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History 1800 - 1950
History 1950 - Present
On December 2 1950 Mao Zedong proclaimed Chinese Peoples Democratic Republic. Forcing Chiang Kai-Chek to flee into exile in Formosa. The next five years became known as the years of terror. Mao arranged executions of anyone who didn't give their wholehearted support to the new regime, and issued death warrants for all former members of the Kuomintang, National army and Imperial army. Over three milliion were killed in 1951 alone and by 1955 Maos purges had resulted in the deaths of nearly 20 million.
Mao also formed a vast personality cult around himself, and had several leading Communist party members executed to destroy any opposition to him. He also sought a ruthless policy of collectivisation, forming farmers into workers communes. Many peasants were forced into large, new cities to construct factories. In 1956 the first four year plan was announced, setting production targets that, if not met, would result in the purging of the factory's workers committee. This first plan was a disaster and consequently 400,000 workers were purged and sent to special camps in tibet. In 1960 another plan was announced, this also failed but by fewer factories, and by the time the third plan was completed in 1968 almost all targets had been achieved.In 1966 Mao announced a culural revolution to destroy the more moderate elements within the Communist party with over half the politburo being purged. Mao encouraged students to arrest any non-party members who critisised the regime in any way, in is estimated that around 15 million were arrested and imprisoned in prison camps in the period 1966-1970. Mao's personality cult was extended to his wife, Jiang Qing, and his right hand man Hua Guofeng, and Mao's previous associates, Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping were arrested as "moderates" and later executed.
In 1976, Mao died. China was heartbroken, and the Communist Party was dominated by Qing and Guofeng. The two were able to form a broad coalition, establishing the so called "inner party group" dominated by them and their allies. However by late 1977, it was clear the two were unable to form a long term alliance. Qing was gradually sidelined, and in March 1978 was removed from the inner party group.
From 1978 until 1989 Guofeng was in absolute control, slowly establishing a personality cult surpassed by only that of Mao. Guofeng continued Mao's policies of collectivisation, and in 1984 oversaw the final phase of the construction of Mao City, a new Chinese capital. He maintained China's strong Maoist principles, but after 1985 and the fall of the Soviet union the country became almost entirely reclusive.
But by 1989 the party was crying out for new leadership. Party chairmen in various cities began privately criticising the leadership of the party. Guofeng was unable to stop his own party revolting, troops were called out in Beijing and Shanghai. With the country on the brink of civil war he allowed himself to be expelled from the party and retire. After several weeks of uncertainty, veteran Communist Li Xiannian was selected as leader. An 80 year old was replacing a retiring 68 year old.
Xiannan's leadership was also troubling. New firebrands like Jiang Zemin dominated front line politics, and allowed the red guards to proclaim a second cultural revolution in August 1989. The revolution lasted until December, but it cost nearly a million lives.
Xiannian died in 1992, and was replaced by Wang Zhen, an 84 year old. Zhen's leadership lasted less than a year before he too died and was replaced by the even older Chen Yun. Yun was seen as a final transitional leader before a new strongman could take the stage, and at 87 he was unable to take many decisions. The party was dominated still by younger men, who were unable to prize the leadership from the older generation.
Zhao Ziyang finally succeded Yun in mid 1993. But he turned out to be much more of a reformed than people realised. Jiang Zemin finally took control in a bloodless inner party coup in early 1994 and held power for the next ten years. With a strongman in charge the cult of personality resumed.
Zemin introduced a party promotion and rank system as incentives, to buy of those who thought that better life could only be achieved in a free market economy. But it only gave rise to party elitism and a ruling class. Mao City, the capital was almost exclusively inhabited by the party elite, whilst the majority were impoverished and under fed due to the still failing collectivisation policy. Cult of personality for party leaders was also extended.
The three old men, Li, Zhen and Yun, were each accorded deep respect, and in 1996 (following Yun's death) they were interred in a mausoleum next to Mao. Follwoing Hua Guofeng's death in 2008 he was also interred but in a new mausoleum, built on the other side of Mao's to the three elders'. The situation of the three Mausoleum's symbolises the regard the party holds each of its former leaders, with their birthdays being a national holiday. Zhao Ziyang was expelled from the central committee following his fall from power, and fell into obscurity. He is reported to have died in a labor camp with his family in 1999, but this is unconfirmed.
In 2004 Zemin was out manuvered by Hu Jintao who holds power to this day.
The party loyal and elite live in the capital. Corruption is still rife at the high ranks of the party.