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China. The Mao Years. Dr Sun Yat Sen. 1912 China’s last imperial dynasty and becomes the Republic of China – revolution led by Sun Yat Sen Dr Sun Yat Sen is made the first provisional president of the Republic of China Sun Yat Sen found the Kuomintang party (Nationalists)

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The Mao Years

dr sun yat sen
Dr Sun Yat Sen
  • 1912 China’s last imperial dynasty and becomes the Republic of China – revolution led by Sun Yat Sen
  • Dr Sun Yat Sen is made the first provisional president of the Republic of China
  • Sun Yat Sen found the Kuomintang party (Nationalists)
  • After the revolution, power struggle emerges within the government
  • Yuan Shikai takes over and orders Sun Yat Sen’s arrest
    • he and his military commander Chiang Kai Shek escape to Japan (1913)
sun yat sen
Sun Yat Sen
  • Yuan’s new revolution (return to monarchy) fails and warlords around China gain power
  • Sun Yat Sen returns to China in 1916 in the disorder
  • Establishes his political doctrine:
    • Social Reconstruction, attributed the failure of democracy in China to the people's lack of practice and application
    • Psychological Reconstruction, argued that popular acceptance of his program had been obstructed by acceptance of the old saying "Knowledge is difficult, action is easy.“
    • Material Reconstruction, constituted a master plan for the industrialization of China to be financed by lavish investments from abroad.
sun yat sen1
Sun Yat Sen
  • Communist Party established by Mao Zedong in 1920
  • Tries to gain financial support from Western countries but with little success
  • Turns to an alliance with the communist party
  • Soviet Union 1923 would pledge help to Sun to reunite China
  • 1924 a new constitution is forged along Soviet lines (Executive Committee in charge of propaganda)
  • USSR would help Sun train a military
  • Sun adopts his Three Principles of governance: nationalism, democracy and social reform
chiang kai shek
Chiang Kai Shek
  • 1925 Sun dies of cancer
  • Chiang Kai Shek will take over
  • Almost immediately begins a purge of Communists from the Kuomintang
  • Defeats the Communist army and survivors take the “Long March” to Shenxi Province in NW China to regroup (9700km)
chiang kai shek1
Chiang Kai Shek
  • Begins reforms
    • Renews Confucianism to replace communist values (New Life Movement 1934)
    • Improves transportation network and education system
  • 1937 Japan takes Nanking and Chiang is forced to move his capital to Chunking
  • Chiang is forced to form an alliance with Mao against Japan – truce and cooperation don’t last long
  • Immediately after WWII, Communists and Nationalists fight for control of China
  • US supports Nationalists by helping them liberate areas
  • Mao Zedong wins because of peasant support and in 1949 proclaims the People’s Republic of China
  • Chiang and his followers flee to Taiwan (until 1971, the West recognized Taiwan as the official Chinese government)
mao s china
Mao’s China

Hundred Flowers Campaign 1956-1958


  • Previous policy of political and artistic work having to promote the CCP (Chinese Communist Party)
  • Education aimed to rid of social and political thought – purge of non-revolutionaries (800,000 in the 1950s)
  • 1956 collective farms were successfully integrated (meanwhile Communism was failing around the world – de-Stalinization, uprisings in Poland and Hungary)
mao s china1
Mao’s China

Hundred Flowers Campaign 1956-1958

  • 1956 speech: "let a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools of thought contend,"
  • Wanted nationalism and modernization
  • Mao decides to allow criticism of the government by non-party intellectuals to help him create a better and more modern Chinese Government
    • Cooperation with democratic parties (small party)
    • Tolerance of artistic expression and political debate
  • CCP members were now apprehensive because the very ideologies they suppressed to gain power were now invited to be presented
  • Little response to Mao’s speech (fearful and skeptical)
mao s china2
Mao’s China

Hundred Flowers Campaign 1956-1958

“feared an early spring--one that promised a healthy growing season before killing with a deadly, late-winter frost”

  • Second speech given in Feb 1957 that finally proves to the people that Mao was serious about the policy
  • Early expressions weren’t political, started with science

mao s china3
Mao’s China

Hundred Flowers Campaign 1956-1958

  • Examples of criticism:
    • Government ordered creation of ploughs that were sitting idle in Southern China (not appropriate for the soil)
    • Math textbooks replaced with ones including communist doctrine but the old ones were better
  • Criticisms continue to grow more severe – eventually denouncing communism
mao s china4
Mao’s China

Hundred Flowers Campaign 1956-1958

  • Mao publishes his speech but adds stipulations to the publication – criticisms are invalid if they undermine the CCP
  • Mao grows distrustful of the intelligentsia
  • Begins an anti-rightist campaign to arrest those who use the HFC as a political platform
  • Offenders were imprisoned, or "sent down" for years of reform through labour
mao s china5
Mao’s China

Hundred Flowers Campaign 1956-1958

  • Explanations?:
    • Mao created the campaign as a trap to purge more anti-revolutionaries
    • Mao was overconfident when creating the campaign thinking people were generally happy and very little extreme criticism would arise
    • Mao saw the discontent in Eastern Europe to a dictatorship and thought he needed to please the people to maintain power
  • Leads Mao to change strategies – if the “mind” of China could not lead its way, maybe the “hands” could
mao s china6
Mao’s China

Great Leap Forward 1958-60

(5-Years Plan?)

  • Goal to modernize China’s economy to rival the US
  • Industry could only prosper if the work force was well fed, while the agricultural workers needed industry to produce the modern tools needed for modernisation
mao s china7
Mao’s China

Great Leap Forward 1958-60

  • Farmers belonged to a commune and worked for them
    • The commune provided healthcare, education, tools, housing, childcare, old age care, entertainment
    • 12 families in a team with a specific purpose
  • Propaganda was pumped through speakers while farmers worked the fields
  • Increased metal production (backyard production) and agriculture
mao s china8
Mao’s China

Great Leap Forward 1958-60

  • Problems arise:
    • CCP will start to give unrealistic goals to the communes
    • communes don’t complain because they will be arrested for being anti-communist
    • Production quality decreases (industry)
      • Workers fell asleep because of long work hours
      • Steel was made quickly and was not strong
  • Machinery created failed
      • Focus on backyard steel production took farmers away from fields so food production fell (+ flooding in 1959)
      • Coal used for smelting meant less coal for trains

Encouraging steel production

mao s china9
Mao’s China

Great Leap Forward 1958-60


  • Estimated 9 million died in 1960 due to famine
  • 1959-1962 about 20 million die of starvation
  • Mao takes blame for the failure and steps down from being the head of state
    • He remains the CCP leader (title of Chairman)
    • Liu Shaoqi, Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping take over the running of the country
    • Great Leap forward ended 1960, privatization of land reinstated, farmers encouraged to produce more than quotas to sell in free markets
    • Mao remains popular with the public
  • Leads to the Cultural Revolution for Mao to regain power
mao s china10
Mao’s China

Cultural Revolution 1965 - 1968(-1976?)

  • Education produced elitists and there needed to be a return to a proletarian focused revolution
    • Mao believed that engineers, scientists, factory managers were creating a privileged class – they didn’t know about the average lifestyle of the majority of Chinese peasants
  • Red Guard was created from youths
    • purge those who thought they were above others and followers of Mao’s opponent Liu Shaoqi
  • Purge of CCP members who didn’t support Mao
  • Victims were subjected to public criticism, humiliation, and physical abuse
  • Mao wanted a classless society (peasants and educated working together for the greater good of China)

“We're so caught up in what today brings we don't have the time and the space to think seriously what history really holds out. The government certainly doesn't encourage people to reflect on the political implications of the Cultural Revolution. Academic conferences and intellectual discussions on those years are still banned. We also choose to stay away from politics in order to focus on the pursuit of an affluent material life. We look at the commercial value of this unique Red Art from the era, and overlook the oppression and the suffering behind it.”

“The picture of me taken when I was three years old wearing my Mao badge and waving my Little Red Book never fails to entertain my friends and colleagues,”

Bessie Du

mao s china11
Mao’s China

Cultural Revolution


  • Red Guards created factions that fought amongst each other
  • Red Guards destroyed the British Embassy
  • Old ideas and old culture destroyed (history books, art, buildings, etc)
  • Workers and farmers arm themselves against the Red Guards
  • Liu Shaoqi was ousted from the party
    • Ends the Cultural Revolution because Mao had achieved his goal of regaining political power
  • Mao emerges as “godlike” to these young people
mao s china12
Mao’s China

Cultural Revolution


  • Urban youths eventually sent to the countryside to learn from peasants
  • 1969 government officials and intellectuals were sent as to the countryside as well and to study Mao’s teachings
  • Families are split up and not allowed to reunite
mao s china13

Mao’s China

Foreign Relations/ Policy

invasion of tibet
Invasion of Tibet
  • Chinese historical argument that Tibet was united with China by the Mongols in 1206
  • PRC now had the power and organization to take it by force after hundreds of years of debate over it
  • Chinese troops invade 1949
  • China imposes Maoist rule on Tibet
  • 1959 Tibetan uprising

“The Chinese occupation led to "an estimated one million Tibetans dead from imprisonment and starvation. Tibet's 6254 monasteries . . . [are] gutted and in ruins; the Tibetan people themselves vehemently anti-Chinese." "A flood of Chinese immigrants has moved into Tibet, taken the best land for destructive, collectivized agriculture, decimated the already scarce forests, and wantonly slaughtered Tibet's once abundant wildlife."

  • Dalai Lama flees Tibet

Nissani, M. 1992. Lives in the Balance. Quoted from

korean war
Korean War
  • UN forces pushed the North Koreans back to the Chinese border
  • Mao was concerned that their new regime (only a few months old at the time) would be threatened by the aggressiveness of the U.S. which might motivate Chinese "reactionaries.“
  • If the US had more influence in Korea, they might get in between Mao’s claim for Taiwan
  • 1951 China sends about 700,000 troops to begin pushing the UN forces back into South Korean
  • Chinese were equipped with Russian weapons
  • 1953 armistice agreed on between China and the US
  • US and China pitted as enemies

An army of Chinese volunteers cross the River Amrok to fight with the DPRK against their common foe U.S. invaders.

second indo china war 1962
Second Indo-China War 1962
  • Dispute over border in the Himilayas
  • China is successful in taking these disputed territories
sino soviet relations
Sino-Soviet Relations
  • Stalin refused to help Mao during the Japanese invasion of WWII
    • Stalin was worried about Mao’s independence and therefore might not side with the USSR
    • Stalin supported the Kuomintang along with the US
  • 1950 Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance, and Mutual Assistance
    • China recognized the USSR as the leader in international communist movement
  • With Stalin’s death, Khrushchev’s new policies (de-Stalinization) were unaligned with Mao’s
    • Mao accused the USSR of splitting from true communism
  • Khrushchev is reluctant to help Mao with his claims on Taiwan
sino soviet relations1
Sino-Soviet Relations
  • USSR had promised to share nuclear information with China but they don’t live up to that promise
    • China proceeds with its own research and develops their first nuclear bomb in 1964
  • Great Leap Forward rids of Soviet advisors in China
  • China sees Russia as competition for Communist leadership and therefore wants to be independent rather than subordinate
  • Border disputes arise in the 60s and into the 70s resulting in both sides militarizing their shared borders
  • Soviets forcing Communism in Czechoslovakia showed China that Russia was out for domination
results of sino soviet split
Results of Sino-Soviet Split
  • Mao turns to US for a partner
  • Invites US table tennis team to play 1971
  • October 1971, China entered the U.N. after being denied entry from American veto
  • Nixon visits in 1972
    • Beginning of efforts of economic operations between the two countries
  • USA kept a massive naval fleet off of Taiwan
  • December 1978, President Carter withdrew recognition of Taiwan as representing China
mao s death 1976
Mao’s Death 1976
  • Two factions were left to fight for control:
    • Gang of Four – radicals that had participated in the Cultural Revolution (included Mao’s widow Jian Qing)
    • Deng Xiaoping
  • New leader of the CCP Hua Guofeng finds out the Gang of Four planned a coup against the government (Jian Qing tried to forge Mao’s will)
  • Gang of Four is arrested
  • From 1978-1982, Deng Xiaoping will gradually take power becoming premier (gov) and chair of the military (CCP Army)

Practice Essay:

Read pp 326-332

Key Question:

Explain (give reasons for) the transformation of China in terms of economic change, political change, and international relations.