Theme 1 - Establishing Communist rule, 1949-57


Key developments, 1911-49

  • Qing dynasty - 1644-1911
  • Warlords - 1911-21
  • GMD - 1921 (still warlords)
  • GMD tried to destory Communists - Communists escaped in 'Long March'
  • GMD and communists allied agaisnt Japan
  • USA dealt with Japan, CCP gained support in the countryside
  • GMD and CCP civil war
  • GMD defeated and Chiang Kai-Shek retreated to Taiwan,

How serious were the problems facing the PRC when it was set up in 1949?

The aftermath of the civil war of 1946-49

  • Relatively good for CCP
  • Ending conflict made Communists popular
  • Communists proven they were well organised
  • Attractive becuase Mao declared openess to developing China
  • Mao proven himself as military leader - backing of PLA
  • Mao wanted to make political oppostition impossible
  • Communists had large support in peasantry
  • Shown ability to handle urban areas aswell (Harbin)

The state of China's industry, agriculture and national infrastructure

The immediate impact of war

  • Japan seized/destroyed most industrious areas (Manchuria). GMD used scorched earth - fall in industry
  • Peasants used in war, food requisitioning to PLA, flees to cities to escape Japanese - fall in agriculture.
  • Hyperinflation caused by GMD printing money. Financial situation bad
  • Russia seized some industry when fighting Japanese

The longer-term situation

  • Agricultural society - used traditional manual labour with no machinery
  • Demand for food high during war (for exports + people) - needed to become more productive
  • China had failed to industrialise
  • GMD set up state-owned industry (NRC) - remained so after 1949
  • Infrastructure undeveloped/unmodernised and destroyed by war

How successful were the Communists in creating a political system that would give them control of power within the PRC?

  • Needed to establish system quickly
  • Preparations in January 1949, official in October
  • Communists unified with other groups until strong enough in early 1950s
  • Temporary bodies set up with provisional constiitution - Communists led government
  • Government control of the press - system recieved positive publicity

The organisation of the government

  • Meeting of the CPPCC - mainly communist with 14 other parties
  • CPPCC appointed Central People's government and 'Common Program'
  • Illusion of freedom (equality etc.) - a new society
  • Conceded a period of cooperation with capitalists needed - 'New Democracy'
  • Legislation - central government rubber-stamped Politburo and GMD laws abolished
  • Divided into 6 regions headed by senior Communist officials (Peng, Deng, Lin)

The 1954 constitution and increasing bureacracy

  • 1954 - new constitution
  • Communists officially in charge
  • National people's congress, State Council, Politburo
  • Power was with higher officials
  • 6 regions dvided into 21 provinces,5 border egions, 2 urban centres
  • Bureacrats increased - Mao unhappy - felt it slowed down revolution

The role of the Communist Party

  • CCP in contol of the country
  • Politburo powerful, but top officials found it hard to oppose Mao
  • Party membership given to those who were loyal/commited - cadres at local level
  • Mass participation in Party groups - Youth league + Women's Federation
  • Every employed citizen belonged to work unit led by Party cadre
  • PLA represented perserverance of revolution - huge army, but reduced in peacetime
  • PLA became more efficient as it became smaller


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