Ezra F. Vogel: China under Deng Xiaoping’s leadership

Roundup: Talking About History

Ezra F. Vogel is Henry Ford II Emeritus Professor of Social Sciences at Harvard University. He is author of Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China (Harvard University Press, 2011).

When Deng Xiaoping became pre-eminent leader of China in December 1978, China was still in the chaos from the Cultural Revolution. Per capita annual income was less than US$100.

By the time he stepped down in 1992, several hundred million Chinese citizens had been lifted out of poverty, and China was rapidly becoming stronger, richer and more modern.

Deng Xiaoping did not originate reform and opening — that began under the leadership of Hua Guofeng after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976. But Deng provided the steady hand, the clear direction and the political skill for China to succeed. He enjoyed the support of senior cadres who realised that Mao’s continuing revolutions brought disaster, but he had the judgment to pace the reforms and keep the support of those who feared the opening of markets, as well as those who feared that the opening would be too slow....

Read entire article at East Asia Forum

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