The Chinese Collectivist Experiment
Officially pronounced on 1 October 1949, the People’s Republic Of China and the Chinese Revolution are synonymous with Mao Zedong, and it would be in the form of Communism that Collectivism would find expression in China.
Born out of the hardship of the Long March, the new nation would also face dire domestic and international challenges especially in the Cold War era.
The Chinese Revolution was a product of the the Chinese Communist Party, and following an internal struggle for Power with Chinese Nationalists under Sun Yet Sen, Mao retreated into the Chinese countryside to embark on what would become known as the ‘Long March’.
The Long March
Mao’s Force consisted of more than 80 000 Troops forming lines of Marchers carrying weapons and supplies stretching for miles.
The Communists faced constant land and air attacks from Nationalist forces as well as starvation, but on October 20, 1935 the column reached the Province of Shaanxi and united with another Battalion of Red Army Troops marking an end to the Long March.
Mao emerged as the leader of the Communists and the War with the Nationalists was eventually won in 1949, and the Chinese Republic officially declared.
Great Leap Forward, Famine & Cultural Revolution
Mao was eager to transform China into a Global Power and he embarked on a series of reforms, the most famous of which are the “Great Leap Forward” and the “Cultural Revolution”.
Both these policies created massive disruption in China and had a devastating effect on the people.
Agricultural Collectivization and Peasant Steel production led to massive famine and decline of the Industrial base as the steel that was produced was of very low quality.
The ‘Cultural Revolution’ resulted in Mass indoctrination and disrespect for Traditional Chinese values as children rebelled and persecuted their own Parents and elders in the name of Mao’s new Cultural ethos.
In the end, despite the upheaval caused by his policies, Mao was able to cling onto power until his death in 1976.
It would be left to his successor Deng Xiapong to transform China into a World Power.
Deng Xiapong & Transition To Modern Chinese Economy
Deng Xiapong introduced Capitalism with ‘Chinese Characteristics’ by launching Economic reforms in Free Economic Zones to encourage foreign investment.
Since the 1990s China adopted a very successful form of Centralised Capitalism which has seen it ascending to its status as a modern world power although the power and prestige of the Chinese Communist Party remain unchallenged.
In addition, China under Deng Xiapong was able to regain control of Hong Kong from the British, marking the end of British Colonial involvement in the region since the Opium Wars.
China’s journey has been a long one, and perhaps illustrates Communism’s coming ‘full circle’ more than in any Country.
The Chinese Collectivist Experiment seems to have strengthened China since its now joined the ranks of the World’s Great Powers, but the cost etched in the collective memory of the Chinese people has indeed been great, if not unsurpassed.
The main concern appears to be the lack of Political reform as the Chinese Communist State develops into a more advanced Surveillance State with the use of modern technologies thereby further limiting the prospects of Political reform in the near future.