Sunday, October 04, 2009

Contemporary China in 60 years (1965 - 1969)

(1949 - 1954)
(1955 - 1959)
(1960 - 1964)

1965: Synthesis of Crystalline Bovine Insulin (人工合成牛胰岛素)

Chinese scientists successfully synthesized crystalline bovine insulin, a bioactive protein, on September 17, 1965. China thus became a world leader in this research field at the meantime.

This under-reported scientific achievement was the last great technology breakthrough in China before the Great Culture Revolution. After it, the regular scientific research in China was significantly delayed by the worse and worse political environment. This achievement, on the other hand, showed the greatness of Chinese scientists. Even though prohibited by both of the western nations and Soviet Union simultaneously on high technology import, China still was the first in the world to successfully separate and recombine the two chains of natural insulin, the first to obtain crystalline insulin by combining the synthetic B chain with the natural A chain or by combining the synthetic A chain with the natural B chain, and the first to succeed in the total synthesis of crystalline insulin. It is due to the spirit in the soul of Chinese shown in this achievement that China is an unquestionable great nation lasting thousands of years in history.

1966: Great Culture Revolution (文化大革命)

People in Tiananmen Square celebrating the Culture Revolution. In everybody's hand they raised Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong (or Mao's Little Red Book).

The 10-year Great Culture Revolution (1966-1976) was one of the most painful time periods in Chinese history. It is also the most important event in contemporary China since 1949. There are no words that may overstate the impact of this event to China as well as to all the Chinese people. Hence I must use a few more spaces to express its effect.

Many people have criticized this movement in various aspects. A great number of people were put to death in the ten years. Many families were broken. The normal trust among people was lost nearly totally. Husband stood up accusing wife and put her to prison; so does wife. Children stood up accusing their own parents and put them to prison; so do parents to their own children. We could not even imagine how all these might have happened in nowadays, while everything happened every day in these years. National wide, much economic activity was halted, scientific research paused, even the education system came to a virtual halt. In short, the entire China was in crazy!

Despite of all the negative consequences, Great Culture Revolution did reform Chinese, which was a main goal of Mao Zedong when he ordered the revolution. In this sense, we even might not be able to call Great Culture Revolution a failure, though the goal was reached in an extreme cruel way.

(1) The first time in more than 2000 years, Confucius and his philosophy gave the way to modern science in guiding the thought of Chinese people.

(2) The first time in 5000-year history, knowledge was spread into every corner of China. Tens of millions of Chinese people who lived in far rural places the first time in their life participated actively in nation affair. In order to learn Mao's words, the elementary education such as character learning quickly widespread all over the nation.

(3) The traditional hierarchical social structure in Chinese culture that had lasted thousands of years was overthrown totally. A new culture was forming.

(4) Again, the first time in 5000-year history, Chinese women gained the equal right in nearly all fields comparing to men.

For anybody who want to understand Chinese people and Chinese culture in nowadays, understanding the five-thousand-year Chinese history is not enough. He must understand Great Culture Revolution.

1967: Red Guards (红卫兵)

April 10, 1967, Wang Guangmei, the meantime first lady of China, the wife of Liu Shaoqi, was accused in public on stage by the Red Guards in Tsinghua University.

Red Guards were the primary force Mao used to start the Great Culture Revolution. The consequence was, however, that China lost nearly an entire generation of young people who might otherwise contribute to the nation constructively. The impact lasted longer than the generation itself. After they finally realized that they were deceived several years later, the Red Guard generation began to lose confidence on the existence of absolute truth in the world. Such belief was taught to their children and thus inherited. It laid the seed for the general decay of public morality in China after 1990 when the Red Guard generation finally seized the power of the nation.

1968: Down to the Countryside Movement(上山下乡运动)

Educated urban youth went to live in the countryside to learn from the workers and farmers there.

Again, this is another very controversial decision made by Mao Zedong in Culture Revolution. On the negative side, certainly it was a huge pain for the generation who was forced to leave their family in the city and moved to the countryside that was not only in poor living condition but also had nearly no hope of family reunion. On the other hand, however, never before in the history of China a government had made such an effort to spread knowledge into every corner of the nation. Because of this movement, modern knowledge was widespread in the land of China. It thus laid a solid foundation for the economic recovery and rapid growth in China after 1980.

1969: Beijing Grand Evacuation (北京大疏散)

University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) evacuated from Beijing to Hefei in 1969.

Due to the border conflict between Soviet Union and China in 1969, many of Beijing's key organizations (including USTC, the college I attended many years later) were ordered to be evacuated from Beijing to more inland locations. The order was continuously executed even after the border conflict. Although it was unfair to the organizations that were relocated, objectively the action helped balance the economic growth across the nation in long term.


gregory said...

love your stuff, always .. please get your own domain, blogspot is blocked in china, so everybody i told about your blog there cannot read it .. thanks

Yihong Ding said...


always appreciate your support to my blog.

The site has grown beyond my initial expectation. It used to be just a hobby. Now I may really need to think of giving it a permanent domain. :-)