Communism was also established in China. In 1917, Chinese students and intellectuals, inspired by the Bolsheviks' October Revolution, began to study and promote Leninist Marxism. China had been mired in a century-long civil war, and many saw Lenin's brand of communism as the solution to China's internal problems. In 1919, at the end of WORLD WAR I, China received a disappointing settlement from Western countries at the Versailles Peace Conference. This outcome confirmed growing suspicion of capitalist values and strengthened the resolve of many Chinese to find an alternative basis for government.
On July 1, 1921, the Chinese Communist party (CCP) was established. Led by Chinese intellectuals and Russian advisers, the CCP initially embraced Russia's model of communism and relied on the organization of urban industrial laborers. By 1927, CCP membership had grown from fewer than 500 in 1923 to over 57,000. This increase was achieved in large part because the CCP had joined with another political party, the Kuomintang (KMT). KMT leader Chiang Kai-shek and KMT troops eventually became fearful of CCP control of the state, and in July 1927, the KMT purged communists from its ranks. CCP membership plummeted, and the party was forced to search for new ways to gain power.
Throughout the late 1920s and early 1930s, the CCP sought to change its strategies. The party was divided between urban, Russiantrained students and a wing made up of peasants led by Mao Tse-tung. At the same time, the CCP was engaged in battles with the KMT over control of various cities, and several CCP attempts to capture urban areas were unsuccessful.
Mao was instrumental in switching the concentration of CCP membership from the city to the country. In October 1934, the CCP escaped from threatening KMT forces in southern China. Led by Mao, CCP troops conducted the Long March to Yenan in the north, recruiting rural peasants and increasing its popularity en route. In 1935, Mao was elected chairman of the CCP.
Japan's invasion of China in 1937 spurred a resurgence in CCP popularity. The CCP fought Japanese troops until their surrender in 1945. The CCP then waged civil war against the KMT. With remarkable organization and brilliant military tactics, the CCP won widespread support throughout China's rural population and eventually its urban population as well. By 1949, the CCP had established Beijing as the capital of China and declared the People's Republic of China as the new government.
Chinese communism has been marked by a willingness to experiment. In 1957, Chairman Mao announced China's Great Leap Forward, an attempt to advance industry within rural communes. The program did not flourish, and within two years, Mao concluded that the Soviet Union's emphasis on industry was incompatible with communal principles. Mao launched an ideological campaign in 1966 called the Cultural Revolution, in which students were employed to convert opponents of communism. This campaign also failed, as too many students loyal to Mao carried out their mission with violent zeal.
After Chairman Mao died in 1976, powerful CCP operatives worked to eliminate Jiang Quing, Mao's widow, and three other party officials from the party. This Gang of Four was accused of undermining the strength of the party through adherence to Mao's traditional doctrines. The Chinese version of communism placed enormous emphasis on conformity and uniform enthusiasm for all CCP policies. With the conviction of the Gang of Four in 1981, the CCP sent a message to its members that it would not tolerate dissension within its ranks.
Also in 1981, the CCP Central Committee declared Mao's Cultural Revolution a mistake. Hu Yaobang was named chairman of the CCP, and Deng Xiaoping was named head of the military. These changes in leadership marked the beginning of CCP reformation. The idolization of Mao was scrapped, as was the ideal of continuous class struggle. The CCP began to incorporate into Chinese society technological advances and Western production management techniques. Signs of Western culture, such as blue jeans and rock and roll music, began to appear in China's cities.
In 1987, Hu Yaobang was removed as CCP chairman and replaced by Zhao Ziyang. Zhao's political philosophy was at odds with the increasing acceptance of Western culture and concepts of capitalism, and China's urban areas began to simmer with discontent. By May 1989, students and other reformists in China had organized and were regularly staging protests against Zhao's leadership. After massive demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, the CCP military crushed the uprisings, executed dozens of radicals, and imprisoned thousands more.
Thus, the CCP maintained control of China's government. At the same time, it made attempts to participate in world politics and business.
- Communism - The Demise Of Communist States
- Communism - House Un-american Activities Committee
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