How would you compare and contrast Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping?

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David P Share
May 6, 2017


They had similarities and differences.


Both were communist veterans of the civil war and the defeat of the Nationalists. Both were committed to communism, specifically Maoism with power based o the peasantry rather than the industrial working class.

Their differences can be seen both before and after Mao's death. In the early 60's Mao took a back seat and Deng was one of the communist leaders to initiate some economic reforms. Mao considered this a betrayal of Maoism and unleashed the Cultural Revolution which resulted in 10 years of chaos. Deng was humiliated and imprisoned.

When Mao died in 1976 there was a struggle between reformists and radicals, the latter led by the Gang of Four including Mao's widow. The reformists won and Deng oversaw a rapid and massive reform of China's economy.

Unlike Mao he embraced foreign trade and expertise needed to modernise the archaic Chinese economy.

However political reform was not on the agenda as was seen by the repression following the demonstrations in Tiananmen Square. In this Deng views weer similar to Mao's.

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