2P The Transformation of China, 1936–1997

This option provides for the study in depth of reasons for and the maintenance of Communist rule in China and focuses on the way in which the country was transformed into a modern state. It explores concepts such as authority, Maoism, mass mobilisation and economic control and encourages students to reflect on the relationships between ideology and political change. It also encourages reflection on the ways in which a state might be forced into change and whether economic modernisation is possible without a corresponding political shift.

Part one: the emergence of the People's Republic of China, 1936–1962

The Origins of the Civil War, 1936–1946

  • The condition of China in 1936: Japanese expansion in China; Jiang Jieshi and the Guomindang; leadership, ideology and policies
  • The Chinese Communist Party: background; Mao's leadership; ideology and policies; hostility to the Guomindang
  • The Sino-Japanese war: the Xi'an incident and the Second United Front; political and military co-operation and division in war; the impact of war on China, Jiang Jieshi and the GMD, Mao and the CCP
  • The end of the Japanese war: the breakdown of Nationalist/Communist cooperation and outbreak of Civil War; the relative political and military strengths of the two sides

Communist victory and the consolidation of Mao's rule, 1946–1952

  • Communist victory: reasons for Communist success; the state of China in the aftermath of war; regional and economic issues; industry and agriculture
  • The People's Republic of China: Mao's position in government; the power structure and influence of the CCP; mass party membership; democratic centralism
  • The consolidation of power: mass mobilisation campaigns and purges; the role of the PLA; the use of terror and propaganda; land reform; attacks on landlords and land redistribution
  • PRC's international position and dealings with neighbours: Korea, Tibet, Taiwan and the USSR

The transition to Socialism, 1952–1962

  • Political developments: issues of leadership and purges of the CCP; the 100 Flowers campaign; Mao's resignation as Chairman of PRC
  • Economic developments: industry and agriculture; voluntary and compulsory collectivisation; the first Five Year Plan for industry and the Great Leap Forward; purge of Peng Dehuai; reasons for the failure of GLF and its aftermath; debates over economic policy
  • Social developments: the destruction of rightists, class enemies and rectification campaigns; women's rights and welfare campaigns; the impact of collectivisation; the famine
  • Foreign affairs: Korea; the Sino-Soviet split; clashes and the breakdown of relations between Khrushchev and Mao

Part two: the People's Republic of China: Economic growth and the transformation of the state, 1962–1997 (A-level only)

Reform and Control, 1962–1966 (A-level only)

  • Leadership in the PRC: Mao's position in 1962; party division and ideology versus pragmatism; the power struggle; supporters and opponents of Mao's policies; the personality cult of Mao Zedong
  • Economic developments: pragmatism and the policies of Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping
  • Social change: women; education; youth; culture; ethnic groups and attacks on religion; the benefits and disadvantages of communist rule
  • International relations: Sino-Soviet relations and conflict over Xinjiang

The Cultural Revolution, 1966–1976 (A-level only)

  • The origins of the Cultural Revolution: the Shanghai radicals; Mao's aims; political divisions and the power struggle within the CCP; the purge of the party leadership and the fall of Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping
  • The development of the Cultural Revolution: the actions of the Red Guards; Lin Biao and the PLA; the widening and radicalisation of campaigns; the purging of the Red Guards; the end of the campaign by 1969 and its political aftermath; the fortunes of Lin Biao, Jiang Qing and the Shanghai radicals, Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping
  • The economic, social and cultural impact of the Cultural Revolution: effect on economic growth; effect on young people; the 'four olds’; anarchy, repression and rectification; censorship and cultural stagnation; Mao's 'little red book'
  • Foreign affairs: deterioration of relations with USSR and border conflict of 1969; improved relations with USA; Kissinger and Nixon's visits and ping-pong diplomacy; condition of China internally and externally at Mao's death

The PRC under Deng Xiaoping, 1976–1997 (A-level only)

  • Mao's legacy: the power struggle after Mao’s death; Hua Guofeng and Deng Xiaoping; the defeat of the Gang of Four; new-style leadership
  • Economic developments: the 'Four Modernisations' and economic growth; agriculture; industry; defence; science and technology
  • Political developments: limitations to change; events leading to, and the aftermath of, the Tiananmen Square demonstrations
  • China as a global power by 1997: diplomatic ties and role in UN Security Council; IMF and World Bank; co-operation with Japan and growing trade links; improved relations with the USA and visits; Hong Kong regained