Which leader, Chiang, Mao or Deng, had the greatest political and economic impact on China?

A2 essay on the significance of the leaders in China

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Which leader, Chiang, Mao or Deng, had the greatest political and
economic impact on China?
All three leaders had a significant impact on the development of China in the twentieth
century because they all had different strengths. Deng modernised the Chinese
economy in a way that had never been seen making it one of the leading economies but
he had little political impact. Mao, on the other hand, damaged the economy greatly but
his political success means that his legacy still lives and he is still celebrated as one of
the greatest leaders to date. Although not as prominent a figure, the political impact of
Chiang cannot be ignored. Having considered this, it is to a large extent that I suggest
Deng Xiaoping had the greatest impact on China because they wouldn't be the
superpower they are today if it wasn't for him.
Deng's political impact does not compare to that of Mao, and even arguably of
Chiang but his economic impact was successful to such a large degree that it makes
him one of China's strongest leaders. He believed in expanding international trade so
he introduced the `open door policy' which greatly improved the economy: "The rapid
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growth of foreign trade after 1978 was the result of the new opendoor policy adopted" .
The lexical choices `rapid growth' show that not only was his policy a success but it had
immediate effect due to its popularity. The opening of foreign trade was a massive
change because China are communist but Deng was employing capitalist ways to
boost the economy which proved to be effective because they transformed from being
backwards to being a leading superpower. In addition to this he launched economic
reforms: "In the last twenty years of the century he launched economic reforms that
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changed the face of china." He attempted to improve relations with other countries so
that they could use them as inspiration for modernisation within China. As part of the
modernisation process, Deng improved education by enlarging both size and quantity
of universities he also encouraged students to study abroad so that they could become
familiar with modern methods of running businesses effectively and bring those skills
back to China to be employed in their industry. By being open to new ideas, communist
or capitalist, as long as they were effective, it shows that Deng was able to use initiative
to drive China in the right direction. However, during his time of rule it appears his only
focus was the economy which meant he had little political impact in comparison to Mao
who greatly impacted Chinas politics. But his methods of improving the struggling
backwards economy, unlike Mao's and Chiang's, were evidently successful because
China now has one of the strongest leading economies, so this outweighs the lack of
political impact. Mao's political impact was dominantly negative to a large extent and
Deng was able to undo many of his decisions following his death while still maintaining
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Immanuel C.Y. Hsu The Rise Of Modern China (2000) p858
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R.Keith Schoppa The Columbia Guide to Modern Chinese History (2000) p189

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Deng Xiaoping
was Chinas strongest leader by having the greatest political and economic impact.
An alternative argument is that Mao Zedong had the greatest political and
economic impact, as Deng admitted himself: "Mao in his policies had been 70% right
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and 30% wrong.…read more

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China at the time which was the Warlords. However, the same source goes on
to claim: "warlords remained a significant factor in Chinese politics...Nationalists did
not so much conquer the warlords as come to terms with them." Arguable, Chiang's
biggest obstacle to being an effective leader was his obsession with defeating the
CCP. Rather than focusing on how to develop and improve China he was too
determined on defeating his main rival which makes him a weak leader with limited
impact both politically and economically.…read more

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