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This chapter forms the main body of this research paper. The chapter briefly examines the early life of Deng Xiaoping, his exile and return to political limelight. The chapter will then dwell on examining Deng Xiaoping in a deep way as a reform leader through showing some of the most significant reformation that he accomplished while acting as the chairman of the Communist Party’s Military Commission. The chapter also examines his struggles to maintain a political stability in the People’s Republic of China. The chapter will finally briefly examine his final years.
This section introduces Deng Xiaoping and shows how he rose to limelight becoming one of the most powerful and influential leader in China. Deng Xiaoping was born on August, 1904 in Sichuan province. His parents were relatively a well to do family (Goodman 22). He had one sister, two brothers and many half siblings (Stewart 18). He became a member of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1924. This was at a time he was in high school work-study in France. He returned to China in 1926 after studying for several months in Moscow. Following the long march of 1934 to set up a homeland in China, Deng Xiaoping first served in the position of director of political department in 1935. Later in 1937 after the war with Japan, Deng Xiaoping served as the political commissar of the 129th division (World Biography 1).
The turn of events become quite favorable for Deng Xiaoping and at this point he started gathering a lot of political momentum. The 129th Division grew to become one four largest army units in the PRC at that time. He was transferred to Peking in 1952 and in 1954 become the secretary general to the CCP. Further in 1956 he was elevated to the coveted position of the general secretary after being elevated to the six-man politburo standing committee. At this point he had gathered enough political mileage and was, “one of the most powerful men in China” (World Bibliography 1).
Exile and Return
Deng Xiaoping was an able leader with a lot of enthusiasm which led him to collide with the chairman Mao more than once especially on the issue of governance and policies. According to Taylor and Francis (2004), he was sent on diplomatic missions to the then Soviet Union. However, with the turn of events Mao was disappointed with Deng Xiaoping because of making decisions without his approval. Mao launched the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR) in 1966 which saw the likes of Deng Xiaoping being forced to leave to the rural of Jiangxi up to 1973. However in the spring of 1973, Deng was reinstated as vice-premier and later in the same year elevated to Politburo. In 1975 Deng Xiaoping assumed more leadership responsibilities by first being elevated to the position of the party vice-chairman, then senior vice-premier and lastly the army chief of staff (Taylor & Francis 1104; World Bibliography 1). The eagerness of Deng Xiaoping to bring political changes had an effect of pushing Mao and his radicals out of power and thus Deng once more was dismissed in 1976. Mao died in the same year and Deng set out once more to regain power one more time and for all by aiming to downgrade the Mao followers especially his four radical followers (Taylor & Francis 1104).
After the dismissal of Deng Xiaoping in 1976 and later in the same year the death of the CPP chairman, a platform was set for his comeback. Hua Guofeng took over as the chairman of the CPP after the death of Mao. Hua Guofeng was also the commander in chief of the people Liberation Army (PLA). It was not until 1977 that the 11th National Congress of the CCP restored Deng Xiaoping to his former posts (Taylor & Francis 1104). Goodman (1994) describes this era, “the period after the 3rd plenum of the 11th Central Committee of the CCP in December 1978 is usually regarded as both the era of reform and of Deng Xiaoping” (Goodman 1). Though Deng Xiaoping had held important positions before, it is worthy noting that he did not resume those positions in the 1970s and 1980s. Surprisingly Deng Xiaoping was better well known that those who were formally appointed to positions of authority. According to Goodman (1994), it is only a few who doubt that, “through the late 1970s, 1980s and into the 1990s he was the single most important individual in China” (Goodman 1). Deng Xiaoping despite not being in an official position was quite influential and was actually a key leader to the peoples’ republic of China. His policies were recognized locally and internationally.
PRC and International Relations
Deng Xiaoping became popular among the west countries due to his policies which advocated for opening up of the republic of China to foreign investments: policies which were closely related to capitalism. These policies were focused on, “modernization and instituted political reforms” (Goodman 1). These reforms and modernizations were based on foreign economic involvement in the PRC. According to Spero and Hart (2009), “China adopted a new open-door policy that placed emphasis on diplomatic relations with the west and the role of international trade, finance, and foreign investment in China’s economic development” (p. 410). At this time the PRC made attempts to improve its image abroad. Deng Xiaoping was influential in marketing PRC abroad. He spoke at the United Nations and toured the world in making efforts to market PRC. In his tours he visited the U.S.A., South East Asia, Japan, and Western Europe. In particular, the USA seems to have been impressed by PRC: the times magazine nominated Deng Xiaoping as the man of the year for 1979 (Goodman 2).
Deng Xiaoping made some remarkable steps in his tour around the world. The tours bore fruits which benefited the people of republic of China a great deal. Spero and Hart (2009) write that, “the second joint communiqué between the U.S.A and the PRC was signed in 1979 during the Carter presidency” (p. 408). This was quite significant because it changed the diplomatic relations of U.S.A from Taipei to Beijing. This agreement made trade between PRC and the USA smooth than ever, “the agreement reduced U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports and made China eligible for Export-Import Bank financing. The pact also provided for the establishment of trade commercial offices in the two countries” (Spero and Hart 411).
Deng Xiaoping’s influence was felt far and wide, his efforts bore much fruits and brought much reformation to the PRC. His policies which opened up the PRC to the rest of the world helped in the educating of students abroad in the latest technologies of which the PRC was lagging behind. Deng was influential in the signing of the peace treaty with Japan in 1978. He was also quite influential in the restoration of the Chinese-Soviet relations. Through an agreement which was implemented in 1997, the long awaited recovery of Hong Kong. Deng Xiaoping assisted during the crisis of China’s economy crumbling. Investment in heavy machinery was reduced and instead prices paid to farmers by the state were increased. A series of bonuses were also arranged to raise the workers’ incomes. This had the effect of encouraging farmers to sell their produce privately resulting to the growth of the free markets (World bibliography 1). Surprisingly the tenure of Deng Xiaoping in the PRC was mired by some of the biggest challenge ever. These were in form of demonstrations from students and workers likewise.