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Opening up

This week, I read option one. It took China decades to open up from being a closed Communist nation to being a politically Communist but economically open nation. The first steps were taken in the 1970s when Nixon went to China and then a Chinese leader named Deng Xiaoping returned the visit. I have to say that I found the idea of a Chinese Communist enjoying cowboy things, like lassooing, to be remarkably interesting, unexpected, and diplomatic. The story about Fred Hayes showing Deng the latest in NASA technology reminded me of when the US astronauts and USSR astronauts rendevouzed and shook hands in space during that same decade.

Learning about there being a (nominally) Democratic (but really dictatorial) army in combat with an impromptu Communist army composed solely of civilians and warlords’ armies, I was reminded of the civil war between the whites and the reds in the developing USSR. All of the different armies in China had different bases, leading to, at one point, Nanjing being the center of a developing China, thanks to the Guomindang government. However, this government had serious internal problems and thus could not expand into rural areas. Also, this government’s leader’s subordinates tended to betray him as soon as possible. Once he tried to expand into northern China, they became separate and competing warlord generals. As strange as it may seem to a modern reader, during the years (1927-1937) when this government was in power, Chinese Communists were actually very reduced in numbers.

Despite the first steps towards peace between the Communist and Democratic nations being taken in the 1970s, its outcome would not be seen until the 1990s when the Soviet Union fell and Hong Kong and Macau were finally returned to Chinese rule after a century under of British rule. This foreign rule was started thanks to imperialism, meaning that imperialism’s effects lasted into the modern era and outlasted Communism, the East’s response to imperialism.

Most importantly, after the deaths of the two highest Communist leaders, Mao and Zhou, the art of negotiating left Chinese politics. As such, the Right won, leading to events that cut short the official mourning for these men. One of these was what, we, in the West call the Tiananmen Square protests. After this, without the support of their beloved Mao, the Big Four, who had been promoted just as a result of their personal connections to Mao and not as a result of their work experience, lost their jobs. The moderates tried to get technically-gifted leaders rewarded, but this was inconsistent with the radicals’ viewpoint of continuing pure Communism. One of them was Deng Xiaoping, who would later come to the US.

The US finally began to import Chinese goods in 1979, but, by 1982, China started trying to improve its relations with the USSR. This eliminated any idea of China and the US becoming allies. In 1979, to move forwards economically (which was a large problem for poverty-stricken China), families were given responsibility for either a plot of land or a business. It worked very well and introduced the incentive of personal profit, although people still could not actually buy the goods. This put China well on the track towards economic success.