Thursday, October 01, 2009

Contemporary China in 60 years (1949 - 1954)

The 1st of October is the Independence Day of China. This year it is the 60th anniversary. I use twelve posts with more than 60 classic photos (5-year period in each post) to summarize the 60-year history of China. Hopefully the photos and my comments would help the Thinking Space readers understand better about China and Chinese people in the contemporary age.

1949: Declaration of Independence (开国大典)


Mao Zedong (on the left) and Liu Shaoqi (on the right) stood on the top of Tiananmen, ready to announce the independence of People's Republic of China.

These two close comrades eventually departed from each other several years later when they started to pursue different plots on the future of China. The fight between the two routes composed the main melody of the contemporary Chinese history until today.

1950: Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship (中苏友好条约)


Zhou Enlai (the Premier) was signing on the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship in Moscow with Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong stood on the background.

This is one of the most influential contract signed in the history of contemporary China. On the positive side, the main infrastructure of industry of modern China was built because of the treaty by the help of Soviet Union. Also due to this treaty, an entire generation of Chinese people became pro-Russia in nearly all facets. On the negative side, however, the resistance to Russia's attempt of controlling China's policy through the treaty laid the seed that eventually led to the break of the relation between the two nations.

1951: Korean War (抗美援朝)


The Chinese People's Volunteer Army was marching forward.

There is no way we may overestimate the importance of the Korean War to China and especially Chinese Communist Party. This was the first time in more than a century since First Opium War that China finally did not lose in a war against a major western country. The "victory" greatly rebuilt the self-confidence of Chinese people. After long time, once gain Chinese felt the greatness of the motherland. At the same time, the result tremendously consolidated the leadership of Chinese Communist Party. At the end of Korean War CPC's governing over China had become unshakable.

1952: Three-anti/five-anti Campaigns (三反五反运动)


The former capitalists in Shanghai reported themselves to the officials in the Five-anti campaign.

The Three-anti (anti-corruption, anti-waste, and anti-bureaucracy) campaign was to purify the Chinese Communist Party internally. The event prepared the foundation for the following up nation-wide mind reconstruction projects that included the Five-anti (anti-bribery, anti-theft of state property, anti-tax evasion, anti-cheating on government contracts, and anti-stealing state economic information) campaign and the much later Great Culture Revolution. The Five-anti campaign officially ended all forms of capitalism in China until the late 70s when Deng Xiaoping reopened the door of China to the western world.

1953: The First Five-Year Plan (“一五”计划)


Jiefang (Liberation) trucks were ready to be shipped in Changchun First Automotive Works (FAW).

Indeed, however, the Jiefang trucks were not built until 1956. But it was due to the First Five-Year Plan that FAW could been constructed with assistance from Soviet Union. The publish of the First Five-Year Plan in 1953 determined the fundamental economic form in contemporary China. The consequence is long-lasting until today.

1954: A Letter about the Study of Dream of Red Chamber (关于红楼梦研究问题的信)


The photo of a letter about the study of Dream of Red Chamber. The letter was written by Mao Zedong.

Although Dream of Red Chamber is probably the greatest novel in Chinese history, the letter was indeed not about the book. By contrast, in the letter Mao Zedong encouraged the amateur young people to stand up and challenge the elder professionals in all areas and in any circumstance. This philosophy of "rebelling" was going to be spread all over the nation and it would impact generations of Chinese people. In reality, the spirit of the letter (which is actually one of the fundamental belief of Chairman Mao) had significantly reformed the mind of Chinese. Due to this reason, this letter was indeed much more crucial to the contemporary China than the other important events (such as the first national congress in contemporary China) of the year 1954.

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