Introduction to the Cultural Revolution in the People’s Republic of China

Presentation by the author, November 26, 2016.

This book, which I named “Introduction to the Cultural Revolution in the People’s Republic of China: Economic, Social and Political Aspects” reproduces the basic text of the master class given by the author on 19 November, 2016, for the graduate programmes of the Pontifícia Universidade Católica of Sao Paulo (PUC – SP), in the fields of economics, history and social sciences, agglutinated in the Centre for Analysis of the International Environment (NACI), chaired by PhD, Professor Regina Gadelha. As the title makes very clear, the work is just an introduction to a highly complex historical process, which would merit an analysis of larger breath, but it would be beyond the means of a simple master class.

The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution launched by Mao Zedong in mid-1966 represented the consequence of internal struggles within the Chinese Communist Party, caused by economic difficulties in the early years of the People’s Republic of China. Its first government, which was founded in 1949, after 100 years of imperialist neo-colonialism and 22 years of war, including the Second World War, with the disastrous Japanese occupation and the Civil War, sought through various economic policies – including the so-called “Great Leap Forward”, to promote quick development.

However, several factors, such as the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, in which the People’s Republic of China was involved and lasted until 1953, as well as the lack of external financing sources to the Chinese industrial development process, added to senseless formulations and reckless choices, led to a serious economic crisis, which brought hunger, misery, and, naturally, political conflict.
Cornered by his political opponents, Mao Zedong launched the Cultural Revolution, inverting the social pyramid to deliberately create the widespread chaos in the country through the so-called “Red Terror”, which lasted no less than about 10 years and brought great suffering to the Chinese people. To invert the social pyramid, Mao rejected the traditional teachings of the great philosopher Confucius, which were established in the Chinese ethos, the Constitution of the Republic of China, recently adopted, as well as in his own previous writings, including some of those transcribed in the famous “Red Book”.

This book describes the events of that period and how they resulted, in a typical dialectical process, in the various reforms put forward by Deng Xiaoping and his successors, and that resulted in huge economic and social advancement of the People’s Republic of China, in order to make it the second largest economy in the world, biased to be the first, in the near future, when it surpasses that of the United States of America.
Indeed, already in 1984, the mixed system of state planning and market economy was introduced, which exists until today, although in a much more advanced formatting. Shortly thereafter, China formalized its request for accession to the multilateral trading system, then under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, GATT. In the long process of entry, which lasted 15 years, the country changed no less than 9,000 laws and regulations to introduce a “market socialist” economy.

The book is dedicated to the blessed memory of Professor Paul Edgar de Almeida Resende, from the Law School of Pontifícia Universidade Católica of Sao Paulo, one of the founders of NACI and a great champion of the best humanistic values, even during the dark years of the Brazilian military dictatorship, when bravely illuminated, with his knowledge, the path to be taken by citizens and by good women and men.