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China Transformed: From Mao to Modernisation

Staff contact: Dr Michael Lynch (Att.808)

The China into which Mao Zedong was born in 1893 was a feudal, peasant, colonised society. By the time of his death, eighty-three years later, China had seen the collapse of its antique imperial government, had undergone the barbarism of warlord rule, had suffered destructive occupation by Japan, had experienced a vast peasant uprising, had been riven by a prolonged civil war, had witnessed the triumph of Maoist Communism in the creation of the People's Republic of China (PRC), had been ravaged by the greatest man-made famine in history, and had then been torn asunder in the Cultural Revolution.

The years that followed Mao's death in 1976 were hardly less dramatic. In the last quarter of the century, Deng Xiaoping, Mao's successor, struggled to modernise China by moving towards capitalism. He did this while at the same time demanding that the PRC remain committed politically to Communism. The social tensions that this created marked a new phase in the civil strife that had bedevilled China throughout the century. Such are the themes that the module will cover.

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Last updated: 15 October 2002
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