After centuries of Western dominance, China has made a comeback as an economic superpower. China now is the world’s second-largest economy and for most parts of the world, China has become an important trade partner. Chinese foreign investments are booming: good examples are the rice plantations and engineering operations in Africa. Whilst the European Union and the United States are still wondering how to deal with the global economic shift, political relations are bound to change as well.
On 1 January 1912, the Republic of China was established but because of its political fragmentation, it was only the late 1920s that the Kuomintang, under Chiang Kai-shek, was able to reunify the country under its own control. The party made political changes in order to develop China politically into a democratic state. The ongoing political division in China stirred up the tension between the Kuomintang and the Communists, which led to the Chinese civil war. The Second Sino-Japanese War between 1937-1945 involved the Japanese occupation of China, but after the surrender of the Japanese in 1945, the civil war in China continued. In 1949, the Communist Party seized control over mainland China and chairman Mao Zedong proclaimed the establishment of the Peopleâs Republic of China. Maoâs reign is best known for the reform project Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. After his death in 1976, reformist leader Deng Xiaoping took power. Discontent of the Chinese population with the governmentâs policies climaxed in 1989 with the violent suppression of the student protests in Tiananmen Square by the Chinese government. President Jiang Zemin and Premier Zhu Rongji led the nation in the 1990s and were succeeded by Hu Jintao’s and Wen Jiabao. In 2013 they were replaced by current President and Premier Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang.
Under the leadership of communist leader Mao Zedong and the Peopleâs Republic of China, industry and business became nationalized under state ownership and socialist reforms were implemented in all areas of society. Mao introduced the campaign Great Leap Forward, aimed to rapidly transform the country from an agrarian economy into a communist society through industrialization and collectivization. However, the campaign led to the Great Chinese Famine. After this failed campaign, in 1966 Mao and his allies launched the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976, its stated goal was to enforce communism in the country by removing capitalist, traditional and cultural elements from society. When Deng Xiaoping took power after Maoâs death in 1976, he initiated the Chinese economic reforms including the introduction of capitalist market principles. The Communist Party subsequently loosened governmental control over citizens’ personal lives and the communes were disbanded in favor of private land leases. This turn of events marked China’s transition from a planned economy to a mixed economy with an increasingly open market environment. Subsequently, President Jiang Zemin and Premier Zhu Rongji led the nation in the 1990s. Under their administration, China sustained an average annual gross domestic product growth rate of 11.2 percent. The country formally joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, and maintained its high rate of economic growth under Hu Jintao’s presidency in the 2000s.
About the Series
China on China is an eight-part documentary series dealing with politics and daily life in today’s China. After centuries of Western dominance, the worldâs center of economic and political weight is shifting eastward. In just 30 years, China has risen from long-standing poverty to being the second-largest economy in the world, faster than any other country in history. What China says and does is therefore of great importance to the entire world. The series provides a rare insight into the reinvention of this Eastern superpower.