Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Contemporary China in 60 years (1975 - 1979)

(1949 - 1954), (1955 - 1959), (1960 - 1964), (1965 - 1969), (1970 - 1974)

1975: Hybrid Rice (杂交水稻)

Yuan Longping (Father of Hybrid Rice, on the right) and his colleague was studying the hybrid rice in field.

In 1975, the Chinese Academy of Agriculture and Forestry passed the identification of the invention of hybrid rice and decided to prompt the planting of hybrid rice to the whole nation. Hybrid rice is the greatest contribution New China made for the world until now. It significantly improved the rate of rice production 30% over the ordinary ones. Therefore, the adoption of hybrid rice significantly helped solve the problem of world hunger.

1976: The Passing of Zhou Enlai, Zhu De, and Mao Zedong (周恩来,朱德,毛泽东逝世)

Tens of thousands people in Tiananmen Square sobbing for the death of Chairman Mao.

1976 was a year of transition in the history of contemporary China. After dramatically losing three most important leaders of New China in sequence within a year, China inevitably came to a cross point. Finally, Deng Xiaoping won the battle against the Gang of Four. China, therefore, started a new page of history being a more open and rapid-growing nation.

1977: Restoration of the National Higher Education Entrance Examination (恢复高考)

Students were doing exam.

Since 1977, National Higher Education Entrance Examination have become the most important national test in China. The examination is a prerequisite for entrance into almost all higher education institutions at the undergraduate level. For a Chinese who wants to attend college, he must try to get a good score in the exam because there are many more students than who could be admitted every year in China.

1978: "Practice is the sole criterion for testing truth" (实践是检验真理的唯一标准)

May 11, 1978, the front page of Guangming Daily. The article is the one at the bottom.

This is one of the most influential articles in the history of contemporary China. In certain sense, this article claimed CPC's directing thought in the post-Mao age. For ones who want to understand the policy design of Chinese government since 1978, they must read and try to understand the main point of this article. In the following I list my understanding of the positive and negative consequence of the article to China.

On the positive side, the article claimed that we must not blindly follow a single person's order (which referred to Mao Zedong in particular). By contrast, only the real-world practice could eventually tell us what would be wrong and what would be right. This is a great leap forward in thought liberation from the individual worship during the Great Culture Revolution. Directed by this new thought, China started the so-called economic reform.

On the negative side, however, the article implicitly denied the existence of absolute truth. By following the thought in the article, no truth can last forever since the consequence of its practice might be positive or negative based on the meantime context. If context changes, truth might change respectively. This implicit derivation gradually caused more and more trouble to Chinese society with the progress of the economic reform.

1979: Four Cardinal Principles (四项基本原则)

The Four Cardinal Principles decided by Deng Xiaoping in 1979. They are:
        1. upholding the socialist path
        2. upholding the people's democratic dictatorship
        3. upholding the leadership of the Communist Party of China, and
        4. upholding Marxist-Leninist-Mao Zedong thought

Four Cardinal Principles, together with "Practice is the sole criterion for testing truth", comprise the foundation of Chinese government since the economic reform. While "Practice is the sole criterion for testing truth" showed the side of flexibility of the government, Four Cardinal Principles declared that there was something untouchable, in which the core was CPC's leadership. Since then, within CPC it grew two forces, each of which emphasized more on one side of the foundation. The conflict between the two forces became more and more severe with time and it eventually led to the sad event at Tiananmen Square in 1989.

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