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Understanding China: Its Traditions and History Basic Information on China Population: 1.3 Billion (UN census, 2003) Territory: 3,705,386 square miles (a bit smaller than the United States) Year of Independence: 21 B.C.E. Year of Current Constitution: 1982

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basic information on china
Basic Information on China
  • Population: 1.3 Billion (UN census, 2003)
  • Territory: 3,705,386 square miles (a bit smaller than the United States)
  • Year of Independence: 21 B.C.E.
  • Year of Current Constitution: 1982
  • Languages: Mandarin (official language), Cantonese, Shanghaiese, other dialects, and minority languages
  • Religion: Officially Atheist, Taoist, Buddhism, Muslim (2-3%), Christian (1%).
basic chinese philosophies
Basic Chinese Philosophies
  • Confucianism - Ethical system that teaches the proper way for people to behave in society.
    • Confucius is the Latinized version of K'ung-fu-tzu, meaning Master K'ung
    • State teaching from the beginning of the Han Dynasty in 202 BCE to 1911 AD
    • Believed in extended family, authority rested with elder male family member, and filial piety
    • Hierarchical order to society - inferior vs. superior; must demonstrate respect/deference to superiors.
    • Works included:
      • Classic of Poetry  I Ching
      • Classic of History  Analects (see packet)
      • Spring and Autumn Annals
the analects
The Analects
  • XVII.2: The Master said, "By nature, men are nearly alike; by practice, they get to be wide apart."
  • XVI.9: Confucius said, "Those who are born with the possession of knowledge are the highest class of men. Those who learn, and so readily get possession of knowledge, are the next. Those who are dull and stupid, and yet compass the learning are another class next to these. As to those who are dull and stupid and yet do not learn--they are the lowest of the people."
  • VII.8: The Master said, "I do not open up the truth to one who is not eager to get knowledge, nor help out any one who is not anxious to explain himself. When I have presented one corner of a subject to any one, and he cannot from it learn the other three, I do not repeat my lesson."
basic chinese philosophies6
Basic Chinese Philosophies
  • Taoism - Tao means "way" - indicating a way of thought or life; spiritual in nature.
    • 6th century B.C.E. - philosopher Lao-tzu is believed to have started the practice and study of Taoism
    • The Tao is considered unnamed and unknowable, the essential unifying element of all that is.
    • Everything is part of a whole
    • Yin (the female element)/ Yang (the male element)
    • Lao-tzu is believed to be the author of the Tao-te-Ching (Classic of the Way of Power).
    • Wu Wei="non-doing." Wu-wei refers to behavior that arises from a sense of oneself as connected to others and to one's environment.

The Tao that can be spoken of is not the eternal Tao.The name that can be named is not the eternal name. The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.The name is the mother of the ten thousand things.Send your desires away and you will see the mystery.Be filled with desire and you will see only the manifestation.As these two come forth they differ in name.Yet at their source they are the same.This source is called a mystery.Darkness within darkness, the gateway to all mystery.

very old civilization
Very Old Civilization
  • Chinese civilization emerged more than six thousand years ago.
  • Imperial China was the longest-lived major system of governance in world history. Imperial China ruled for more than 2000 years until the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1911.
imperial china
Imperial China
  • Centralized state power that was based on the political philosophy of Confucianism.
  • Confucianism philosophy: Considered society and state in terms of an ordered hierarchy of harmonious relationships.
    • Emperor was at the top of the hierarchy and maintained social order through his conduct as a “moral model.”
    • Loyalty to the Emperor was the highest principle in the hierarchy of relationships in society.
the struggle for china
The Struggle for China
  • The Imperial began to crumble in the mid-19th century as a result of the struggle for national sovereignty and peasant livelihood.
  • 1920s - The Nationalist Party and army emerged as a popular force in urban areas and sought to regain Chinese territories from Western Powers and Japan.
  • The Communist Party was founded in 1921 and sought to aid the worsening living conditions of peasants.
  • Although there was a brief truce between the two factions, China experienced a major civil war in the late 1920s between the communists and the nationalists.
rise of mao zedong
Rise of Mao Zedong
  • Communists retreated to the countryside.
  • Mao Zedong emerged as the leader of the Communist Party in the mid 1930s.
  • Mao believed that Communists could win power by organizing a rural revolution
  • His plan was to build a guerilla Red Army to surround cities with the countryside.
  • When the Japanese invaded in 1937, a truce was called between the Nationalists and the Communists.

Young Mao Zedong, mobilizing the masses in 1940s.

rise of mao
Rise of Mao
  • The Communists grew from 40,000 to more than 1 million members between 1937-1945.
  • The Japanese defeat in WWII ended the truce between the Nationalists and the Communists.
  • Once in power, the Communists established the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and turned their energies to making China a socialist state.
mao years 1949 1976
Mao Years (1949-1976)
  • The People’s Republic of China looked up to the USSR to build their socialist system. Mao based the Chinese political system on three principles:
    • Guardianship(Lenin) describes the relationship between party and society.
    • Hierarchy(Lenin) describes the relationship within the party.
    • Mass Line (Mao) complements guardianship and provides some line between party and society.
thought reform
Thought Reform
  • Mao believed that potential regime opponents (intellectuals and capitalists) were capable of being politically transformed through practices such as “thought reform.”
mao s model of communism
Mao’s Model of Communism
  • Mao began to reconsider his view of the Soviet Union and developed his own radical model of Communism. His major campaigns:
    • Great Leap Forward - gigantic farms were established with thousands of households in hopes of decreasing the food shortage.
    • Cultural Revolution - Mao saw a “new class” of economic managers and political officials with interests in economic growth and individual prosperity emerging within his own Communist Party. For Mao, the enemy of socialism could be found within the Communist Party.
cultural revolution
Cultural Revolution
  • In 1966, Mao argued that the “new class” of communist party people were corrupt “capitalists” opposing socialism and that the new class had to be thrown out of power.
  • Unable to rely on the Communist party to correct its own mistakes, Mao instructed secondary school and university students to overturn this “bourgeoisie culture.”
  • The Communist Party became a powerless organization.
  • Unrestrained by the party, the Chinese engaged in political action which they legitimized by their own interpretations of Mao Zedong Thought.
cultural revolution17
Cultural Revolution
  • Students formed radical Red Guard groups to criticize and persecute people that had power in schools, factories, government agencies, etc.
  • Mao’s hope for China was to be free of the “four olds”—traditional habits, ideas, customs and beliefs—which were thought to lie at the heart of China’s debilitation, and which Mao’s Red Guards sought to destroy. The national interest was meant to replace narrow, selfish concerns.
  • Physical persecution for victims: Held in prisons, forced to do manual harsh labor, tortured to make them confess their “crimes,” etc.
  • In 1967, schools were shut down, most party and government offices no longer functioned, transportation and communications were disrupted.
  • Re-education programs: Mao suggested setting up farms, later called cadre schools, where cadres and intellectuals, "sent down" from the cities, would perform manual labor and undergo ideological reeducation. Cadres would take turns going to the villages or “grass-roots levels” to gain first-hand experience in productive work.
  • During the Cultural Revolution, "transferring cadres to lower levels" became a favored method to remove unyielding intellectuals from the cities.
end of maoist era
End of Maoist Era
  • In the 1970s, conflict arose within the Communist Part between two major political groups: Radicals who supported Mao and Economic Modernizers
  • Mao died in 1976.
  • In two years following Mao’s death, Economic Modernizers took power in China.
  • Leaders of the Communist Party officially and publicly reject most of the strategies of Mao’s revolutionary project and declared Mao’s work a failure.
  • They launched a new period of socialist reform still going today.