyang, Shenzhen, Xiamen, and other cities, and education departments in Shanghai and Tianjin were moving to establish a student recommendation system and eliminate key schools. In 1986 the Shanghai Educational Bureau abolished the key junior-middle- school system to ensure "an overall level of education."


Primary Schools

The development of primary education in so vast a country as China was a formidable accomplishment. In contrast to the 20- percent enrollment rate before 1949, in 1985 about 96 percent of primary-school-age children were enrolled in approximately 832,300 primary schools (see table 10, Appendix A). This enrollment figure compared favorably with the record figures of the late 1960s and early 1970s, when enrollment standards were more egalitarian. In 1985 the World Bank estimated that enrollments in primary schools would decrease from 136 million in 1983 to 95 million in the late 1990s and that the decreased enrollment would reduce the number of teachers needed. Qualified teachers, however, would continue to be in demand.

Under the Law on Nine-Year Compulsory Education, primary schools were to be tuition-free and reasonably located for the convenience of children attending them; students would attend primary schools in their neighborhoods or villages. Parents paid a small fee per term for books and other expenses such as transportation, food, and heating. Previously, fees were not considered a deterrent to attendance, although some parents felt even these minor costs were more than they could afford. Under the education reform, students from poor families received stipends, and state enterprises, institutions, and other sectors of society were encouraged to establish their own schools. A major concern was that scarce resources be conserved without causing enrollment to fall and without weakening of the better schools. In particular, local governments were warned not to pursue middle-school education blindly while primary school education was still developing, or to wrest money, teaching staff, and materials from primary schools.

Children usually entered primary school at seven years of age for six days a week. The two-semester school year consisted of 9.5 months, with a long vacation in July and August. Urban primary schools typically divided the school week into twenty-four to twenty-seven classes of forty-five minutes each, but in the rural areas the norm was half-day schooling, more flexible schedules, and itinerant teachers. Most primary schools had a five-year course, except in such cities as Beijing and Shanghai, which had reintroduced six-year primary schools and accepted children at six and one-half years rather than seven. The primary-school curriculum consisted of Chinese, mathematics, physical education, music, drawing, and elementary instruction in nature, history, and geography, combined with practical work experiences around the school compound. A general knowledge of politics and moral training, which stressed love of the motherland, love of the party, and love of the people (and previously love of Chairman Mao), was another part of the curriculum. A foreign language, often English, was introduced in about the third grade. Chinese and mathematics accounted for about 60 percent of the scheduled class time; natural science and social science accounted for about 8 percent. Putonghua (common spoken language, see Glossary) was taught in regular schools and pinyin romanization in lower grades and kindergarten. The State Education Commission required that all primary schools offer courses on communist ideology and morality. Beginning in the fourth grade, students usually had to perform productive labor two weeks per semester to relate classwork with production experience in workshops or on farms and subordinate it to academic study. Most schools had after-hour activities at least one day per week--often organized by the Young Pioneers--to involve students in recreation and community service.

By 1980 the percentage of students enrolled in primary schools was high, but the schools reported high dropout rates and regional enrollment gaps (most enrollees were concentrated in the cities). Only one in four counties had universal primary education. On the average, 10-percent of the students dropped out between each grade. During the 1979-83 period, the government acknowledged the "9-6-3" rule, that is, that nine of ten children began primary school, six completed it, and three graduated with good performance. This meant that only about 60 percent of primary students actually completed their five year program of study and graduated, and only about 30 percent were regarded as having primary-level competence. Statistics in the mid-1980s showed that more rural girls than boys dropped out of school.

Within the framework of the Law on Nine-Year Compulsory Education and the general trend toward vocational and technical skills, attempts were made to accommodate and correct the gap between urban and rural education. Urban and key schools almost invariably operated on a six day full-time schedule to prepare students for further education and high-level jobs. Rural schools generally operated on a flexible schedule geared to the needs of the agricultural seasons and sought to prepare students for adult life and manual labor in lower-skilled jobs. They also offered a more limited curriculum, often only Chinese, mathematics, and morals. To promote attendance and allow the class schedule and academic year to be completed, agricultural seasons were taken into account. School holidays were moved, school days shortened, and full-time, half-time, and spare-time classes offered in the slack agricultural seasons. Sometimes itinerant teachers were hired for mountain villages and served one village in the morning, another village in the afternoon.

Rural parents were generally well aware that their children had limited opportunities to further their education. Some parents saw little use in having their children attend even primary school, especially after the establishment of the agricultural responsibility system. Under that system, parents preferred that their children work to increase family income--and withdrew them from school--for both long and short periods of time.

Preschool Education

Preschool education, which began at age three and one-half, was another target of education reform in 1985. Preschool facilities were to be established in buildings made available by public enterprises, production teams, municipal authorities, local groups, and families. The government announced that it depended on individual organizations to sponsor their own preschool education and that preschool education was to become a part of the welfare services of various government organizations, institutes, and state- and collectively operated enterprises. Costs for preschool education varied according to services rendered. Officials also called for more preschool teachers with more appropriate training.

Special Education

The 1985 National Conference on Education also recognized the importance of special education, in the form of programs for gifted children and for slow learners. Gifted children were allowed to skip grades. Slow learners were encouraged to reach minimum standards, although those who did not maintain the pace seldom reached the next stage. For the most part, children with severe learning problems and those with handicaps and psychological needs were the responsibilities of their families. Extra provisions were made for blind and severely hearing-impaired children, although in 1984 special schools enrolled fewer than 2 percent of all eligible children in those categories. The China Welfare Fund, established in 1984, received state funding and had the right to solicit donations within China and from abroad, but special education remained a low government priority.


Middle Schools

Secondary education in China has a complicated history. In the early 1960s, education planners followed a policy called "walking on two legs," which established both regular academic schools and separate technical schools for vocational training. The rapid expansion of secondary education during the Cultural Revolution created serious problems; because resources were spread too thinly, educational quality declined. Further, this expansion was limited to regular secondary schools; technical schools were closed during the Cultural Revolution because they were viewed as an attempt to provide inferior education to children of worker and peasant families. In the late 1970s, government and party representatives criticized what they termed the "unitary" approach of the 1960s, arguing that it ignored the need for two kinds of graduates: those with an academic education (college preparatory) and those with specialized technical education (vocational). Beginning in 1976 with the renewed emphasis on technical training, technical schools reopened, and their enrollments increased (as did those of key schools, also criticized during the Cultural Revolution). In the drive to spread vocational and technical education, regular secondary-school enrollments fell. By 1986 universal secondary education was part of the nine year compulsory education law that made primary education (six years) and junior-middle-school education (three years) mandatory. The desire to consolidate existing schools and to improve the quality of key middle schools was, however, under the education reform, more important than expanding enrollment.

Chinese secondary schools are called middle schools and are divided into junior and senior levels. In 1985 more than 104,000 middle schools (both regular and vocational) enrolled about 51 million students. Junior, or lower, middle schools offered a three year course of study, which students began at twelve years of age. Senior, or upper, middle schools offered a two or three year course, which students began at age fifteen.

The regular secondary-school year usually had two semesters, totaling nine months. In some rural areas, schools operated on a shift schedule to accommodate agricultural cycles. The academic curriculum consisted of Chinese, mathematics, physics, chemistry, geology, foreign language, history, geography, politics, physiology, music, fine arts, and physical education. Some middle schools also offered vocational subjects. There were thirty or thirty-one periods a week in addition to self-study and extracurricular activity. Thirty-eight percent of the curriculum at a junior middle school was in Chinese and mathematics, 16 percent in a foreign language. Fifty percent of the teaching at a senior middle school was in natural sciences and mathematics, 30 percent in Chinese and a foreign language.

Rural secondary education has undergone several transformations since 1980, when county-level administrative units closed some schools and took over certain schools run by the people's communes. In 1982 the communes were eliminated. In 1985 educational reform legislation officially placed rural secondary schools under local administration. There was a high dropout rate among rural students in general and among secondary students in particular, largely because of parental attitudes. All students, however, especially males, were encouraged to attend secondary school if it would lead to entrance to a college or university (still regarded as prestigious) and escape from village life.

In China a senior-middle-school graduate is considered an educated person, although middle schools are viewed as a training ground for colleges and universities. And, while middle-school students are offered the prospect of higher education, they are also confronted with the fact that university admission is limited. Middle schools are evaluated in terms of their success in sending graduates on for higher education, although efforts persist to educate young people to take a place in society as valued and skilled members of the work force.

Vocational and Technical Schools

Both regular and vocational secondary schools sought to serve modernization needs. A number of technical and "skilled-worker" training schools reopened after the Cultural Revolution, and an effort was made to provide exposure to vocational subjects in general secondary schools (by offering courses in industry, services, business, and agriculture). By 1985 there were almost 3 million vocational and technical students.

Under the educational reform tenets, polytechnic colleges were to give priority to admitting secondary vocational and technical school graduates and providing on-the-job training for qualified workers. Education reformers continued to press for the conversion of about 50 percent of upper secondary education into vocational education, which traditionally had been weak in the rural areas. Regular senior middle schools were to be converted into vocational middle schools, and vocational training classes were to be established in some senior middle schools. Diversion of students from academic to technical education was intended to alleviate skill shortages and to reduce the competition for university enrollment. Although enrollment in technical schools of various kinds had not yet increased enough to compensate for decreasing enrollments in regular senior middle schools, the proportion of vocational and technical students to total senior-middle-school students increased from about 5 percent in 1978 to almost 36 percent in 1985, although development was uneven. Further, to encourage greater numbers of junior-middle-school graduates to enter technical schools, vocational and technical school graduates were given priority in job assignments, while other job seekers had to take technical tests.

In 1987 there were four kinds of secondary vocational and technical schools: technical schools that offered a four year, post-junior middle course and two- to three-year post-senior middle training in such fields as commerce, legal work, fine arts, and forestry; workers' training schools that accepted students whose senior-middle-school education consisted of two years of training in such trades as carpentry and welding; vocational technical schools that accepted either junior-or senior-middle-school students for one- to three-year courses in cooking, tailoring, photography, and other services; and agricultural middle schools that offered basic subjects and agricultural science.

These technical schools had several hundred different programs. Their narrow specializations had advantages in that they offered in-depth training , reducing the need for on-the-job training and thereby lowering learning time and costs. Moreover, students were more motivated to study if there were links between training and future jobs. Much of the training could be done at existing enterprises, where staff and equipment was available at little additional cost.

There were some disadvantages to this system, however. Under the Four Modernizations, technically trained generalists were needed more than highly specialized technicians. Also, highly specialized equipment and staff were underused, and there was an overall shortage of specialized facilities to conduct training. In addition, large expenses were incurred in providing the necessary facilities and staff, and the trend in some government technical agencies was toward more general technical and vocational education.

Further, the dropout rate continued to have a negative effect on the labor pool as upper-secondary-school technical students dropped out and as the percentage of lower-secondary-school graduates entering the labor market without job training increased. Occupational rigidity and the geographic immobility of the population, particularly in rural areas, further limited educational choices.

Although there were 668,000 new polytechnic school enrollments in 1985, the Seventh Five-Year Plan called for annual increases of 2 million mid-level skilled workers and 400,000 senior technicians, indicating that enrollment levels were still far from sufficient. To improve the situation, in July 1986 officials from the State Education Commission, State Planning Commission, and Ministry of Labor and Personnel convened a national conference on developing China's technical and vocational education. It was decided that technical and vocational education in rural areas should accommodate local conditions and be conducted on a short-term basis. Where conditions permitted, emphasis would be placed on organizing technical schools and short-term training classes. To alleviate the shortage of teachers, vocational and technical teachers' colleges were to be reformed and other colleges and universities were to be mobilized for assistance. The State Council decision to improve training for workers who had passed technical examinations (as opposed to unskilled workers) was intended to reinforce the development of vocational and technical schools.



Higher education reflects the changes in political policies that have occurred in contemporary China. Since 1949 emphasis has continually been placed on political re-education, and in periods of political upheaval, such as the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, ideology has been stressed over professional or technical competence. During the early stages of the Cultural Revolution, tens of thousands of college students joined Red Guard organizations, effectively closing down the higher education system. In general, when universities reopened in the early 1970s, enrollments were reduced from pre-Cultural Revolution levels, and admission was restricted to individuals who had been recommended by their work unit (danwei) possessed good political credentials, and had distinguished themselves in manual labor. In the absence of stringent and reasonably objective entrance examinations, political connections became increasingly important in securing the recommendations and political dossiers necessary to qualify for university admission. As a result, the decline in educational quality was profound. Deng Xiaoping reportedly wrote Mao Zedong in 1975 that university graduates were "not even capable of reading a book" in their own fields when they left the university. University faculty and administrators, moreover, were demoralized by what they faced.

Efforts made in 1975 to improve educational quality were unsuccessful. By 1980 it appeared doubtful that the politically oriented admission criteria had accomplished even the purpose of increasing enrollment of worker and peasant children. Successful candidates for university entrance were usually children of cadres and officials who used personal connections that allowed them to "enter through the back door." Students from officials' families would accept the requisite minimum two year work assignment in the countryside, often in a suburban location that allowed them to remain close to their families. Village cadres, anxious to please the parent-official, gladly recommended these youths for university placement after the labor requirement had been met. The child of an official family was then on his or her way to a university without having academic ability, a record of political activism, or a distinguished work record.

After 1976 steps were taken to improve educational quality by establishing order and stability, and calling for an end to political contention on university campuses, and expanding university enrollments. This pressure to maintain quality and minimize expenditures led to efforts both to run existing institutions more efficiently and to develop other college and university programs. As a result, labor colleges for training agro-technicians and factory-run colleges for providing technical education for workers were established. In addition, eighty-eight institutions and key universities were provided with special funding, top students and faculty members, and other support, and they recruited the most academically qualified students without regard to family background or political activism.

Educational Investment

Many of the problems that had hindered higher educational development in the past continued in 1987. Funding remained a major problem because science and technology study and research and study abroad were expensive. Because education was competing with other modernization programs, capital was critically short. Another concern was whether or not the Chinese economy was sufficiently advanced to make efficient use of the highly trained technical personnel it planned to educate. For example, some observers believed that it would be more realistic to train a literate work force of low-level technicians instead of than research scientists. Moreover, it was feared that using an examination to recruit the most able students might advance people who were merely good at taking examinations. Educational reforms also made some people uncomfortable by criticizing the traditional practice of rote memorization and promoting innovative teaching and study methods.

The prestige associated with higher education caused a demand for it. But many qualified youths were unable to attend colleges and universities because China could not finance enough university places for them. To help meet the demand and to educate a highly trained, specialized work force, China established alternate forms of higher education--such as spare-time, part-time, and radio and television universities.

China cannot afford a heavy investment, either ideologically or financially, in the education of a few students. Since 1978 China's leaders have modified the policy of concentrating education resources at the university level, which, although designed to facilitate modernization, conflicted directly with the party's principles. The policies that produced an educated elite also siphoned off resources that might have been used to accomplish the compulsory nine year education more speedily and to equalize educational opportunities in the city and the countryside. The policy of key schools has been modified over the years. Nevertheless, China's leaders believe an educated elite is necessary to reach modernization goals.

China - Education - Modernization Goals in the 1980s

The commitment to the Four Modernizations required great advances in science and technology. Under the modernization program, higher education was to be the cornerstone for training and research. Because modernization depended on a vastly increased and improved capability to train scientists and engineers for needed breakthroughs, the renewed concern for higher education and academic quality--and the central role that the sciences were expected to play in the Four Modernizations--highlighted the need for scientific research and training. This concern can be traced to the critical personnel shortages and qualitative deficiencies in the sciences resulting from the unproductive years of the Cultural Revolution, when higher education was shut down. In response to the need for scientific training, the Sixth Plenum of the Twelfth National Party Congress Central Committee, held in September 1986, adopted a resolution on the guiding principles for building a socialist society that strongly emphasized the importance of education and science.

Reformers realized, however, that the higher education system was far from meeting modernization goals and that additional changes were needed. The Provisional Regulations Concerning the Management of Institutions of Higher Learning, promulgated by the State Council in 1986, initiated vast changes in administration and adjusted educational opportunity, direction, and content. With the increased independence accorded under the education reform, universities and colleges were able to choose their own teaching plans and curricula; to accept projects from or cooperate with other socialist establishments for scientific research and technical development in setting up "combines" involving teaching, scientific research, and production; to suggest appointments and removals of vice presidents and other staff members; to take charge of the distribution of capital construction investment and funds allocated by the state; and to be responsible for the development of international exchanges by using their own funds.

The changes also allowed the universities to accept financial aid from work units and decide how this money was to be used without asking for more money from departments in charge of education. Further, higher education institutions and work units could sign contracts for the training of students.

Higher education institutions also were assigned a greater role in running interregional and interdepartmental schools. Within their state-approved budgets, universities secured more freedom to allocate funds as they saw fit and to use income from tuition and technical and advisory services for their own development, including collective welfare and bonuses.

There also was a renewed interest in television, radio, and correspondence classes. Some of the courses, particularly in the college-run factories, were serious, full-time enterprises, with a two-to three-year curriculum.

Entrance Examinations and Admission Criteria

National examinations to select students for higher education (and positions of leadership) were an important part of China's culture, and, traditionally, entrance to a higher education institution was considered prestigious. Although the examination system for admission to colleges and universities has undergone many changes since the Cultural Revolution, it remains the basis for recruiting academically able students. When higher education institutions were reopened in early 1970s, candidates for entrance examinations had to be senior-middle-school graduates or the equivalent, generally below twenty-six years of age. Work experience requirements were eliminated, but workers and staff members needed permission from their enterprises to take the examinations.

Each provincial-level unit was assigned a quota of students to be admitted to key universities, a second quota of students for regular universities within that administrative division, and a third quota of students from other provinces, autonomous regions, and special municipalities who would be admitted to institutions operated at the provincial level. Provincial-level administrative units selected students with outstanding records to take the examinations. Additionally, preselection examinations were organized by the provinces, autonomous regions, and special municipalities for potential students (from three to five times the number of places allotted). These candidates were actively encouraged to take the examination to ensure that a sufficient number of good applicants would be available. Cadres with at least two years of work experience were recruited for selected departments in a small number of universities on an experimental basis. Preferential admission treatment (in spite of lower test scores) was given to minority candidates, students from disadvantaged areas, and those who agreed in advance to work in less developed regions after graduation.

In December 1977, when uniform national examinations were reinstated, 5.7 million students took the examinations, although university placement was available for only the 278,000 applicants with the highest scores. In July 1984, about 1.6 million candidates (30,000 fewer than in 1983) took the entrance examinations for the 430,000 places in China's more than 900 colleges and universities. Of the 1.6 million examinees, more than 1 million took the test for placement in science and engineering colleges; 415,000 for places in liberal arts colleges; 88,000 for placement in foreign language institutions; and 15,000 for placement in sports universities and schools. More than 100,000 of the candidates were from national minority groups. A year later, there were approximately 1.8 million students taking the three day college entrance examination to compete for 560,000 places. Liberal arts candidates were tested on politics, Chinese, mathematics, foreign languages, history, and geography. Science and engineering candidates were tested on politics, Chinese, mathematics, chemistry, and biology. Entrance examinations also were given in 1985 for professional and technical schools, which sought to enroll 550,000 new students.

Other innovations in enrollment practices, included allowing colleges and universities to admit students with good academic records but relatively low entrance-examination scores. Some colleges were allowed to try an experimental student recommendation system--fixed at 2 percent of the total enrollment for regular colleges and 5 percent for teachers' colleges--instead of the traditional entrance examination. A minimum national examination score was established for admission to specific departments at specially designated colleges and universities, and the minimum score for admission to other universities was set by provinciallevel authorities. Key universities established separate classes for minorities. When several applicants attained the minimum test score, the school had the option of making a selection, a policy that gave university faculty and administrators a certain amount of discretion but still protected admission according to academic ability.

In addition to the written examination, university applicants had to pass a physical examination and a political screening. Less than 2 percent of the students who passed the written test were eliminated for reasons of poor health. The number disqualified for political reasons was known, but publicly the party maintained that the number was very small and that it sought to ensure that only the most able students actually entered colleges and universities.

By 1985 the number of institutions of higher learning had again increased--to slightly more than 1,000. The State Education Commission and the Ministry of Finance issued a joint declaration for nationwide unified enrollment of adult students--not the regular secondary-school graduates but the members of the work force who qualified for admission by taking a test. The State Education Commission established unified questions and time and evaluation criteria for the test and authorized provinces, autonomous regions, and special municipalities to administer the test, grade the papers in a uniform manner, and determine the minimum points required for admission. The various schools were to enroll students according to the results. Adult students needed to have the educational equivalent of senior-middle- school graduates, and those applying for release or partial release from work to study were to be under forty years of age. Staff members and workers were to apply to study job-related subjects with review by and approval of their respective work units. If employers paid for the college courses, the workers had to take entrance examinations. In 1985 colleges enrolled 33,000 employees from various enterprises and companies, approximately 6 percent of the total college enrollment.

In 1985 state quotas for university places were set, allowing both for students sponsored by institutions and for those paying their own expenses. This policy was a change from the previous system in which all students were enrolled according to guidelines established in Beijing. All students except those at teachers' colleges, those who had financial difficulties, and those who were to work under adverse conditions after graduation had to pay for their own tuition, accommodations, and miscellaneous expenses.

Changes in Enrollment and Assignment Policies

The student enrollment and graduate assignment system also was changed to reflect more closely the personnel needs of modernization. By 1986 the state was responsible for drafting the enrollment plan, which took into account future personnel demands, the need to recruit students from outlying regions, and the needs of trades and professions with adverse working conditions. Moreover, a certain number of graduates to be trained for the People's Liberation Army were included in the state enrollment plan. In most cases, enrollment in higher education institutions at the employers' request was extended as a supplement to the state student enrollment plan. Employers were to pay a percentage of training fees, and students were to fulfill contractual obligations to the employers after graduation. The small number of students who attended colleges and universities at their own expense could be enrolled in addition to those in the state plan.

Accompanying the changes in enrollment practices were reforms, adopted in 1986, in the faculty appointment system, which ended the "iron rice bowl" employment system and gave colleges and universities freedom to decide what departments, majors, and numbers of teachers they needed. Teachers in institutions of higher learning were hired on a renewable contract basis, usually for two to four years at a time. The teaching positions available on basis were teaching assistant, lecturer, associate professor, and professor. The system was tested in eight major universities in Beijing and Shanghai before it was instituted nationwide at the end of 1985. University presidents headed groups in charge of appointing professors, lecturers, and teaching assistants according to their academic levels and teaching abilities, and a more rational wage system, geared to different job levels, was inaugurated. Universities and colleges with surplus professors and researchers were advised to grant them appropriate academic titles and encourage them to work for their current pay in schools of higher learning where they were needed. The new system was to be extended to schools of all kinds and other education departments within two years.

Under the 1985 reforms, all graduates were assigned jobs by the state; a central government placement agency told the schools where to send graduates. By 1985 Qinghua University and a few other universities were experimenting with a system that allowed graduates to accept job offers or to look for their own positions. For example, of 1,900 Qinghua University graduates in 1985, 1,200 went on to graduate school, 48 looked for their own jobs, and the remainder were assigned jobs by the school after consultation with the students. The college students and postgraduates scheduled to graduate in 1986 were assigned primarily to work in forestry, education, textiles, and the armaments industry. Graduates still were needed in civil engineering, computer science, finance, and English.

Scholarship and Loan System

In July 1986 the State Council announced that the stipend system for university and college students would be replaced with a new scholarship and loan system. The new system, to be tested in selected institutions during the 1986-87 academic year, was designed to help students who could not cover their own living expenses but who studied hard, obeyed state laws, and observed discipline codes. Students eligible for financial aid were to apply to the schools and the China Industrial and Commercial Bank for low-interest loans. Three categories of students eligible for aid were established: top students encouraged to attain all-around excellence; students specializing in education, agriculture, forestry, sports, and marine navigation; and students willing to work in poor, remote, and border regions or under harsh conditions, such as in mining and engineering. In addition, free tuition and board were to be offered at teachers' colleges, and the graduates were required to teach at least five years in primary and middle schools. After graduation, a student's loans were to be paid off by his or her employer in a lump sum, and the money was to be repaid to the employer by the student through five years of payroll deductions.

Study Abroad

In addition to loans, another means of raising educational quality, particularly in science, was to send students abroad to study. A large number of Chinese students studied in the Soviet Union before educational links and other cooperative programs with the Soviet Union were severed in the late 1950s. In the 1960s and 1970s, China continued to send a small number of students abroad, primarily to European universities. In October 1978 Chinese students began to arrive in the United States; their numbers accelerated after normalization of relations between the two countries in January 1979, a policy consistent with modernization needs. Although figures vary, more than 36,000 students, including 7,000 self-supporting students (those who paid their own way, received scholarships from host institutions, or received help from relatives and "foreign friends"), studied in 14 countries between 1978 and 1984. Of this total, 78 percent were technical personnel sent abroad for advanced study. As of mid-1986 there were 15,000 Chinese scholars and graduates in American universities, compared with the total of 19,000 scholars sent between 1979 and 1983.

Chinese students sent to the United States generally were not typical undergraduates or graduate students but were mid-career scientists, often thirty-five to forty-five years of age, seeking advanced training in their areas of specialization. Often they were individuals of exceptional ability who occupied responsible positions in Chinese universities and research institutions. Fewer than 15 percent of the earliest arrivals were degree candidates. Nearly all the visiting scholars were in scientific fields.


Among the most pressing problems facing education reformers was the scarcity of qualified teachers, which has led to a serious stunting of educational development. In 1986 there were about 8 million primary- and middle-school teachers in China, but many lacked professional training. Estimates indicated that in order to meet the goals of the Seventh Five-Year Plan and realize compulsory 9-year education, the system needed 1 million new teachers for primary schools, 750,000 new teachers for junior middle schools, and 300,000 new teachers for senior middle schools. Estimates predict, however, that the demand for teachers will drop in the late 1990s because of an anticipated decrease in primary-school enrollments.

To cope with the shortage of qualified teachers, the State Education Commission decreed in 1985 that senior-middle-school teachers should be graduates with two years' training in professional institutes and that primary-school teachers should be graduates of secondary schools. To improve teacher quality, the commission established full-time and part-time (the latter preferred because it was less costly) in-service training programs. Primary-school and preschool in-service teacher training programs devoted 84 percent of the time to subject teaching, 6 percent to pedagogy and psychology, and 10 percent to teaching methods. Inservice training for primary-school teachers was designed to raise them to a level of approximately two years' postsecondary study, with the goal of qualifying most primary-school teachers by 1990. Secondary-school in-service teacher training was based on a unified model, tailored to meet local conditions, and offered on a spare-time basis. Ninety-five percent of its curricula was devoted to subject teaching, 2 to 3 percent to pedagogy and psychology, and 2 to 3 percent to teaching methods. There was no similar large-scale in-service effort for technical and vocational teachers, most of whom worked for enterprises and local authorities.

By 1985 there were more than 1,000 teacher training schools--an indispensable tool in the effort to solve the acute shortage of qualified teachers. These schools, however, were unable to supply the number of teachers needed to attain modernization goals through 1990. Although a considerable number of students graduated as qualified teachers from institutions of higher learning, the relatively low social status and salary levels of teachers hampered recruitment, and not all of the graduates of teachers' colleges became teachers. To attract more teachers, China tried to make teaching a more desirable and respected profession. To this end, the government designated September 10 as Teachers' Day, granted teachers pay raises, and made teachers' colleges tuition free. To further arrest the teacher shortage, in 1986 the central government sent teachers to underdeveloped regions to train local schoolteachers.

Because urban teachers continued to earn more than their rural counterparts and because academic standards in the countryside had dropped, it remained difficult to recruit teachers for rural areas. Teachers in rural areas also had production responsibilities for their plots of land, which took time from their teaching. Rural primary teachers needed to supplement their pay by farming because most were paid by the relatively poor local communities rather than by the state.


Role in Modernization

Because only 4 percent of the nation's middle-school graduates are admitted to universities, China has found it necessary to develop other ways of meeting the demand for education. Adult education has become increasingly important in helping China meet its modernization goals. Adult, or "nonformal," education is an alternative form of higher education that encompasses radio, television, and correspondence universities, spare-time and part-time universities, factory-run universities for staff and workers, and county-run universities for peasants, many operating primarily during students' off-work hours. These alternative forms of education are economical. They seek to educate both the "delayed generation"--those who lost educational opportunities during the Cultural Revolution--and to raise the cultural, scientific, and general education levels of workers on the job.

Alternative Forms

Schools have been established by government departments, businesses, trade unions, academic societies, democratic parties, and other organizations. In 1984 about 70 percent of China's factories and enterprises supported their own part-time classes, which often were referred to as workers' colleges. In Beijing alone, more than ninety adult-education schools with night schools enrolled tens of thousands of students. More than 20,000 of these students graduated annually from evening universities, workers' colleges, television universities, and correspondence schools--more than twice the number graduating from regular colleges and universities. The government spent -Y200 to -Y500 per adult education student and at least -1,000 per regular university student. In 1984 approximately 1.3 million students enrolled in television, correspondence, and evening universities, about a 30-percent increase over 1983.

Spare-time education for workers and peasants and literacy classes for the entire adult population were other components of basic education. Spare-time education included a very broad range of educational activities at all levels. Most spare-time schools were sponsored by factories and run for their own workers; they provided fairly elementary education, as well as courses to upgrade technical skills. Most were on-the-job training and retraining courses, a normal part of any industrial system. These schools continually received publicity in the domestic media as a symbol of social justice, but it was unclear whether they received adequate resources to achieve this end.

China's educational television system began in 1960 but was suspended during the Cultural Revolution in 1966. In 1979 the Central Radio and Television University was established in Beijing with branches in twenty-eight provincial-level universities. Many Central Radio and Television University students are recent seniormiddle -school graduates who scored just below the cut-off point for admission to conventional colleges and universities. Full-time (who take four courses) and part-time students (two courses) have at least two years' work experience, and they return to their jobs after graduation. Spare-time students (one course) study after work. Students whose work units grant them permission to study in a television university are paid their normal wages; expenses for most of their books and other educational materials are paid for by the state. A typical Central Radio and Television University student spends up to six hours a day over a three-year period watching lectures on videotapes produced by some of the best teachers in China. These lectures are augmented by face-to-face tutoring by local instructors and approximately four hours of homework each evening. The major problem with the system is that there are too few television sets.

In 1987 the Central Television and Radio University had its programs produced, transmitted and financed by the Ministry of Radio, Cinema, and Television. The State Education Commission developed its curriculum and distributed its printed support materials. Curriculum included both basic, general-purpose courses in science and technology and more specialized courses. Programs in English-language instruction were particularly popular. The Central Television and Radio University offered more than 1,000 classes in Beijing and its suburbs and 14 majors in 2- to 3-year courses through 56 working centers. Students who passed final examinations were given certificates entitling them to the same level of remuneration as graduates of regular, full-time colleges and universities. The state gave certain allowances to students awaiting jobs during their training period.

Literacy and Language Reform

The continuing campaigns to eradicate illiteracy also were a part of basic education. Chinese government statistics indicated that of a total population of nearly 1.1 billion in 1985, about 230 million people were illiterate or semiliterate. The difficulty of mastering written Chinese makes raising the literacy rate particularly difficult. In general, language reform was intended to make written and spoken Chinese easier to learn, which in turn would foster both literacy and linguistic unity and serve as a foundation for a simpler written language. In 1951 the party issued a directive that inaugurated a three-part plan for language reform. The plan sought to establish universal comprehension of a standardized common language, simplify written characters, and introduce, where possible, romanized forms based on the Latin alphabet. In 1956 putonghua was introduced as the language of instruction in schools and in the national broadcast media, and by 1977 it was in use throughout China, particularly in the government and party, and in education. Although in 1987 the government continued to endorse the goal of universalizing putonghua, hundreds of regional and local dialects continued to be spoken, complicating interregional communication.

A second language reform required the simplification of ideographs because ideographs with fewer strokes are easier to learn. In 1964 the Committee for Reforming the Chinese Written Language released an official list of 2,238 simplified characters most basic to the language. Simplification made literacy easier, although people taught only in simplified characters were cut off from the wealth of Chinese literature written in traditional characters. Any idea of replacing ideographic script with romanized script was soon abandoned, however by government and education leaders.

A third area of change involved the proposal to use the pinyin romanization system more widely. Pinyin (first approved by the National People's Congress in 1958) was encouraged primarily to facilitate the spread of putonghua in regions where other dialects and languages are spoken. By the mid-1980s, however, the use of pinyin was not as widespread as the use of putonghua.

Retaining literacy was as much a problem as acquiring it, particularly among the rural population. Literacy rates declined between 1966 and 1976. Political disorder may have contributed to the decline, but the basic problem was that the many Chinese ideographs can be mastered only through rote learning and are often forgotten because of disuse.



The current status of Chinese intellectuals reflects traditions established in the imperial period. For most of this period, government officials were selected from among the literati on the basis of the Confucian civil service examination system. Intellectuals were both participants in and critics of the government. As Confucian scholars, they were torn between their loyalty to the emperor and their obligation to "correct wrong thinking" when they perceived it. Then, as now, most intellectual and government leaders subscribed to the premise that ideological change was a prerequisite for political change. Historically, Chinese intellectuals rarely formed groups to oppose the established government. Rather, individual intellectuals or groups of intellectuals allied themselves with cliques within the government to lend support to the policies of that clique.

With the abolition of the civil service examination system in 1905 and the end of the last imperial dynasty in 1911, intellectuals no longer had a vehicle for direct participation in the government. Although the absence of a strong national government would have been expected to provide a favorable situation for maximum intellectual independence, other inhibiting factors--such as the concentration of intellectuals in foreigncontrolled treaty ports, isolated from the mainstream of Chinese society, or in universities dependent on government or missionary financing--remained. Probably the greatest obstacle to the development of an intellectual community free of outside control was the rising tide of nationalism coupled with the fear of being accused of selling out to foreign interests. In 1927 the newly established Guomindang government in Nanjing attempted to establish an intellectual orthodoxy based on the ideas of Sun Yat-sen, but intellectuals continued to operate with a certain degree of freedom in universities and treaty ports. Following the Japanese invasion and occupation of large parts of China in 1937, the Guomindang government tightened control over every aspect of life, causing a large number of dissident intellectuals to seek refuge in Communist-administered areas or in Hong Kong.

When the People's Republic of China was established in 1949, intellectuals came under strict government control. Educated overseas Chinese were invited to return home, and those intellectuals who remained in China were urged to contribute their technical expertise to rebuilding the country. Intellectuals were expected to serve the party and the state. Independent thinking was stifled, and political dissent was not tolerated.

In mid-1956 the Chinese Communist Party felt secure enough to launch the Hundred Flowers Campaign soliciting criticism under the classical "double hundred" slogan "Let a hundred flowers bloom, let the hundred schools of thought contend." "Let a hundred flowers bloom" applied to the development of the arts, and "let the hundred schools of thought contend" encouraged the development of science. The initiation of this campaign was followed by the publication in early 1957 of Mao Zedong's essay "On the Correct Handling of Contradictions among the People," in which he drew a distinction between "constructive criticisms among the people" and "hateful and destructive criticism between the enemy and ourselves." In August 1957, when it was clear to the leadership that widespread criticism of the party and party cadres had gotten out of hand, the Anti-Rightist Campaign was launched to suppress all divergent thought and firmly reestablish orthodox ideology. Writers who had answered the party's invitation to offer criticisms and alternative solutions to China's problems were abruptly silenced, and many were sent to reform camps or internal exile. By the early 1960s, however, a few intellectuals within the party were bold enough to again propose policy alternatives, within stringent limits.

When the Cultural Revolution began in 1966, party functionaries assumed positions of leadership at most research institutes and universities, and many schools were closed or converted to "soldiers', workers', and peasants' universities." Intellectuals, denounced as the "stinking ninth category," either were purged or had their work heavily edited for political "purity", which severely hampered most serious research and scholarship.

Following the fall of Lin Biao, Minister of National Defense and Mao's heir apparent, in 1971, the atmosphere for intellectuals began to improve. Under the aegis of Zhou Enlai and later Deng Xiaoping, many intellectuals were restored to their former positions and warily resumed their pre-Cultural Revolution duties. In January 1975 Zhou Enlai set out his ambitious Four Modernizations program and solicited the support of China's intellectuals in turning China into a modern industrialized nation by the end of the century.

Post-Mao Development

The Third Plenum of the Eleventh National Party Congress Central Committee in December 1978 officially made the Four Modernizations basic national policy and reemphasized the importance of intellectuals in achieving them. The policy of "seeking truth from facts" was stressed, and scholars and researchers were given freer rein to pursue scientific research. Most mainstream intellectuals were content to avoid political involvement and to take on the role of scholar- specialists within their spheres of competence, with the understanding that as long as they observed the four cardinal principles--upholding socialism, the dictatorship of the proletariat, the leadership of the party, and Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought--they would be permitted to conduct their research with minimal bureaucratic interference. This was accomplished more easily in the natural sciences, which are generally recognized as apolitical, than in the social sciences, humanities, and the arts.

The first serious challenge to the more tolerant policy toward intellectuals came in 1980, as conservative ideologues in the military and the party stepped up their calls to combat "bourgeois liberalization," a loosely defined appellation for any writing or activity believed to stretch the limits of the four cardinal principles. By early 1981 opposition to "bourgeois liberalization" was focused on Bai Hua, a writer with the Political Department of what was then the Wuhan Military Region. Bai had long been a strong advocate for relaxation of cultural and social policy, but what especially alarmed the guardians of cultural orthodoxy was his screenplay "Bitter Love," which depicted the frustrated patriotism of an old painter who faces misunderstanding and ill-treatment when he returns to China from the United States. When the screenplay first appeared in a nationally circulated literary magazine in the fall of 1979, it caused little stir. The motion picture version however, which was shown to selected officials, drew strong censure. A commentary in the April 18, 1981, issue of Jiefangjun Bao (Liberation Army Daily) accused Bai Hua of violating the four cardinal principles and described the screenplay as an example of "bourgeois liberalism." The commentary was reprinted in the next month's issue of Jiefangjun Wenyi (Liberation Army Literature and Art), along with other articles critical of "Bitter Love." Over the next few months the criticism was taken up by most civilian newspapers, and acting minister of culture, Zhou Weizhi, singled out "Bitter Love" for attack in a speech delivered to the Twentieth Session of the Fifth National People's Congress Standing Committee in September. Finally, Bai Hua yielded to the ostracism and wrote a letter of self-criticism addressed to Jiefangjun Bao and Wenyibao (Literary Gazette), in which he apologized for a "lack of balance" in "Bitter Love" and for failing to recognize the power of the party and the people to overcome obstacles in Chinese society. Bai Hua was out of public view for the next year but remained active, writing four short stories in the period. In January 1983 he was invited by the Ministry of Culture to participate in a Shanghai conference on film scripts, and in May of that year the Beijing People's Art Theater presented his new historical play, "The King of Wu's Golden Spear and the King of Yue's Sword," thought by many to be a veiled criticism of Mao Zedong and perhaps even of Deng Xiaoping. Although the "Bitter Love" controversy caused considerable anxiety in the intellectual community, it is as noteworthy for what it did not do as for what it did do. Unlike previous campaigns in which writers and all of their works were condemned, criticism in this case focused on one work, "Bitter Love." Neither Bai Hua's other works nor his political difficulties in the 1950s and 1960s were part of the discussion. In fact, as if to emphasize the limited nature of the campaign, at its height in May 1981 Bai was given a national prize for poetry by the Chinese Writers' Association.

After a mild respite in 1982 and most of 1983, "antibourgeois liberalism" returned in full force in the short-lived campaign against "spiritual pollution" launched by a speech given by Deng Xiaoping at the Second Plenum of the Twelfth National Party Congress Central Committee in October 1983. In the speech, Deng inveighed against advocates of abstract theories of human nature, "bourgeois humanitarianism," "bourgeois liberalism," and socialist alienation, as well as the growing fascination in China with "decadent elements" from Western culture. Conservatives, led by Political Bureau member Hu Qiaomu and party Propaganda Department head Deng Liqun, used the campaign in an effort to oppose those aspects of society that they disliked. The campaign soon was out of control and extended to areas beyond the scope that Deng Xiaoping had intended, raising fears at home and abroad of another Cultural Revolution.

Because of the campaign against spiritual pollution, intellectuals (including scientists and managerial and technical personnel) and party and government cadres were hesitant to take any action that could expose them to criticism. Peasants, whose production had greatly increased under the responsibility system adopted in 1981, felt uncertain about the future course of central policy. Because of this, many of them returned their specialized certificates and contracts to local authorities, sold their equipment, and lowered production targets. Many ordinary citizens, especially the young, resented the sudden interference in their private lives. Foreign businessmen and government leaders expressed serious reservations about the investment climate and China's policy of opening to the world.

Because of these adverse results, the central leadership reevaluated the campaign and limited it to theoretical, literary, and artistic circles and did not permit it to extend to science and technology, the economy, or rural areas. All ideological, theoretical, literary, and artistic issues were to be settled through discussion, criticism, and self-criticism, without resorting to labeling or attacks. By January 1984 the campaign against spiritual pollution had died out, and attention was once more turned to reducing leftist influence in government and society.

Following the campaign's failure, and perhaps because of it, the position and security of intellectuals improved significantly. In 1984 the party and government turned their attention to promoting urban economic reforms. A more positive approach to academic and cultural pursuits was reflected in periodic exhortations in the official press calling on the people to support and encourage the building of "socialist spiritual civilization," a term used to denote general intellectual activity, including ethics and morality, science, and culture.

Writers and other intellectuals were heartened by a speech delivered by Hu Qili, secretary of the party Secretariat, to the Fourth National Writers' Congress (December 29, 1984, to January 5, 1985). In the speech, Hu decried the political excesses that produced derogatory labels and decrees about what writers should and should not write and called literary freedom "a vital part of socialist literature." But as writers began to test the limits of the free expression called for by Hu Qili, they were reminded of their "social responsibilities," a thinly veiled warning for them to use self-censorship and to remain within the limits of free expression.

These limits, still poorly defined, were tested once again when Song Longxian, a young researcher at Nanjing University, using the pseudonym Ma Ding, published an article entitled "Ten Changes in Contemporary Chinese Economic Research" in the November 2, 1985, issue of the trade union paper Gongren Ribao (Workers' Daily). The article urged a pragmatic approach to economic theory and sharply attacked much previous economic research. A somewhat toned-downed version was republished in a subsequent issue of Beijing Review, a weekly magazine for foreign readers, and immediately became the center of a controversy continuing well into 1986. Ma Ding's supporters, however, far outnumbered his critics and included some important government officials. In May 1986 the editor of Gongren Ribao, writing in another economic journal, summed up the controversy. He termed the criticism of the article of far greater significance than the article itself and commended the "related departments" for handling the "Ma Ding incident very prudently" and "relatively satisfactorily," but he expressed the hope that "more people in our country, particularly leaders," would join in "providing powerful protection to the theoretical workers who are brave enough to explore."

In 1986 there were numerous calls for a new Hundred Flowers Campaign, and there were indications that these calls were being orchestrated from the top. At a May 1986 conference to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the original Hundred Flowers Campaign, Zhu Houze, new head of the party's Propaganda Department, sounded the keynote when he said, "Only through the comparison and contention of different viewpoints and ideas can people gradually arrive at a truthful understanding. . . ." Qin Jianxian, editor of Shijie Jingji Daobao (World Economic Journal), carried this theme further when he called for "unprecedented shocks to political, economic, and social life as well as to people's ideas, spiritual state, lifestyle, and thinking methods." In a July 1986 interview with Beijing Review, Wang Meng, the newly appointed minister of culture, held out great expectations for a new Hundred Flowers Campaign that he said "could arouse the enthusiasm of writers and artists and give them the leeway to display their individual artistic character." During the summer of 1986, expectations were raised for a resolution to come out of the Sixth Plenum of the Twelfth National Party Congress Central Committee in September, a resolution that General Secretary Hu Yaobang promised would have a "profound influence on the development of spiritual civilization." The actual document, however, was a watered-down compromise that fell far short of expectations. It became clear that intellectual policy is not a matter to be easily resolved in the short-term but requires lengthy debate.

China - Traditional Literature


China has a wealth of classical literature, both poetry and prose, dating from the Eastern Zhou dynasty (770-221 B.C.) and including the Classics attributed to Confucius. Among the most important classics in Chinese literature is the Yijing (Book of Changes), a manual of divination based on eight trigrams attributed to the mythical emperor Fu Xi. (By Confucius' time these eight trigrams had been multiplied to sixty-four hexagrams.) The Yijing is still used by adherents of folk religion. The Shijing (Classic of Poetry) is made up of 305 poems divided into 160 folk songs; 74 minor festal songs, traditionally sung at court festivities; 31 major festal songs, sung at more solemn court ceremonies; and 40 hymns and eulogies, sung at sacrifices to gods and ancestral spirits of the royal house. The Shujing (Classic of Documents) is a collection of documents and speeches alleged to have been written by rulers and officials of the early Zhou period and before. It contains the best examples of early Chinese prose. The Liji (Record of Rites), a restoration of the original Lijing (Classic of Rites), lost in the third century B.C., describes ancient rites and court ceremonies. The Chun Qiu (Spring and Autumn) is a historical record of the principality of Lu, Confucius' native state, from 722 to 479 B.C. It is a log of concise entries probably compiled by Confucius himself. The Lunyu (Analects) is a book of pithy sayings attributed to Confucius and recorded by his disciples.

Early Prose

The proponents of the Hundred Schools of Thought in the Warring States and Spring and Autumn periods made important contributions to Chinese prose style. The writings of Mo Zi (Mo Di, 470-391 B.C.?), Mencius (Meng Zi; 372-289 B.C.), and Zhuang Zi (369-286 B.C.) contain well-reasoned, carefully developed discourses and show a marked improvement in organization and style over what went before. Mo Zi is known for extensively and effectively using methodological reasoning in his polemic prose. Mencius contributed elegant diction and, along with Zhuang Zi, is known for his extensive use of comparisons, anecdotes, and allegories. By the third century B.C., these writers had developed a simple, concise prose noted for its economy of words, which served as a model of literary form for over 2,000 years.

Early Poetry

Among the earliest and most influential poetic anthologies was the Chuci (Songs of Chu), made up primarily of poems ascribed to the semilegendary Qu Yuan (ca. 340-278 B.C.) and his follower Song Yu (fourth century B.C.). The songs in this collection are more lyrical and romantic and represent a different tradition from the earlier Shijing. During the Han dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 220), this form evolved into the fu, a poem usually in rhymed verse except for introductory and concluding passages that are in prose, often in the form of questions and answers. The era of disunity that followed the Han period saw the rise of romantic nature poetry heavily influenced by Taoism.

Classical poetry reached its zenith during the Tang dynasty (A.D. 618-907). The early Tang period was best known for its lushi (regulated verse), an eight-line poem with five or seven words in each line; zi (verse following strict rules of prosody); and jueju (truncated verse), a four-line poem with five or seven words in each line. The two best-known poets of the period were Li Bai (701-762) and Du Fu (712-770). Li Bai was known for the romanticism of his poetry; Du Fu was seen as a Confucian moralist with a strict sense of duty toward society.

Later Tang poets developed greater realism and social criticism and refined the art of narration. One of the best known of the later Tang poets was Bai Juyi (772-846), whose poems were an inspired and critical comment on the society of his time.

Subsequent writers of classical poetry lived under the shadow of their great Tang predecessors, and although there were many fine poets in subsequent dynasties, none reached the level of this period. As the classical style of poetry became more stultified, a more flexible poetic medium, the ci, arrived on the scene. The ci, a poetic form based on the tunes of popular songs, some of Central Asian origin, was developed to its fullest by the poets of the Song dynasty (960-1279).

As the ci gradually became more literary and artificial after Song times, the san qu, a freer form, based on new popular songs, developed. The use of san qu songs in drama marked an important step in the development of vernacular literature.

Later Prose

The Tang period also saw a rejection of the ornate, artificial style of prose developed in the previous period and the emergence of a simple, direct, and forceful prose based on Han and pre-Han writing. The primary proponent of this neoclassical style of prose, which heavily influenced prose writing for the next 800 years, was Han Yu (768-824), a master essayist and strong advocate of a return to Confucian orthodoxy.

Vernacular fiction became popular after the fourteenth century, although it was never esteemed in court circles. Covering a broader range of subject matter and longer and less highly structured than literary fiction, vernacular fiction includes a number of masterpieces. The greatest is the eighteenth-century domestic novel Hong Lou Meng (Dream of the Red Chamber). A semiautobiographical work by a scion of a declining gentry family, Hong Lou Meng has been acknowledged by students of Chinese fiction to be the masterwork of its type.

Modern Prose

In the New Culture Movement (1917-23), literary writing style was largely replaced by the vernacular in all areas of literature. This was brought about mainly by Lu Xun (1881-1936), China's first major stylist in vernacular prose (other than the novel), and the literary reformers Hu Shi (1891-1962) and Chen Duxiu (1880-1942).

The late 1920s and 1930s were years of creativity in Chinese fiction, and literary journals and societies espousing various artistic theories proliferated. Among the major writers of the period were Guo Moruo (1892-1978), a poet, historian, essayist, and critic; Mao Dun (1896-1981), the first of the novelists to emerge from the League of Left-Wing Writers and one whose work reflected the revolutionary struggle and disillusionment of the late 1920s; and Ba Jin (b. 1904), a novelist whose work was influenced by Ivan Turgenev and other Russian writers. In the 1930s Ba Jin produced a trilogy that depicted the struggle of modern youth against the ageold dominance of the Confucian family system. Comparison often is made between Jia (Family), one of the novels in the trilogy, and Hong Lou Meng. Another writer of the period was the gifted satirist and novelist Lao She (1899-1966). Many of these writers became important as administrators of artistic and literary policy after 1949. Most of those still alive during the Cultural Revolution were either purged or forced to submit to public humiliation.

The League of Left-Wing Writers was founded in 1930 and included Lu Xun in its leadership. By 1932 it had adopted the Soviet doctrine of socialist realism, that is, the insistence that art must concentrate on contemporary events in a realistic way, exposing the ills of nonsocialist society and promoting the glorious future under communism. After 1949 socialist realism, based on Mao's famous 1942 "Yan'an Talks on Literature and Art," became the uniform style of Chinese authors whose works were published. Conflict, however, soon developed between the government and the writers. The ability to satirize and expose the evils in contemporary society that had made writers useful to the Chinese Communist Party before its accession to power was no longer welcomed. Even more unwelcome to the party was the persistence among writers of what was deplored as "petty bourgeois idealism," "humanitarianism," and an insistence on freedom to choose subject matter.

At the time of the Great Leap Forward, the government increased its insistence on the use of socialist realism and combined with it so-called revolutionary realism and revolutionary romanticism. Authors were permitted to write about contemporary China, as well as other times during China's modern period--as long as it was accomplished with the desired socialist revolutionary realism. Nonetheless, the political restrictions discouraged many writers. Although authors were encouraged to write, production of literature fell off to the point that in 1962 only forty-two novels were published.

During the Cultural Revolution, the repression and intimidation led by Mao's fourth wife, Jiang Qing, succeeded in drying up all cultural activity except a few "model" operas and heroic stories. Although it has since been learned that some writers continued to produce in secret, during that period no significant literary work was published.

China - Literature in the Post-Mao Period

The arrest of Jiang Qing and the other members of the Gang of Four in 1976, and especially the reforms initiated at the Third Plenum of the Eleventh National Party Congress Central Committee in December 1978, led more and more older writers and some younger writers to take up their pens again. Much of the literature discussed the serious abuses of power that had taken place at both the national and the local levels during the Cultural Revolution. The writers decried the waste of time and talent during that decade and bemoaned abuses that had held China back. At the same time, the writers expressed eagerness to make a contribution to building Chinese society. This literature, often called "the literature of the wounded," contained some disquieting views of the party and the political system. Intensely patriotic, these authors wrote cynically of the political leadership that gave rise to the extreme chaos and disorder of the Cultural Revolution. Some of them extended the blame to the entire generation of leaders and to the political system itself. The political authorities were faced with a serious problem: how could they encourage writers to criticize and discredit the abuses of the Cultural Revolution without allowing that criticism to go beyond what they considered tolerable limits?

During this period, a large number of novels and short stories were published; literary magazines from before the Cultural Revolution were revived, and new ones were added to satisfy the seemingly insatiable appetite of the reading public. There was a special interest in foreign works. Linguists were commissioned to translate recently published foreign literature, often without carefully considering its interest for the Chinese reader. Literary magazines specializing in translations of foreign short stories became very popular, especially among the young.

It is not surprising that such dramatic change brought objections from some leaders in government and literary and art circles, who feared it was happening too fast. The first reaction came in 1980 with calls to combat "bourgeois liberalism," a campaign that was repeated in 1981. These two difficult periods were followed by the campaign against spiritual pollution in late 1983, but by 1986 writers were again enjoying greater creative freedom.

China - Traditional Arts


Traditional drama, often called "Chinese opera," grew out of the zaju (variety plays) of the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368) and continues to exist in 368 different forms, the best known of which is Beijing Opera, which assumed its present form in the midnineteenth century and was extremely popular in the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) court. In Beijing Opera, traditional Chinese string and percussion instruments provide a strong rhythmic accompaniment to the acting. The acting is based on allusion: gestures, footwork, and other body movements express such actions as riding a horse, rowing a boat, or opening a door. Spoken dialogue is divided into recitative and Beijing colloquial speech, the former employed by serious characters and the latter by young females and clowns. Character roles are strictly defined. The traditional repertoire of Beijing Opera includes more than 1,000 works, mostly taken from historical novels about political and military struggles.

In the early years of the People's Republic, the development of Beijing Opera was encouraged; many new operas on historical and modern themes were written, and earlier operas continued to be performed. As a popular art form, opera has usually been the first of the arts to reflect changes in Chinese policy. In the mid-1950s, for example, it was the first to benefit under the Hundred Flowers Campaign. Similarly, the attack in November 1965 on Beijing deputy mayor Wu Han and his historical play, "Hai Rui's Dismissal from Office," signaled the beginning of the Cultural Revolution. During the Cultural Revolution, most opera troupes were disbanded, performers and scriptwriters were persecuted, and all operas except the eight "model operas" approved by Jiang Qing and her associates were banned. After the fall of the Gang of Four in 1976, Beijing Opera enjoyed a revival and continued to be a very popular form of entertainment both in theaters and on television.

In traditional Chinese theater, no plays were performed in the vernacular or without singing. But at the turn of the twentieth century, Chinese students returning from abroad began to experiment with Western plays. Following the May Fourth Movement of 1919, a number of Western plays were staged in China, and Chinese playwrights began to imitate this form. The most notable of the new-style playwrights was Cao Yu (b. 1910). His major works-- "Thunderstorm," "Sunrise," "Wilderness," and "Peking Man"--written between 1934 and 1940, have been widely read in China.

In the 1930s, theatrical productions performed by traveling Red Army cultural troupes in Communist-controlled areas were consciously used to promote party goals and political philosophy. By the 1940s theater was well-established in the Communistcontrolled areas.

In the early years of the People's Republic, Western-style theater was presented mainly in the form of "socialist realism." During the Cultural Revolution, however, Western-style plays were condemned as "dead drama" and "poisonous weeds" and were not performed.

Following the Cultural Revolution, Western-style theater experienced a revival. Many new works appeared, and revised and banned plays from China and abroad were reinstated in the national repertoire. Many of the new plays strained at the limits of creative freedom and were alternately commended and condemned, depending on the political atmosphere. One of the most outspoken of the new breed of playwrights was Sha Yexin. His controversial play "The Imposter," which dealt harshly with the favoritism and perquisites accorded party members, was first produced in 1979. In early 1980 the play was roundly criticized by Secretary General Hu Yaobang--the first public intervention in the arts since the Cultural Revolution. In the campaign against bourgeois liberalism in 1981 and the antispiritual pollution campaign in 1983, Sha and his works were again criticized. Through it all Sha continued to write for the stage and to defend himself and his works in the press. In late 1985 Sha Yexin was accepted into the Chinese Communist Party and appointed head of the Shanghai People's Art Theater, where he continued to produce controversial plays.

China - Music

Chinese music appears to date back to the dawn of Chinese civilization, and documents and artifacts provide evidence of a well-developed musical culture as early as the Zhou dynasty (1027- 221 B.C.). The Imperial Music Bureau, first established in the Qin dynasty (221-207 B.C.), was greatly expanded under the Han emperor Wu Di (140-87 B.C.) and charged with supervising court music and military music and determining what folk music would be officially recognized. In subsequent dynasties, the development of Chinese music was strongly influenced by foreign music, especially that of Central Asia.

Chinese vocal music has traditionally been sung in a thin, nonresonant voice or in falsetto and is usually solo rather than choral. All traditional Chinese music is melodic rather than harmonic. Instrumental music is played on solo instruments or in small ensembles of plucked and bowed stringed instruments, flutes, and various cymbals, gongs, and drums. The scale has five notes.

The New Culture Movement of the 1910s and 1920s evoked a great deal of lasting interest in Western music as a number of Chinese musicians who had studied abroad returned to perform Western classical music and to compose works of their own based on the Western musical notation system. Symphony orchestras were formed in most major cities and performed to a wide audience in the concert halls and on radio. Popular music--greatly influenced by Western music, especially that of the United States--also gained a wide audience in the 1940s. After the 1942 Yan'an Forum on Literature and Art, a large-scale campaign was launched in the Communistcontrolled areas to adapt folk music to create revolutionary songs to educate the largely illiterate rural population on party goals.

After the establishment of the People's Republic, revolutionary songs continued to be performed, and much of the remainder of popular music consisted of popular songs from the Soviet Union with the lyrics translated into Chinese. Symphony orchestras flourished throughout the country, performing Western classical music and compositions by Chinese composers. Conservatories and other institutions of musical instruction were developed and expanded in the major cities. A number of orchestras from Eastern Europe performed in China, and Chinese musicians and musical groups participated in a wide variety of international festivals.

During the height of the Cultural Revolution, musical composition and performance were greatly restricted. After the Cultural Revolution, musical institutions were reinstated and musical composition and performance revived. In 1980 the Chinese Musicians' Association was formally elected to the International Musicological Society. Chinese musical groups toured foreign countries, and foreign musical organizations performed in China. In the mid-1980s popular ballads and Western folk and classical music still drew the greatest audiences, but other kinds of music, including previously banned Western jazz and rock and roll, were being performed and were receiving increasing acceptance, especially among young people.

China - Painting and Calligraphy

In imperial times, painting and calligraphy were the most highly appreciated arts in court circles and were produced almost exclusively by amateurs--aristocrats and scholar-officials--who alone had the leisure to perfect the technique and sensibility necessary for great brushwork. Calligraphy was thought to be the highest and purest form of painting. The implements were the brush pen, made of animal hair, and black inks made from pine soot and animal glue. In ancient times, writing, as well as painting, was done on silk. But after the invention of paper in the first century A.D., silk was gradually replaced by the new and cheaper material. Original writings by famous calligraphers have been greatly valued throughout China's history and are mounted on scrolls and hung on walls in the same way that paintings are.

Painting in the traditional style involves essentially the same techniques as calligraphy and is done with a brush dipped in black or colored ink; oils are not used. As with calligraphy, the most popular materials on which paintings are made are paper and silk. The finished work is then mounted on scrolls, which can be hung or rolled up. Traditional painting also is done in albums and on walls, lacquerwork, and other media.

Beginning in the Tang dynasty (A.D. 618-907), the primary subject matter of painting was the landscape, known as shanshui (mountain-water) painting. In these landscapes, usually monochromatic and sparse, the purpose was not to reproduce exactly the appearance of nature but rather to grasp an emotion or atmosphere so as to catch the "rhythm" of nature. In Song dynasty (960-1279) times, landscapes of more subtle expression appeared; immeasurable distances were conveyed through the use of blurred outlines, mountain contours disappearing into the mist, and impressionistic treatment of natural phenomena. Emphasis was placed on the spiritual qualities of the painting and on the ability of the artist to reveal the inner harmony of man and nature, as perceived according to Taoist and Buddhist concepts.

Beginning in the thirteenth century, there developed a tradition of painting simple subjects--a branch with fruit, a few flowers, or one or two horses. Narrative painting, with a wider color range and a much busier composition than the Song painting, was immensely popular at the time of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644).

During the Ming period, the first books illustrated with colored woodcuts appeared. As the techniques of color printing were perfected, illustrated manuals on the art of painting began to be published. Jieziyuan Huazhuan (Manual of the Mustard Seed Garden), a five-volume work first published in 1679, has been in use as a technical textbook for artists and students ever since.

Beginning with the New Culture Movement, Chinese artists started to adopt Western techniques. It also was during this time that oil painting was introduced to China.

In the early years of the People's Republic, artists were encouraged to employ socialist realism. Some Soviet socialist realism was imported without modification, and painters were assigned subjects and expected to mass-produce paintings. This regimen was considerably relaxed in 1953, and after the Hundred Flowers Campaign of 1956-57, traditional Chinese painting experienced a significant revival. Along with these developments in professional art circles, there was a proliferation of peasant art depicting everyday life in the rural areas on wall murals and in open-air painting exhibitions.

During the Cultural Revolution, art schools were closed, and publication of art journals and major art exhibitions ceased. Nevertheless, amateur art continued to flourish throughout this period.

Following the Cultural Revolution, art schools and professional organizations were reinstated. Exchanges were set up with groups of foreign artists, and Chinese artists began to experiment with new subjects and techniques.

China - Contemporary Performing Arts

Motion Pictures

Motion pictures were introduced to China in 1896, but the film industry was not started until 1917. During the 1920s film technicians from the United States trained Chinese technicians in Shanghai, an early filmmaking center, and American influence continued to be felt there for the next two decades. In the 1930s and 1940s, several socially and politically important films were produced.

The film industry continued to develop after 1949. In the 17 years between the founding of the People's Republic and the Cultural Revolution, 603 feature films and 8,342 reels of documentaries and newsreels were produced. The first wide-screen film was produced in 1960. Animated films using a variety of folk arts, such as papercuts, shadow plays, puppetry, and traditional paintings, also were very popular for entertaining and educating children.

During the Cultural Revolution, the film industry was severely restricted. Most previous films were banned, and only a few new ones were produced. In the years immediately following the Cultural Revolution, the film industry again flourished as a medium of popular entertainment. Domestically produced films played to large audiences, and tickets for foreign film festivals sold quickly.

In the 1980s the film industry fell on hard times, faced with the dual problems of competition from other forms of entertainment and concern on the part of the authorities that many of the popular thriller and martial arts films were socially unacceptable. In January 1986 the film industry was transferred from the Ministry of Culture to the newly formed Ministry of Radio, Cinema, and Television to bring it under "stricter control and management" and to "strengthen supervision over production."

China - Radio and Television

Radio and television expanded rapidly in the 1980s as important means of mass communication and popular entertainment. By 1985 radio reached 75 percent of the population through 167 radio stations, 215 million radios, and a vast wired loudspeaker system. Television, growing at an even more rapid rate, reached two-thirds of the population through more than 104 stations (up from 52 in 1984 and 44 in 1983); an estimated 85 percent of the urban population had access to television. As radio and television stations grew, the content of the programming changed drastically from the political lectures and statistical lists of the previous period. Typical radio listening included soap operas based on popular novels and a variety of Chinese and foreign music. Most television shows were entertainment, including feature films, sports, drama, music, dance, and children's programming. In 1985 a survey of a typical week of television programming made by the Shanghai publication Wuxiandian Yu Dianshi (Journal of Radio and Television) revealed that more than half of the programming could be termed entertainment; education made up 24 percent of the remainder of the programming and news 15 percent. A wide cross section of international news was presented each evening. Most news broadcasts were borrowed from foreign news organizations, and a Chinese summary was dubbed over. China Central Television also contracted with several foreign broadcasters for entertainment programs. Between 1982 and 1985, six United States television companies signed agreements to provide American programs to China.

China - Folk and Variety Arts

Folk and variety arts have a long history in China. One of the oldest forms of folk art is puppetry. Puppeteers use various kinds of puppets, including marionettes, rod puppets, cloth puppets, and wire puppets in performances incorporating folk songs and dances and some dialogues. The subject matter is derived mainly from children's stories and fables. The shadow play is a form of puppetry that is performed by moving figures made of animal skins or cardboard held behind a screen lit by lamplight. The subject matter and singing style in shadow plays are closely related to local opera. Another popular folk art is the quyi, which consists of various kinds of storytelling and comic monologues and dialogues, often to the accompaniment of clappers, drums, or stringed instruments.

Variety arts, including tightrope walking, acrobatics, animal acts, and sleight of hand date back at least as far as the Han dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 220) and were very popular in the imperial court. Later, many of these feats were incorporated into the traditional theater, and they continued to be performed by itinerant troupes. As these troupes traveled around the countryside, they developed and enriched their repertoire. Since 1949 these art forms have gained new respectability. Troupes have been established in the provinces, autonomous regions, and special municipalities, and theaters specifically dedicated to the variety arts have been built in major cities. Some troupes have become world famous, playing to packed houses at home and on foreign tours.

China - Publishing


Publishing in China dates from the invention of woodblock printing around the eighth century A.D. and was greatly expanded with the invention of movable clay type in the eleventh century. From the tenth to the twelfth century, Kaifeng, Meishan, Hangzhou, and Jianyang were major printing centers. In the nineteenth century, China acquired movable lead type and photogravure printing plates and entered the age of modern book and magazine printing. The largest of the early publishing houses were the Commercial Press (Shangwu Yinshuguan), established in 1897, and the China Publishing House (Zhonghua Shuju), established in 1912, both of which were still operating in 1987. Following the May Fourth Movement of 1919, publishers, especially those associated with various groups of intellectuals, proliferated. During the Chinese civil war, New China Booksellers (Xinhua Shudian) published a large amount of Marxist literature and educational materials in the communist-controlled areas. On the eve of the establishment of the People's Republic in 1949, there were over 700 New China Booksellers offices.

Between 1949 and 1952, the New China Booksellers offices scattered throughout the country were nationalized and given responsibility publishing, printing, and distribution. Also, several small private publishers were brought under joint stateprivate ownership, and by 1956 all private publishers had been nationalized. After a brief flourishing during the Hundred Flowers Campaign of 1956-57, the publishing industry came under strong political pressure in the Anti-Rightist Campaign of 1957. The industry had not fully recovered from this campaign when it was plunged into the Cultural Revolution, a period in which publishing was severely curtailed and limited mainly to political tracts supporting various campaigns. Following the Cultural Revolution, publishing again flourished in unprecedented ways. In 1982 the China National Publishing Administration, the umbrella organization of Chinese publishers, was placed under the Ministry of Culture, but actual management of the industry was directed through four systems of administration: direct state administration; administration by committees or organizations of the State Council or the party Central Committee; armed forces administration; and administration by provinces, autonomous regions, or special municipalities.

In 1984 statistics showed that 17 of the country's 418 publishing establishments were in Shanghai, whereas Beijing was home to 160 publishers. In 1985 plans were announced to foster the growth of the publishing industry in Chongqing, Xi'an, Wuhan, and Shenyang to take some of the workload from Beijing and Shanghai.

Different publishers were assigned to specific kinds of publications. For example, the People's Publishing House was responsible for publishing works on politics, philosophy, and the social sciences; the People's Literature Publishing House produced ancient and modern Chinese and foreign literature and literary history and theory; the China Publishing House had the principal responsibility for collating and publishing Chinese classical literary, historical, and philosophical works; and the Commercial Press was the principal publisher of Chinese-to-foreign-language reference works and translations of foreign works in the social sciences. Other publishers dealt with works in specialized fields of science.

In addition to the routine method of distributing books to bookstores in major cities, other methods of distribution were devised to meet the special needs of readers in urban and rural areas throughout the country. Mobile bookshops made regular visits to factories, mines, rural villages, and People's Liberation Army units, and service was provided in those locations through which individuals could request books. Arrangements were made with the libraries of educational institutions and enterprises to supply them with the books that they required, and books specifically applicable to certain industries were systematically recommended and provided to the departments concerned. Also, book fairs and exhibits frequently were provided at meetings and in public parks on holidays and other special occasions.


In 1987 China had two news agencies, the Xinhua (New China) News Agency and the China News Service (Zhongguo Xinwenshe). Xinhua was the major source of news and photographs for central and local newspapers. The party's newspapers Renmin Ribao (People's Daily) and Guangming Ribao (Enlightenment Daily), and the People's Liberation Army's Jiefangjun Bao (Liberation Army Daily) continued to have the largest circulation. In addition to these major party and army organs, most professional and scientific organizations published newspapers or journals containing specialized information in fields as varied as astronomy and entomology. Local morning and evening newspapers concentrating on news and feature stories about local people and events were extremely popular, selling out each day shortly after they arrived at the newsstands. In June 1981 the English-language China Daily began publication. This newspaper, which was provided for foreigners living or traveling in China but which also was read by a large number of Chinese literate in English, offered international news and sports from the major foreign wire services as well as interesting domestic news and feature articles. Cankao Xiaoxi (Reference News), an official news organ that carried foreign news items in Chinese translation, was available to cadres and their families. In 1980 it enjoyed a circulation of 11 million, but, with the subsequent proliferation of other news sources, its circulation dropped to 4 million in 1985, causing the subscription policy to be changed to make it available to all Chinese. Another source of foreign reporting was Cankao Ziliao (Reference Information), a more restricted Chinese reprint of foreign reportage available only to middle- and upper-level cadres. Both of these publications often included foreign reports critical of China.

China - Libraries and Archives

Very early in Chinese civilization, scholars had extensive private libraries, and all of the imperial dynasties constructed libraries and archives to house literary treasures and official records. The first modern libraries, however, did not appear in China until the late nineteenth century; even then, library service grew slowly and sporadically. In 1949 there were only fifty-five public libraries at the county level and above, most concentrated in major coastal commercial centers.

Following the founding of the People's Republic, government and education leaders strove to develop library services and make them available throughout the country. The National Book Coordination Act of 1957 authorized the establishment of two national library centers, one in Beijing and the other in <"http://worldfacts.us/China-Shanghai.htm">Shanghai, and nine regional library networks. Even so, libraries still were scarce, and those facilities that were available were cramped and offered only rudimentary services. Seeing the lack of libraries as a major impediment to modernization efforts, government leaders in the early 1980s took special interest in the development of library services. The special concentration of funds and talent began to produce significant results. By 1986 China had over 200,000 libraries, including a national library and various public, educational, scientific, and military libraries. More than forty Chinese institutions of higher learning also had established library-science or information-science departments. There were more than 2,300 public libraries at the county level and above, containing nearly 256 million volumes, and below the county level some 53,000 cultural centers included a small library or reading room.

The country's main library, the National Library of China, housed a rich collection of books, periodicals, newspapers, maps, prints, photographs, manuscripts, microforms, tape recordings, and inscriptions on bronze, stone, bones, and tortoiseshells. In 1987 a new National Library building, one of the world's largest library structures, was completed in the western suburbs.

The Shanghai Municipal Library, one of the largest public libraries in the country, contained over 7 million volumes, nearly 1 million of which were in foreign languages. The Beijing University Library took over the collections of the Yanjing University Library in 1950 and by the mid-1980s--with more than 3 million volumes, one-fourth of them in foreign languages--was one of the best university libraries in the country.

On the basis of the General Rules for Archives published in 1983, historical archives were being expanded at the provincial and county levels. Two of the most important archives were the Number One Historical Archives of China, located in Beijing containing the archives of the Ming and Qing dynasties, and the Number Two Historical Archives of China, located in Nanjing containing the archives of the Guomindang period. A number of foreign scholars have been granted access to these archives. In 1987 public and research libraries still faced serious space, management, and service problems. Even with the special efforts being made to solve these problems, it was clear that they would not be quickly resolved.

In the late 1980s, China was experiencing an active educational and cultural life. Students were staying in school longer, educational standards were being raised, and facilities were being improved. Intellectuals were encouraged to develop their expertise, especially in the scientific and technical spheres, and a wide variety of traditional and foreign literary and art forms were allowed to flourish. This situation was likely to continue as long as it served the interest of economic modernization and posed no threat to the political establishment.

China - The Economy

IN THE LATE 1980s the Chinese economy was a system in transition, moving cautiously away from central planning and gradually adopting some of the institutions and mechanisms of a market economy. The process of economic reform began in earnest in 1979, after Chinese leaders concluded that the Soviet-style system that had been in place since the 1950s was making little progress in improving the standard of living of the Chinese people and also was failing to close the economic gap between China and the industrialized nations.

The first major success of the economic reform program was the introduction of the responsibility system of production in agriculture, a policy that allowed farm families to work a piece of land under contract and to keep whatever profits they earned. By 1984 the responsibility system had dramatically increased food production, and the government had eliminated the people's communes--the hallmark of Chinese socialism for over twenty years. In most other sectors of the economy the role of government was reduced, managers were given more decision-making power, enterprises were encouraged to produce for profit, the role of the private sector increased, and experimentation with new forms of ownership began in the state sector. Constraints on foreign trade were relaxed, and joint ventures with foreign firms were officially encouraged as sources of modern technology and scarce foreign exchange. With rising incomes, greater incentives, and rapid growth in the service and light industrial sectors, the People's Republic of China began to exhibit some of the traits of a consumer society.

Movement toward a market system, however, was complex and difficult, and in 1987 the transition was far from complete. Relaxing restrictions on economic activity quickly alleviated some of China's most pressing economic difficulties, but it also gave rise to a new set of problems. Inflation--the greatest fear of Chinese consumers--became a problem for the first time since the early 1950s, and along with new opportunities to seek profit came growing inequality in income distribution and new temptations for crime, corruption, and Western cultural styles, regarded by many older Chinese people as decadent and "spiritually polluting." The state still owned and controlled the largest nonagricultural enterprises, and the major industries were still primarily guided by the central plan.

Thus, the Chinese economy in the late 1980s was very much a mixed system. It could not be accurately described as either a centrally planned economy or a market economy. The leadership was committed to further expansion of the reform program as a requisite for satisfactory economic growth, but at the same time it was compelled to keep a tight grip on key aspects of the economy- -particularly inflation and grain production--to prevent the emergence of overwhelming political discontent. Under these circumstances, forces in the economic system worked against each other, producing what the Chinese leadership called internal "contradictions." On the one hand, the economy was no longer tightly controlled by the state plan because of the large and growing market sector. On the other hand, the market could not operate efficiently because many commodities were still under government control and most prices were still set or restricted by government agencies. Under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping, the entire nation was "riding the tiger"--making great progress but not entirely in control--and therefore unable to stop the process without risk.

Despite the burst of progress in the 1980s, the Chinese economy still shared many basic characteristics with the economies of other developing countries. The gross national product per capita in 1986 was -Y849, or about US$228 (at the 1986 exchange rate), reflecting the low average level of labor productivity. As in many countries that did not begin sustained industrialization efforts until the middle of the twentieth century, the majority of the Chinese labor force--over 60 percent--was still employed in agriculture, which produced around 30 percent of the value of national output. Agricultural work still was performed primarily by hand. Modern equipment was in general use in industry but was largely typified by outdated designs and low levels of efficiency.

In other respects China's economy was quite different from those of most developing nations. The most important difference was that the Chinese economy--although in the midst of far-reaching changes--was organized as a socialist system, directed by a central planning structure. The predominance of state and collective ownership, firm central control over the financial system, redistribution of resources among regions, rationing of grain, and subsidized provision of housing resulted in a pattern of income distribution that was much narrower than those in almost all other developing countries. There was relatively little true capitalism in the form of private ownership of productive assets. Agricultural land was farmed under lease by farm households but was formally owned by villages, towns, and townships--the collective units that had replaced the rural commune system.

In the mid-1980s most Chinese were still very poor by American standards, but several important measures indicated that the quality of their lives was considerably better than implied by the level of gross national product (GNP) per capita. According to World Bank data, in 1984 energy consumption per person was 485 kilograms of oil equivalent, higher than that for any other country ranked as a low-income country and greater than the average for lower middle-income countries. In 1983 the daily calorie supply per capita was 2,620--11 percent above the basic requirement and nearly as high as the average for countries classified as upper middle-income countries. Significantly, infant mortality in 1985 was 39 per 1,000, well below the average for upper middle-income countries, and life expectancy at birth was 69 years, higher than the average for upper middle-income countries.

Despite the major economic gains made by China since 1949 and the dramatic advances of the 1980s, serious imbalances and deficiencies have persisted. Contributing to these deficiencies were the political turmoil that disrupted the economy during the Cultural Revolution decade (1966-76), insufficient flexibility in the planning process, and serious inaccuracies in price structures. Power shortages, inadequate transportation and communication networks, shortages of technicians and other highly trained personnel, insufficient foreign exchange for procurement of advanced technology from other countries, and inadequate legal and administrative provisions for both foreign and domestic trade further hindered modernization.

An important by-product of the reform program since the late 1970s has been an enormous increase in the amount of information available on the economy. The government collected and published basic national economic data in the 1950s, but the centralized statistics-keeping system broke down at the end of the 1950s, and very little statistical information was available during the 1960s and early 1970s. It was not until 1979 that the State Statistical Bureau ended the statistical "blackout" with the publication of an economic statistical communique. In subsequent years the State Statistical Bureau published larger and more frequent compendia, including annual almanacs of the economy and annual statistical yearbooks, which became progressively more sophisticated and informative. In addition, most provincial-level units and cities, as well as the major industries and economic sectors, such as coal mining and agriculture, began to produce their own specialized statistical yearbooks. In the early 1980s, numerous new periodicals, many of which specialized in economic data and analysis, started publication. Although Chinese statistical definitions and practices still differed from those in the West in many respects and the accuracy of some figures was called into doubt even by Chinese economists, foreign analysts in 1987 had access to a rich and growing body of data that would support extensive analysis of the Chinese economy.


Throughout most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as during much of earlier Chinese history, the economy was barely able to meet the basic needs of the country's huge population--the largest in the world. In normal years the economy produced just about the amount of food required to meet the minimum nutritional requirements of the populace. In times of drought, flood, warfare, or civil disorder, there was not enough food, and before 1949 such conditions often led to starvation on a vast scale. Under the government of the People's Republic, food shortages were countered by redistributing supplies within China and by importing grain from abroad, which successfully averted famine except in the catastrophic years of 1959, 1960, and 1961.

Despite formidable constraints and disruptions, the Chinese economy was never stagnant. Production grew substantially between 1800 and 1949 and increased fairly rapidly after 1949. Before the 1980s, however, production gains were largely matched by population growth, so that productive capacity was unable to outdistance essential consumption needs significantly, particularly in agriculture. Grain output in 1979 was about twice as large as in 1952, but so was the population. As a result, little surplus was produced even in good years. Further, few resources could be spared for investment in capital goods, such as machinery, factories, mines, railroads, and other productive assets. The relatively small size of the capital stock caused productivity per worker to remain low, which in turn perpetuated the economy's inability to generate a substantial surplus).

China's socialist system, with state ownership of most industry and central control over planning and the financial system, has enabled the government to mobilize whatever surplus was available and greatly increase the proportion of the national economic output devoted to investment. Western analysts estimated that investment accounted for about 25 percent of GNP in the 30 years after 1949, a rate surpassed by few other countries. Because of the comparatively low level of GNP, however, even this high rate of investment secured only a small amount of resources relative to the size of the country and the population. In 1978, for instance, only 16 percent of the GNP of the United States went into gross investment, but this amounted to US$345.6 billion, whereas the approximately 25 percent of China's GNP that was invested came to about the equivalent of US$111 billion and had to serve a population 4.5 times the size of that in the United States. The limited resources available for investment prevented China from rapidly producing or importing advanced equipment. Technological development proceeded gradually, and outdated equipment continued to be used as long as possible. Consequently, many different levels of technology were in use simultaneously. Most industries included some plants that were comparable to modern Western facilities, often based on imported equipment and designs. Equipment produced by Chinese factories was generally some years behind standard Western designs. Agriculture received a smaller share of state investment than industry and remained at a much lower average level of technology and productivity. Despite a significant increase in the availability of tractors, trucks, electric pumps, and mechanical threshers, most agricultural activities were still performed by people or animals.

Although the central administration coordinated the economy and redistributed resources among regions when necessary, in practice most economic activity was very decentralized, and there was relatively little flow of goods and services between areas. About 75 percent of the grain grown in China, for instance, was consumed by the families that produced it. One of the most important sources of growth in the economy was the improved ability to exploit the comparative advantages of each locality by expanding transportation capacity. The communications and transportation sectors were growing and improving but still could not carry the volume of traffic required by a modern economy because of the scarcity of investment funds and advanced technology.

Because of limited interaction among regions, the great variety of geographic zones in China, and the broad spectrum of technologies in use, areas differed widely in economic activities, organizational forms, and prosperity. Within any given city, enterprises ranged from tiny, collectively owned handicraft units, barely earning subsistencelevel incomes for their members, to modern state-owned factories, whose workers received steady wages plus free medical care, bonuses, and an assortment of other benefits. The agricultural sector was diverse, accommodating well-equipped, "specialized households" that supplied scarce products and services to local markets; wealthy suburban villages specializing in the production of vegetables, pork, poultry, and eggs to sell in free markets in the nearby cities; fishing villages on the seacoast; herding groups on the grasslands of Nei Monggol Autonomous Region (Inner Mongolia); and poor, struggling grain-producing villages in the arid mountains of Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. The economy had progressed in major ways since 1949, but after four decades experts in China and abroad agreed that it had a great distance yet to go.

China - ECONOMIC POLICIES, 1949-80

When the Chinese Communist Party came to power in 1949, its leaders' fundamental long-range goals were to transform China into a modern, powerful, socialist nation. In economic terms these objectives meant industrialization, improvement of living standards, narrowing of income differences, and production of modern military equipment. As the years passed, the leadership continued to subscribe to these goals. But the economic policies formulated to achieve them were dramatically altered on several occasions in response to major changes in the economy, internal politics, and international political and economic developments.

An important distinction emerged between leaders who felt that the socialist goals of income equalization and heightened political consciousness should take priority over material progress and those who believed that industrialization and general economic modernization were prerequisites for the attainment of a successful socialist order. Among the prominent leaders who considered politics the prime consideration were Mao Zedong, Lin Biao, and the members of the Gang of Four. Leaders who more often stressed practical economic considerations included Liu Shaoqi, Zhou Enlai, and Deng Xiaoping. For the most part, important policy shifts reflected the alternating emphasis on political and economic goals and were accompanied by major changes in the positions of individuals in the political power structure. An important characteristic in the development of economic policies and the underlying economic model was that each new policy period, while differing significantly from its predecessor, nonetheless retained most of the existing economic organization. Thus the form of the economic model and the policies that expressed it at any given point in Chinese history reflected both the current policy emphasis and a structural foundation built up during the earlier periods.

China - Recovery from War, 1949-52

In 1949 China's economy was suffering from the debilitating effects of decades of warfare. Many mines and factories had been damaged or destroyed. At the end of the war with Japan in 1945, Soviet troops had dismantled about half the machinery in the major industrial areas of the northeast and shipped it to the Soviet Union. Transportation, communication, and power systems had been destroyed or had deteriorated because of lack of maintenance. Agriculture was disrupted, and food production was some 30 percent below its pre-war peak level. Further, economic ills were compounded by one of the most virulent inflations in world history.

The chief goal of the government for the 1949-52 period was simply to restore the economy to normal working order. The administration moved quickly to repair transportation and communication links and revive the flow of economic activity. The banking system was nationalized and centralized under the People's Bank of China. To bring inflation under control by 1951, the government unified the monetary system, tightened credit, restricted government budgets at all levels and put them under central control, and guaranteed the value of the currency. Commerce was stimulated and partially regulated by the establishment of state trading companies (commercial departments), which competed with private traders in purchasing goods from producers and selling them to consumers or enterprises. Transformation of ownership in industry proceeded slowly. About a third of the country's enterprises had been under state control while the Guomindang government was in power (1927-49), as was much of the modernized transportation sector. The Chinese Communist Party immediately made these units state-owned enterprises upon taking power in 1949. The remaining privately owned enterprises were gradually brought under government control, but 17 percent of industrial units were still completely outside the state system in 1952.

In agriculture a major change in landownership was carried out. Under a nationwide land reform program, titles to about 45 percent of the arable land were redistributed from landlords and more prosperous farmers to the 60 to 70 percent of farm families that previously owned little or no land. Once land reform was completed in an area, farmers were encouraged to cooperate in some phases of production through the formation of small "mutual aid teams" of six or seven households each. Thirty-nine percent of all farm households belonged to mutual aid teams in 1952. By 1952 price stability had been established, commerce had been restored, and industry and agriculture had regained their previous peak levels of production. The period of recovery had achieved its goals.

China - The First Five-Year Plan, 1953-57

Having restored a viable economic base, the leadership under Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, and other revolutionary veterans was prepared to embark on an intensive program of industrial growth and socialization. For this purpose the administration adopted the Soviet economic model, based on state ownership in the modern sector, large collective units in agriculture, and centralized economic planning. The Soviet approach to economic development was manifested in the First Five-Year Plan (1953-57). As in the Soviet economy, the main objective was a high rate of economic growth, with primary emphasis on industrial development at the expense of agriculture and particular concentration on heavy industry and capital-intensive technology. Soviet planners helped their Chinese counterparts formulate the plan. Large numbers of Soviet engineers, technicians, and scientists assisted in developing and installing new heavy industrial facilities, including many entire plants and pieces of equipment purchased from the Soviet Union. Government control over industry was increased during this period by applying financial pressures and inducements to convince owners of private, modern firms to sell them to the state or convert them into joint public-private enterprises under state control. By 1956 approximately 67.5 percent of all modern industrial enterprises were state owned, and 32.5 percent were under joint public-private ownership. No privately owned firms remained. During the same period, the handicraft industries were organized into cooperatives, which accounted for 91.7 percent of all handicraft workers by 1956.

Agriculture also underwent extensive organizational changes. To facilitate the mobilization of agricultural resources, improve the efficiency of farming, and increase government access to agricultural products, the authorities encouraged farmers to organize increasingly large and socialized collective units. From the loosely structured, tiny mutual aid teams, villages were to advance first to lower-stage, agricultural producers' cooperatives, in which families still received some income on the basis of the amount of land they contributed, and eventually to advanced cooperatives, or collectives. In the advanced producers' cooperatives, income shares were based only on the amount of labor contributed. In addition, each family was allowed to retain a small private plot on which to grow vegetables, fruit, and livestock for its own use. The collectivization process began slowly but accelerated in 1955 and 1956. In 1957 about 93.5 percent of all farm households had joined advanced producers' cooperatives.

In terms of economic growth the First Five-Year Plan was quite successful, especially in those areas emphasized by the Soviet-style development strategy. A solid foundation was created in heavy industry. Key industries, including iron and steel manufacturing, coal mining, cement production, electricity generation, and machine building were greatly expanded and were put on a firm, modern technological footing. Thousands of industrial and mining enterprises were constructed, including 156 major facilities. Industrial production increased at an average annual rate of 19 percent between 1952 and 1957, and national income grew at a rate of 9 percent a year.

Despite the lack of state investment in agriculture, agricultural output increased substantially, averaging increases of about 4 percent a year. This growth resulted primarily from gains in efficiency brought about by the reorganization and cooperation achieved through collectivization. As the First Five-Year Plan wore on, however, Chinese leaders became increasingly concerned over the relatively sluggish performance of agriculture and the inability of state trading companies to increase significantly the amount of grain procured from rural units for urban consumption.

China - The Great Leap Forward, 1958-60

Before the end of the First Five-Year Plan, the growing imbalance between industrial and agricultural growth, dissatisfaction with inefficiency, and lack of flexibility in the decision-making process convinced the nation's leaders-- particularly Mao Zedong--that the highly centralized, industry-biased Soviet model was not appropriate for China. In 1957 the government adopted measures to shift a great deal of the authority for economic decision making to the provincial-level, county, and local administrations. In 1958 the Second Five-Year Plan (1958-62), which was intended to continue the policies of the first plan, was abandoned. In its place the leadership adopted an approach that relied on spontaneous heroic efforts by the entire population to produce a dramatic "great leap" in production for all sectors of the economy at once. Further reorganization of agriculture was regarded as the key to the endeavor to leap suddenly to a higher stage of productivity. A fundamental problem was the lack of sufficient capital to invest heavily in both industry and agriculture at the same time. To overcome this problem, the leadership decided to attempt to create capital in the agricultural sector by building vast irrigation and water control works employing huge teams of farmers whose labor was not being fully utilized. Surplus rural labor also was to be employed to support the industrial sector by setting up thousands of small-scale, low-technology, "backyard" industrial projects in farm units, which would produce machinery required for agricultural development and components for urban industries. Mobilization of surplus rural labor and further improvements in agricultural efficiency were to be accomplished by a "leap" to the final stage of agricultural collectivization--the formation of people's communes.

People's communes were created by combining some 20 or 30 advanced producers' cooperatives of 20,000 to 30,000 members on average, although membership varied from as few as 6,000 to over 40,000 in some cases. When first instituted, the communes were envisaged as combining in one body the functions of the lowest level of local government and the highest level of organization in agricultural production. Communes consisted of three organizational levels: the central commune administration; the production brigade (roughly equivalent to the advanced producers' cooperatives, or a traditional rural village), and the production team, which generally consisted of around thirty families. At the inception of the Great Leap Forward, the communes were intended to acquire all ownership rights over the productive assets of their subordinate units and to take over most of the planning and decision making for farm activities. Ideally, communes were to improve efficiency by moving farm families into dormitories, feeding them in communal mess halls, and moving whole teams of laborers from task to task. In practice, this ideal, extremely centralized form of commune was not instituted in most areas.

Ninety-eight percent of the farm population was organized into communes between April and September of 1958. Very soon it became evident that in most cases the communes were too unwieldy to carry out successfully all the managerial and administrative functions that were assigned to them. In 1959 and 1960, most production decisions reverted to the brigade and team levels, and eventually most governmental responsibilities were returned to county and township administrations. Nonetheless, the commune system was retained and continued to be the basic form of organization in the agricultural sector until the early 1980s.

During the Great Leap Forward, the industrial sector also was expected to discover and use slack labor and productive capacity to increase output beyond the levels previously considered feasible. Political zeal was to be the motive force, and to "put politics in command" enterprising party branches took over the direction of many factories. In addition, central planning was relegated to a minor role in favor of spontaneous, politically inspired production decisions from individual units.

The result of the Great Leap Forward was a severe economic crisis. In 1958 industrial output did in fact "leap" by 55 percent, and the agricultural sector gathered in a good harvest. In 1959, 1960, and 1961, however, adverse weather conditions, improperly constructed water control projects, and other misallocations of resources that had occurred during the overly centralized communization movement resulted in disastrous declines in agricultural output. In 1959 and 1960, the gross value of agricultural output fell by 14 percent and 13 percent, respectively, and in 1961 it dropped a further 2 percent to reach the lowest point since 1952. Widespread famine occurred, especially in rural areas, according to 1982 census figures, and the death rate climbed from 1.2 percent in 1958 to 1.5 percent in 1959, 2.5 percent in 1960, and then dropped back to 1.4 percent in 1961. From 1958 to 1961, over 14 million people apparently died of starvation, and the number of reported births was about 23 million fewer than under normal conditions. The government prevented an even worse disaster by canceling nearly all orders for foreign technical imports and using the country's foreign exchange reserves to import over 5 million tons of grain a year beginning in 1960. Mines and factories continued to expand output through 1960, partly by overworking personnel and machines but largely because many new plants constructed during the First Five-Year Plan went into full production in these years. Thereafter, however, the excessive strain on equipment and workers, the effects of the agricultural crisis, the lack of economic coordination, and, in the 1960s, the withdrawal of Soviet assistance caused industrial output to plummet by 38 percent in 1961 and by a further 16 percent in 1962

China - Readjustment and Recovery: "Agriculture First," 1961-65

Faced with economic collapse in the early 1960s, the government sharply revised the immediate goals of the economy and devised a new set of economic policies to replace those of the Great Leap Forward. Top priority was given to restoring agricultural output and expanding it at a rate that would meet the needs of the growing population. Planning and economic coordination were to be revived- -although in a less centralized form than before the Great Leap Forward--so as to restore order and efficient allocation of resources to the economy. The rate of investment was to be reduced and investment priorities reversed, with agriculture receiving first consideration, light industry second, and heavy industry third.

In a further departure from the emphasis on heavy industrial development that persisted during the Great Leap Forward, the government undertook to mobilize the nation's resources to bring about technological advancement in agriculture. Organizational changes in agriculture mainly involved decentralization of production decision making and income distribution within the commune structure. The role of the central commune administration was greatly reduced, although it remained the link between local government and agricultural producers and was important in carrying out activities that were too large in scale for the production brigades. Production teams were designated the basic accounting units and were responsible for making nearly all decisions concerning production and the distribution of income to their members. Private plots, which had disappeared on some communes during the Great Leap Forward, were officially restored to farm families.

Economic support for agriculture took several forms. Agricultural taxes were reduced, and the prices paid for agricultural products were raised relative to the prices of industrial supplies for agriculture. There were substantial increases in supplies of chemical fertilizer and various kinds of agricultural machinery, notably small electric pumps for irrigation. Most of the modern supplies were concentrated in areas that were known to produce "high and stable yields" in order to ensure the best possible results.

In industry, a few key enterprises were returned to central state control, but control over most enterprises remained in the hands of provincial-level and local governments. This decentralization had taken place in 1957 and 1958 and was reaffirmed and strengthened in the 1961-65 period. Planning rather than politics once again guided production decisions, and material rewards rather than revolutionary enthusiasm became the leading incentive for production. Major imports of advanced foreign machinery, which had come to an abrupt halt with the withdrawal of Soviet assistance starting in 1960, were initiated with Japan and West European countries.

During the 1961-65 readjustment and recovery period, economic stability was restored, and by 1966 production in both agriculture and industry surpassed the peak levels of the Great Leap Forward period. Between 1961 and 1966, agricultural output grew at an average rate of 9.6 percent a year. Industrial output was increased in the same years at an average annual rate of 10.6 percent, largely by reviving plants that had operated below capacity after the economic collapse in 1961. Another important source of growth in this period was the spread of rural, small-scale industries, particularly coal mines, hydroelectric plants, chemical fertilizer plants, and agricultural machinery plants. The economic model that emerged in this period combined elements of the highly centralized, industrially oriented, Soviet-style system of the First Five-Year Plan with aspects of the decentralization of ownership and decision making that characterized the Great Leap Forward and with the strong emphasis on agricultural development and balanced growth of the "agriculture first" policy. Important changes in economic policy occurred in later years, but the basic system of ownership, decision-making structure, and development strategy that was forged in the early 1960s was not significantly altered until the reform period of the 1980s.

China - The Cultural Revolution, 1966-76

The Cultural Revolution was set in motion by Mao Zedong in 1966 and called to a halt in 1968, but the atmosphere of radical leftism persisted until Mao's death and the fall of the Gang of Four in 1976. During this period, there were several distinct phases of economic policy. High Tide of the Cultural Revolution, 1966-68

The Cultural Revolution, unlike the Great Leap Forward, was primarily a political upheaval and did not produce major changes in official economic policies or the basic economic model. Nonetheless, its influence was felt throughout urban society, and it profoundly affected the modern sector of the economy. Agricultural production stagnated, but in general the rural areas experienced less turmoil than the cities. Production was reduced in the modern nonagricultural sectors in several ways. The most direct cause of production halts was the political activity of students and workers in the mines and factories. A second cause was the extensive disruption of transportation resulting from the requisitioning of trains and trucks to carry Red Guards around the country. Output at many factories suffered from shortages of raw materials and other supplies. A third disruptive influence was that the direction of factories was placed in the hands of revolutionary committees, consisting of representatives from the party, the workers, and the People's Liberation Army, whose members often had little knowledge of either management or the enterprise they were supposed to run. In addition, virtually all engineers, managers, scientists, technicians, and other professional personnel were "criticized," demoted, "sent down" to the countryside to "participate in labor," or even jailed, all of which resulted in their skills and knowledge being lost to the enterprise. The effect was a 14-percent decline in industrial production in 1967. A degree of order was restored by the army in late 1967 and 1968, and the industrial sector returned to a fairly high rate of growth in 1969.

Other aspects of the Cultural Revolution had more far-reaching effects on the economy. Imports of foreign equipment, required for technological advancement, were curtailed by rampant xenophobia. Probably the most serious and long-lasting effect on the economy was the dire shortage of highly educated personnel caused by the closing of the universities. China's ability to develop new technology and absorb imported technology would be limited for years by the hiatus in higher education.

Resumption of Systematic Growth, 1970-74

As political stability was gradually restored, a renewed drive for coordinated, balanced development was set in motion under the leadership of Premier Zhou Enlai. To revive efficiency in industry, Chinese Communist Party committees were returned to positions of leadership over the revolutionary committees, and a campaign was carried out to return skilled and highly educated personnel to the jobs from which they had been displaced during the Cultural Revolution. Universities began to reopen, and foreign contacts were expanded. Once again the economy suffered from imbalances in the capacities of different industrial sectors and an urgent need for increased supplies of modern inputs for agriculture. In response to these problems, there was a significant increase in investment, including the signing of contracts with foreign firms for the construction of major facilities for chemical fertilizer production, steel finishing, and oil extraction and refining. The most notable of these contracts was for thirteen of the world's largest and most modern chemical fertilizer plants. During this period, industrial output grew at an average rate of 8 percent a year.

Agricultural production declined somewhat in 1972 because of poor weather but increased at an average annual rate of 3.8 percent for the period as a whole. The party and state leadership undertook a general reevaluation of development needs, and Zhou Enlai presented the conclusions in a report to the Fourth National People's Congress in January 1975. In it he called for the Four Modernizations. Zhou emphasized the mechanization of agriculture and a comprehensive two-stage program for the modernization of the entire economy by the end of the century.

The Gang of Four, 1974-76

During the early and mid-1970s, the radical group later known as the Gang of Four attempted to dominate the power center through their network of supporters and, most important, through their control of the media. More moderate leaders, however, were developing and promulgating a pragmatic program for rapid modernization of the economy that contradicted the set of policies expressed in the media. Initiatives by Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping were vehemently attacked in the press and in political campaigns as "poisonous weeds." Using official news organs, the Gang of Four advocated the primacy of nonmaterial, political incentives, radical reduction of income differences, elimination of private farm plots, and a shift of the basic accounting unit up to the brigade level in agriculture. They opposed the strengthening of central planning and denounced the use of foreign technology.

In the face of such contradictory policy pronouncements and uncertain political currents, administrators and economic decision makers at all levels were virtually paralyzed. Economic activity slowed, and the incipient modernization program almost ground to a halt. Uncertainty and instability were exacerbated by the death of Zhou Enlai in January 1976 and the subsequent second purge of Deng Xiaoping in April. The effects of the power struggle and policy disputes were compounded by the destruction resulting from the Tangshan earthquake in July 1976. Output for the year in both industry and agriculture showed no growth over 1975. The interlude of uncertainty finally ended when the Gang of Four was arrested in October--one month after Mao's death.

China - The Post-Mao Interlude, 1976-78

After the fall of the Gang of Four, the leadership under Hua Guofeng--and by July 1977 the rehabilitated Deng Xiaoping-- reaffirmed the modernization program espoused by Zhou Enlai in 1975. They also set forth a battery of new policies for the purpose of accomplishing the Four Modernizations. The new policies strengthened the authority of managers and economic decision makers at the expense of party officials, stressed material incentives for workers, and called for expansion of the research and education systems. Foreign trade was to be increased, and exchanges of students and "foreign experts" with developed countries were to be encouraged. This new policy initiative was capped at the Fifth National People's Congress in February and March 1978, when Hua Guofeng presented the draft of an ambitious ten-year plan for the 1976-85 period. The plan called for high rates of growth in both industry and agriculture and included 120 construction projects that would require massive and expensive imports of foreign technology.

Between 1976 and 1978, the economy quickly recovered from the stagnation of the Cultural Revolution. Agricultural production was sluggish in 1977 because of a third consecutive year of adverse weather conditions but rebounded with a record harvest in 1978. Industrial output jumped 14 percent in 1977 and increased by 13 percent in 1978.

China - Reform of the Economic System, Beginning in 1979

At the milestone Third Plenum of the National Party Congress's Eleventh Central Committee in December 1978, the party leaders decided to undertake a program of gradual but fundamental reform of the economic system. They concluded that the Maoist version of the centrally planned economy had failed to produce efficient economic growth and had caused China to fall far behind not only the industrialized nations of the West but also the new industrial powers of Asia: Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. In the late 1970s, while Japan and Hong Kong rivaled European countries in modern technology, China's citizens had to make do with barely sufficient food supplies, rationed clothing, inadequate housing, and a service sector that was inadequate and inefficient. All of these shortcomings embarrassed China internationally.

The purpose of the reform program was not to abandon communism but to make it work better by substantially increasing the role of market mechanisms in the system and by reducing--not eliminating-- government planning and direct control. The process of reform was incremental. New measures were first introduced experimentally in a few localities and then were popularized and disseminated nationally if they proved successful. By 1987 the program had achieved remarkable results in increasing supplies of food and other consumer goods and had created a new climate of dynamism and opportunity in the economy. At the same time, however, the reforms also had created new problems and tensions, leading to intense questioning and political struggles over the program's future.

The Period of Readjustment, 1979-81

The first few years of the reform program were designated the "period of readjustment," during which key imbalances in the economy were to be corrected and a foundation was to be laid for a well-planned modernization drive. The schedule of Hua Guofeng's ten-year plan was discarded, although many of its elements were retained. The major goals of the readjustment process were to expand exports rapidly; overcome key deficiencies in transportation, communications, coal, iron, steel, building materials, and electric power; and redress the imbalance between light and heavy industry by increasing the growth rate of light industry and reducing investment in heavy industry. Agricultural production was stimulated in 1979 by an increase of over 22 percent in the procurement prices paid for farm products.

The central policies of the reform program were introduced experimentally during the readjustment period. The most successful reform policy, the contract responsibility system of production in agriculture, was suggested by the government in 1979 as a way for poor rural units in mountainous or arid areas to increase their incomes. The responsibility system allowed individual farm families to work a piece of land for profit in return for delivering a set amount of produce to the collective at a given price. This arrangement created strong incentives for farmers to reduce production costs and increase productivity. Soon after its introduction the responsibility system was adopted by numerous farm units in all sorts of areas.

Agricultural production was also stimulated by official encouragement to establish free farmers' markets in urban areas, as well as in the countryside, and by allowing some families to operate as "specialized households," devoting their efforts to producing a scarce commodity or service on a profit-making basis.

In industry, the main policy innovations increased the autonomy of enterprise managers, reduced emphasis on planned quotas, allowed enterprises to produce goods outside the plan for sale on the market, and permitted enterprises to experiment with the use of bonuses to reward higher productivity. The government also tested a fundamental change in financial procedures with a limited number of state-owned units: rather than remitting all of their profits to the state, as was normally done, these enterprises were allowed to pay a tax on their profits and retain the balance for reinvestment and distribution to workers as bonuses.

The government also actively encouraged the establishment of collectively owned and operated industrial and service enterprises as a means of soaking up some of the unemployment among young people and at the same time helping to increase supplies of light industrial products. Individual enterprise--true capitalism--also was allowed, after having virtually disappeared during the Cultural Revolution, and independent cobblers, tailors, tinkers, and vendors once again became common sights in the cities. Foreign-trade procedures were greatly eased, allowing individual enterprises and administrative departments outside the Ministry of Foreign Trade (which became the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations and Trade in 1984) to engage in direct negotiations with foreign firms. A wide range of cooperation, trading, and credit arrangements with foreign firms were legalized so that China could enter the mainstream of international trade.

Reform and Opening, Beginning in 1982

The period of readjustment produced promising results, increasing incomes substantially; raising the availability of food, housing, and other consumer goods; and generating strong rates of growth in all sectors except heavy industry, which was intentionally restrained. On the strength of these initial successes, the reform program was broadened, and the leadership under Deng Xiaoping frequently remarked that China's basic policy was "reform and opening," that is, reform of the economic system and opening to foreign trade.

In agriculture the contract responsibility system was adopted as the organizational norm for the entire country, and the commune structure was largely dismantled. By the end of 1984, approximately 98 percent of all farm households were under the responsibility system, and all but a handful of communes had been dissolved. The communes' administrative responsibilities were turned over to township and town governments, and their economic roles were assigned to townships and villages. The role of free markets for farm produce was further expanded and, with increased marketing possibilities and rising productivity, farm incomes rose rapidly.

In industry the complexity and interrelation of production activities prevented a single, simple policy from bringing about the kind of dramatic improvement that the responsibility system achieved in agriculture. Nonetheless, a cluster of policies based on greater flexibility, autonomy, and market involvement significantly improved the opportunities available to most enterprises, generated high rates of growth, and increased efficiency. Enterprise managers gradually gained greater control over their units, including the right to hire and fire, although the process required endless struggles with bureaucrats and party cadres. The practice of remitting taxes on profits and retaining the balance became universal by 1985, increasing the incentive for enterprises to maximize profits and substantially adding to their autonomy. A change of potentially equal importance was a shift in the source of investment funds from government budget allocations, which carried no interest and did not have to be repaid, to interest-bearing bank loans. As of 1987 the interest rate charged on such loans was still too low to serve as a check on unproductive investments, but the mechanism was in place.

The role of foreign trade under the economic reforms increased far beyond its importance in any previous period. Before the reform period, the combined value of imports and exports had seldom exceeded 10 percent of national income. In 1980 it was 15 percent, in 1984 it was 21 percent, and in 1986 it reached 35 percent. Unlike earlier periods, when China was committed to trying to achieve self-sufficiency, under Deng Xiaoping foreign trade was regarded as an important source of investment funds and modern technology. As a result, restrictions on trade were loosened further in the mid-1980s, and foreign investment was legalized. The most common foreign investments were joint ventures between foreign firms and Chinese units. Sole ownership by foreign investors also became legal, but the feasibility of such undertakings remained questionable.

The most conspicuous symbols of the new status of foreign trade were the four coastal special economic zones, which were created in 1979 as enclaves where foreign investment could receive special treatment. Three of the four zones--the cities of Shenzhen, Zhuhai, and Shantou--were located in Guangdong Province, close to Hong Kong. The fourth, Xiamen, in Fujian Province, was directly across the strait from Taiwan. More significant for China's economic development was the designation in April 1984 of economic development zones in the fourteen largest coastal cities- -including Dalian, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Guangzhou--all of which were major commercial and industrial centers. These zones were to create productive exchanges between foreign firms with advanced technology and major Chinese economic networks.

Domestic commerce also was stimulated by the reform policies, which explicitly endeavored to enliven the economy by shifting the primary burden of the allocation of goods and services from the government plan to the market. Private entrepreneurship and freemarket activities were legalized and encouraged in the 1980s, although the central authorities continuously had to fight the efforts of local government agencies to impose excessive taxes on independent merchants. By 1987 the state-owned system of commercial agencies and retail outlets coexisted with a rapidly growing private and collectively owned system that competed with it vigorously, providing a wider range of consumption choices for Chinese citizens than at any previous time.

Although the reform program achieved impressive successes, it also gave rise to several serious problems. One problem was the challenge to party authority presented by the principles of freemarket activity and professional managerial autonomy. Another difficulty was a wave of crime, corruption, and--in the minds of many older people--moral deterioration caused by the looser economic and political climate. The most fundamental tensions were those created by the widening income disparities between the people who were "getting rich" and those who were not and by the pervasive threat of inflation. These concerns played a role in the political struggle that culminated in party general secretary Hu Yaobang's forced resignation in 1987. Following Hu's resignation, the leadership engaged in an intense debate over the future course of the reforms and how to balance the need for efficiency and market incentives with the need for government guidance and control. The commitment to further reform was affirmed, but its pace, and the emphasis to be placed on macroeconomic and microeconomic levers, remained objects of caution.

China - Roles of the Government and the Party in the Economy

Under China's socialist political and economic system, the government was explicitly responsible for planning and managing the national economy. The State Constitution of 1982 specifies that the state is to guide the country's economic development and that the State Council is to direct its subordinate bodies in drawing up and carrying out the national economic plan and the state budget. A major portion of the governmental apparatus was devoted to managing the economy; all but a few of the more than 100 ministries, commissions, administrations, bureaus, academies, and corporations under the State Council were concerned with economic matters.

Each significant economic sector was supervised and controlled by one or more of these organizations, which included the People's Bank of China, State Planning Commission, State Economic Commission, State Machine-Building Industry Commission, and the ministries of agriculture, animal husbandry, and fishery; coal industry; commerce; communications; finance; light industry; metallurgical industry; petroleum industry; railways; textile industry; and water resources and electric power. Several aspects of the economy were administered by specialized departments under the State Council, including the State Statistical Bureau, General Administration of Civil Aviation of China, and China Travel and Tourism Bureau. Each of the economic organizations under the State Council directed the units under its jurisdiction through subordinate offices at the provincial and local levels.

Economic policies and decisions adopted by the National People's Congress and the State Council were passed on to the economic organizations under the State Council, which incorporated them into the plans for the various sectors of the economy. Economic plans and policies were implemented by a variety of direct and indirect control mechanisms. Direct control was exercised by designating specific physical output quotas and supply allocations for some goods and services. Indirect instruments--also called "economic levers"--operated by affecting market incentives. These included levying taxes, setting prices for products and supplies, allocating investment funds, monitoring and controlling financial transactions by the banking system, and controlling the allocation of scarce key resources, such as skilled labor, electric power, transportation, steel, and chemical fertilizer. A major objective of the reform program was to reduce the use of direct controls and to increase the role of indirect economic levers. Major state-owned enterprises still received detailed plans specifying physical quantities of key inputs and products from their ministries. Even these units, however, were increasingly affected by prices and allocations that were determined through market interaction and only indirectly influenced by the central plan.

By 1987 the majority of state-owned industrial enterprises, which were managed at the provincial level or below, were partially regulated by a combination of specific allocations and indirect controls, but they also produced goods outside the plan for sale in the market. Important, scarce resources--for example, engineers or finished steel--might be assigned to this kind of unit in exact numbers. Less critical assignments of personnel and materials would be authorized in a general way by the plan, but with procurement arrangements left up to the enterprise management. Enterprises had increasing discretion over the quantities of inputs purchased, the sources of inputs, the variety of products manufactured, and the production process.

Collectively owned units and the agricultural sector were regulated primarily by indirect instruments. Each collective unit was "responsible for its own profit and loss," and the prices of its inputs and products provided the major production incentives.

Consumer spending was subject to a limited degree of direct government influence but was primarily determined by the basic market forces of income levels and commodity prices. Before the reform period, key goods were rationed when they were in short supply, but by the mid-1980s availability had increased to the point that rationing was discontinued for everything except grain, which could also be purchased in the free markets.

Foreign trade was supervised by the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations and Trade, General Administration of Customs, and Bank of China, the foreign exchange arm of the Chinese banking system, which controlled access to the scarce foreign currency required for imports. Because of the reduced restrictions on foreign trade, however, there were broad opportunities for individual work units to engage in exchanges with foreign firms without much interference from official agencies.

The role of the government in the economy was buttressed by the pervasive influence of the Chinese Communist Party. The structure of the party organization paralleled that of the government but also extended below the lowest level of government into individual work units. Important economic decision makers at all levels, from the members of the State Council down to the managers of factories, either were party members themselves or worked closely with colleagues who were party members. The party served as a powerful supplementary network for transmitting and implementing the economic goals and policies of the government.

Although the government dominated the economy, the extent of its control was limited by the sheer volume of economic activity. Furthermore, the concept of government supervision of the economy had changed--at least in the minds of the advocates of reform--from one of direct but stifling state control to one of indirect guidance of a more dynamic economy.

China - Agriculture

In the late 1980s, China remained a predominantly agricultural country. As of 1985 about 63 percent of the population lived in rural areas, and nearly 63 percent of the national labor force was engaged in agriculture. Modern technology had spread slowly in the vast farm areas, and the availability of modern supplies was less than adequate, causing growth in agricultural output to lag behind production increases in the rest of the economy. The proportion of GNP produced by agriculture declined from over 43 percent in the early 1950s to about 29 percent in 1985. The low agricultural growth rate as compared with other sectors of the economy reflected the fact that the average farmer had far less machinery and electric power and fewer other modern production aids to work with than the average worker in industry. Under the responsibility system, farm households and collective organizations purchased large amounts of new machinery, particularly small tractors and trucks. The horsepower of agricultural machinery per farmer increased by almost 30 percent between 1979 and 1985 but still came to less than 1 horsepower per person.

Before the early 1980s, most of the agricultural sector was organized according to the three-tier commune system. There were over 50,000 people's communes, most containing around 30,000 members. Each commune was made up of about sixteen production brigades, and each production brigade was composed of around seven production teams. The production teams were the basic agricultural collective units. They corresponded to small villages and typically included about 30 households and 100 to 250 members. The communes, brigades, and teams owned all major rural productive assets and provided nearly all administrative, social, and commercial services in the countryside. The largest part of farm family incomes consisted of shares of net team income, distributed to members according to the amount of work each had contributed to the collective effort. Farm families also worked small private plots and were free to sell or consume their products.

By the end of 1984, approximately 98 percent of the old production teams had adopted the contract responsibility system, and all but 249 communes had been dissolved, their governmental functions passed on to 91,000 township and town governments. Production team organizations were replaced by 940,000 village committees. Under the responsibility system, farm families no longer devoted most of their efforts to collective production but instead generally signed contracts with the village or town to cultivate a given crop on a particular piece of land. After harvest a certain amount of the crop had to be sold to the unit at a predetermined price, and any output beyond that amount was the property of the family, either to be sold in the market or to be consumed. Beyond the amount contracted for delivery to the collective, farmers were allowed to determine for themselves what and how to produce.

Market activity played a central role in the rural economy of the 1980s. Farmers sold a growing share of their produce in rural or urban free markets and purchased many of the inputs that had formerly been supplied by the team or brigade. A prominent new institution that thrived in the market environment was the "specialized household." Specialized households operated in the classic pattern of the entrepreneur, buying or renting equipment to produce a good or service that was in short supply locally. Some of the most common specialties were trucking, chicken raising, pig raising, and technical agricultural services, such as irrigation and pest control. Many of the specialized households became quite wealthy relative to the average farmer.

The new economic climate and the relaxation of restrictions on the movements of rural residents gave rise to numerous opportunities for profit-making ventures in the countryside. Towns, villages, and groups of households referred to as "rural economic unions" established small factories, processing operations, construction teams, catering services, and other kinds of nonagricultural concerns. Many of these organizations had links with urban enterprises that found the services of these rural units to be less expensive and more efficient than those of their formal urban counterparts.

The growth of these nonagricultural enterprises in the countryside created a large number of new jobs, making it possible for many workers who were no longer needed in agriculture to "leave the land but stay in the country," significantly changing the structure of the rural economy and increasing rural incomes. In 1986 nonagricultural enterprises in the countryside employed 21 percent of the rural labor force and for the first time produced over half the value of rural output.

Although the chief characteristic of the new rural system was household farming for profit, collective organizations still played a major role. Agricultural land still was owned by township or town governments, which determined the crops farmers contracted to grow and the financial terms of the contracts. Many township, town, and village governments also engaged in major entrepreneurial undertakings, establishing factories, processing mills, brick works, and other large-scale enterprises. Finally, the maintenance and operation of public works, such as irrigation systems, power plants, schools, and clinics, generally still was regarded as the responsibility of the collective administrations.

Four percent of the nation's farmland was cultivated by state farms, which employed 4.9 million people in 1985. State farms were owned and operated by the government much in the same way as an industrial enterprise. Management was the responsibility of a director, and workers were paid set wages, although some elements of the responsibility system were introduced in the mid-1980s. State farms were scattered throughout China, but the largest numbers were located in frontier or remote areas, including Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region in the northwest, Nei Monggol Autonomous Region, the three northeastern provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning and the southeastern provinces of Guangdong, Fujian, and Jiangxi.

China - Industry

The industrial sector employed only about 17 percent of the labor force in 1985 but, as a result of much higher labor productivity than the agricultural sector, accounted for over 46 percent of national income. Industrial units were very diverse in size and technological sophistication, ranging from tiny handicraft manufacturing enterprises to giant modern complexes producing such goods as steel, chemical fertilizer, and synthetic fibers. The majority of the country's large industrial units were clustered in the major industrial centers in the northeast, the Beijing-Tianjin-Tangshan area, the Chang Jiang (Yangtze River) Valley, and Shanghai. Small and medium-size units were found throughout the country, and a number of first-rank plants were located far from the leading cities. Ownership of industrial enterprises fell into three general categories: state ownership, urban collective ownership, and rural collective ownership. Industry was dominated by the state-owned sector, which included the largest, most technically advanced, and most important enterprises.

In 1985 state-owned enterprises produced 70 percent of national industrial output by value, held 75 percent of fixed industrial assets, and employed 46 percent of the industrial labor force (including rural industrial enterprises). Although all of these units were owned by "the state" in the abstract sense, operational control and effective ownership of specific enterprises were divided among the different levels of government. A few of the largest enterprises were under the direct authority of their respective ministries in the central government. Most major enterprises were owned by the province, autonomous region, or special municipality where they were located or were subject to shared control by the central ministry and the provincial-level government. Small and medium-size units usually were owned by city, prefecture, county, or town governments. Control of some enterprises was shared with higher administrative levels.

Workers in state-owned enterprises were paid regular wages according to an established pay scale, as well as bonuses that were supposed to be related to personal or enterprise performance or both. In addition, they received a number of important benefits, including free health care, subsidized housing, and subsidies for such work-related expenses as special clothing and commuting costs. The average income of industrial workers was considerably higher than that of most farmers and was much more stable.

Urban, collectively owned enterprises (owned by the workers) for the most part were small units equipped with relatively little machinery. Many of these units were engaged in handicraft production or other labor-intensive activities, such as manufacturing furniture or assembling simple electrical items. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the government promoted them as a means of using surplus labor to increase supplies of consumer and export goods. By 1985 urban collective industrial enterprises employed over 17 million people, 20 percent of the total industrial labor force. These enterprises held only 13 percent of all industrial fixed assets but produced 19 percent of total industrial output value.

Rural, collectively owned industrial enterprises--commonly referred to as "township enterprises"--were the most rapidly growing portion of the industrial sector in the mid-1980s. The government regarded them as a means of expanding industrialization (without further taxing the overcrowded major urban centers), alleviating rural unemployment, and increasing supplies of industrial products in rural areas. Most of the township enterprises were operated by township and town governments, but a large number of very small units were operated by private cooperative organizations called "rural economic unions." In 1985 township enterprises employed 30 million workers, over a third of the total industrial labor force. The value of their fixed assets, however, was only 12 percent of the national total, and their output value came to less than 10 percent of the national total. Nonetheless, in 1985 their income grew by 44 percent over the 1984 levels. The most common products of township industries were building materials, agricultural machinery, textiles, and processed foods.

China - The Banking System

The history of the Chinese banking system has been somewhat checkered. Nationalization and consolidation of the country's banks received the highest priority in the earliest years of the People's Republic, and banking was the first sector to be completely socialized. In the period of recovery after the Chinese civil war (1949-52), the People's Bank of China moved very effectively to halt raging inflation and bring the nation's finances under central control. Over the course of time, the banking organization was modified repeatedly to suit changing conditions and new policies.

The banking system was centralized early on under the Ministry of Finance, which exercised firm control over all financial services, credit, and the money supply. During the 1980s the banking system was expanded and diversified to meet the needs of the reform program, and the scale of banking activity rose sharply. New budgetary procedures required state enterprises to remit to the state only a tax on income and to seek investment funds in the form of bank loans. Between 1979 and 1985, the volume of deposits nearly tripled and the value of bank loans rose by 260 percent. By 1987 the banking system included the People's Bank of China, Agricultural Bank, Bank of China (which handled foreign exchange matters), China Investment Bank, China Industrial and Commercial Bank, People's Construction Bank, Communications Bank, People's Insurance Company of China, rural credit cooperatives, and urban credit cooperatives.

The People's Bank of China was the central bank and the foundation of the banking system. Although the bank overlapped in function with the Ministry of Finance and lost many of its responsibilities during the Cultural Revolution, in the 1970s it was restored to its leading position. As the central bank, the People's Bank of China had sole responsibility for issuing currency and controlling the money supply. It also served as the government treasury, the main source of credit for economic units, the clearing center for financial transactions, the holder of enterprise deposits, the national savings bank, and a ubiquitous monitor of economic activities.

Another financial institution, the Bank of China, handled all dealings in foreign exchange. It was responsible for allocating the country's foreign exchange reserves, arranging foreign loans, setting exchange rates for China's currency, issuing letters of credit, and generally carrying out all financial transactions with foreign firms and individuals. The Bank of China had offices in Beijing and other cities engaged in foreign trade and maintained overseas offices in major international financial centers, including Hong Kong, London, New York, Singapore, and Luxembourg.

The Agricultural Bank was created in the 1950s to facilitate financial operations in the rural areas. The Agricultural Bank provided financial support to agricultural units. It issued loans, handled state appropriations for agriculture, directed the operations of the rural credit cooperatives, and carried out overall supervision of rural financial affairs. The Agricultural Bank was headquartered in Beijing and had a network of branches throughout the country. It flourished in the late 1950s and mid-1960s but languished thereafter until the late 1970s, when the functions and autonomy of the Agricultural Bank were increased substantially to help promote higher agricultural production. In the 1980s it was restructured again and given greater authority in order to support the growth and diversification of agriculture under the responsibility system.

The People's Construction Bank managed state appropriations and loans for capital construction. It checked the activities of loan recipients to ensure that the funds were used for their designated construction purpose. Money was disbursed in stages as a project progressed. The reform policy shifted the main source of investment funding from the government budget to bank loans and increased the responsibility and activities of the People's Construction Bank.

Rural credit cooperatives were small, collectively owned savings and lending organizations that were the main source of small-scale financial services at the local level in the countryside. They handled deposits and short-term loans for individual farm families, villages, and cooperative organizations. Subject to the direction of the Agricultural Bank, they followed uniform state banking policies but acted as independent units for accounting purposes. In 1985 rural credit cooperatives held total deposits of -Y72.5 billion.

Urban credit cooperatives were a relatively new addition to the banking system in the mid-1980s, when they first began widespread operations. As commercial opportunities grew in the reform period, the thousands of individual and collective enterprises that sprang up in urban areas created a need for small-scale financial services that the formal banks were not prepared to meet. Bank officials therefore encouraged the expansion of urban credit cooperatives as a valuable addition to the banking system. In 1986 there were more than 1,100 urban credit cooperatives, which held a total of -Y3.7 billion in deposits and made loans worth -Y1.9 billion.

In the mid-1980s the banking system still lacked some of the services and characteristics that were considered basic in most countries. Interbank relations were very limited, and interbank borrowing and lending was virtually unknown. Checking accounts were used by very few individuals, and bank credit cards did not exist. In 1986 initial steps were taken in some of these areas. Interbank borrowing and lending networks were created among twenty-seven cities along the Chang Jiang and among fourteen cities in north China. Interregional financial networks were created to link banks in eleven leading cities all over China, including Shenyang, Guangzhou, Wuhan, Chongqing, and Xi'an and also to link the branches of the Agricultural Bank. The first Chinese credit card, the Great Wall Card, was introduced in June 1986 to be used for foreign exchange transactions. Another financial innovation in 1986 was the opening of China's first stock exchanges since 1949. Small stock exchanges began operations somewhat tentatively in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, in August 1986 and in Shanghai in September 1986.

Throughout the history of the People's Republic, the banking system has exerted close control over financial transactions and the money supply. All government departments, publicly and collectively owned economic units, and social, political, military, and educational organizations were required to hold their financial balances as bank deposits. They were also instructed to keep on hand only enough cash to meet daily expenses; all major financial transactions were to be conducted through banks. Payment for goods and services exchanged by economic units was accomplished by debiting the account of the purchasing unit and crediting that of the selling unit by the appropriate amount. This practice effectively helped to minimize the need for currency.

Since 1949 China's leaders have urged the Chinese people to build up personal savings accounts to reduce the demand for consumer goods and increase the amount of capital available for investment. Small branch offices of savings banks were conveniently located throughout the urban areas. In the countryside savings were deposited with the rural credit cooperatives, which could be found in most towns and villages. In 1986 savings deposits for the entire country totaled over -Y223.7 billion.


Progress since 1949

Before 1949 the Chinese economy was characterized by widespread poverty, extreme income inequalities, and endemic insecurity of livelihood. By means of centralized economic planning, the People's Republic was able to redistribute national income so as to provide the entire population with at least the minimal necessities of life (except during the "three bad years" of 1959, 1960, and 1961) and to consistently allocate a relatively high proportion of national income to productive investment. Equally important to the quality of life were the results of mass public-health and sanitation campaigns, which rid the country of most of the conditions that had bred epidemics and lingering disease in the past. The most concrete evidence of improved living standards was that average national life expectancy more than doubled, rising from around thirty-two years in 1949 to sixty-nine years in 1985.

In 1987 the standard of living in China was much lower than in the industrialized countries, but nearly all Chinese people had adequate food, clothing, and housing. In addition, there was a positive trend toward rapid improvements in living conditions in the 1980s as a result of the economic reforms, though improvements in the standard of living beyond the basic level came slowly. Until the end of the 1970s, the fruits of economic growth were largely negated by population increases, which prevented significant advances in the per capita availability of food, clothing, and housing beyond levels achieved in the 1950s. The second major change in the standard of living came about as a result of the rapid expansion of productivity and commerce generated by the reform measures of the 1980s. After thirty years of austerity and marginal sufficiency, Chinese consumers suddenly were able to buy more than enough to eat from a growing variety of food items. Stylish clothing, modern furniture, and a wide array of electrical appliances also became part of the normal expectations of ordinary Chinese families.

China - Income Distribution

Income differences in China since the 1950s have been much smaller than in most other countries. There was never any attempt, however, at complete equalization, and a wide range of income levels remained. Income differences grew even wider in the 1980s as the economic reform policies opened up new income opportunities. More than two-thirds of all urban workers were employed in state-owned units, which used an eight-grade wage system. The pay for each grade differed from one industry to another, but generally workers in the most senior grades earned about three times as much as beginning workers, senior managers could earn half again as much as senior workers, and engineers could earn twice as much as senior workers. In 1985 the average annual income of people employed in state-owned units was -Y1,213. An important component of workers' pay was made up of bonuses and subsidies. In 1985 bonuses contributed 13 percent of the incomes of workers in state-owned units; subsidies for transportation, food, and clothing added another 15 percent. One of the most important subsidies--one that did not appear in the income figures--was for housing, nearly all of which was owned and allocated by the work unit and rented to unit members at prices well below real value. In 1985 urban consumers spent just over 1 percent of their incomes on housing.

The 27 percent of the urban labor force that was employed in collectively owned enterprises earned less on average than workers in state-owned units. The income of workers in collectively owned enterprises consisted of a share of the profit earned by the enterprise. Most such enterprises were small, had little capital, and did not earn large profits. Many were engaged in traditional services, handicrafts, or small-scale, part-time assembly work. In 1985 workers in urban collective units earned an average annual income of -Y968. In the more open commercial environment of the 1980s, a small but significant number of people earned incomes much larger than those in regular state-owned and collectively owned units. Employees of enterprises run by overseas Chinese, for instance, earned an average of -Y2,437 in 1985, over twice the average income of workers in state-owned units.

The small but dynamic domestic private sector also produced some lucrative opportunities. Private, part-time schools, which appeared in large numbers in the mid-1980s, offered moonlighting work to university professors, who could double or triple their modest incomes if they were from prestigious institutions and taught desirable subjects, such as English, Japanese, or electronics. Small-scale entrepreneurs could earn considerably more in the free markets than the average income. Business people who served as a liaison between foreign firms and the domestic economy could earn incomes many times higher than those of the best-paid employees of state-owned units. A handful of millionaire businessmen could be found in the biggest cities. These people had owned firms before 1949, cooperated with the government in the 1950s in return for stock in their firms, and then lost their incomes in the political turmoil of the Cultural Revolution. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, when these businessmen were politically rehabilitated, their incomes were returned with the accrued interest, and some suddenly found themselves quite wealthy. Although the number of people earning incomes far beyond the normal wage scale was tiny relative to the population, they were important symbols of the rewards of economic reform and received a great deal of media attention. In 1985 most of these people worked in enterprises classified as "units of other ownership" (private rather than state- or collectively owned enterprises). These enterprises employed only 440,000 people out of the total urban labor force of 128 million in 1985 and paid average annual salaries of -Y1,373, only slightly higher than the overall urban national average.

In China, as in other countries, an important determinant of the affluence of a household was the dependency ratio--the number of nonworkers supported by each worker. In 1985 the average cost of living for one person in urban areas was -Y732 a year, and the average state enterprise worker, even with food allowance and other benefits added to the basic wage, had difficulty supporting one other person. Two average wage earners, however, could easily support one dependent. Families with several workers and few or no dependents had substantial surplus earnings, which they saved or used to buy nonessential goods. An important positive influence on the per capita consumption levels of urban families was a decline in the number of dependents per urban worker, from 2.4 in 1964 to 0.7 in 1985. In farm families the dependency ratio fell from 1.5 in 1978 to 0.7 in 1985. Farm incomes rose rapidly in the 1980s under the stimulus of the responsibility system but on average remained considerably lower than urban incomes. Household surveys found that in 1985 average net per capita income for rural residents was - Y398, less than half the average per capita urban income, which was -Y821. The value of goods farmers produced and consumed themselves accounted for 31 percent of rural income in 1985. The largest component of income in kind was food, 58 percent of which was self-produced.

Farm family members on average consumed much less of most major kinds of goods than urban residents. For instance, a household survey found in 1985 that the average urban dweller consumed 148 kilograms of vegetables, 20 kilograms of meat, 2.6 kilograms of sugar, and 8 kilograms of liquor. At the same time, a survey of rural households found that the average rural resident consumed 131 kilograms of vegetables, 11 kilograms of meat, 1.5 kilograms of sugar, and 4 kilograms of liquor. Differences of a similar nature existed for consumer durables.

Another indication of the gap between urban and rural income levels was the difference in personal savings accounts, which in 1985 averaged -Y277 per capita for urban residents but only -Y85 per capita for the rural population. There was great variation in rural income levels among different provincial-level units, counties, towns, villages, and individual families. While the average net per capita income for rural residents in 1985 was - Y398, provincial-level averages ranged from a high of -Y805 for farm families living in Shanghai to a low of -Y255 for the rural population of Gansu Province.

The fundamental influence on rural prosperity was geography. Soil type and quality, rainfall, temperature range, drainage, and availability of water determined the kinds and quantities of crops that could be grown. Equally important geographic factors were access to transportation routes and proximity to urban areas.

The highest agricultural incomes were earned by suburban units that were able to sell produce and sideline products in the nearby cities. Under the responsibility system, household incomes depended on the number of workers in each household and the household's success in holding down production costs and in supplying goods and services to local markets. Most of the rural families with the highest incomes--the "10,000-yuan households"--were "specialized households" that concentrated family efforts on supplying a particular service or good. Many of these families owned their own equipment, such as trucks or specialized buildings, and operated essentially as private concerns. An increasingly important influence on rural incomes in the mid-1980s was the expansion of nonagricultural rural enterprises, often referred to as "township enterprises." These were factories, construction teams, and processing operations, most of which were owned by collectives, primarily villages, towns, and townships. Some were owned by voluntary groups of families. Township enterprises were considered by the government to be the main source of employment for rural workers who were leaving agriculture because of rising productivity under the responsibility system. By the end of 1986, township enterprises employed 21 percent of the rural labor force. The movement of rural labor into township enterprises helped to increase average rural incomes because of the higher productivity in nonagricultural jobs. In 1986 industrial workers in rural areas produced an average annual value of -Y4,300 per person, compared with about -Y1,000 per farmer in the same year.

The change in farm production from primarily collective to primarily household operations is reflected in household survey data on the sources of rural incomes. Before the 1980s farmers received income in the form of shares of the profits earned by their production teams plus supplementary income from household sideline activities. In 1978 two-thirds of the net income of farm families came from the collective, and only 27 percent was derived from household production. With the shift to the responsibility system these ratios were reversed. By 1982 the collective provided only 21 percent of farm income, while household production provided 69 percent. In 1985 the collective share of farm income had fallen to just over 8 percent, and the family production share had risen to 81 percent.

Perhaps the most serious gaps in living standards between rural and urban areas were in education and health care. Primary schools existed in most rural localities, and 80 percent of the country's primary-school teachers worked in rural schools. Secondary schools were less widely distributed; only 57 percent of the total number of secondary-school teachers served in rural schools. Most rural schools were less well equipped, and their staffs less adequately trained than their urban counterparts. Health care had been greatly improved in rural areas in the 1960s and 1970s through sanitation campaigns and the introduction of large numbers of barefoot doctors, midwives, and health workers. Most modern hospitals, fully trained doctors, and modern medical equipment, however, were located in urban areas and were not easily accessible to rural families. In 1985 two-thirds of all hospital beds and medical staff personnel were located in urban hospitals. The economic reforms affected rural education and health care positively in places where farm communities used their higher incomes to improve schools and hospitals and negatively in localities where the reduced role of the collective resulted in deterioration of collective services.

China - Party and Government

THE THIRD PLENUM of the Central Committee of the Eleventh National Party Congress, held in December 1978, marked a major turning point in China's development. The course was laid for the party to move the world's most populous nation toward the ambitious targets of the Four Modernizations. After a decade of turmoil brought about by the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), the new direction set at this meeting was toward economic development and away from class struggle. The plenum endorsed major changes in the political, economic, and social system. It also instituted sweeping personnel changes, culminating in the elevation of two key supporters of Deng Xiaoping and the reform program, Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang, to the posts of general secretary of the party (September 1982) and premier of the State Council (September 1980), respectively. In January 1987 Hu Yaobang lost the position of general secretary when he failed to control violent student demonstrations. Zhao Ziyang became acting general secretary, in addition to serving as premier, pending confirmation by the Thirteenth National Party Congress, scheduled for October 1987.

Under the new and pragmatic leadership, the modernization program, slated to be well established by the year 2000, was to engage the energies and talents of the entire population in reaching the reform goals. But unlike in the past, acceptable class background was not to play a role in selecting and promoting participants for the national program. Intellectuals or those with advanced education were no longer negatively categorized. Class consciousness was being replaced by one that fostered initiative and encouraged each person to contribute according to his or her ability.

An initial challenge facing the reform leadership was to provide for a rational and efficient governing system to support economic development. In pursuit of that goal, the cult of personality surrounding Mao Zedong was unequivocally condemned and replaced by a strong emphasis on collective leadership. An example of this new emphasis was the party's restoration in February 1980 of its Secretariat, which had been suspended since 1966. The new party and state constitutions, both adopted in 1982, provided the institutional framework for the Four Modernizations program. These documents abolished the post of party chairman and restored the post of president of the People's Republic of China, thereby giving additional weight to government functions and providing a degree of balance to the authoritative party structure. Also, the government's role was broadened by the addition of standing committees and direct elections at subnational levels of the government's presiding body, the National People's Congress.

The political structure in 1987 seemed to represent consensus and continuity, but it continued to undergo the test of accommodation and a process of trial and error. The experimental approach was rooted in official recognition that the party and the government had to remain self-critical and responsive if they were to fulfill the expectations that the reform leaders had raised since 1978 of solving old problems and meeting new challenges. Some of the most sweeping changes concerned the party and government cadre system that was essential to the implementation and performance of the reform program. Manned by about 14 million cadres, the system was acknowledged officially to be overstaffed and sluggish. The drive to weed out tens of thousands of aged, inactive, and incompetent cadres was intensified. Even more revolutionary, the life tenure system for state and party cadres was abolished, and age limits for various offices were established. While removing superfluous personnel, the reform leaders stressed the importance of creating a "third echelon" of younger leadership to enter responsible positions and be trained for future authority. Between 1978 and 1987, some 470,000 younger officials reportedly were promoted to responsible positions.

The theoretical basis of the political system continued to be Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought (which combined borrowings from Soviet ideology with Mao's theoretical writings), but with an unmistakable emphasis on the application of this doctrine to achieve desired results. The test of a reform was no longer how closely it reflected hallowed quotations or ideas--although reforms continued to be couched in proper doctrinal arguments--but whether or not it produced demonstrable benefits to the reform program. The banner slogan of the reform agenda was "socialism with Chinese characteristics." This slogan implied that considerable leeway would be allowed in doctrinal matters in order to achieve the overriding goal of rapid modernization. But reform leaders realized that successful implementation of the broad-ranging reform program required a stable, professional bureaucracy to direct the course of events. The course chosen included a more rational division of powers and functions for the party and government, and it provided a body of regulations and procedures to support the separation. Institutions were set up to maintain discipline and to audit bureaucratic records. In December 1986 the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress established the Ministry of Supervision to oversee the work of the government cadre. Of course, the primacy of the party over all other sociopolitical institutions was an unchanging fact of political life.

Another recognized requirement for a successful reform program was the decentralization of authority, including a greater voice and degree of accountability for local bodies in the formulation and implementation of programs and policies. In the 1980s government leaders instituted experimental programs at all levels to achieve this end. The party, wielding political power and having close access to reform leaders, appeared to act increasingly in an advisory role, guiding events in accordance with its own general policy and serving as an intermediary between government officials and front-line producers, for example, departmental administrators and enterprise managers. The role of the party was still being defined, but it appeared less focused on dictating the specific course of events.

Party Constitution

<>National Party Congresses
<>Central Committee and Political Bureau
<>Central Military Commission
<>Other Party Organs
<>CCP Membership
<>Mass Organizations
Constitutional Framework
<>The National People's Congress
<>The State Council
<>The Judiciary
<>Local Administration
<>The Cadre System


Party Constitution

The party constitution adopted in September 1982 at the Twelfth National Party Congress clearly defines the powers and functions of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and it assigns the party a pivotal role in guiding national efforts toward a communist social system. Although the party constitution sets legal limits on CCP activities, the party's role in areas of political, ideological, and organizational leadership is authoritative and unquestioned.

The organizational principle that drives the Chinese political system is democratic centralism. Within the system, the democratic feature demands participation and expression of opinion on key policy issues from members at all levels of party organization. It depends on a constant process of consultation and investigation. At the same time, the centralist feature requires that subordinate organizational levels follow the dictates of superior levels. Once the debate has reached the highest level and decisions concerning policy have been made, all party members are obliged to support the Central Committee.

In the party constitution, and in other major policy statements, the CCP diminished the role of centralism by abolishing the post of party chairman, by prohibiting any future cult of personality, and by emphasizing the importance of collective leadership. Most of the aged revolutionary veterans who had worked for years under the highly centralized party organization dominated by Mao Zedong were made honorary advisers, elected to the Central Advisory Commission initiated at the Twelfth Congress. Although their prestige remained intact, these leaders were effectively removed from direct participation in the policy-making process. This development permitted their replacement by younger leaders more supportive of the Four Modernizations. In addition, the new party constitution emphasized the party's role in promoting socialist democracy, in developing and strengthening a socialist legal system, and in consolidating public resolve to carry out the modernization program.

The priorities expounded at the Twelfth National Party Congress were designed not only to improve the organizational cohesion and morale of the party and government but also to hasten prosperity and foster national power. The congress endorsed programs from the Eleventh National Party Congress that stressed stability and unity, balance between ideology and technical skill, collective rather than individual leadership, party discipline, training of successors at all levels of party organization, and a more relaxed climate for intraparty debate on major national and local issues. The economic policies of the Twelfth National Party Congress continued to be oriented toward growth, but the party's subsequent direction emphasized a more controlled growth program.

<>National Party Congresses
<>Central Committee and Political Bureau
<>Central Military Commission
<>Other Party Organs
<>CCP Membership
<>Mass Organizations

China - National Party Congresses

The National Party Congress is in theory the highest body of the CCP. (It should be distinguished from the National People's Congress). After its ascent to power in 1949, the party held no congress until 1956. This was the eighth congress since the party's founding in 1921; (see table 1, Appendix B). The Ninth National Party Congress convened in April 1969, the tenth in August 1973, the eleventh in August 1977, and the twelfth in September 1982. The Thirteenth National Party Congress was scheduled for October 1987. The National Party Congress reviews reports on party activities since the last session, revises the party constitution, ratifies the party program for a specific period, and elects the Central Committee, which serves as the highest organ of the CCP when the National Party Congress is not in session. The congress has, however, neither the independence to generate legislative bills nor the effective power to check and balance the party and government bureaucracies. Although limited in its role--in effect it is a pro forma approval body--the National Party Congress performs a useful function as a forum for rising party cadres who represent all regions, ethnic groups, and functional groups. The delegates (there were 1,545 for the Twelfth National Party Congress) can observe firsthand the working of the party machine at the national level, gain a better perspective on the direction of political transformation planned by the leadership, and serve as communicators of party policies to the grass roots. Further, delegates can provide the top party leadership a sense of the response and progress made concerning key party programs in their home districts.

China - Central Committee and Political Bureau

Political power is formally vested in the much smaller CCP Central Committee and the other central organs answerable directly to this committee. The Central Committee is elected by the National Party Congress and is identified by the number of the National Party Congress that elected it. Central Committee meetings are known as plenums (or plenary sessions), and each plenum of a new Central Committee is numbered sequentially. Plenums are to be held at least annually. In addition, there are partial, informal, and enlarged meetings of Central Committee members where often key policies are formulated and then confirmed by a plenum. For example, the "Communique of the Third Plenum of the Eleventh Central Committee" (December 1978), which established the party's commitment to economic modernization, resulted from a month-long working meeting that preceded the Third Plenum.

The Central Committee's large size and infrequent meetings make it necessary for the Central Committee to direct its work through its smaller elite bodies--the Political Bureau and the even more select Political Bureau's Standing Committee--both of which the Central Committee elects. The Twelfth Central Committee consisted of 210 full members and 138 alternate members. The Political Bureau had twenty-three members and three alternate members. The Standing Committee--the innermost circle of power--had six members who were placed in the most important party and government posts. These six leaders were Hu Yaobang (who was demoted from party general secretary in January 1987), Ye Jianying (who died in October 1986, a year after resigning his Standing Committee post), Deng Xiaoping, Zhao Ziyang (who was named acting general secretary in January 1987), Li Xiannian, and Chen Yun.

The leadership was altered significantly at a special conference of delegates called the National Conference of Party Delegates, held September 18-23, 1985. The conference was convened on the authority of Article 12 of the 1982 party constitution, which provides for holding conferences of delegates between full congresses. These national conferences of delegates appear to be more authoritative than regular plenums. The conference was attended by 992 delegates, and it elected 56 new full members and 35 new alternate members to the Central Committee, while accepting the resignations of 65 full and alternate members, including Ye Jianying and nine other senior Political Bureau members. The Fifth Plenum, which immediately followed the conference, elected six new members to the Political Bureau, dropped three from the party Secretariat, and added five new members to the latter body. The conference thus produced a sizable turnover in the senior party leadership and in a direction very favorable to Deng's reform program. Younger and better educated leaders who supported Deng's reforms replaced aging and long-inactive leaders. The other major accomplishment of the conference was its adoption of the "Proposal on the Seventh Five-Year Plan" (1986-90), the framework for developing the actual plan adopted at the Sixth National People's Congress in 1986.

China - Secretariat

The day-to-day work of the CCP is carried out by the Secretariat and its various departments--all placed under the direction of the Political Bureau and its Standing Committee. Headed by Hu Yaobang until January 1987, the Secretariat (suspended in 1966) was reestablished in February 1980 as the administrative center of the party apparatus, or, more aptly, as the party's inner cabinet. The Secretariat and its general secretary are elected by the CCP Central Committee. In early 1987 seven of the eleven members of the Secretariat held concurrent positions on the Political Bureau. This overlap in responsibilities permitted reform leaders to exercise greater control than in the past over policy implementation. In the same way, Secretariat members sitting on the Political Bureau have acquired a role in party policy making. The Secretariat evidently is used as a proving ground for successors to senior party leaders.

China - Central Military Commission

The CCP's Central Military Commission is also elected by the Central Committee and exercises authority over the military through the General Political Department of the People's Liberation Army (PLA). Since 1982 the party Central Military Commission has had a counterpart organization in the state Central Military Commission. In fact, the leadership of both bodies is identical. Nevertheless, because the party Central Military Commission reports directly to the powerful Central Committee, it is the authoritative body in matters of military policy.

China - Other Party Organs

Another body, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, is chartered to monitor the implementation of party policy and to handle disciplinary matters regarding party organizations and members. The Central Advisory Commission was established by the 1982 Party Constitution to facilitate the transfer of power from the Long March generation to younger and better educated successors. This body has consultative rather than decision-making powers. Its chairman is an ex-officio member of the Political Bureau's Standing Committee. Deng Xiaoping was made the first chairman of this body, both to lend it prestige and to encourage older leaders to retire.

Below the central level, party committees and congresses were formed in the twenty-one provinces, five autonomous regions, and three special municipalities directly under the central government. Taiwan was listed as a province but, of course, was not under China's administration. The party also was represented in various county subdivisions (which included the prefectures) and within the PLA from regional headquarters down to regimental level. At the bottom of the party hierarchy were three kinds of basic organizations: general party branches, primary party committees, and party branches. These were set up in factories, shops, schools, offices, neighborhoods, PLA companies, and other places, depending on local circumstances and subject to approval by the appropriate party committees.

Party committees at the provincial level are elected by the provincial-level congresses that convene every five years and have as additional functions the election of a discipline inspection commission, advisory commissions, and delegates to the National Party Congress. The county-level party congress convenes every three years and elects a committee, standing committee, and secretary. Below the county and PLA regimental levels, the general branch committee meets twice a year and is elected for a two-year term. The party branch, or lowest level of party organization, meets four times a year and elects a branch committee for a two-year term. Every party member must be a member of a branch committee. Party branch committees and their members at the grass-roots level are the backbone of the party organization. This is also the level where admission and expulsion of party members takes place. Branch members exchange views on issues, become thoroughly informed concerning party goals and policies, and learn to accept party discipline.

China - CCP Membership

In 1987 the CCP had 46 million members (4.3 percent of the national population). To qualify as party members, applicants must be at least eighteen years of age and must go through a one-year probationary period. Emphasis is placed on the applicant's technical and educational qualifications rather than on ideological criteria. Members are expected, however, to be both "red" and "expert", and the need to make the party apparatus more responsive to the demands and wishes of the masses of the people is stressed.

A major corollary of the self-improvement and self-cleansing activities is an ongoing campaign to weed out corrupt and dishonest party officials from all levels of the party organizations. Ideally this is accomplished by persuasion, but if necessary by punishment. The party's seriousness concerning this campaign was underlined with its September 1986 expulsion of the governor and party deputy secretary of Jiangxi Province for "violations of law and discipline" and "unhealthy tendencies" that purportedly included corruption, moral degeneration, abuse of official power, intercession in favor of relatives and friends, leaking of secret information, and many other charges.

Significantly, the party also experimented with the direct election of its party committee members. In late 1984 Hu Yaobang prescribed election procedures for direct election under a limited franchise of the Shaanxi Province party secretary. This election process included involvement of a large number of cadres down to the county level, open nominations, and a series of runoff elections, reportedly with no interference from either the central party Secretariat or the provincial party committee. In addition, party election procedures required that the number of candidates be greater than the number of persons to be elected.

In 1987 efforts to upgrade organizational effectiveness, unity, and discipline were proceeding in accordance with a document adopted in September 1986 by the Sixth Plenum of the Twelfth Central Committee. The "Resolution of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on the Guiding Principles for Building a Socialist Society with an Advanced Culture and Ideology" shifted attention away from the controversial issue of "unhealthy tendencies" in the party to focus on the need for academic freedom, mass supervision of the party, and other aspects of political reform. The stated goal was to build a truly communist society, but one defined authoritatively as "socialism with Chinese characteristics." Party energies and discipline were to be directed at achieving this goal and removing all obstructions and obstructionists. Thus, while earlier the party had identified corruption as a prime target, this concern was replaced with attention to "indigenous feudal tendencies" that might hinder success in economic modernization. The plenum endorsed the party's commitment to political reform and the extension of "socialist democracy and improving the socialist legal system, all for the purpose of facilitating socialist modernization."

China - Mass Organizations

In its efforts toward enlisting broad popular support and involvement, the CCP in 1987 continued to rely on mass organizations, "democratic parties", and professional organizations. These organizations, affiliated directly and indirectly with the CCP, were without exception headed by and permeated with party cadres. As secondary or auxiliary vehicles for the party's "mass line," the organizations constituted a united front of support for the party line and policies and conveyed the impression desired by the party that the broad strata of the population endorsed and was unified behind the communist leadership. Moreover, mass organizations were used as a means to penetrate the society at large, encourage popular participation, mobilize the masses, and integrate them into party-directed political life.

Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference

The activities of the mass organizations in theory are represented by the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) but in actuality are directed by the United Front Work Department of the Central Committee. The CPPCC has national and local committees and is composed of a variety of groups and individuals: the Chinese Communist Party, the "eight democratic parties"; mass organizations, including the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, Communist Youth League, All-China Women's Federation, and All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce; minorities; compatriots from Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan; overseas Chinese; and outstanding scientists, educators, cultural figures, journalists, and medical professionals. In June 1983 the Sixth CPPCC held its first session, which was attended by 2,039 delegates, including representatives from the Chinese Communist Party (technically a member of the united front associated with the CPPCC). CPPCC national sessions usually are held in conjunction with the session of the National People's Congress. The CPPCC has as its basic functions providing political consultancy on major state policies and encouraging a united front of patriotic intellectuals to contribute to modernization. The CPPCC is an important symbol of multiparty cooperation in China's modernization programs, and reform leaders have increasingly emphasized its role.

Democratic Parties

The eight "democratic parties" have existed since before 1950. They include the Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese Guomindang, founded in 1948 by dissident members of the mainstream Guomindang then under control of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek; China Democratic League, begun in 1941 by intellectuals in education and the arts; China Democratic National Construction Association, formed in 1945 by educators and national capitalists (industrialists and business people); China Association for Promoting Democracy, started in 1945 by intellectuals in cultural, education (primary and secondary schools), and publishing circles; Chinese Peasants' and Workers' Democratic Party, originated in 1930 by intellectuals in medicine, the arts, and education; China Zhi Gong Dang (Party for Public Interest), founded in 1925 to attract the support of overseas Chinese; Jiusan (September Third) Society, founded in 1945 by a group of college professors and scientists to commemorate the victory of the "international war against fascism"; and Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League, created in 1947 by "patriotic supporters of democracy who originated in Taiwan and now reside on the mainland."

Trade Unions

The most prominent mass organizations were given key responsibility for supporting and implementing the reform program. CCP Secretariat member Hao Jianxiu, speaking to an executive meeting of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, said that "as mass organizations of the working class, trade unions should stand at the forefront of the ongoing economic reform in China. They should blaze a new trail with distinct Chinese characteristics for conducting trade union activities." Specifically, Federation organizations were to aid members in acquiring modern scientific knowledge and technological skill. Within the membership and its affiliated organizations, intellectuals were to be protected and considered as members of the working class. Workers acquired the right to examine and discuss their factory director's principles, management plans, reform programs, budgets, and accounts. They also had the right to vote and to supervise and appraise leaders at all organizational levels. The workers' congress, held twice a year, was the organization empowered to exercise those rights. The regular organization that managed the daily affairs was the trade union body. These liberalizing changes were designed to improve workers' morale and thereby their productivity.

Communist Youth League

The Communist Youth League, the other primary communist organization, functioned as an all-purpose school for party members. Except for its top-ranking officials, the league's members, from fifteen to twenty-five years of age, were indoctrinated, trained, and prepared to serve as future party regulars. The league was organized on the party pattern. Its leader (in 1987 Song Defu) was identified as first secretary and member of the party's Central Committee. The Communist Youth League's eleventh congress, held in December 1982, was attended by about 2,000 delegates. The congress elected a central committee of 263 members and 51 alternate members. In 1987 the league included 52 million members attached to 2.3 million branches. They were required to carry out party policies, respect party discipline, and act as a "shock force and as a bridge linking the party with the broad masses of young people." Since 1984 the league's leadership has increased ties with youth organizations worldwide through friendly exchanges and cooperation. The Communist Youth League was responsible also for guiding the activities of the Young Pioneers (for children below the age of fifteen).

Women, Artists, Students, and Others

Among the other CPPCC groups, the All-China Women's Federation enlisted women in the party's effort to spread ideological awareness and to raise educational and technical levels. It also protected women's rights, promoted their welfare, and assisted them in family planning. The All-China Federation of Literary and Art Circles was guided by the principle "Let a hundred flowers bloom, let the hundred schools of thought contend," but with the stringent official qualification that all works must conform to the four cardinal principles (socialism, dictatorship of the proletariat, supporting the party leadership, and Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought). The All-China Federation of Youth was designed as a patriotic united front, with the Communist Youth League as its "nucleus." An affiliated youth organization was the All-China Students' Federation for university and college students. The All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce took part in modernization efforts, offering consultant services in sciences and economics, training teachers and business managers, and running schools. The Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries was responsible for promoting friendly relations and mutual understanding on nongovernmental levels through foreign contacts and cultural exchanges. In 1985 the association had connections with more than 150 foreign countries. There were also several politically active groups among Chinese adherents of Buddhism, Islam, Taoism, and Christianity.


Constitutional Framework

The formal structure of government in 1987 was based on the State Constitution adopted on December 4, 1982, by the National People's Congress (NPC), China's highest legislative body. Three previous state constitutions--those of 1954, 1975, and 1978--had been superseded in turn. The 1982 document reflects Deng Xiaoping's determination to lay a lasting institutional foundation for domestic stability and modernization. The new State Constitution provides a legal basis for the broad changes in China's social and economic institutions and significantly revises government structure and procedures.

The 1982 State Constitution is a lengthy, hybrid document with 138 articles. Large sections were adapted directly from the 1978 constitution, but many of its changes derive from the 1954 constitution. Specifically, the new Constitution deemphasizes class struggle and places top priority on development and on incorporating the contributions and interests of nonparty groups that can play a central role in modernization. Accordingly, Article 1 of the State Constitution describes China as a "people's democratic dictatorship," meaning that the system is based on an alliance of the working classes--in communist terminology, the workers and peasants--and is led by the Communist Party, the vanguard of the working class. Elsewhere, the Constitution provides for a renewed and vital role for the groups that make up that basic alliance--the CPPCC, democratic parties, and mass organizations. The 1982 Constitution expunges almost all of the rhetoric associated with the Cultural Revolution incorporated in the 1978 version. In fact, the Constitution omits all references to the Cultural Revolution and restates Mao Zedong's contributions in accordance with a major historical reassessment produced in June 1981 at the Sixth Plenum of the Eleventh Central Committee, the "Resolution on Some Historical Issues of the Party since the Founding of the People's Republic."

There also is emphasis throughout the 1982 State Constitution on socialist law as a regulator of political behavior. Thus, the rights and obligations of citizens are set out in detail far exceeding that provided in the 1978 constitution. Probably because of the excesses that filled the years of the Cultural Revolution, the 1982 Constitution gives even greater attention to clarifying citizens' "fundamental rights and duties" than the 1954 constitution did. The right to vote and to run for election begins at the age of eighteen except for those disenfranchised by law. The Constitution guarantees the freedom of religious worship as well as the "freedom not to believe in any religion" and affirms that "religious bodies and religious affairs are not subject to any foreign domination."

Article 35 of the 1982 State Constitution proclaims that "citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession, and of demonstration." In the 1978 constitution, these rights were guaranteed, but so were the right to strike and the "four big rights," often called the "four bigs": to speak out freely, air views fully, hold great debates, and write big-character posters. In February 1980, following the Democracy Wall period, the four bigs were abolished in response to a party decision ratified by the National People's Congress. The right to strike was also dropped from the 1982 Constitution. The widespread expression of the four big rights during the student protests of late 1986 elicited the regime's strong censure because of their illegality. The official response cited Article 53 of the 1982 Constitution, which states that citizens must abide by the law and observe labor discipline and public order. Besides being illegal, practicing the four big rights offered the possibility of straying into criticism of the CCP, which was in fact what appeared in student wall posters. In a new era that strove for political stability and economic development, party leaders considered the four big rights politically destabilizing.

The new State Constitution is also more specific about the responsibilities and functions of offices and organs in the state structure. There are clear admonitions against familiar Chinese practices that the reformers have labeled abuses, such as concentrating power in the hands of a few leaders and permitting lifelong tenure in leadership positions. In addition, the 1982 Constitution provides an extensive legal framework for the liberalizing economic policies of the 1980s. It allows the collective economic sector not owned by the state a broader role and provides for limited private economic activity. Members of the expanded rural collectives have the right "to farm private plots, engage in household sideline production, and raise privately owned livestock." The primary emphasis is given to expanding the national economy, which is to be accomplished by balancing centralized economic planning with supplementary regulation by the market.

Another key difference between the 1978 and 1982 state constitutions is the latter's approach to outside help for the modernization program. Whereas the 1978 constitution stressed "self-reliance" in modernization efforts, the 1982 document provides the constitutional basis for the considerable body of laws passed by the NPC in subsequent years permitting and encouraging extensive foreign participation in all aspects of the economy. In addition, the 1982 document reflects the more flexible and less ideological orientation of foreign policy since 1978. Such phrases as "proletarian internationalism" and "social imperialism" have been dropped.

<>The National People's Congress
<>The State Council
<>The Judiciary
<>Local Administration
<>The Cadre System


China - The National People's Congress

In the mid-1980s the NPC acquired heightened prominence. The NPC is defined in the 1982 Constitution as "the highest organ of state power" without being identified, as it was in the 1975 state constitution, as "under the leadership of the Communist Party of China." In addition, the Constitution states that "all power in the People's Republic of China belongs to the people." Although the preamble makes clear that the nation operates "under the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the guidance of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought," the trend has been to enhance the role of the NPC.

The major functions of the NPC are to amend the state constitution and enact laws; to supervise the enforcement of the state constitution and the law; to elect the president and the vice president of the republic; to decide on the choice of premier of the State Council upon nomination by the president; to elect the major officials of government; to elect the chairman and other members of the state Central Military Commission; to elect the president of the Supreme People's Court and the procurator-general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate; to examine and approve the national economic plan, the state budget, and the final state accounts; to decide on questions of war and peace; and to approve the establishment of special administrative regions and the "systems to be instituted there."

The NPC may also remove key government leaders, including the president and vice president and members of the State Council and state Central Military Commission. The 1982 State Constitution established the state Central Military Commission as the key governmental body charged with "directing the armed forces." While the party Central Military Commission provided the political direction for military policy making, the state Central Military Commission oversaw key military personnel appointments, managed PLA financial and material resources, developed regulations, and implemented statutes to provide a more rational and professional organizational basis for the PLA. The chairman of the state Central Military Commission--in a departure from earlier practices that put either the state president or the party chairman in command--was designated as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

The 3,000 members of the NPC meet once a year and serve 5-year terms. Delegates are elected by the people's congresses at the provincial level as well as by the PLA. Provincial delegations meet before each NPC session to discuss agenda items. There were 2,977 deputies at the First Session of the Sixth National People's Congress held from June 6 to 21, 1983. Because of the infrequent meetings, the NPC functions through a permanent body, the Standing Committee, whose members it elects (155 members in 1983). The Standing Committee's powers were enhanced in 1987 when it was given the ability to "enact and amend laws with the exception of those which should be enacted by the NPC," thus giving this body legislative powers. The Standing Committee presides over sessions of the NPC and determines the agenda, the routing of legislation, and nominations for offices. The NPC also has six permanent committees: one each for minorities, law, finance, foreign affairs, and overseas Chinese and one for education, science, culture, and health. Leaders of the NPC Standing Committee are invariably influential members of the CCP and leaders of major mass organizations. The Standing Committee has within it a smaller group that is led by the chairman of the Standing Committee (in 1987 Peng Zhen) and in 1987 included the vice chairmen and the secretary of the Standing Committee, comprising a total of twenty-one members.

In addition to the NPC's formal function, the Standing Committee is responsible, among other things, for conducting the election of NPC delegates; interpreting the State Constitution and laws; supervising the work of the executive, the state Central Military Commission, and judicial organs; deciding on the appointment and removal of State Council members on the recommendation of the premier; approving and removing senior judicial and diplomatic officials; ruling on the ratification and abrogation of treaties; and deciding on the proclamation of a state of war when the NPC is not in session.

Although in 1987 the NPC played a greater role than in earlier years, it did not determine the political course of the country. This remained the function of the CCP. Rather, the NPC played a consultative role. Another of its major functions was to serve as a symbol of the Communist regime's legitimacy and popular base. But with the emphasis in the mid-1980s on strengthening the democratic aspects of democratic centralism, the NPC may assume even more importance in decision making.

China - The State Council

In 1987 the top executive apparatus of the government was the State Council, the equivalent of the cabinet or council of ministers in many other countries. Although formally responsible to the NPC and its Standing Committee in conducting a wide range of government functions both at the national and at the local levels, the State Council was responsive mainly to the CCP Secretariat, under the Political Bureau and its Standing Committee. This orientation was dictated by the fact that the senior members of the State Council were concurrently influential party leaders--a tie that has facilitated the party's centralized control over the state apparatus. It also tended to obscure distinctions between the party and the government, resulting in overcentralization of power in the hands of a few, and arbitrary behavior by, key leaders. Both excesses were condemned by reform leaders. Deng's intention was to introduce some checks and balances into the party and government sectors by clarifying their separate functions with administrative codes and regulations and by developing a legal base from which to enforce them.

The State Council met once a month and had a standing committee meeting twice a week that included the premier, vice premiers, a secretary, and state councillors. It was headed by the premier, Zhao Ziyang, who was re-elected to a five-year term in 1983. The membership of the State Council as of November 1986 included, in addition to the premier, five vice premiers (versus thirteen in 1980), the secretary, and eleven state councillors. As the chief administrative organ of government, its main functions were to formulate administrative measures, issue decisions and orders, and monitor their implementation; draft legislative bills for submission to the NPC or its Standing Committee; and prepare the economic plan and the state budget for deliberation and approval by the NPC. The State Council was the functional center of state power and clearinghouse for government initiatives at all levels. With the government's emphasis on economic modernization, the State Council clearly acquired additional importance and influence.

The State Council was supported by leading groups, which resembled institutionalized task forces and dealt with problems in the modernization program. For example, a leading group established in September 1986 was directed to investigate and suggest ways to eliminate the obstacles to foreign investment in China. In addition to the leading groups were offices that dealt with matters of ongoing concern. These included the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office and the Special Economic Zones Office. In 1987 the State Council structure also included thirty-two ministers in charge of ministries, nine ministers in charge of commissions, twenty-nine agencies for carrying out specialized functions, and eight major banking institutions (see table 3, Appendix B). (In 1980 there had been thirty-eight ministers presiding over ministries and eleven ministers in charge of commissions. The NPC Standing Committee established the new Ministry of Supervision in December 1986.) In a bureaucratic reorganization carried out mainly in 1982, thousands of elderly officials had been retired and replaced by younger and better educated officials. Reductions in leadership personnel in the bodies under the State Council were accompanied by reductions in the staff of these bodies from 49,000 to 32,000 members.

China - The Judiciary

The State Constitution of 1982 and the Organic Law of the People's Courts that went into effect on January 1, 1980, provide for a four-level court system. At the highest level is the Supreme People's Court, the premier appellate forum of the land, which supervises the administration of justice by all subordinate "local" and "special" people's courts. Local people's courts--the courts of the first instance--handle criminal and civil cases. These people's courts make up the remaining three levels of the court system and consist of "higher people's courts" at the level of the provinces, autonomous regions, and special municipalities; "intermediate people's courts" at the level of prefectures, autonomous prefectures, and municipalities; and "basic people's courts" at the level of autonomous counties, towns, and municipal districts.

In April 1986, at the Fourth Session of the Sixth National People's Congress, the General Principles of the Civil Code was approved as "one of China's basic laws." Consisting of more than 150 articles, the code is intended to regulate China's internal and external economic relations to establish a stable base conducive to trade and attractive to foreign investors. Many of its provisions define the legal status of economic entities and the property rights they exercise. The code clearly stipulates that private ownership of the means of production is protected by law and may not be seized or interfered with by any person or organization. It also recognizes partnerships and wholly foreign-owned or joint-venture enterprises.

China - Local Administration

Governmental institutions below the central level are regulated by the provisions of the State Constitution of 1982. These provisions are intended to streamline the local state institutions and make them more efficient and more responsive to grass-roots needs; to stimulate local initiative and creativity; to restore prestige to the local authorities that had been seriously diminished during the Cultural Revolution; and to aid local officials in their efforts to organize and mobilize the masses. As with other major reforms undertaken after 1978, the principal motivation for the provisions was to provide better support for the ongoing modernization program.

The state institutions below the national level were local people's congresses--the NPC's local counterparts--whose functions and powers were exercised by their standing committees at and above the county level when the congresses were not in session. The standing committee was composed of a chairman, vice chairmen, and members. The people's congresses also had permanent committees that became involved in governmental policy affecting their areas and their standing committees, and the people's congresses held meetings every other month to supervise provincial-level government activities. In May 1984 Peng Zhen described the relationship between the NPC Standing Committee and the standing committees at lower levels as "one of liaison, not of leadership." Further, he stressed that the institution of standing committees was aimed at transferring power to lower levels so as to tap the initiative of the localities for the modernization drive.

The administrative arm of these people's congresses was the local people's government. Its local organs were established at three levels: the provinces, autonomous regions, and special municipalities; autonomous prefectures, counties, autonomous counties (called banners in Nei Monggol Autonomous Region (Inner Mongolia)), cities, and municipal districts; and, at the base of the administrative hierarchy, administrative towns (xiang). The administrative towns replaced people's communes as the basic level of administration.

Reform programs have brought the devolution of considerable decision-making authority to the provincial and lower levels. Nevertheless, because of the continued predominance of the fundamental principle of democratic centralism, which is at the base of China's State Constitution, these lower levels are always vulnerable to changes in direction and decisions originated at the central level of government. In this respect, all local organs are essentially extensions of central government authorities and thus are responsible to the "unified leadership" of the central organs.

The people's congresses at the provincial, city, and county levels each elected the heads of their respective government organizations. These included governors and deputy governors, mayors and deputy mayors, and heads and deputy heads of counties, districts, and towns. The people's congresses also had the right to recall these officials and to demand explanations for official actions. Specifically, any motion raised by a delegate and supported by three others obligated the corresponding government authorities to respond. Congresses at each level examined and approved budgets and the plans for the economic and social development of their respective administrative areas. They also maintained public order, protected public property, and safeguarded the rights of citizens of all nationalities. (About 7 percent of the total population was composed of minority nationalities concentrated mainly in sensitive border areas.) All deputies were to maintain close and responsive contacts with their various constituents.

Before 1980 people's congresses at and above the county level did not have standing committees. These had been considered superfluous because the local congresses did not have a heavy workload and in any case could serve adequately as executive bodies for the local organs of power. The CCP's decision in 1978 to adopt the Four Modernizations as its official party line, however, produced a critical need for broad mass support and the means to mobilize that support for the varied activities of both party and state organs. In short, the new programs revealed the importance of responsive government. The CCP view was that the standing committees were better equipped than the local people's governments to address such functions as convening the people's congresses; keeping in touch with the grass roots and their deputies; supervising, inspecting, appointing, and removing local administrative and judicial personnel; and preparing for the election of local deputies to the next higher people's congresses. The use of standing committees was seen as a more effective and rational way to supervise the activities of the local people's governments than requiring that local administrative authorities check and balance themselves. The proclaimed purpose of the standing committee system was to make local governments more responsible and more responsive to constituents.

The establishment of the standing committees in effect also meant restoring the formal division of responsibilities between party and state authorities that had existed before 1966. The 1979 reform mandated that the party should not interfere with the administrative activities of local government organs and that its function should be confined to "political leadership" to ensure that the party's line was correctly followed and implemented. Provincial-level party secretaries, for instance, were no longer allowed to serve concurrently as provincial-level governors or deputy governors (chairmen or vice chairmen in autonomous regions, and mayors or deputy mayors in special municipalities), as they had been allowed to do during the Cultural Revolution. In this connection most officials who had held positions in the former provincial-level revolutionary committees were excluded from the new local people's governments. Some provincial-level officials who were purged during the Cultural Revolution were rehabilitated and returned to power.

The local people's congresses and their standing committees were given the authority to pass local legislation and regulations under the Organic Law of the People's Courts of 1980. This authority was granted only at the level of provinces, autonomous regions, and special municipalities. Its purpose was to allow local congresses to accommodate the special circumstances and actual needs of their jurisdictions. This measure was billed as a "major reform" instituted because "a unified constitution and a set of uniform laws for the whole country have proved increasingly inadequate" in coping with differing "local features or cultural and economic conditions." On July 17, 1979, Renmin Ribao (People's Daily) observed: "To better enforce the constitution and state laws, we must bring them more in line with the concrete realities in various areas and empower these areas to approve local laws and regulations so that they can decide certain major issues with local conditions in mind." The law explicitly stated, however, that the scope of legislation must be within the limits of the State Constitution and policies of the state, and that locally enacted bills must be submitted "for the record" to the Standing Committee of the NPC and to the State Council, which, according to the 1982 State Constitution, can annul them if they are found to "contravene the Constitution, the statutes, or the administrative rules and regulations."

In 1987 the party and the government continued to stress the importance of bringing about popular "supervision" over, for instance, the pivotal county-level administration. The importance of maintaining close ties with the masses, listening to their opinions, being concerned with their welfare, and serving their interests was emphasized. Such concern was ensured with the adoption of electoral procedures as part of the 1979 reform package that called for instituting direct elections of deputies to the local people's congresses at the county level. Under the old procedure, the electorate's only choice had been to vote for a slate of candidates equal in number to the number of deputies to be elected. Additional reforms provided for a more open process of nomination, a secret ballot with a choice of candidates, and the possibility of primary elections. The new election procedures were also extended to the election of government officials and of delegates to high-level people's congresses. (All of these reforms taken together offered the potential, in those areas where they were adopted, for significant change.) Experiments reportedly also were taking place in certain medium-sized cities, beginning in 1986, to increase participation by citizens in political activities and decision making. In December 1986 Beijing municipal authorities announced that the mid-1987 municipal elections would allow more than one candidate to run for election for each seat available. This announcement came as extensive student demonstrations in key urban centers were demanding broader democratic freedoms.

Official efforts to improve government performance at the grass-roots level continued in 1987. They had as a precedent a set of regulations, first enacted in 1952 and 1954, covering the activities of what are officially referred to as "basic-level mass autonomous organizations." Such organizations included the urban neighborhood committees, subdistrict offices, people's mediation committees, and public security committees. These regulations had been reissued in January 1980 by the NPC Standing Committee in an attempt to strengthen the grass-roots organizations. In addition, the 1982 State Constitution had proclaimed the establishment of residents' and villagers' committees to ensure public security and preserve social order; to provide public health services and mediate civil disputes; and, most important, to carry information to and from government organs. Another significant reform at the basic level was the establishment of the administrative town (xiang) government to replace the commune. This reform freed the commune to function solely as an economic unit.

Another administrative reform directly related to economic modernization was the establishment in 1979 of the special economic zones, which included Shenzhen, Zhuhai, and Shantou, all in Guangdong Province, and Xiamen in Fujian Province. Supervising China's special economic zones were the Guangdong provincial committee, headquartered in Shenzhen, and the Xiamen Construction and Development Corporation. The Guangdong provincial committee controlled Zhuhai, Shenzhen, and Shantou and shared its authority over Shekou (a small port zone within Shenzhen) with the China Merchant Steam Navigation Company. The latter was a Hong Kong subsidiary of China's Ministry of Communications that had been empowered in 1979 to negotiate all foreign ventures in Shekou.

The special administrative region, another administrative unit, was developed to serve foreign policy goals. Article 31 of the State Constitution of 1982 empowers the NPC to enact laws to establish special administrative regions to accommodate local conditions. Hong Kong will come under this rule when Britain transfers its sovereignty over its former colony to China on July 1, 1997, as delineated in the Joint Declaration on the Question of Hong Kong, signed on September 26, 1984. Macao is slated to become a special administrative region on December 20, 1999, when Portugal is to transfer governmental authority over Macao to China, as stipulated in the Joint Declaration on the Question of Macao, initialed on March 26, 1987. In 1986 and 1987 the State Council's Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office was drafting the Basic Law for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, which would define Hong Kong's system of government. The new law was due for completion in 1988.

China - The Cadre System

In 1987 the party and government cadre (ganbu) system, the rough equivalent of the civil service system in many other countries, was entering the final stages of a massive overhaul aimed at transforming the bureaucracy into an effective instrument of national policy. The term cadre refers to a public official holding a responsible or managerial position, usually full time, in party and government. A cadre may or may not be a member of the CCP, although a person in a sensitive position would almost certainly be a party member.

In an August 1980 speech, "On the Reform of the Party and State Leadership System," Deng Xiaoping declared that power was overcentralized and concentrated in the hands of individuals who acted arbitrarily, following patriarchal methods in carrying out their duties. Deng meant that the bureaucracy operated without the benefit of regularized and institutionalized procedures, and he recommended corrective measures such as abolishing the bureaucratic practice of life tenure for leading positions. In 1981 Deng proposed that a younger, better educated leadership corps be recruited from among cadres in their forties and fifties who had trained at colleges or technical secondary schools.

The theme of "streamlining and rejuvenating" the bureaucracy was taken up by Zhao Ziyang in early 1980 when he announced a major overhaul of the government. The number of vice premiers was reduced from 13 to 2, State Council agencies were cut by almost half, and the number of ministers and vice ministers was reduced from 505 to 167. The new appointees were younger and better educated than their predecessors. In January 1982 Deng called for a "revolution" in the bureaucracy, starting with its top levels. At that time, Deng envisioned reducing the size of the government bureaucracy by onequarter over a two-year period. By retiring veteran cadres, the way could be opened for promoting younger, professionally competent cadres to positions of authority and thereby providing the effective leadership needed for China's modernization. In May 1982 the Central Committee reorganized and streamlined its internal structure by cutting staff in its 30 component departments by 17.3 percent. Subordinate bureaus were reduced by 11 percent. Almost half of the CCP Central Committee elected in September 1982 were new members, and 83 percent of the alternate members were newly elected.

Reorganization of the provincial-level party and government structures took place between late 1982 and May 1983. During this period, almost one-third of the provincial-level party first secretaries and all but three of the governors were replaced, most of them moving into advisory positions. Almost two-thirds of provincial-level leaders in 1986 were college or university educated. During 1983 and 1984, these reforms reached the prefectural, county, municipal, and town levels, reportedly resulting in a reduction in staff of 36 percent and an elevation in the percentage of college educated leaders to 44 percent.

Simultaneous with restructuring and rejuvenating the bureaucracy, a drive was begun to improve the party's working style and consolidate party organizations. The Second Plenum of the Twelfth Central Committee, held in October 1983, initiated such a program for the years 1984-86. Some 388,000 party members participated in the first stage of party rectification. These included high- and middle-ranking cadres in 159 leading organs in the central departments, provinces, autonomous regions, special municipalities, and PLA. This phase of the campaign lasted over a year and was accompanied by the recruitment of 340,000 technicians and 32,000 college and university graduates and postgraduates into the CCP. In addition, a campaign was launched to ferret out residual leftist influence from the Cultural Revolution period, factionalism, and corruption. Discipline inspection committees were reinstituted. Three kinds of party members were singled out as special targets: followers of the Gang of Four or of Lin Biao, factionalists, and persons who "beat, smashed, and looted" during the Cultural Revolution. These members were to be expelled from the party. Lesser offenders requiring correction included party members with bureaucratic or patriarchal attitudes, those seeking personal power and position, and those inept or lazy in their work.

The principal objective of the reform leadership was to establish a system of steady, predictable rule through the creation of a professional bureaucracy. An important aspect of the program was personnel reform. Guidelines were issued that set age limits for key offices. A limit of sixty-five years of age was imposed for government ministers, sixty for vice ministers and department chiefs, and, for all other officials, sixty for men and fifty-five for women. The effect of this key reform was to bring to an end the lifetime tenure system that had been fundamental to China's bureaucracy since 1949. There was the additional stipulation that officeholders in the reconstructed bureaucracy be qualified both politically and professionally, that is, be both "red" and "expert." The reorganization and streamlining of provincial-level party and government bureaucracies followed the same procedures, including reducing the staff sizes and number of offices, lowering the average age, and raising the educational requirements for candidates for provincial-level leadership. These changes were considered essential to providing for a "third echelon" of leaders. This group could serve in positions of some authority, where they could be trained, observed, and evaluated as to their suitability for increased responsibility. Below the central level, the chosen age for leaders at the level of provinces, autonomous regions, and special municipalities was fifty-five; at the county level, between thirty and fifty years.

The second stage of party rectification, having the same goals as the first stage, began in the fall of 1984 and encompassed prefectural and county-level units. This stage involved some 13.5 million cadres, or about one-third of the party's membership. The third and final stage of the three-year party rectification campaign was launched in November 1985 and targeted party units "below the county level." This stage encompassed almost 20 million party members, about half the total membership of the party. These members belonged to the more than 1 million party branches throughout the rural areas. The campaign worked from the higher to the lower level organizations and proceeded methodically "in stages and groups." But while party pronouncements at previous stages of the rectification had complained about the perfunctory manner in which the campaigns were being managed, at this final stage the central authorities displayed notable leniency and caution. They feared that extensive restructuring and rebuilding of the local leadership had the potential to disrupt both production and social order. Even in cases of embezzlement, graft, and other "unhealthy practices," the party counseled circumspection and the employment of moderate measures. Subjecting local leaders to condemnation at mass meetings, a practice prevalent during the Cultural Revolution, was strictly forbidden.

In sum, the "revolution" being carried out in the bureaucratic structures of power was meant to reorient the system away from the style, procedures, and excesses of the Cultural Revolution and toward the most efficient and potentially successful methods for China's modernization. This reorientation required the massive retirement of veteran cadres and the recruitment of those knowledgeable in modern economics and technology to be trained in leadership positions. It was an enormous task and one that obviously met significant resistance from those who either did not understand the new requirements or saw them as a substantial threat to their position and livelihood. Nevertheless, in early 1987 the reform leadership appeared to be making very credible strides at fulfilling these goals.


Since 1978 the media had been one focus of the CCP's efforts to modernize key sectors of Chinese society, and it operated on the premise that more responsible and factual reporting would help to narrow the distance between the elite and the masses. The party hoped in this way to enlist mass support for its nation-building program. In 1987 the official media continued to play its assigned role as a vehicle through which to inform, educate, indoctrinate, control, and mobilize the masses.

Before 1978 the CCP used the mass media as a tool to "serve the interest of proletarian politics" or the party's "class struggle" and "mass line." Having these priorities, the party was concerned neither with openness nor accuracy. What the CCP considered information was more often than not the interpretation of events or data that would support the government's political, social, and economic programs. Timeliness of content was far less important than political or ideological utility. Before 1976 the party allowed no dissenting view to appear in print. The result was reporting and commentary that made information and propaganda all but synonymous.

With the ascendancy of the Deng Xiaoping reformers in 1978, the mass media began to display a different orientation and focus. It began to play a significant part in the CCP drive to popularize, first within the party, the notion of "practice being the only criterion of truth" and of "seeking truth from facts," rather than from petrified formulations. After March 1978 the party press no longer printed Mao's quotations in bold type. Moreover, it began to report more shortcomings and expose more criticism of the central authorities. In 1987 there still were considerable limits on criticism in the official media, however. Party general secretary Hu Yaobang, in a 1986 speech published in the party's daily organ Renmin Ribao, instructed editors that 80 percent of reporting should focus on achievements in modernization and only 20 percent on shortcomings.

China's extensive communication system includes both official and unofficial channels. Official means of communication include government directives and state documents, newspapers, periodicals, books, and other publications; radio and television; and drama, art, motion pictures, and exhibitions. Unofficial channels include handwritten wall newspapers, handbills, posters, street-corner skits, and theater. Of all these channels, the newspapers, periodicals, and electronic media continued in 1987 to play the most important part in communications.

Among the principal national newspapers in 1987, Renmin Ribao contained party and government directives, unsigned editorials, commentaries, and letters to the editor. The latter were often critical of local implementation of central policies. The PLA organ was Jiefangjun Bao (Liberation Army Daily). Gongren Ribao (Workers' Daily) dealt with labor matters, and Guangming Ribao (Enlightenment Daily) provided coverage of science, culture, and education. There were numerous other newspapers published both at the provincial-level and at the mass organization-level, but none of these had the prestige and authoritativeness associated with the party and army newspapers. Starting in 1978, party authorities permitted newspapers from south China provinces to circulate outside China; in 1983 north China newspapers were given foreign circulation. There were also many specialty newspapers focusing on the economy, trade and finance, agriculture, the arts, youth affairs, and so on. By the end of 1984, post offices in China reportedly were distributing 734 different newspapers with a total circulation of 112.9 million, or a newspaper for every eighth person in China.

Hongqi (Red Flag), a journal published by the CCP Central Committee, provides guidance on questions of current political theory, explaining the direction of the party's Marxist analysis, setting forth the party line, and suggesting the proper methods for implementing it. A monthly until December 1979, Hongqi since has been published twice a month. The government also publishes its major reports and documents. For example, Guowuyuan Gongbao (State Council Bulletin), appearing three times a month, provides a summary of directives, prints notices, presents agreements signed with foreign countries, and registers central approval given to local government actions.

In addition to open official and unofficial documents, there is another large category of materials that is classified for internal use (neibu), as opposed to for public use (gongkai). These materials are published by party, government, academic, and professional organizations. Some publications have additional restrictions, such as for distribution only within the publishing unit. The most protected publication is entitled Cankao Ziliao (Reference Information) and is distributed to around 1,000 high officials daily. A similar internal use publication, but with a much wider readership, is the Cankao Xiaoxi (Reference News). This publication contains translations of selected foreign news articles, many of which are critical of China. These internally circulated materials generally are more reliable and detailed than those found in the open press.

The principal source of domestic news and the sole source of international news for the mass domestic newspapers and radio is the Xinhua (New China) News Agency. This government agency has departments dealing with domestic news, international news, domestic news for foreign news services, and foreign affairs. It maintains an extensive network of correspondents in ninety overseas bureaus. Xinhua also releases the News Bulletin in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, and Russian, totaling about 30,000 words per day, and provides special features to newspapers and magazines in more than 100 countries. Domestic branches of Xinhua can communicate with the head office over microwave communications. Internationally, a telecommunications network has been established linking Beijing with Paris, London, New York, Tokyo and Hong Kong. Further, Xinhua has rented an international communications satellite to file news to foreign countries and exchange news with foreign news agencies. It mails special features to newspapers and magazines in more than 100 countries. Another news agency, China News Service (Zhongguo Xinwenshe), provides news stories and photographs to Chinese newspapers and some radio and television stations in Hong Kong, Macao, and several foreign countries.

By 1984 electronic media included over 160 radio stations and 90 television stations. The Central People's Broadcasting Station, headquartered in Beijing and subordinate to the Ministry of Radio, Cinema, and Television, provided domestic service to every area of the country. Radio Beijing, China's overseas radio service, continued to expand its programming, initiating a news program in English for foreign residents in Beijing in January 1985. Television service was available in the major urban areas and was increasing its reach outside urban centers. China's television broadcasting was under the control of China Central Television (CCTV). In 1979 the network began an "open university" program. By 1984 China reported having "radio and television universities" in 326 cities and 1,168 counties throughout 28 provinces, autonomous regions, and special municipalities, making the use of television an important aspect of higher education in China.

China - Politics

CHINA'S "SECOND REVOLUTION," a far-reaching program of reform designed by Deng Xiaoping, was initiated at the Third Plenum of the Eleventh Central Committee (December 18-22, 1978). It marked a major turning point in China's modern political history, as it was intended to make China's institutions and political process supportive of the Four Modernizations, a national program of social and economic development. The first step was to recruit intellectuals and mobilize the population on a course of modernization. Ultimately, it was hoped, these efforts would produce what became identified as "socialism with Chinese characteristics."

To realize this lofty goal, several obstacles had to be overcome. The Cultural Revolution, under Mao Zedong's direction, between 1966 and 1976 had divided Chinese society into competing factions. The deaths of Zhou Enlai and Mao Zedong in 1976 left the country without strong leadership and contributed further to social and political divisiveness. The need became obvious to replace Mao's premise of "class struggle as the key link"--which emphasized class conflict and disruptive mass campaigns--with a pragmatic style that stressed stability and a problem-solving approach to difficulties encountered in carrying out developmental programs. The overly centralized political system, patterned after the Soviet Union's Stalinist model, had to be revised to decentralize decision-making authority.

Probably the greatest impediment to the success of modernization was the unwieldy Chinese bureaucracy. Steeped in revolutionary tradition but advanced in age and largely untrained in modern administrative procedures, party and government cadres operated through personal connections and patriarchal attitudes. For the party and government to exercise effective control over modernization programs, these cadres would have to be replaced by younger and better trained administrators, a development that not surprisingly would provoke considerable resistance from within the bureaucracy. Finally, the means had to be found to engage urban workers, peasants, and intellectuals in China's modernization process by separating them from their traditional and often backward viewpoints and providing them with a more practical and scientific basis for their actions.

The substantial revisions to China's social, political, and ideological system, required for the success of the "second revolution," caused serious tensions within the political system. The introduction of major economic reforms also caused considerable strains. But the economic reform measures, first introduced in China's rural areas, provoked an enthusiastic response and a substantial following. With this success as a base, additional reform measures were prepared in October 1984 for introduction into China's more diverse and complicated urban sector. Concomitant with measures to promote rural and urban development, plans were made for substantial revision and reorganization of the political and administrative structure in China, particularly the party and government cadre system.

Because of the innovative nature of the political and economic reform programs, each wave of reform stimulated a constituency supporting its development. Beneficiaries of the new measures carried them out with enthusiasm, sometimes even taking them beyond their originally intended scope. At the same time, a substantial segment of the affected population found itself undercut and showed varying degrees of opposition to the reform initiatives. The reform measures, initially designed by China's top party leaders, took on a dimension of spontaneity as they were implemented. The dynamics of the reform process, generating degrees of support and opposition, played a substantial role in shaping the political process in China after 1978.

Operating within this context, China's top party leaders had a twofold task. First, they had to preserve a consensus among the senior party leadership (the Political Bureau) concerning the nature and content of reform measures and the pace at which they would be introduced. Second, that consensus had to survive the continual dislocations and permutations that accompanied the implementation process. Some reforms provoked instability by being zealously pursued; others bogged down in resistance. By 1987 it appeared that the resolution of these emerging issues and problems was accomplished mainly by internal bargaining among key leaders, who often represented major institutional interests, and by disciplinary measures. The latter case was exemplified by the forced resignation of party general secretary Hu Yaobang early in that year. In a more general sense, the major function of reform leadership was to maintain stability in the political system while preserving the momentum necessary for perpetuating the overall reform program. In short, as in other developing societies, China's leaders have had to manage the tensions inherent in a society undergoing rapid and thoroughgoing change.

Finally, Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought--the official state ideology--needed continual substantive revision and changes in emphasis by China's political leadership. Under Mao Zedong's leadership, China's recognized ideal had been to create the true "socialist man." In the 1980s Deng Xiaoping set for his government the perhaps equally idealistic goal of leading the enormous population of this developing country, still imbued with "feudalistic" traditions, toward the achievement of a modern, developed state by the year 2000. It was a goal that seemed to require frequent revision if it were ever to be achieved.

Deng Xiaoping Consolidates Power
Institutionalizing Collective Leadership
A Successor Generation

The Opening Up Policy and Reform in the Countryside
Rectification and Reform
The Repercussions of Urban Reform
The Decentralization of Power
Political Reform
Resistance and the Campaign Against Bourgeois Liberalization
The Components of Reform
Competing Bureaucratic Interests
Deng Xiaoping's Seminal Role
The Role of Ideology
Ideology and the Socialist Man
Ideology and Social Change




Chairman Hua Guofeng presided over the historic Third Plenum of the Eleventh National Party Congress in December 1978, his authority rooted in his generally acknowledged claim to be Mao Zedong's chosen successor. Viewed in historical context, Hua's role was that of a relatively minor figure temporarily bridging the gap between the radical leadership associated with Mao and the Cultural Revolution and the emergence of new political leaders who could consolidate national policy and assert credible authority. Hua's political weakness was most graphically illustrated by the rehabilitation--for the second time- -of Deng Xiaoping, in July 1977, and Deng's subsequent successful elevation of his proteges and initiation of a comprehensive reform program to realize the Four Modernizations.

This transitional period moved toward far-reaching reform and even a reassessment of Mao Zedong Thought. Economic development and material rewards to motivate producers replaced the Maoist emphasis on ideological goals and incentives. A stress on political stability supplanted the call to "continuing revolution." In Chinese academic circles, efforts were made to restore and raise academic standards, and party leaders stressed the importance of science and technology and the contribution of intellectuals in realizing modernization. The liberalization of expression in intellectual and cultural circles led to further questioning of the Cultural Revolution, Mao's role, and Mao Zedong Thought.

Between 1979 and 1981 it became necessary to "readjust" some of the reform programs and initiatives to effect a balance between reformist and conservative forces. The major issues dividing these forces were China's capacity to sustain rapid economic development and the political and cultural consequences of opening up to the world and allowing liberalization of expression and behavior. The retrenchment that followed was a readjustment and not an end to Deng Xiaoping's reform agenda.

Deng Xiaoping Consolidates Power

Deng's second rehabilitation marked another milestone in the career of one of the party's most remarkable leaders. Born in Sichuan Province in 1904, Deng was the son of a wealthy landlord. A bright student, he went to France on a work-study program in 1920. There Deng, like many other Chinese students, was radicalized and joined the nascent Chinese Communist Party. He had returned to China by 1926 and, after the party was forced underground in 1927, became involved in guerrilla activities. Eventually he joined the main body of the party and Red Army in Jiangxi Province. Deng participated in the Long March and rose through the ranks of the Red Army to become a senior political commissar during the war against Japan (1937-45) and the Chinese civil war (1945-49). After the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, he was assigned his home province of Sichuan, where he was made first secretary of the Southwest Regional Party Bureau. In 1952 Deng was transferred to Beijing and given several key positions, the highest of which was vice premier of the State Council--a remarkable development that he probably owed to Mao's favor.

In 1956 Deng was promoted over several more-senior party leaders to the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau and became secretary general of the party, that is, head of the party Secretariat. As secretary general, Deng became involved in the dayto -day implementation of party policies and had immediate access to the resources of the entire party bureaucracy. Consequently, Deng's power grew immensely. Because he perceived Mao's radical economic policies to have been harmful to China's development after 1958, Deng began to work more closely with State Chairman Liu Shaoqi. Deng's behavior irritated Mao, and his stress on results over ideological orthodoxy struck Mao as "revisionism". During the Cultural Revolution, Deng was branded the "number-two capitalist roader in the party" (Liu Shaoqi was the "number-one capitalist roader," having allegedly abandoned socialism. In 1967 Deng was driven from power and sent to work in a tractor factory in Jiangxi Province.

After the excesses of the Cultural Revolution and the shock of an attempted military coup in 1971 by Lin Biao, Premier Zhou Enlai apparently recommended that Deng be brought back to aid in dealing with increasingly complex domestic and international issues. Mao agreed, and Deng returned in April 1973 as a vice premier. He rejoined the Political Bureau in December, becoming more active in national affairs as Zhou Enlai's health weakened. By early 1975 he was in charge of the work of the Central Committee as one of its vice chairmen. From this powerful vantage point, Deng concentrated on moderating the effects of the more radical aspects of the policies introduced during the Cultural Revolution and on focusing national attention on economic development. He also continued to build his own political influence through restoring to high office many old cadres who had been purged during the Cultural Revolution. Mao again began to distrust Deng and, after Zhou's death, decided that Deng should once again be removed from his positions.

Deng has been described as aggressive, brash, impatient, and self-confident. He inspired respect among Chinese officials as a capable administrator and a brilliant intellect. He did not, however, inspire loyalty and devotion, and he admitted that his hard-driving personality often alienated others. In contrast to Mao, Deng offered no expansive socialist vision. Rather, Deng's message was a practical one: to make the Chinese people more prosperous and China a modern socialist state. Deng's pragmatic style arose primarily from his dedication to placing China among the world's great powers.

Deng consolidated his power and influence by removing his opponents from their power bases, elevating his proteges to key positions, revising the political institutional structure, retiring elderly party leaders who either were hesitant about his reform programs or too weak and incompetent to implement them, and raising up a replacement generation of leaders beholden to him and apparently enthusiastic about the reform program. As a first step toward achieving these goals, Deng set out to remove Hua Guofeng, apparently a firm believer in Mao's ideals, from the three pivotal positions of chairman of the party and of its powerful Central Military Commission and premier of the State Council. At that time, Deng was on the Political Bureau Standing Committee, vice chairman of the party Central Military Commission, and vice premier of the State Council.

At the Third Plenum, four new members were elected to the Political Bureau, all to varying degrees supporters of the reform program. Hu Yaobang, an energetic protege of Deng Xiaoping, was elected, as was Wang Zhen, a Deng stalwart. Also elected were Deng Yingchao, widow of Zhou Enlai, and Chen Yun, architect of China's 1950s economic policy. Chen also became head of the newly established Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. Following the plenum, Hu Yaobang was appointed secretary general of the party and head of its Propaganda Department. Further personnel changes beneficial to Deng occurred at the Fifth Plenum, held February 23-29, 1980. Hu Yaobang was elevated to the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau, as was another Deng protege, Zhao Ziyang. With these promotions, accompanied by the forced resignations of members associated with the Cultural Revolution, the Standing Committee was comprised of seven members, four of whom were strongly committed to party and economic reform.

Hua Guofeng's position was eroded further in mid-1980, when he was replaced as premier by Zhao Ziyang. A fast-rising provincial party official, Zhao spent his early career in Guangdong Province, where he gained expertise in managing agricultural affairs. Unlike Hua, whose political status had improved during the Cultural Revolution, Zhao Ziyang was purged in 1967 for supporting the policies of Mao's opponents. After his rehabilitation in 1972, Zhao worked briefly in Nei Monggol Autonomous Region (Inner Mongolia) and then returned to Guangdong Province. In 1975, a peak period in Deng's influence, Zhao was sent to troubled Sichuan Province as party first secretary. Under Zhao's leadership Sichuan Province returned to political and economic health. Zhao believed firmly in material incentives, and he promoted experiments in returning decision-making authority to the local work units, rather than centralizing it exclusively in provincial-level or central administrative bureaus.

Hua Guofeng's political isolation deepened when at the Central Committee's Sixth Plenum, in June 1981, he was replaced as party chairman by General Secretary Hu Yaobang. This key meeting reevaluated party history, including the Cultural Revolution, and charged Mao with major errors in his later years. Hua, having been identified with the "two whatevers" group ("support whatever policy decisions Chairman Mao made and follow whatever instructions Chairman Mao gave"), was marked for political oblivion. At this same meeting, Deng Xiaoping assumed Hua's former position as chairman of the party's Central Military Commission, advancing his goal of ridding the top military ranks of reform opponents. With these developments, Deng was poised for an even more thorough consolidation of the reform leadership at the upcoming Twelfth National Party Congress.

Institutionalizing Collective Leadership

Following the Third Plenum, one of Deng Xiaoping's major reform goals had been to produce an institutionalized and stable political system that could promote economic development. Economic reform was to be accompanied by political reform that would permit a greater range of personal and intellectual choices and include the opening up of debate on key issues of local and national concern.

A major part of this political reform had to do with implementing the concept of collective leadership. The cult of personality cultivated by Mao and those associated with him had made Chinese society subject to the whim of an aging and increasingly irrational revolutionary personality. To counter this style and project an image of political maturity and regularity, Deng declined to assume the party chairmanship. Even Hua Guofeng's demotion from senior leadership positions was done gradually and was cushioned by allowing Hua to retain his membership on the Central Committee. Overall, Deng's objective was to invert the practice of having power vested more in individuals than in institutions and to modify a decision-making process that operated by fiat, without regular procedures or an adequate information base.

A major step toward institutionalizing collective leadership was taken with the re-establishment of the party Secretariat in 1980. Its formation permitted the emplacement of promising younger leaders to manage and master dayto -day party affairs. Having supervisory authority over the various Central Committee departments, the Secretariat could provide the Political Bureau and its presiding Standing Committee with additional expertise in making decisions. By 1987 the Secretariat included eleven members, six of whom also served on the Political Bureau. The broad experience of its membership covered all major substantive areas, including party, government, and military affairs, agriculture, the national economy and planning, culture and propaganda, and industry and trade. In addition to drafting the major policy resolutions for Political Bureau deliberation and then supervising the implementation of party policy, the Secretariat used its expertise and organizational standing to exert pressure on the cumbersome Chinese bureaucracy to achieve the desired results.

The 1982 Party Constitution abolished the post of party chairman and expanded the base of political authority to include the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau, party general secretary, chairman of the party's Central Military Commission, first secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, and chairman of the Central Advisory Commission. The premier also served on the Standing Committee, which thus included in its policy-making ranks representatives of the three major institutions--party, government, and military.

Another measure that promoted a more balanced distribution of power was the strengthening of senior governmental bodies. As premier, Zhao Ziyang presided over the State Council, a body crucial to the implementation of economic reform measures and, like the party Secretariat, supported by an abundance of research institutions to aid in decision making. By 1987 the State Council, the chief administrative organization of government and clearinghouse for government actions, was composed of twenty-two members, including Premier Zhao and five vice premiers who also served on the Political Bureau. Its Standing Committee of seventeen included senior members with long and recognized experience in all aspects of government. The State Council directed the work of the various government ministries, commissions, and agencies and verified that relevant party policies were being implemented.

The process of easing out unwanted leaders was institutionalized at the Twelfth National Party Congress in September 1982. Deng Xiaoping developed and headed the new central body, the party's Central Advisory Commission. Qualified members with at least forty years of party service were honored by being named to this body as consultants to the party and the government. This institutional innovation was intended to remove the superannuated veterans from real power positions while allowing them to remain at least at the fringes of power.

Besides providing for the graceful retirement of old revolutionary heroes and elderly leaders, at the Twelfth National Party Congress the reform leadership successfully consolidated its control of the party. Sixty percent of the members and alternate members on the newly elected Central Committee were newcomers and probable supporters of the reform program. Most of those elected had professional and technical qualifications, fulfilling another reform goal of infusing the bureaucracy with competent and talented officials.

A Successor Generation

An even more remarkable shift in the composition of party leadership occurred at the National Conference of Party Delegates in September 1985. Over 100 senior party leaders submitted their resignations, including 10 members of the Political Bureau and 64 members of the Central Committee. The officials reportedly gave their reason for retiring as a desire to make way for younger and better-educated leaders who were more equipped to lead China and guide the reform program. In fact, these retiring leaders were a mixed group, some of whom lacked the vigor and skills necessary to handle the complexities of reform, while others had reservations concerning the direction and pace of the reform program. Some even may have believed that it was best to turn over responsibilities to a younger leadership. In spite of this trend, Deng, who was himself eighty-two years old, and several other senior leaders continued in office. Officially, he maintained that his requests to retire had all been turned down. In fact, the progress of the reform program was heavily dependent on Deng's continued central role.

Hu Yaobang's demotion in 1987 also raised questions about the quality of the selection process for top positions and even about the stability of the reforming Chinese political system. Hu had been viewed as Deng's successor as party leader, but he came under attack from within the Political Bureau for what was described as indirectly encouraging questioning of the communist system, for pushing the economic reforms beyond their intended limits, and for speaking out abruptly in international circles. Although Deng reportedly apprised Hu of his errors, Hu was said to have failed to change and thus was demoted in accordance with party disciplinary rules. Obvious attempts were made to ease the general shock of Hu's demotion, including allowing him to retain his seat on the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau and having him shown in the press in attendance at key meetings. It seemed likely that Hu would be demoted further, at the Thirteenth National Party Congress scheduled for October 1987. This would correspond to the treatment a few years before of Hua Guofeng and preserve the appearance that the party was handling leadership affairs rationally, in clear contrast to the era of Maoist purges.


In the process of introducing reforms, China's leaders for the most part have acted cautiously and introduced new programs incrementally. In the period of the Four Modernizations, they began a broad search of foreign sources for ideas to introduce and test in the Chinese environment. Their pragmatic approach entailed following the progress of newly introduced concepts closely in order to make any necessary mid-course corrections or deletions. Maintaining the momentum of the reform program required the leaders to interact constantly to meet the challenges, failures, and setbacks inherent in their experiment.

The major changes introduced by key reforms inevitably provoked tensions in the political system. Strains developed between those who would not benefit or could not adjust to the new conditions and those who saw the new opportunities afforded. The resulting pressures on the system required constant attention of and mediation by the top party leaders. The goals, contents, and progress of the reform program reportedly were reviewed and discussed regularly at the highest-level party meetings. Leaders on the Political Bureau Standing Committee strove for consensus on the contents of the reform program and its agenda and participated in an ongoing process of bargaining to reconcile different policy orientations and institutional interests. The competing interests that emerged throughout the country when a new wave of reform was introduced appeared to have spokesmen or advocates in the highest party circles. The issues that emerged were debated in authoritative party meetings with the aim of arriving at a consensus and preserving harmony on the reform agenda. If this became impossible, personnel changes tended to follow, as was the case when Hu Yaobang apparently broke the consensus, moving ahead of what the cautious and stability-minded leadership could accept as a safe and reasonable course.

In this way China, under Deng Xiaoping's leadership, appeared to follow the tenets of democratic centralism. Policies that originated at the authoritative party center were tested and evaluated in practice, and reports of their results, including problems and setbacks, were then channeled back to the system's center for debate. In the 1980s it became something of a leadership art to keep the reform program going, balance the tensions it provoked, and maintain the political system intact. Seen in this context, a key question became whether or not political leaders other than Deng Xiaoping would have the prestige and political skill needed to direct and preserve this delicate balance, especially after Deng passed from the scene.

The Opening Up Policy and Reform in the Countryside

The first reforms to affect China's economy were instituted between 1979 and 1984. The programs were systemic economic reforms aimed at revising China's foreign economic relations and refocusing the country's agricultural system. The desire to purchase foreign equipment and technology needed for China's modernization led to a policy of opening up to the outside world that would earn foreign exchange through tourism, exports, and arms sales. The opening up policy included sending large numbers of students abroad to acquire special training and needed skills. The effect was to make China more dependent on major sectors of the world economy and reverse the Maoist commitment to the ideal of self-reliance. Not everyone was satisfied with this radical departure. The conservative reformers were especially apprehensive about the corrupting cultural and ideological influences that they believed accompanied foreign exposure and imports.

In China's rural areas, the economic reform program decollectivized agriculture through a contract responsibility system based on individual households. The people's communes established under Mao were largely replaced with a system of family-based farming. The rural reforms successfully increased productivity, the amount of available arable land, and peasant per capita income. All of these were major reform achievements. Their success stimulated substantial support in the countryside for the expansion and deepening of the reform agenda.

While the opening up policy and rural reform produced significant benefits to the Chinese economy and won enthusiastic support for the Deng reformers, they also generated substantial problems and brought political opposition from conservative leaders. The Maoist ideal of self-reliance still had proponents among the leadership in the 1980s, and many were openly critical of the expanding foreign influences, especially in such areas as the special economic zones. In rural areas, economic reform led to inequalities among economic regions and appeared in some instances to produce a new, potentially exploitative class of rich peasants. The official press contained accounts of peasants who carried the profit motive far beyond the intent of the reform program, engaging in smuggling, embezzlement, and blatant displays of newly acquired wealth. Thus, on the one hand, top leaders fully supporting the reform agenda could show major successes as they promoted further reform. On the other hand, those more concerned with ideological continuity and social stability could identify problems and areas of risk. The differing perceptions and responses of these reformist and conservative groups produced considerable tension in the political system.

Rectification and Reform

These results of the opening up policy and rural reform programs had important political repercussions at the national level. The question of borrowing from the West has been debated vigorously since the early nineteenth century. The concern has always been the impact of Western social, political, and cultural traditions, sometimes referred to derisively as the "flies and insects" that blow in along with culturally neutral scientific and technical information. This concern was especially prevalent among conservatives in the highest leadership circles and extended to the possibly corrosive effect of Western traditions on the party's Marxist-Leninist ideological foundation. To meet this challenge, in October 1983 the party launched a national program to improve "party style," organization, and ideology.

According to Chen Yun, a leading conservative and major figure in party rectification, the question of party style was crucial for the organization's very survival, especially because of the party's tarnished image and the perceived crisis of confidence and loss of prestige during the Cultural Revolution period. Improving party style required that organizational norms be restored, which entailed ridding the party of factionalism. It also demanded that measures be taken to counter corruption and the exercise of privilege. These frequently had taken the form of abuses by cadres who used personal relations and "back-door" benefits to further their own interests. Finally, improved party style required that political discipline be enforced in implementing party programs.

These goals were accomplished over the next three years, accompanied by thorough ideological education. The Second Plenum of the Twelfth Central Committee (October 11-12, 1983) affirmed that the policy of opening up to the outside world was entirely correct but condemned the "corrosive influence of decadent bourgeois ideology" that accompanied it and the "remnant feudal ideas" still pervasive within the party system, which required thorough rectification. In effect, linking the attempt to "clear away cultural contamination" with improving party style meant rejecting both the radical left, or those who still carried the taint of associations with the Cultural Revolution, and those on the right, who were considered by some party leaders to have become too involved in the trappings of Western ideas and practices.

At the same time that the party was attempting to discipline its own ranks, a drive was initiated within Chinese society to crack down on crime. Beginning in August 1983, the drive focused on the increase in serious crimes against social order: murder, robbery, burglary, rape, and arson. Explanations for the crime wave included the breakdown of law and order that had begun in the Cultural Revolution period and corrupting influences that had slipped in with the opening up policy.

A campaign against "spiritual pollution" was initiated by a speech given at the Second Plenum by Deng Xiaoping. The campaign targeted "decadent, moribund ideas of the bourgeoisie" that questioned the suitability of the socialist system or the legitimacy of the party's leading role. It also sought to establish a basis for ideological continuity between the emerging younger generation and the older, civil-war-era veterans. Conservative Political Bureau members attempted to use the campaign to rectify what they considered decadent behavior and corrosive liberal thought. Following this example, some lower-level party cadres began to exhibit behavior similar to that of the mass campaigns of the Cultural Revolution. Young men and women with long hair or Western-style clothing were subjected to ridicule and abuse. Peasants who had prospered were accused of selfishness; in response, some ceased to participate in rural reform. Intellectuals were again under suspicion, and party and government cadres adopted a "wait-and-see" attitude to avoid making political errors.

To avert potential instability and stagnation of the reform program, the authorities began to place limits on the spiritual pollution campaign: it was not to be pursued in the countryside, it was not to impede scientific research aimed at promoting modernization, and, most important, it was not to be implemented in the mass-campaign style of the Cultural Revolution.

By the spring of 1984 the full-scale media treatment of spiritual pollution had subsided, indicating that party leaders were able to confront the problems and build a consensus on how to contain the excesses and return to the reform program. In May, in a bow to the conservatives, Zhao Ziyang reported that although mistakes had been made in implementing the spiritual pollution campaign, the issue of spiritual pollution remained on the party agenda. The reform leadership thus eased the tensions within the system by acknowledging that reactions to the reform program would occur and by checking any obstructions, disruptions, or violence that emerged. This essentially conciliatory approach was necessary at least until opponents could be removed or reformed through a series of new appointments or through the continuing party rectification program.


Reform of the urban industrial and commercial economy was formally initiated with the landmark "Decision of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party on Reform of the Economic Structure" issued in October 1984. The radical changes contained in the urban program were revealed as it unfolded, and they heralded additional tensions. The urban program was accompanied by a less publicized but apparently spectacularly successful program for developing rural industry. These programs presented considerable challenges for the political system. The strain was intensified by the fact that the urban reform system was being implemented at a time when the party rectification program was extending below the central level, into all areas of society.

The Repercussions of Urban Reform

The party leadership benefited from the success of the rural reform program and the generally enthusiastic public response it generated. The leadership sought to use this success as a basis for tackling reform of the much more complicated and diverse urban sector. The overall goal of the highly experimental urban reform program has been to create a mixed economy in which the market plays a significant role and in which state planning is concerned more with regulating than with directing the economy. This approach, however, has led to tensions both in conceptualization and in the reform's effects of implementation on people.

At the conceptual level, the reform's emphasis on leasing industrial and commercial enterprises to individuals and collectives raised the issue of diversification of ownership and challenged the orthodox concept of state ownership. The introduction of securities markets and stock exchanges raised the question of how many Western-style reforms China could absorb and still call itself a socialist country. The same question applied to the adoption of a controversial bankruptcy law. These emerging problems were bound to be troublesome to party leaders like Chen Yun, who adhered to more orthodox socialist concepts.

At the level of implementation, questions emerged concerning the speculation and exploitation that was believed to accompany the operation of stock exchanges. The introduction of bankruptcy provisions was viewed as contributing to unemployment and hardships for the workers. Also, the introduction of a labor contract system, while providing opportunities to motivated and competent workers, might well threaten the livelihood of the less skilled. Even the new value being placed on entrepreneurship challenged the previous way of life, in which the state made all decisions and provided the means of sustaining life.

Although these challenges were serious, the most important dimension of the reform program was its distribution of power and authority. This function can be viewed as the dominant political role of the urban reform program, affecting the structure and organization of the party itself.

The Decentralization of Power

To produce the desired "socialist planned commodity economy," China's reform leadership began to recognize the necessity of transferring more authority over economic decision making to urban factory managers. A "factory director responsibility system" was developed to encourage more local initiative, more efficient use of resources, and more skillful and judicious leadership by the frontline producers. The reform immediately met serious resistance from party secretaries attached to the factories, who until then had been responsible for factory management and especially for personnel decisions. In their view, the reform threatened party perquisites and usurped local party decision-making authority.

This major issue in industrial reform was introduced in the context of the party's ongoing efforts to redefine the proper party role, especially vis--vis the government. In the mid-1980s it appeared that party leaders would have to share power even further, this time with enterprise managers or economic reform managers. Mid-level party cadres, many of whom had become party members during the Cultural Revolution decade, were particularly prone to negative feelings, especially concerning the urban reform program. Their resistance and resentment found sympathy among national-level party and government conservatives like Peng Zhen, Deng Liqun, and others and provided a substantial base of support for these leaders when they presented their own, similar views in policy-making circles. At least the leaders at the top who advocated more gradual reform could point to this disgruntled mid-level party group as a reason for revising the pace and content of the reform agenda.


The reform program seems to have followed a logical sequence, building a base of support in the countryside, where issues and institutions were more clear-cut, and then moving on to the more diverse and politically complex urban areas. As the reform program began to confront major obstacles in this setting, the reform leaders, led by Deng Xiaoping, began to emphasize the need to extend reform to political structures in order to make political institutions and processes more supportive of the modernization program.

The need for further political reform was underlined by the continuing difficulty in implementing the factory-director responsibility system, a major goal of the reform program for 1986. Party cadres had already lost the privilege of life tenure and been subjected to the rigors and requirements of the party rectification programs. They would not easily forfeit operational control of economic enterprises.

Political Reform

The August 1980 address on reform made by Deng to the Political Bureau became the basis in 1987 for changes in the party and state leadership systems. In the 1980 speech, Deng had called for strengthening the people's congresses, separating party and government organizations, reforming the cadre system, and establishing an independent judiciary. By 1986 the leadership's apparently overriding interest in Deng's plan was to curtail excessive party interference in governmental and economic decision making, and it was therefore bound eventually to provoke apprehension and resistance. In early 1986, with responsibility for political reform resting in the party Secretariat, several reports were aired concerning party secretaries at lower levels who had refused to relinquish decision-making power to benefit local economic reform management. Many local unit secretaries had succeeded in reclaiming authority previously given up. While Deng and the central reform leaders emphasized that party interference in government affairs actually weakened party leadership, conservative leaders such as Peng Zhen continued to speak about party unity and spirit and about the more gradual means to political change. Gradual means included additional legislation and the proper functioning of democratic centralism.

In addition to the new emphasis on power sharing in economic management, pressures increased to realize the goals of "socialist democracy" by increasing participation in public affairs through direct elections from a field of candidates. In fact, it was a student protest over the local slate of officials for a people's congress election in Anhui Province that sparked the student demonstrations that spread throughout the country in late 1986. In extending the argument for increased freedoms and democratic practices, demonstrators began even to question the presiding role of the party in the political system. Demonstrations in at least seventeen cities, with participants in the tens of thousands, also threatened to disrupt the urban economy and the continuation of the economic reform program. The drive to decentralize power and to separate party from government authority created political strains already apparent from the fact that no authoritative statement on these key issues ensued from the Sixth Plenum of the Twelfth Central Committee held in September 1986. The student demonstrations that followed lent credibility to conservative ideologues in the Secretariat, such as Deng Liqun, who argued that continued political relaxation and reform would inevitably lead to social chaos.

Resistance and the Campaign Against Bourgeois Liberalization

In late 1986, during the critical period when the Chinese political system appeared threatened by student demonstrators burning copies of party official newspapers, General Secretary Hu Yaobang failed to act to restore order. Hu refused to denounce the demonstrators or their intellectual mentors or to retreat from the political reform agenda. Instead, Hu favored the introduction of more "democratization" or plurality into the political system. He called for more movement on political reform than the system could bear. In effect, Hu had outstripped the consensus concerning the pace and content of the reform agenda. In response, Deng Xiaoping had to make the difficult decision to remove his protege from the post of party general secretary, a step taken by unanimous decision at an extraordinary expanded Political Bureau meeting in January 1987. Hu was replaced by Zhao Ziyang, one of the chief architects of the economic reform program, who explained that democratic reforms in China required a "protracted" process for their implementation.

At the same time that Hu Yaobang was removed from office, a campaign was initiated against "bourgeois liberalization." Given heavy play in the official media, this campaign sought to discredit Western political concepts and emphasize the importance of adhering to the four cardinal principles. The campaign against bourgeois liberalization became the means for conservatives led by Political Bureau members Chen Yun, Peng Zhen, and Hu Qiaomu to express their opposition to some of the reforms, especially the pace of the reform agenda, and to the increased democratization advocated by Hu Yaobang. Having responded to major conservative concerns, Zhao then emphasized the limits that had been placed on the campaign against bourgeois liberalization. The ideological campaign was to be limited to the party, and it was neither to reach the rural areas nor to affect economic reform policies. In addition, experimentation in the arts and sciences was not to be discouraged by this campaign. The imposition of these limits was inspired no doubt in large part by the need to avoid disruptions such as those that had accompanied the spiritual pollution campaign in 1983 and 1984. Besides affirming his support for the ongoing campaign against bourgeois liberalization, within specified limits, Zhao stressed that the economic reform program--including opening up to the outside world--would continue.

In March 1987 Deng Xiaoping made it clear that political reform also was to continue and that a "tentative plan" for political reform would be included on the agenda of the Thirteenth National Party Congress in the fall of 1987. Deng's revelation suggested that with Hu Yaobang removed, China's senior leadership had reached a consensus on the sensitive issue of political reform, which had been discussed by many of them in general and cautious terms for some time. Even conservative senior leaders such as Li Xiannian and Peng Zhen made statements supporting political reform. This development did not limit the likelihood of very intense debate before and during the next National Party Congress on the specific implementation of this most sensitive program. But it did suggest that, with Hu Yaobang's demotion, China's top leaders could discuss key details of the future role of the party in China's reformed political system at the upcoming congress.


In the years following the Third Plenum of the Eleventh Committee Central in 1978, certain key reforms set in motion a process of systemic change in society. Successful continuation of the reform program depended on the ability of China's senior leaders to respond to the constant challenges encountered in implementing these changes. Although a significant portion of the political system underwent major reform, a central question remaining in the late 1980s was whether or not the party could maintain stable central leadership. There was reason to question whether a consensus could be built within China's top leadership circles without the presence of a leader of the stature of Deng Xiaoping. With major bureaucratic interests to contend with and satisfy, and differing ideological orientations within the top leadership, strong central direction seemed to be the basic requirement for continuing reform.

The Components of Reform

The major components of 1980s political reform emphasized collective leadership, the re-establishment of the party Secretariat to implement party policy and to train a group of senior-level successors, the strengthening of the government apparatus to enable it to share more power and responsibility for the development of the reform program, and the removal of the military from a major and sustained role in politics. The introduction of direct elections and multiple candidates for people's congresses up to the county level broadened public participation in China's governmental and political processes. Also, the electoral process provided an expanded forum for assessing both the potential and the shortcomings of party reform policies. The intent to involve the public in the process of identifying and resolving problems that emerge in implementing the reform program also was extended to vocational groups. For example, workers' congresses were given increased leeway to examine, debate, and discuss the policies being carried out in factories and even to evaluate the performance of factory managers. Even though the governmental and vocational groups had no direct political power, their new public voice on reform elevated the political process at least one step above the secret, closed channels of the Maoist era. In institutionalizing the reform debate, the party also developed a more efficient means for shaping and channeling public debate.

Competing Bureaucratic Interests

The implementation of these components of political reform contributed to internal tensions and competition among the major bureaucracies--the party, government, and military. The party's status remained paramount within the system, but the delineation of its role became increasingly vague. Theoretically, the party was to act as the unifying force that would guide the society on the difficult path to modernization. In practice, especially at the middle levels of the structure, it appeared in the mid-1980s that implementation of the reform program was greatly diluting the power of party cadres. Many party members were retired to advisory capacities, increased emphasis was placed on separating the functions of the party and government, and much of the decisionmaking authority in the economic sphere was transferred to enterprise managers. All these factors eroded the party's once pervasive authority. Although the party continued to articulate the central policy for all levels of society, it offered fewer opportunities for members to achieve recognition and rewards after 1978, when concrete results became more important. All this brought widespread bureaucratic resistance to reform policies and their implementation.

Retirements, elevated entrance qualifications, and power sharing with enterprise managers also brought traumatic changes in government bureaucracy. Direct elections to people's congresses added a new element of uncertainty about the cadre selection process for government service. Wider public discussion of issues and more extensive press coverage subjected state cadres to additional demands and criticisms and sometimes to abuse. The new accountability offered opportunities for government cadres, but often they perceived it as a threat or a burden. It soon became another major source of the complaints conveyed to top leadership circles.

In the late 1980s, the People's Liberation Army continued as a major player in political circles and had representatives on the Political Bureau. Its presence within senior party bodies significantly declined in the 1980s, however, as was apparent from the percentage of party Central Committee memberships held by military personnel. Military influence had reached a high point in 1969, when its representatives gained roughly half the seats on the party's Ninth Central Committee, but declined at the Tenth Central Committee (1973) and Eleventh Central Committee (1978). In 1982 full membership on the Twelfth Central Committee held by People's Liberation Army personnel dropped to around 20 percent. At the National Conference of Party Delegates held in September 1985, about half of those retired from the Central Committee were from the armed forces, and civilians replaced seven members of the Political Bureau who had military connections.

These trends reflected Deng Xiaoping's military reform goals of placing the People's Liberation Army under firm civilian leadership and transforming its ranks and organization into a modern, professional military establishment. Owing partly to its size and largely to its heavily Maoist revolutionary traditions, the military was essentially conservative and in 1987 continued to resist many of the reformers' policies. It seemed possible that Deng's successors might experience strong pressure from a revitalized People's Liberation Army to restore some of its lost political influence.

Deng Xiaoping's Seminal Role

Although post-Mao pronouncements by the Chinese Communist Party officially emphasized collective leadership, Deng Xiaoping clearly occupied center stage and acquired unique political stature in the party hierarchy (without even holding the titular number-one position). Following the consolidation of Deng's power at the Twelfth National Party Congress in 1982, the party issued The Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping. The book was intended to provide authoritative ideological backing for the reform program in progress and became required reading for party members. Another volume, entitled Building Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, issued in 1985, contained speeches and writings on economic policy, ideological questions, and foreign policy written by Deng after the Twelfth National Party Congress. A major purpose of the later work was to support the dramatic reforms introduced at the Third Plenum of that congress's Central Committee in October 1984. This book was re-released in March 1987 with additional speeches and remarks on intervening events, purportedly with the intention of providing extensive guidance for reform. Given the volume and frequency of publication, it became difficult for the reform leadership to avoid the appearance of creating a cult of personality around Deng.

Deng was an effective bridge between China's legendary revolutionary generation and the generation engaged in carrying out the Four Modernizations. At the same time, Deng's preeminence called attention to the succession issue. The resolution of problems emerging in the course of reform depended heavily on Deng's political backing and on his authoritative reform pronouncements. In large measure, Deng's published works would support later leaders by providing them an authoritative source with which to bolster their own reform measures. Like any body of writing, however, Deng's thoughts are open to interpretation and thus might as easily be used by an opposition group for its own ends.


Continuous development of the means of production is a major goal of all Marxist governments. Under Mao, however, that goal was pursued in a manner that subordinated economic policy to the dictates of massive class struggle and, in the end, to political struggle carried up to the Political Bureau level. Mao, who admitted his own ignorance of economics, resented efforts to correct the problems caused by hasty agricultural collectivization and the Great Leap Forward (1958-60), and he initiated a political and ideological "struggle" against the 1950s reformers. This political campaign reached massive proportions during the Cultural Revolution, doing extensive damage to the economic, political, and social fabric of Chinese society.

In contrast, the post-Mao leadership so emphasized the issue of economic modernization that modernization began to shape the political process itself. Economic modernization became the basis of Deng Xiaoping's pragmatic reform policies. Despite disagreements over the content and pace of the reform program, Deng won solid support from other senior Chinese leaders who recognized the great danger of neglecting economic development and the well-being of the people.

The difference in political style between Mao and Deng was evident in their approach to opposition. When Mao perceived that party bureaucrats were blocking the full implementation of his radical programs, he set out in the early 1960s to purify the party. In contrast, faced with similar opposition in the 1980s, Deng sought points of agreement and built a coalition around an eclectic economic program.

The Role of Ideology

In the early 1950s, Mao borrowed Stalinist social and economic principles in promoting development. When these methods failed to produce immediate and spectacular results, Mao adopted a masscampaign style of development derived from his experiences as a guerrilla leader. When applied to post-1949 problems, however, the style produced chaos. Mao's writings and speeches degenerated into rigid dogma that his followers insisted be followed to the letter. Deng, conversely, advocated a flexible and creative application of Marxist principles, even claiming that Marxism, as the product of an earlier age, did not provide all the means for addressing contemporary issues. Rather, he advocated taking a highly empirical approach known as "seeking truth from facts" in order to find the most effective means of dealing with problems. In Deng's approach, ideology itself was not the source of truth but merely an instrument for arriving at truth by experimentation, observation, and generalization.

To effect such a basic revision of Maoist ideology, Deng had to de-mystify Mao and reduce the towering image of the "Great Helmsman" to more human proportions. This was largely accomplished in June 1981, when the party's Sixth Plenum of the Eleventh Central Committee reassessed Mao's place in the history of the Chinese revolution. In the years after 1981, the leadership nevertheless continued to revere Mao's image as a revolutionary, nationalist, and modernizing symbol, especially when that image aided development of Deng's reform program.

Ideology and the Socialist Man

An important goal of Maoist ideology was the inculcation of certain prescribed values in party members and, by extension, in society as a whole. These included selfless dedication to the common good; an egalitarian concern with the uncomplicated expression of ideas in maxims or brief phrases understandable to all; and fervent commitment to ideal social behavior. In contrast, state ideology in the hands of Deng Xiaoping had a different purpose. The orientation was practical and less doctrinaire, aimed at fulfilling the goals of modernization. The official ideology was to be used to channel the individual's attempts to understand and practice modern concepts and methods. For example, in early 1987 the concept of village committees was introduced to give the massive rural population direct experience in self-management. It did not appear that these new bodies were meant to have substantive power but rather that they were intended to indoctrinate the population with modern approaches to social and political relations.

Paralleling this use of ideology as a cognitive tool was the party's policy of "emancipating the mind" and allowing debate to extend into subjects once considered "forbidden zones." China's scholars have argued publicly over issues such as the value of the commune system, the need for market concepts in a socialist economy, the historical impact of humanism, and even the current relevance of Marxism-Leninism. Student demonstrators in the mid1980s went too far, however, by questioning the preeminent role of the party. At that point, the immediate official response was to subordinate creativity and experimentation to public recognition of the presiding role of the party and its ideology.

Ideology and Social Change

Since the Third Plenum of the Eleventh Central Committee in December 1978, party reformers have been committed to channeling the increased political awareness and energies of the population into a strengthened movement for change. The tensions that have emerged during each successive wave of reform have required intervention and policy decisions at senior party levels. These sometimes have taken the form of new initiatives. At other times, tensions have precipitated a conservative response. Overall, this political process has seemed to support a gradual but forward movement of the reform program.

Modernization, by its very nature, is a socially disruptive process. In 1987, with many of the functions of the party apparatus still unclear even to party members and the question of Deng Xiaoping's successor still unsettled, the success of China's reform program was by no means assured.

China - Foreign Relations

IN THE 1980s CHINA pursued an independent foreign policy, formally disavowing too close a relationship with either the United States or the Soviet Union. The stated goals of this policy were safeguarding world peace, opposing all forms of hegemony, and achieving economic modernization at home. Chinese statements repeatedly emphasized the interrelation among these goals. In other words, China needed a peaceful international environment so that adequate resources could be devoted to its ambitious development plans for the rest of the twentieth century. The goal of economic modernization was a driving force behind China's increasingly active participation in world affairs, exemplified by its policy of opening up to the outside world, which greatly expanded Chinese economic relations with foreign countries. As part of what it called an "independent foreign policy of peace," Beijing had joined numerous international organizations, and it maintained diplomatic relations with more nations than at any time since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. By mid- 1987, China had diplomatic relations with 133 nations, and--in contrast with earlier periods--was willing to interact with governments of different social systems or ideologies on a basis of peaceful coexistence and mutual respect.

Although Chinese foreign policy since 1949 has had distinctive characteristics, the forces that shape Beijing's foreign policy and many of its overall goals have been similar to those of other nations. China has sought to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity and to achieve independence of action, while interacting with both more powerful and less powerful countries. As with most other nations, Beijing's foreign relations have been conditioned by its historical experiences, nationalism and ideology, and the worldview of its leaders, as well as by the governmental structure and decision-making process. At times China's domestic policies have had wide-ranging ramifications for its foreign policy formulation.

Another characteristic Chinese foreign policy has had in common with that of many other countries is that the actual conduct of foreign relations sometimes has been at odds with official policy. Beijing's stress on ideology and principles in its official statements at times makes the contrast between statements and actions particularly noticeable. In addition, a nation's leaders must often make decisions in reaction to events and circumstances, rather than simply formulating a rational foreign policy based on their goals. The need to react to what has happened or what may happen adds an element of unpredictability to foreign policy decision making, as has been the case at several crucial junctures in Chinese foreign relation since 1949.

In addition to the aspects of foreign policy formulation and implementation that China has in common with other countries, China's foreign policy from 1949 to the late 1980s has had these characteristics: contrast between practicality and adherence to principles; fluctuation between militancy and peacefulness; tension between self-reliance and dependence on others; and contrast between China's actual and potential capabilities. These contradictory characteristics have created a confusing picture of Chinese foreign policy: is Chinese foreign policy basically pragmatic or primarily based on principles and ideology? Is China peace-loving or intent on fomenting world revolution? Is China's ultimate goal to be self-sufficient or economically interdependent with the rest of the world? And is China basically a poor, developing country that is at most a regional power or actually a nascent economic and military giant deserving of superpower status?

The response to these questions is that since 1949 Chinese foreign policy has reflected all of these contrasting features. Beijing has emphasized principles and ideology above everything else in foreign relations, especially during the 1950s and 1960s, but Chinese leaders have also shown a practical side that gave them the flexibility to change policies, sometimes drastically, when they deemed it in China's best interest. One of the most dramatic changes was the shift from an alliance with the Soviet Union against the United States and Japan in the 1950s to an explicitly anti-Soviet policy and rapprochement with Japan and the United States in the 1970s. Since 1949 Chinese foreign policy has fluctuated between periods of militancy, for example during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), when China called for worldwide revolution, and periods when Beijing has been a chief proponent of peaceful coexistence among nations, such as during the mid-1950s and again during the 1980s. How self-reliant or dependent on others China should become in order to modernize has been a constant dilemma in Chinese policy since the nineteenth century. As this policy fluctuated, Chinese foreign relations have alternated between a tendency toward isolation and periods of openness to foreign assistance and influence. Finally, the contradiction between China's actual capabilities since 1949 and its perceived potential has been another salient and distinctive feature of its foreign relations. China's tremendous size, population, natural resources, military strength, and sense of history have placed it in the unusual position of being a poor, developing country that has often been treated as a major global power having a special relationship with the United States and the Soviet Union.


Understanding the origins and forces shaping China's foreign policy provides a framework in which to view both the changes and the continuities in Chinese foreign policy from 1949 to the late 1980s. The origins of China's foreign policy can be found in its size and population, historical legacy, worldview, nationalism, and Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought. These factors have combined with China's economic and military capabilities, governmental structure, and decision-making processes to make certain foreign policy goals prominent: security, sovereignty and independence, territorial integrity and reunification, and economic development.

Historical Legacy and Worldview

China's long and rich history as the world's oldest continuous civilization has affected Chinese foreign relations in various ways. For centuries the Chinese empire enjoyed basically unchallenged greatness and self-sufficiency. China saw itself as the cultural center of the universe, a view reflected in the concept of the Middle Kingdom (Zhongguo, the Chinese word for China). For the most part, it viewed non-Chinese peoples as uncivilized barbarians. Although China was occasionally overrun and ruled by these "barbarians," as during the Yuan (1279- 1368) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, the non-Chinese usually retained enough Chinese institutions to maintain a continuity of tradition. Because the Chinese emperor was considered the ruler of all mankind by virtue of his innate superiority, relations with other states or entities were tributary, rather than state-to-state relations between equals. Traditionally, there was no equivalent of a foreign ministry; foreign relations included such activities as tributary missions to the emperor made by countries seeking trade with China and Chinese military expeditions against neighboring barbarians to keep them outside China's borders. The first Europeans who sought trade with China, beginning in the sixteenth century, were received as tributary missions and had to conform to the formalities and rituals of the tribute system at the Chinese court. China's view of itself as the undisputed center of civilization--a phenomenon called sinocentrism--remained basically unchanged until the nineteenth century, when the Qing dynasty began to deteriorate under Western pressure.

A traditional concept related to China's view of itself as the Middle Kingdom that continues to have relevance is the idea of "using barbarians to control barbarians." In modern times, this practice has taken the form of using relations with one foreign power as a counterweight to relations with another. Two examples are China's policy of "leaning to one side" in the Sino-Soviet alliance of the 1950s for support against the United States and Beijing's rapprochement with the United States in the 1970s to counteract the Soviet threat China perceived at the time. China's strong desire for sovereignty and independence of action, however, seems to have made Chinese alliances or quasi-alliances shortlived .

Another effect of China's historical legacy is its tendency toward isolationism and an ambivalence about opening up to the outside world. In imperial times, China's foreign relations varied from dynasty to dynasty--from cosmopolitan periods like the Tang dynasty (A.D. 618-907) to isolationist periods such as the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), when few foreigners were allowed in the country. Overall, the sinocentric worldview and China's history of centuries of self-sufficiency favored isolation, which contributed to China's difficulty when confronted by expansionist Western powers in the nineteenth century. The debate over self-reliance and possible corruption by foreign influences or opening up to the outside world in order to modernize more quickly has continued for over a century and was still an issue in the late 1980s.

China - Nationalism

The importance of sovereignty and independence of action in Chinese foreign policy since 1949 has been closely related to Chinese nationalism. Just as Chinese national pride has been a natural outgrowth of China's long and rich historical tradition, the nationalism of Chinese leaders also has derived from the injustices China suffered in more recent history, in particular, China's domination by foreign powers from the nineteenth century until the end of World War II. During this time, which China refers to as "the century of shame and humiliation," the formerly powerful imperial government devolved to what China calls "semicolonial" status, as it was forced to sign unequal treaties and grant foreigners special privileges of extraterritoriality. Foreign powers divided China into spheres of influence. Most debilitating and humiliating was the foreign military threat that overpowered China, culminating in Japan's invasion and occupation of parts of China in the late 1930s. The bitter recollection of China's suffering at the hands of foreign powers has continued to be a source of Chinese nationalistic sentiment since 1949. The suspicion of foreign powers, opposition to any implication of inferior status, and desire to reassert sovereignty and independence have strongly influenced Chinese foreign policy. Examples of this attitude are Mao Zedong's statement in 1949 that "the Chinese people have stood up" and Deng Xiaoping's 1982 pronouncement that "no foreign country can expect China to be its vassal or expect it to swallow any bitter fruit detrimental to its interests."

A foreign policy goal closely related to nationalism has been the desire to achieve territorial integrity and to restore to Chinese sovereignty areas previously considered a part of China. Although China as of 1987 had not resolved border disputes with several of its neighbors, including India, the Soviet Union, and Vietnam (including islands in the South China Sea), Beijing had concluded boundary settlements with other nations, including Pakistan, Burma, Nepal, Afghanistan, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), and the Mongolian People's Republic (Mongolia). Negotiations on border issues, held intermittently with the Soviet Union since 1949 and with India since the early 1980s, continued to be held in 1987. The difficulty of resolving these issues seemed to reflect their relation to sensitive questions of national pride both in China and in neighboring countries and sometimes to questions of China's perceived national security interests. For example, Qing control over Outer Mongolia (present-day Mongolia) had lapsed long before 1949 and had been supplanted by Russian and then Soviet influence. Although it was most likely with reluctance and regret, China recognized Mongolia as a separate nation in 1949. By contrast, asserting sovereignty over another outlying area, Xizang (Tibet), was considered such an important strategic goal that military force was used to gain control there in 1950 and to reassert it in 1959.

Two other Chinese areas under the control of foreign powers are Hong Kong and Macao. According to Chinese statements, these "problems left over from history" were the result of imperialist aggression and the incompetence of Chinese rulers. Macao, the first European enclave on the Chinese coast, was occupied by Portugal in 1557 and ceded to Portugal under an 1887 treaty. Britain gained control of Hong Kong island and adjacent territory through three treaties with China in the nineteenth century. In the mid-1980s China concluded formal arrangements with Britain and Portugal for the return of these areas to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 (Hong Kong) and 1999 (Macao). Both agreements were made under a policy of "one country, two systems", giving the areas a high degree of autonomy as "special administrative regions" of China. From the perspective of Chinese nationalism, negotiating the return of both Hong Kong and Macao to Chinese sovereignty before the end of the twentieth century was undoubtedly one of the major foreign policy accomplishments of Chinese leaders in the 1980s.

The most crucial of the issues of national reunification, however, remained unresolved in the late 1980s: the issue of Taiwan. Chiang Kai-shek and his forces fled to Taiwan after the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. The government they established there, the "Republic of China," continued to claim authority as the government of the Chinese nation almost four decades after the founding of the People's Republic. Although China's goal of reunifying Taiwan with the mainland remained unchanged, the previous, more militant Chinese policy of "liberating Taiwan" was replaced in the 1980s by the concept of reunification under the "one country, two systems" policy. The agreements on Hong Kong and Macao were considered by many observers as possible precedents for reunifying Taiwan with the mainland. Because of the legacy of mistrust between the leaders of the two sides and other complex factors, however, this difficult and longstanding problem did not appear close to resolution in the late 1980s.

China - The Influence of Ideology

An important influence on Chinese foreign policy that has especially affected China's interpretations of world events has been ideology, both Marxist-Leninist and Maoist. The ideological components of China's foreign policy, whose influence has varied over time, have included a belief that conflict and struggle are inevitable; a focus on opposing imperialism; the determination to advance communism throughout the world, especially through the Chinese model; and the Maoist concept of responding with flexibility while adhering to fundamental principles.

One of the most basic aspects of China's ideological worldview has been the assumption that conflict, though not necessarily military conflict, is omnipresent in the world. According to Marxist-Leninist analysis, all historical development is the result of a process of struggle, between classes within a nation, between nations themselves, or between broader forces such as socialism and imperialism. A basic tenet of Chinese leaders holds that the international situation is best understood in terms of the "principal contradictions" of the time. Once these contradictions are understood, they can be exploited in order to, as Mao said, "win over the many, oppose the few, and crush our enemies one by one." China has amplified the Leninist policy of uniting with some forces in order to oppose others more effectively in a united front. Chinese leaders have urged the formation of various united fronts as they have perceived the contradictions in the world to change over time.

Perhaps because of the belief in struggle as necessary for progress, for most of its history after 1949 China considered world war inevitable. This changed in the 1980s, when Chinese leaders began to say that the forces for peace in the world had become greater than the forces for war. One reason for growing world stability was seen in "multipolarization," that is, the growth of additional forces, such as the Third World and Europe, to counterbalance the tension between the United States and the Soviet Union. China's description of world events as a struggle between opposing forces, however, remained unchanged.

Opposition to imperialism--domination by foreign powers--is another major ideological component of Chinese foreign policy. The Leninist emphasis on the struggle against imperialism made sense to Chinese leaders, whose nationalism had evolved in part in reaction to China's exploitation by foreign powers during the nineteenth century. Although opposition to imperialism and hegemony has remained a constant, the specific target of the opposition has changed since 1949. In somewhat oversimplified terms, China focused on opposing United States imperialism in the 1950s; on opposing collusion between United States imperialism and Soviet revisionism in the 1960s; on combating Soviet social-imperialism or hegemony in the 1970s; and on opposing hegemony by either superpower in the 1980s.

The extent of China's determination to advance communism throughout the world is another component of its foreign policy that has fluctuated since 1949. In the early 1950s and during the 1960s, Chinese leaders called for worldwide armed struggle against colonialism and "reactionary" governments. China supplied revolutionary groups with rhetorical and, in some cases, material support. Central to support for leftist movements was the idea that they should take China as a model in their struggle for national liberation. Chinese leaders expressed the belief that China's experience was directly applicable to the circumstances in many other countries, but they also stressed the importance of each country's suiting its revolution to its own conditions--creating ambiguity about China's position on "exporting" revolution. For most of the time since 1949, China's dedication to encouraging revolution abroad has appeared to receive a lower priority than other foreign policy goals.

Militancy and support for worldwide revolution peaked during the Cultural Revolution, when China's outlook on liberation struggles seemed to take its cue from Lin Biao's famous 1965 essay "Long Live the Victory of People's War!" This essay predicted that the underdeveloped countries of the world would surround and overpower the industrial nations and create a new communist world order. As a result of alleged Chinese involvement in subversive activities in Indonesia and several African countries in the late 1960s, those nations broke off diplomatic relations with Beijing (see table 4, Appendix B).

By the 1980s China had lessened or discontinued its support for most of the revolutionary and liberation movements around the world, prominent exceptions being the Palestine Liberation Organization and resistance fighters in Cambodia and Afghanistan. Despite its shift toward cultivating state-to-state relations with established governments, many other countries continued to be suspicious of China's intentions. Especially in Asia, where Beijing previously supported many local communist parties, China's image as a radical power intent on fomenting world revolution continued to affect the conduct of its foreign relations into the late 1980s.

One of the major characteristics of Chinese foreign policy since 1949 has been its claim of consistently adhering to principles while particular interpretations and policies have changed dramatically. A statement by Mao Zedong seems to summarize this apparent contradiction: "We should be firm in principle; we should also have all flexibility permissible and necessary for carrying out our principles." Although claiming that, on the whole, China has never deviated from such underlying principles as independence and safeguarding peace, Chinese leaders have made major shifts in foreign policy based on their pragmatic assessment of goals and the international situation. Aiding this interpretation of the primacy of principles in Chinese foreign policy has been the emphasis on long-term goals. According to Chinese leaders, China has pursued a long-term strategy is "definitely not swayed by expediency or anybody's instigation or provocation." In keeping with the view of Chinese foreign policy as constant and unvarying, Chinese pronouncements often describe their policy with words such as "always" and "never."

An example of how certain principles have provided a framework of continuity for Chinese foreign policy since 1949 is found in the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence embodied in an agreement signed by China and India in 1954. The five principles played an important role in the mid-1950s, when China began to cultivate the friendship of newly independent nations of Asia and Africa. By the time of the Cultural Revolution, however, China was involved in acrimonious disputes with many of these same nations, and their relations could have been described as anything but "peacefully coexistent." The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence were reemphasized in the 1980s, were considered the basis for relations with all nations regardless of their social systems or ideology, and were made a part of the 1982 party constitution.

China - Foreign Policy Decision Making and Implementation

Understanding the intricate workings of a government can be difficult, especially in a country such as China, where information related to leadership and decision making is often kept secret. Although it still was not possible to understand fully the structure of Chinese foreign- policy-related governmental and nongovernmental organizations or how they made or implemented decisions, more was known about them by the late 1980s than at any time previously.

After 1949 China's foreign relations became increasingly more complex as China established formal diplomatic relations with more nations, joined the United Nations (UN) and other international and regional political and economic organizations, developed ties between the Chinese Communist Party and foreign parties, and expanded trade and other economic relations with the rest of the world. These changes had affected foreign relations in significant ways by the late 1980s. The economic component of China's international relations increased dramatically from the late 1970s to the late 1980s; more ministries and organizations were involved in foreign relations than ever before; and the Chinese foreign policy community was more experienced and better informed about the outside world than it had been previously.

Despite the growing complexity of Chinese foreign relations, one fundamental aspect of foreign policy that has remained relatively constant since 1949 is that the decision-making power for the most important decisions has been concentrated in the hands of a few key individuals at the top of the leadership hierarchy. In the past, ultimate foreign policy authority rested with such figures as Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, while in the 1980s major decisions were understood to have depended on Deng Xiaoping. By the late 1980s, Deng had initiated steps to institutionalize decision making and make it less dependent on personal authority, but this transition was not yet complete.

In examining the workings of a nation's foreign policy, at least three dimensions can be discerned: the structure of the organizations involved, the nature of the decision-making process, and the ways in which policy is implemented. These three dimensions are interrelated, and the processes of formulating and carrying out policy are often more complex than the structure of organizations would indicate.

Government and Party Organizations

By the late 1980s, more organizations were involved in China's foreign relations than at any time previously. High-level party and government organizations such as the Central Committee, Political Bureau, party Secretariat, party and state Central Military Commissions, National People's Congress, and State Council and such leaders as the premier, president, and party general secretary all were involved in foreign relations to varying degrees by virtue of their concern with major policy issues, both foreign and domestic. The party Secretariat and the State Council together carried the major responsibility for foreign policy decisions.

In the 1980s, as China's contacts with the outside world grew, party and government leaders at all levels increasingly were involved in foreign affairs. The president of the People's Republic fulfilled a ceremonial role as head of state and also was responsible for officially ratifying or abrogating treaties and agreements with foreign nations. In addition to meeting with foreign visitors, Chinese leaders, including the president, the premier, and officials at lower levels, traveled abroad regularly.

In the late 1980s, the Political Bureau, previously thought of as the major decision-making body, was no longer the primary party organization involved in foreign policy decision making. Instead, the State Council referred major decisions to the Secretariat for resolution and the Political Bureau for ratification. Under the party Secretariat, the International Liaison Department had primary responsibility for relations between the Chinese Communist Party and a growing number of foreign political parties. Other party organizations whose work was related to foreign relations were the United Front Work Department, responsible for relations with overseas Chinese, the Propaganda Department, and the Foreign Affairs Small Group.

Of the Chinese government institutions, the highest organ of state power, the National People's Congress, appeared to have only limited influence on foreign policy. In the 1980s the National People's Congress was becoming more active on the international scene by increasing its contacts with counterpart organizations in foreign countries. Through its Standing Committee and its Foreign Affairs Committee, the National People's Congress had a voice in foreign relations matters and occasionally prepared reports on foreign policy-related issues for other party and government bodies.

As the primary governmental organization under the National People's Congress, the State Council had a major role in foreign policy, particularly with regard to decisions on routine or specific matters, as opposed to greater questions of policy that might require party involvement. As in the past, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was the most important institution involved in conducting day-to-day foreign relations, but by the 1980s many other ministries and organizations under the State Council had functions related to foreign affairs as well. These included the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations and Trade, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of National Defense, Bank of China, People's Bank of China, and China Council for the Promotion of International Trade. In addition, over half of the ministries, overseeing such disparate areas as aeronautics, forestry, and public health, had a bureau or department concerned explicitly with foreign affairs. These offices presumably handled contacts between the ministry and its foreign counterparts.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Since 1949 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been one of China's most important ministries. Each area of foreign relations, divided either geographically or functionally, is overseen by a vice minister or assistant minister. For example, one vice minister's area of specialty was the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, while another was responsible for the Americas and Australia. At the next level, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was divided into departments, some geographical and some functional in responsibility. The regionally oriented departments included those concerned with Africa, the Americas and Oceania, Asia, the Middle East, the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, Western Europe, Taiwan, and Hong Kong and Macao. The functional departments were responsible for administration, cadres, consular affairs, finance, information, international laws and treaties, international organizations and affairs, personnel, protocol, training and education, and translation. Below the department level were divisions, such as the United States Affairs Division under the Department of American and Oceanian Affairs.

A recurring problem for the foreign ministry and the diplomatic corps has been a shortage of qualified personnel. In the first years after the founding of the People's Republic, there were few prospective diplomats with international experience. Premier Zhou Enlai relied on a group of young people who had served under him in various negotiations to form the core of the newly established foreign ministry, and Zhou himself held the foreign ministry portfolio until 1958. In the second half of the 1960s, China's developing foreign affairs sector suffered a major setback during the Cultural Revolution, when higher education was disrupted, foreign-trained scholars and diplomats were attacked, all but one Chinese ambassador (to Egypt) were recalled to Beijing, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs itself practically ceased functioning.

Since the early 1970s, the foreign affairs establishment has been rebuilt, and by the late 1980s, foreign affairs personnel were recruited from such specialized training programs as the ministry's Foreign Affairs College, College of International Relations, Beijing Foreign Languages Institute, and international studies departments at major universities. Foreign language study still was considered an important requirement, but it was increasingly supplemented by substantive training in foreign relations. Foreign affairs personnel benefited from expanded opportunities for education, travel, and exchange of information with the rest of the world. In addition, specialists from other ministries served in China's many embassies and consulates; for example, the Ministry of National Defense provided military attaches, the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations and Trade provided commercial officers, and the Ministry of Culture and the State Education Commission provided personnel in charge of cultural affairs.

Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations and Trade

Since the late 1970s, economic and financial issues have become an increasingly important part of China's foreign relations. In order to streamline foreign economic relations, the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations and Trade was established in 1982 through the merger of two commissions and two ministries. By the late 1980s, this ministry was the second most prominent ministry involved in the routine conduct of foreign relations. The ministry had an extremely broad mandate that included foreign trade, foreign investment, foreign aid, and international economic cooperation. Through regular meetings with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations and Trade participated in efforts to coordinate China's foreign economic policy with other aspects of its foreign policy. It was unclear how thoroughly this was accomplished.

Ministry of National Defense

In any nation, the interrelation of the political and military aspects of strategy and national security necessitates some degree of military involvement in foreign policy. The military's views on defense capability, deterrence, and perceptions of threat are essential components of a country's global strategy. As of the late 1980s, however, little information was available on foreign policy coordination between the military and foreign policy establishments. The most important military organizations with links to the foreign policy community were the Ministry of National Defense and the party and state Central Military Commissions. The Ministry of National Defense provides military attaches for Chinese embassies, and, as of 1987, its Foreign Affairs Bureau dealt with foreign attaches and military visitors. Working-level coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was maintained when, for example, high-level military leaders traveled abroad. In addition, the Ministry of National Defense's strategic research arm, the Beijing Institute for International Strategic Studies, carried out research on military and security issues with foreign policy implications.

In the late 1980s, the most important link between the military and foreign policy establishments appeared to be at the highest level, particularly through the party and state Central Military Commissions and through Deng Xiaoping, who was concurrently chairman of both commissions. The views of the commissions' members on major foreign policy issues were almost certainly considered in informal discussions or in meetings of other highlevel organizations they also belonged to, such as the Political Bureau, the Secretariat, or the State Council. It was significant, though, that compared with earlier periods fewer military leaders served on China's top policy-making bodies during the 1980s.

"People-to-People" Diplomacy

Since 1949 a significant forum for Chinese foreign relations has been cultural or "people-to-people" diplomacy. The relative isolation of the People's Republic during its first two decades increased the importance of cultural exchanges and informal ties with people of other countries through mass organizations and friendship societies. In some cases, activities at this level have signaled important diplomatic breakthroughs, as was the case with the American-Chinese ping-pong exchange in 1971. In addition to educational and cultural institutions, many other organizations, including the media, women's and youth organizations, and academic and professional societies, have been involved in foreign relations. Two institutes responsible for this aspect of Chinese diplomacy were associated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and staffed largely by former diplomats: the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and the Chinese People's Institute of Foreign Affairs.

The Decision-Making Process

The most crucial foreign policy decisions in the mid-1980s were made by the highest-level leadership, with Deng Xiaoping as the final arbiter. A shift was underway, however, to strengthen the principles of collective and institutional decision making and, at the same time, to reduce party involvement in favor of increased state responsibility. In line with this trend, the State Council made foreign policy decisions regarding routine matters and referred only major decisions either to the party Secretariat or to informal deliberations involving Deng Xiaoping for resolution. When called upon to make decisions, the Secretariat relied largely on the advice of the State Council and members of China's foreign affairs community. The importance of the Political Bureau appeared to have lessened. Although individual members of the Political Bureau exerted influence on the shaping of foreign policy, the Political Bureau's role as an institution seemed to have become one of ratifying decisions, rather than formulating them. The division between party and government functions in foreign affairs as of the mid-1980s could therefore be summarized as party supremacy in overall policy making and supervision, with the government's State Council and ministries under it responsible for the daily conduct of foreign relations.

These high-level decision-making bodies comprised the apex of an elaborate network of party and government organizations and research institutes concerned with foreign policy. To support the formulation and implementation of policy, especially in a bureaucracy as complex and hierarchical as China's, there existed a network of small advisory and coordination groups. These groups functioned to channel research, provide expert advice, and act as a liaison between organizations. Perhaps the most important of these groups was the party Secretariat's Foreign Affairs Small Group. This group comprised key party and government officials, including the president, the premier, state councillors, the ministers of foreign affairs and foreign economic relations and trade, and various foreign affairs specialists, depending on the agenda of the meeting. The group possibly met weekly, or as required by circumstances. Liaison and advisory functions were provided by other groups, including the State Council's Foreign Affairs Coordination Point, the staff of the premier's and State Council's offices, and bilateral policy groups, such as one composed of ministers and vice ministers of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations and Trade, which met at least every few months.

In the late 1980s, the decision-making process for foreign policy matters followed a fairly hierarchical pattern. If a particular ministry was unable to make a decision because the purview of other ministries was involved, it would attempt to resolve the issue through informal discussion or through an interagency group. If that was not successful or if higher-level consideration was needed, the problem might be referred to the Foreign Affairs Coordination Point or to select members of the State Council for review. Certain major decisions would then be discussed by the Foreign Affairs Small Group before consideration by the party Secretariat itself. If the issue was extremely controversial or important, the final decision would be directed to the highest-level leadership, particularly Deng Xiaoping.


Affected by the confluence of a myriad of factors, including its historical legacy, worldview, nationalism, ideology, the decision-making process in Beijing, and the international situation, China's foreign relations have had a rich and varied development in the years since 1949. Two aspects of Chinese foreign policy that have led to wide fluctuations over time are the degree of militancy or peacefulness Beijing has espoused and its ambivalence in choosing between self-reliance and openness to the outside world. Although dividing something as complex as foreign policy into time periods necessarily obscures certain details, Chinese foreign relations can be examined roughly by decades: the Sino-Soviet alliance of the 1950s, isolation and radicalism in the 1960s, increased international involvement in the 1970s, and the independent foreign policy of the 1980s. During each of these periods, China's relations with the rest of the world underwent significant changes.

China - Sino-Soviet Relations

After the founding of the People's Republic, the Chinese leadership was concerned above all with ensuring national security, consolidating power, and developing the economy. The foreign policy course China chose in order to translate these goals into reality was to form an international united front with the Soviet Union and other socialist nations against the United States and Japan. Although for a time Chinese leaders may have considered trying to balance Sino-Soviet relations with ties with Washington, by mid1949 Mao Zedong declared that China had no choice but to "lean to one side"--meaning the Soviet side.

Soon after the establishment of the People's Republic, Mao traveled to Moscow to negotiate the 1950 Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance, and Mutual Assistance. Under this agreement, China gave the Soviet Union certain rights, such as the continued use of a naval base at Luda, Liaoning Province, in return for military support, weapons, and large amounts of economic and technological assistance, including technical advisers and machinery. China acceded, at least initially, to Soviet leadership of the world communist movement and took the Soviet Union as the model for development. China's participation in the Korean War (1950-53) seemed to strengthen Sino-Soviet relations, especially after the UN-sponsored trade embargo against China. The Sino-Soviet alliance appeared to unite Moscow and <"http://worldfacts.us/China-Beijing.htm">Beijing, and China became more closely associated with and dependent on a foreign power than ever before.

During the second half of the 1950s, strains in the Sino-Soviet alliance gradually began to emerge over questions of ideology, security, and economic development. Chinese leaders were disturbed by the Soviet Union's moves under Nikita Khrushchev toward deStalinization and peaceful coexistence with the West. Moscow's successful earth satellite launch in 1957 strengthened Mao's belief that the world balance was in the communists' favor--or, in his words, "the east wind prevails over the west wind"--leading him to call for a more militant policy toward the noncommunist world in contrast to the more conciliatory policy of the Soviet Union.

In addition to ideological disagreements, Beijing was dissatisfied with several aspects of the Sino-Soviet security relationship: the insufficient degree of support Moscow showed for China's recovery of Taiwan, a Soviet proposal in 1958 for a joint naval arrangement that would have put China in a subordinate position, Soviet neutrality during the 1959 tension on the SinoIndian border, and Soviet reluctance to honor its agreement to provide nuclear weapons technology to China. And, in an attempt to break away from the Soviet model of economic development, China launched the radical policies of the Great Leap Forward (1958-60), leading Moscow to withdraw all Soviet advisers from China in 1960. In retrospect, the major ideological, military, and economic reasons behind the Sino-Soviet split were essentially the same: for the Chinese leadership, the strong desire to achieve self-reliance and independence of action outweighed the benefits Beijing received as Moscow's junior partner.

During the 1960s the Sino-Soviet ideological dispute deepened and spread to include territorial issues, culminating in 1969 in bloody armed clashes on their border. In 1963 the boundary dispute had come into the open when China explicitly raised the issue of territory lost through "unequal treaties" with tsarist Russia. After unsuccessful border consultations in 1964, Moscow began the process of a military buildup along the border with China and in Mongolia, which continued into the 1970s.

The Sino-Soviet dispute also was intensified by increasing competition between Beijing and Moscow for influence in the Third World and the international communist movement. China accused the Soviet Union of colluding with imperialism, for example by signing the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with the United States in 1963. Beijing's support for worldwide revolution became increasingly militant, although in most cases it lacked the resources to provide large amounts of economic or military aid. The Chinese Communist Party broke off ties with the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1966, and these had not been restored by mid-1987.

During the Cultural Revolution, China's growing radicalism and xenophobia had severe repercussions for Sino-Soviet relations. In 1967 Red Guards besieged the Soviet embassy in Beijing and harassed Soviet diplomats. Beijing viewed the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 as an ominous development and accused the Soviet Union of "social imperialism." The Sino-Soviet dispute reached its nadir in 1969 when serious armed clashes broke out at Zhenbao (or Damanskiy) Island on the northeast border. Both sides drew back from the brink of war, however, and tension was defused when Zhou Enlai met with Aleksey Kosygin, the Soviet premier, later in 1969.

In the 1970s Beijing shifted to a more moderate course and began a rapprochement with Washington as a counterweight to the perceived threat from Moscow. Sino-Soviet border talks were held intermittently, and Moscow issued conciliatory messages after Mao's death in 1976, all without substantive progress. Officially, Chinese statements called for a struggle against the hegemony of both superpowers, but especially against the Soviet Union, which Beijing called "the most dangerous source of war." In the late 1970s, the increased Soviet military buildup in East Asia and Soviet treaties with Vietnam and Afghanistan heightened China's awareness of the threat of Soviet encirclement. In 1979 Beijing notified Moscow it would formally abrogate the long-dormant SinoSoviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance, and Mutual Assistance but proposed bilateral talks. China suspended the talks after only one round, however, following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

In the 1980s China's approach toward the Soviet Union shifted once more, albeit gradually, in line with China's adoption of an independent foreign policy and the opening up economic policy. Another factor behind the shift was the perception that, although the Soviet Union still posed the greatest threat to China's security, the threat was long-term rather than immediate. SinoSoviet consultations on normalizing relations were resumed in 1982 and held twice yearly, despite the fact that the cause of their suspension, the Soviet presence in Afghanistan, remained unchanged. Beijing raised three primary preconditions for the normalization of relations, which it referred to as "three obstacles" that Moscow had to remove: the Soviet presence in of Afghanistan, Soviet support for Vietnam's invasion of Cambodia, and the presence of Soviet forces along the Sino-Soviet border and in Mongolia. For the first half of the 1980s, Moscow called these preconditions "thirdcountry issues" not suitable for bilateral discussion, and neither side reported substantial progress in the talks.

Soviet leadership changes between 1982 and 1985 provided openings for renewed diplomacy, as high-level Chinese delegations attended the funerals of Soviet leaders Leonid Brezhnev, Yuriy Andropov, and Konstantin Chernenko. During this time, Sino-Soviet relations improved gradually in many areas: trade expanded, economic and technical exchanges were resumed (including the renovation of projects originally built with Soviet assistance in the 1950s), border points were opened, and delegations were exchanged regularly.

The Soviet position on Sino-Soviet relations showed greater flexibility in 1986 with General Secretary Mikhail S. Gorbachev's July speech at Vladivostok. Among Gorbachev's proposals for the Asia-Pacific region were several directed at China, including the announcement of partial troop withdrawals from Afghanistan and Mongolia, the renewal of a concession pertaining to the border dispute, and proposals for agreements on a border railroad, space cooperation, and joint hydropower development. Further, Gorbachev offered to hold discussions with China "at any time and at any level." Although these overtures did not lead to an immediate highlevel breakthrough in Sino-Soviet relations, bilateral consultations appeared to gain momentum, and border talks were resumed in 1987. In the late 1980s, it seemed unlikely that China and the Soviet Union would resume a formal alliance, but SinoSoviet relations had improved remarkably when compared with the previous two decades. Whether or not full normalization would include renewed relations between the Chinese and Soviet communist parties, as China had established with the East European communist parties, was uncertain as of mid-1987.

China - Sino-American Relations

China's relations with the other superpower, the United States, also have followed an uneven course. Chinese leaders expressed an interest in possible economic assistance from the United States during the 1940s, but by 1950 Sino-American relations could only be described as hostile. During its first two decades the People's Republic considered the United States "imperialist" and "the common enemy of people throughout the world."

The Korean War was a major factor responsible for setting relations between China and the United States in a state of enmity and mistrust, as it contributed to the United States policy of "containing" the Chinese threat through a trade embargo and travel restrictions, as well as through military alliances with other Asian nations. An important side effect of the Korean War was that Washington resumed military aid to Taiwan and throughout the 1950s became increasingly committed to Taiwan's defense, making the possibility of Chinese reunification more remote. After the United States-Taiwan Mutual Defense Treaty was signed in 1954, Taiwan became the most contentious issue between the United States and China, and remained so in the late 1980s, despite the abrogation of the treaty and the subsequent normalization of relations between Beijing and Washington in 1979.

In 1955 Premier Zhou Enlai made a conciliatory opening toward the United States in which he said the Chinese people did not want war with the American people. His statement led to a series of official ambassadorial-level talks in Geneva and Warsaw that continued fairly regularly for the next decade and a half. Although the talks failed to resolve fundamental conflicts between the two countries, they served as an important line of communication.

Sino-American relations remained at a stalemate during most of the 1960s. Political considerations in both countries made a shift toward closer relations difficult, especially as the United States became increasingly involved in the war in Vietnam, in which Washington and Beijing supported opposite sides. China's isolationist posture and militancy during the Cultural Revolution precluded effective diplomacy, and Sino-American relations reached a low point with seemingly little hope of improvement.

Several events in the late 1960s and early 1970s, however, led Beijing and Washington to reexamine their basic policies toward each other. After the Soviet Union's invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and the Sino-Soviet border clashes in 1969, China saw its major threat as clearly coming from the Soviet Union rather than the United States and sought a closer relationship with Washington as a counterweight to Moscow. When President Richard M. Nixon assumed office in 1969, he explored rapprochement with China as part of his doctrine of reduced United States military involvement in Asia. Moves in this direction resulted in an American ping-pong team's trip to China and Henry A. Kissinger's secret visit, both in 1971, followed by Nixon's dramatic trip to China in 1972. The Shanghai Communique, a milestone document describing the new state of relations between the two countries, and signed by Nixon and Zhou Enlai, included a certain degree of ambiguity that allowed China and the United States to set aside differences, especially on the Taiwan issue, and begin the process of normalizing relations.

After the signing of the Shanghai Communique, however, movement toward United States-China normalization during the 1970s saw only limited progress. The United States and China set up liaison offices in each other's capitals in 1973, and bilateral trade grew unevenly throughout the decade. "People's diplomacy" played an important role, as most exchanges of delegations were sponsored by friendship associations. Chinese statements continued to express the view that both superpowers were theoretically adversaries of China, but they usually singled out the Soviet Union as the more "dangerous" of the two.

In the second half of the 1970s, China perceived an increasing Soviet threat and called more explicitly for an international united front against Soviet hegemony. In addition, rather than strictly adhering to the principle of self-reliance, China adopted an economic and technological modernization program that greatly increased commercial links with foreign countries. These trends toward strategic and economic cooperation with the West gave momentum to Sino-United States normalization, which had been at an impasse for most of the decade. Ties between China and the United States began to strengthen in 1978, culminating in the December announcement that diplomatic relations would be established as of January 1, 1979. In establishing relations, Washington reaffirmed its agreement that the People's Republic was the sole legal government of China and that Taiwan was an inalienable part of China. Deng Xiaoping's visit to the United States the following month was symbolic of the optimism felt in Beijing and Washington concerning their strategic alignment and their burgeoning commercial, technical, and cultural relations.

In the 1980s United States-China relations went through several twists and turns. By late 1981 China appeared to pull back somewhat from the United States as it asserted its independent foreign policy. Beijing began to express increasing impatience with the lack of resolution on the Taiwan issue. One of the main issues of contention was the Taiwan Relations Act, passed by the United States Congress in 1979, which provided for continuing unofficial relations between Washington and Taipei. In late 1981 China began to make serious demands that the United States set a firm timetable for terminating American arms sales to Taiwan, even threatening to retaliate with the possible downgrading of diplomatic relations. In early 1982 Washington announced it would not sell Taiwan more advanced aircraft than it had already provided, and in August, after several months of intense negotiations, China and the United States concluded a joint communique that afforded at least a partial resolution of the problem. Washington pledged to increase neither the quality nor the quantity of arms supplied to Taiwan, while Beijing affirmed that peaceful reunification was China's fundamental policy. Although the communique forestalled further deterioration in relations, Beijing and Washington differed in their interpretations of it. The Taiwan issue continued to be a "dark cloud" (to use the Chinese phrase) affecting United StatesChina relations to varying degrees into the late 1980s.

In addition to the question of Taiwan, other aspects of United States-China relations created controversy at times during the 1980s: Sino-American trade relations, the limits of American technology transfer to China, the nature and extent of United States-China security relations, and occasional friction caused by defections or lawsuits. Difficulties over trade relations have included Chinese displeasure with United States efforts to limit imports such as textiles and a degree of disappointment and frustration within the American business community over the difficulties of doing business in China. The issue of technology transfer came to the fore several times during the 1980s, most often with Chinese complaints about the level of technology allowed or the slow rate of transfer. China's dissatisfaction appeared to be somewhat abated by the United States 1983 decision to place China in the "friendly, nonaligned" category for technology transfer and the conclusion of a bilateral nuclear energy cooperation agreement in 1985.

Determining the nature and limits of security relations between China and the United States has been a central aspect of their relations in the 1980s. After a period of discord during the first years of the decade, Beijing and Washington renewed their interest in security-related ties, including military visits, discussions of international issues such as arms control, and limited arms and weapons technology sales.

Beginning in 1983, Chinese and United States defense ministers and other high-level military delegations exchanged visits, and in 1986 United States Navy ships made their first Chinese port call since 1949. The United States approved certain items, such as aviation electronics, for sale to China, restricting transfers to items that would contribute only to China's defensive capability. As of the late 1980s, it appeared that American assistance in modernizing China's arms would also be limited by China's financial constraints and the underlying principle of self-reliance.

Despite the issues that have divided them, relations between the United States and China continued to develop during the 1980s through a complex network of trade ties, technology-transfer arrangements, cultural exchanges, educational exchanges (including thousands of Chinese students studying in the United States), military links, joint commissions and other meetings, and exchanges of high-level leaders. By the second half of the 1980s, China had become the sixteenth largest trading partner of the United States, and the United States was China's third largest; in addition, over 140 American firms had invested in China. High-level exchanges, such as Premier Zhao Ziyang's visit to the United States and President Ronald Reagan's trip to China, both in 1984, and President Li Xiannian's 1985 tour of the United States demonstrated the importance both sides accorded their relations.

China - Relations with the Third World

Next in importance to its relations with the superpowers have been China's relations with the Third World. Chinese leaders have tended to view the developing nations of Asia, Africa, and Latin America as a major force in international affairs, and they have considered China an integral part of this major Third World force. As has been the case with China's foreign relations in general, policy toward the countries of the developing world has fluctuated over time. It has been affected by China's alternating involvement in and isolation from world affairs and by the militancy or peacefulness of Beijing's views. In addition, China's relations with the Third World have been affected by China's ambiguous position as a developing country that nevertheless has certain attributes more befiting a major power. China has been variously viewed by the Third World as a friend and ally, a competitor for markets and loans, a source of economic and military assistance, a regional power intent on dominating Asia, and a "candidate superpower" with such privileges as a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

China's relations with the Third World have developed through several phases: the Bandung Line of the mid-1950s (named for a 1955 conference of Asian and African nations held in Bandung, Indonesia), support for liberation and world revolution in the 1960s, the pronouncement of the Theory of the Three Worlds and support for a "new international economic order" in the 1970s, and a renewed emphasis on the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence in the 1980s.

In the first years after the founding of the People's Republic, Chinese statements echoed the Soviet view that the world was divided into two camps, the forces of socialism and those of imperialism, with "no third road" possible. By 1953 China began reasserting its belief that the newly independent developing countries could play an important intermediary role in world affairs. In 1954 Zhou Enlai and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of India agreed on the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence as the underlying basis for conducting foreign relations. China's success in promoting these principles at the 1955 Bandung Conference helped China emerge from diplomatic isolation. By the end of the 1950s, however, China's foreign policy stance had become more militant. Statements promoting the Chinese revolution as a model and Beijing's actions in the Taiwan Strait (1958) and in border conflicts with India (1962) and Vietnam (1979), for example, alarmed many Third World nations.

During the 1960s China cultivated ties with Third World countries and insurgent groups in an attempt to encourage "wars of national liberation" and revolution and to forge an international united front against both superpowers. China offered economic, technical, and sometimes military assistance to other countries and liberation movements, which, although small in comparison with Soviet and United States aid, was significant considering China's own needs. Third World appreciation for Chinese assistance coexisted, however, with growing suspicions of China's militancy. Such suspicions were fed, for example, by Zhou Enlai's statement in the early 1960s that the potential for revolution in Africa was "excellent" and by the publication of Lin Biao's essay "Long Live the Victory of People's War!" in 1965. Discord between China and many Third World countries continued to grow. In some cases, as with Indonesia's charge of Chinese complicity in the 1965 coup attempt in Jakarta and claims by several African nations of Chinese subversion during the Cultural Revolution, bilateral disputes led to the breaking off of diplomatic relations. Although the Third World was not a primary focus of the Cultural Revolution, it was not immune to the chaos this period wrought upon Chinese foreign relations.

In the 1970s China began to redefine its foreign policy after the isolation and militancy of the late 1960s. China reestablished those of its diplomatic missions that had been recalled during the Cultural Revolution and began the process of rapprochement with the United States. The People's Republic was admitted into the UN in 1971 and was recognized diplomatically by an increasing number of nations. China's major foreign policy statement during this time was Mao's Theory of the Three Worlds, which was presented publicly by Deng Xiaoping at the UN in 1974. According to this theory, the First World consisted of the two superpowers--the Soviet Union and the United States--both "imperialist aggressors" whose rivalry was the greatest cause of impending world war. The Third World was the main force in international affairs. Its growing opposition to superpower hegemony was exemplified by such world events as the Arab nations' control of oil prices, Egypt's expulsion of Soviet aid personnel in l972, and the United States withdrawal from Vietnam. The Second World, comprising the developed countries of Europe plus Japan, could either oppress the Third World or join in opposing the superpowers. By the second half of the 1970s, China perceived an increased threat from the Soviet Union, and the theory was modified to emphasize that the Soviet Union was the more dangerous of the two superpowers.

The other primary component of China's Third World policy in the early 1970s was a call for radical change in the world power structure and particularly a call for a "new international economic order." Until the late 1970s, the Chinese principles of sovereignty, opposition to hegemony, and self-reliance coincided with the goals of the movement for a new international economic order. Chinese statements in support of the new order diminished as China began to implement the opening up policy, allow foreign investment, and seek technical assistance and foreign loans. China's critical opinion of international financial institutions appeared to change abruptly as Beijing prepared to join the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in 1980. Chinese support for changes in the economic order stressed the role of collective self-reliance among the countries of the Third World, or "South-South cooperation," in the 1980s.

Also in the 1980s, China reasserted its Third World credentials and placed a renewed emphasis on its relations with Third World countries as part of its independent foreign policy. China stressed that it would develop friendly relations with other nations regardless of their social systems or ideologies and would conduct its relations on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. Beijing exchanged delegations with Third World countries regularly, and it made diplomatic use of cultural ties, for example, by promoting friendly links between Chinese Muslims and Islamic countries. Officially, China denied that it sought a leadership role in the Third World, although some foreign observers argued to the contrary. Beijing increasingly based its foreign economic relations with the Third World on equality and mutual benefit, expressed by a shift toward trade and joint ventures and away from grants and interest-free loans.

By the second half of the 1980s, China's relations with Third World nations covered the spectrum from friendly to inimical. Bilateral relations ranged from a formal alliance with North Korea, to a near-alliance with Pakistan, to hostile relations with Vietnam marked by sporadic border conflict. Many relationships have changed dramatically over time: for example, China previously had close relations with Vietnam; its ties with India were friendly during the 1950s but were strained thereafter by border tensions. Particularly in Southeast Asia, a legacy of suspicion concerning China's ultimate intentions affected Chinese relations with many countries.

As of 1987 only a few countries in the world lacked diplomatic ties with Beijing; among them were Honduras, Indonesia, Israel, Paraguay, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the Republic of Korea, and Uruguay. Some of these had formal ties with Taiwan instead. China's growing interest in trade and technical exchanges, however, meant that in some cases substantial unofficial relations existed despite the absence of diplomatic recognition.

China - Relations with the Developed World

Since 1949 China's overriding concerns have been security and economic development. In working toward both of these goals, China has focused on its relations with the superpowers. Because most of the developed world, with the exception of Japan, is fairly distant from China and is aligned formally or informally with either the Soviet Union or the United States, China's relations with the developed world often have been subordinate to its relations with the superpowers. In the 1950s China considered most West European countries "lackeys" of United States imperialism, while it sided with Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. As China's relations with the superpowers have changed, so have its ties with other developed nations. An example of this is that more than a dozen developed countries, including the Federal Republic of Germany, Spain, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, all established diplomatic relations with China after the Sino-American rapprochement in the early 1970s.

The developed nations have been important to China for several reasons: as sources of diplomatic recognition, as alternative sources of trade and technology to reduce reliance on one or the other superpower, and as part of China's security calculations. In the 1980s China stressed the role of developed nations in ensuring peace in an increasingly multipolar world. Australia and Canada were important trading partners for China, but Beijing's most important relations with the developed world were with Japan and Europe.

China - Relations with Japan

Japan is by far the most important to China of the nonsuperpower developed nations. Among the reasons for this are geographical proximity and historical and cultural ties, China's perception of Japan as a possible resurgent threat, Japan's close relations with the United States since the end of World War II, and Japan's role as the third-ranking industrialized power in the world. Japan's invasion and occupation of parts of China in the 1930s was a major component of the devastation China underwent during the "century of shame and humiliation." After 1949 Chinese relations with Japan changed several times, from hostility and an absence of contact to cordiality and extremely close cooperation in many fields. One recurring Chinese concern in Sino-Japanese relations has been the potential remilitarization of Japan.

At the time of the founding of the People's Republic, Japan was defeated and Japanese military power dismantled, but China continued to view Japan as a potential threat because of the United States presence there. The Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance, and Mutual Assistance included the provision that each side would protect the other from an attack by "Japan or any state allied with it," and China undoubtedly viewed with alarm Japan's role as the principal United States base during the Korean War. At the same time, however, China in the 1950s began a policy of attempting to influence Japan through trade, "people's diplomacy," contacts with Japanese opposition political parties, and through applying pressure on Tokyo to sever ties with Taipei. Relations deteriorated in the late 1950s when Chinese pressure tactics escalated. After the Sino-Soviet break, economic necessity caused China to reconsider and revitalize trade ties with Japan.

Sino-Japanese ties declined again during the Cultural Revolution, and the decline was further exacerbated by Japan's growing strength and independence from the United States in the late 1960s. China was especially concerned that Japan might remilitarize to compensate for the reduced United States military presence in Asia brought about under President Nixon. After the beginning of Sino-American rapprochement in 1971, however, China's policy toward Japan immediately became more flexible. By 1972 Japan and China had established diplomatic relations and agreed to conclude a separate peace treaty. The negotiations for the peace treaty were protracted and, by the time it was concluded in 1978, China's preoccupation with the Soviet threat led to the inclusion of an "antihegemony" statement. In fewer than three decades, China had signed an explicitly anti-Japanese treaty with the Soviet Union and a treaty having an anti-Soviet component with Japan.

From the 1970s into the 1980s, economic relations were the centerpiece of relations between China and Japan. Japan has been China's top trading partner since the 1960s. Despite concern in the late 1980s over a trade imbalance, the volume of Sino-Japanese trade showed no sign of declining. Relations suffered a setback in 1979 and 1980, when China canceled or modified overly ambitious plans made in the late 1970s to import large quantities of Japanese technology, the best-known example involving the Baoshan iron and steel complex in Shanghai. Lower expectations on both sides seemed to have created a more realistic economic and technological partnership by the late 1980s.

Chinese relations with Japan during the 1980s were generally close and cordial. Tension erupted periodically, however, over trade and technology issues, Chinese concern over potential Japanese military resurgence, and controversy regarding Japan's relations with Taiwan, especially Beijing's concern that Tokyo was pursuing a "two Chinas" policy. China joined other Asian nations in criticizing Japanese history textbooks that deemphasized past Japanese aggression, claiming that the distortion was evidence of the rise of militarism in Japan. By the late 1980s, despite occasional outbreaks of tension, the two governments held regular consultations, high-level leaders frequently exchanged visits, Chinese and Japanese military leaders had begun contacts, and many Chinese and Japanese students and tourists traveled back and forth.

China - Relations with Europe

Although it had been the European powers that precipitated the opening of China to the West in the nineteenth century, by 1949 the European presence was limited to Hong Kong and Macao. Europe exerted a strong intellectual influence on modern Chinese leaders (Marxism and Leninism of course originated in Europe), and some leaders, including Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping, studied in Europe early in their careers. Nevertheless, China's geographic distance from Europe, its preoccupation with the superpowers, and the division of Europe after World War II have meant that China's relations with European nations usually have been subordinate to its relations with the Soviet Union and the United States.

East European nations were the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with China in 1949, following the Soviet Union's lead. In the early 1950s, through the Sino-Soviet alliance, China became an observer in the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon), and Chinese relations with Eastern Europe included trade and receipt of limited amounts of economic and technical aid. The Sino-Soviet dispute was manifested in China's relations with certain East European countries, especially China's support for Albania's break with the Soviet Union in the late 1950s. After the Sino-Soviet split in the 1960s, the only East European nations maintaining significant ties with China until the late 1970s were Albania, Romania, and Yugoslavia. By the late 1980s, however, as Beijing's relations with Moscow improved and relations with governments and parties on the basis of "mutual respect and peaceful coexistence" were renewed, China's ties with the other nations of Eastern Europe also had improved noticeably, to include communist party ties.

China's ties with Western Europe were minimal for the first two decades of the People's Republic. Several West European nations, mostly in Scandinavia, established diplomatic relations with China in the early 1950s, and Britain and the Netherlands established ties with China at the charge d'affaires level in 1954. In the late 1950s, Britain became the first Western nation to relax the trade embargo against China imposed during the Korean War. The establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France in 1964 also provided an opening for trade and other limited Chinese contacts with Western Europe until the 1970s.

China's relations with Western Europe grew rapidly in the 1970s, as more nations recognized China and diplomatic relations were established with the European Economic Community in 1975. In the second half of the 1970s, China's emphasis on an international united front against Soviet hegemony led to increased Chinese support for West European unity and for the role of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Ties with Western Europe also were featured prominently in Beijing's independent foreign policy of the 1980s. Furthermore, China's opening up to foreign trade, investment, and technology beginning in the late 1970s greatly improved Sino-European ties. One of the few major problems in China's relations with Western Europe in the post-Mao era was the downgrading of diplomatic ties with the Netherlands from 1981 to 1984 over the latter's sale of submarines to Taiwan.

China - China's Role in International Organizations

Participation in international organizations is perceived as an important measure of a nation's prestige as well as a forum through which a nation can influence others and gain access to aid programs and sources of technology and information. The People's Republic was precluded from participating actively in most mainstream international organizations for the first two decades of its existence because of its subordinate position in the Sino-Soviet alliance in the 1950s and the opposition of the United States after China's involvement in the Korean War. China repeatedly failed to gain admission to the UN. In 1971 Beijing finally gained China's seat when relations with the United States changed for the better. Taipei's representatives were expelled from the UN and replaced by Beijing's.

After becoming a member of the UN, China also joined most UNaffiliated agencies, including, by the 1980s, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. China's willingness, under the policy of opening up to the outside world beginning in the late 1970s, to receive economic and technical assistance from such agencies as the UN Development Program was a significant departure from its previous stress on self-reliance. In 1986 China renewed its application to regain its seat as one of the founding members of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

By the late 1980s, China had become a member of several hundred international and regional organizations, both those of major significance to world affairs, including the International Atomic Energy Agency, the World Intellectual Property Organization, and the International Olympic Committee, and associations or societies focused on such narrow subjects as acrobatics or the study of seaweed. Besides providing China a forum from which to express its views on various issues, membership in the 1970s and 1980s in increasing numbers of international groups gave Chinese foreignaffairs personnel wider knowledge and valuable international experience.

It is notable that by the late 1980s Beijing had not sought formal membership in several important international organizations representative of Third World interests: the Group of 77, the Nonaligned Movement, and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Despite the emphasis China placed on Third World relations, China's independent foreign policy and special position as a somewhat atypical Third World nation made it seem unlikely in the late 1980s that China would seek more than observer status in these groups.

By the second half of the 1980s, China's participation in international organizations reflected the two primary goals of its independent foreign policy: furthering domestic economic development through cooperation with the outside world and promoting peace and stability by cultivating ties with other nations on an equal basis. As expressed by Zhao Ziyang in a 1986 report to the National People's Congress, "China is a developing socialist country with a population of over 1 billion. We are well aware of our obligations and responsibilities in the world. We will therefore continue to work hard on both fronts, domestic and international, to push forward the socialist modernization of our country and to make greater contributions to world peace and human progress."

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CITATION: Federal Research Division of the
Library of Congress. The Country Studies Series. Published 1988-1999.

Please note: This text comes from the Country Studies Program, formerly the Army Area Handbook Program. The Country Studies Series presents a description and analysis of the historical setting and the social, economic, political, and national security systems and institutions of countries throughout the world.

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