Path to Modernization
Conflicting Visions: 1965-78
The conflict between the Maoists’ emphasis on ideology and those who wanted to give importance to expertise culminated in Mao launching the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in 1965. The Red Guards (mainly students and the army) was used for campaign against the old culture, customs and habits. Denunciations and slogans replaced rational debate.
The Revolution weakened the Party and caused huge disruption to the economy and education. From the late 1960s, things began to change. in 1975, the Party once again laid emphasis on greater social discipline and the need to build an industrial economy.
Reforms from 1978
In 1978, the Party declared its goal as the Four Modernizations; to develop science, industry, agriculture and defence. Debate was allowed as long as the Party was not questioned. On 5 December 1978, a wall poster, ‘The Fifth Modernization’ proclaimed that other modernizations would be useless without Democracy. It went on to criticize the CCP.
These demands were suppressed. In 1989, on the seventieth anniversary of the May Fourth movement many intellectuals called for greater openness and an end to ‘ossified dogmas’. There was brutal suppression of student demonstrators at Tiananmen Square in Beijing. The whole world strongly condemned the Tiananmen massacre.
The post-reform period has witnessed the emergence of debates on ways to develop China. The Party supports strong political control, economic liberalization and integration into the world market. The critics complain about growing inequalities. Finally, there is a revival of ‘traditional’ ideas.
The Story of Taiwan
Chiang Kai-shek, defeated by the CCP fled in 1949 to Taiwan and established the Republic of China (ROC). Under Chiang Kai-shek, the Guomindang established a repressive government in Taiwan. However, they carried the land reforms. It helped in increasing agricultural productivity and modernized the economy. Taiwan is a great example of very high economic growth and has been considered among the ‘Asian Tigers’ in terms of economic development. After the death of Chiang in 1975, gradual transformation of Taiwan into a democracy began. The first free elections were held in 1987 and paved the way for local’s participation in the government.
People’s Republic of China (PRC) does not recognize ROC as a sovereign country and considers it as a part of China. Hence, most countries have only trade missions in Taiwan. Full diplomatic relations and embassies are not possible. Both the sides have mellowed down their approach and Taiwan has been seeing a steady rise in its economy.