To What Extent Does China Deserve to Be Described as a Totalitarian State in the Years 1949 – 1957?

Topics: Communism, People's Republic of China, Mao Zedong Pages: 5 (1663 words) Published: February 2, 2011
China in the years 1949 – 1957 can be described as a totalitarian state due to various aspects which were controlled, including New system of government was formed after several unstable years, nationalization of private sectors, making china self reliant, control of the media, infiltration of party cadres, education, hundred flowers campaign, mass mobilization. The CCP constructed a system of government that was centralized, pseudo-dictatorial and encouraged complete subservice to the state. When the CCP came into power in 1949 China was in a state of disarray following the turbulent years of civil war and the warlord era. Therefore, a new system of government was established, and promptly banks, gas, electricity supplies and transport industries were nationalized. The monopolization of the industries portrayed the CCPs want for centralized control in China. However we can also argue that these steps were necessary and even welcomed due to years of instability, a strong government was needed. In previous years, China had suffered from humiliation and losses in the hands of the Japanese and other western powers. A predominant factor of the CCP’s popularity was the peoples desire to restore China as a powerful, independent nation, free from the influence of ‘foreign devils.’ Mao shared this aspiration and consequently, began to alienate China from the foreign powers and purge the country of capitalist and bourgeois influence. In 1950 the process of getting rid of foreigners accelerated, particularly in result of the armed conflict in Korea involving China and America. Missionaries were arrested and charged with being spies, priests and nuns expelled from the country. Any institution that had Western links, businesses, universities, churches came under supervision while mass rallies were organized to draw ordinary Chinese citizens into a growing frenzy of suspicion. The paranoia in China lead to the Suppression of Counter-revolutionaries campaign which was launched in October 1950. Large numbers of Chinese were denounced, investigated and punished. Many executions took place in public to set an example and create a maximum impact. The campaign then progressed into a larger scale after the war in Korea had created business opportunities in Northern China, leading to more capitalists. In an effort to rid Chinese cities of enemies of the state a series of campaigns were launched by the CCP for years to follow including the Five Antis campaign. Some 20, 000 cadres and 6,000 trained workers began spying on the business affairs of fellow citizens. Additionally the media encouraged compliance with government policies and by 1951 15, 000 trained propagandists were working in Shanghai. By February 1952 parades of anti-Capitalist activists went door-to-door to visit business leaders. The anti campaigns became a war against the bourgeoisie in China and those found guilty were subject to torture, humiliation or sent to labor camps. This process of isolating China from all western influence can be seen as a repressive measure. The terror campaigns launched successfully made an example of capitalists and the bourgeoisie, deterring people from going down a similar path. This also created a greater suspicion of foreigners and further isolated China. This helped maintain the ‘foreign devils’ as a subject of hate, further increasing the dedication to the CCP and its actions. The isolation of China also prevented the creation of Western sympathizers and for people to see China as powerful and regard other nations inferior although this may not always be the case. Mao envisaged grouping together small privately owned farms into much larger collective farms owned by the state. He believed that this would make farms more productive and enable the peasants to pool their resources together. However, Mao also recognized this move as prevention against ‘spontaneous tendency towards capitalism’, which had developed from the prior traditional...
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