Essay: China Under Communism, Confucian Values

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[. . .] Some examples of the way that women in China were marginalized include the fact that when we are children, women are expected to be completely obedient to their fathers. After we are married, we are of course to be subservient to our husbands. Even when we are widowed we are not allowed to behave of our own accord. After our husbands die, the women have to go move in with our oldest son, or son-in-law if we had none. In the son's household, we would have to be obedient to our own child. Women are powerless. Of course, this was all after her duty to the Chinese government was over. "A good female comrade was supposed to devote all her energy, her youth, to the revolution; she was not permitted even to think about a man until her late twenties, when marriage would be considered" (Min 64). The life of a Chinese woman was devoted not to the quest for individual fulfillment or to the creation of a unique identity, but to the concerted effort to be completely obedient and subservient to the dominant males in their lives.

Life has a way of disappointing our dreams. I thought constantly about Yan the entire time I was part of the Chinese military. I thought about her and I was jealous. I even pretended to be a man so that I could get her to smile at me. The few times that I got to hold her, to kiss her were not enough. I remember one of the last times. "My kisses told her how much I had missed her…No matter how badly we wanted each other, our situation pulled us apart" (Min 233). Ours was a doomed romance, forbidden by the government and by the social structure in which we lived. If women were not allowed to be truly happy or independent as wives of men, what chance was there to be happy as two women together? Lesbianism gave the women in the army strength and that is why it was taken away from us. Sexuality was something we were to reject and only accept begrudgingly as a wifely duty. Anything more was inappropriate and even unpatriotic.

Over time, my feelings for Yan changed repeatedly. Some days I loved her more than anything. Other days I hated her with a vengeance. There were times when I remembered how she smiled, how she laughed, or how she cried and I wanted to be as close to her as possible. Then there were days where I thought about Lu and about Little Green. On those days I hated her. Sometimes, Yan was a symbol of everything in this world I wanted. In the other times, I saw her as a representative of the Communist military, of oppression and minimization, of unimportance and masculine dominance. Those emotions were confusing and yet, at the same time, they taught me a very important lesson both about women and about society in general. The simple answers are never the right ones. It is only when we are confused and unsure are we living.

3. Twentieth-century Chinese history was characterized by both triumphs and tragedies. When it comes to the tragedies of post-1949 history, to what extent should Mao Zedong be blamed for them?

Mao Zedong was the leader of the Communist party in China. Under his leadership, the country became involved in the indoctrination of its citizens into a system wherein questioning the government was a form of treason. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was officially founded in 1921, a time during which the nation was still partially colonized. During a time of political unrest and dissatisfaction of the people, the time was ripe for a large political movement. In this case it was a matter of good timing as much as ideological support that led the Communist Party to take eventual control of China. The CCP appealed to the lower class members of Chinese society, the laborers and farmers who were desperate for some sort of aid and who were dissatisfied with the one that was currently ruling their lives. Much like the Revolution in Russia which would lead to the government take-over by Communists, the appeal to equality was what won the party the support of the people.

From the start, CCP officials determined to get the ordinary working class people on their side. He stated that the party would appeal to the common people "by entertaining first, and using forms that masses favor" (DeWoskin 212). The people could be convinced by appealing to their sensibilities. Mao Zedong and his fellow party members distributed their leadership in a way that would ensure every facet of their various programs was controlled and that not one department would feel jealous or underappreciated in comparison with another branch. From the outset, the CCP was determined to control every single aspect of the lives of the citizenry. For those used to political upheaval, this would have produced a feeling of blanket security. By providing schools to those who had little or no opportunity for education before, being taught to read and write would also serve to make the individual feel grateful to those who provided the means. The fact that everything the people were taught was full of Communist ideology would not have mattered to a poor farmer and even if he were aware that he was being fed mass quantities of propaganda, the Communist party had already instilled in the lower classes that this was the party of the people. Thus, the message would have been readily accepted.

The ideology of the Communist party was supposedly simple: no one should have more and no one should have less. No one should starve while others have more than enough to eat. The base word of Communism is Commune; the idea of every person living communally and benefitting from one another. Whether or not this idea can ever be truly successful has yet to be seen. The people of China felt distraught and that they were impotent under their former governments. The lowest classes, the students, the laborers all flocked to the Communist Party to do their bit, completely believing that this was the one form of government that would save them from their current misery.

Chairman Mao led China during the period of Communist revolution. He completely revitalized the political, economic, cultural, and sociological system of the country. Mao's policies were concerned with the social policy of Communism. He believed in this policy. After Mao was first appointed head of the now-Communist China, he implored all of the people of the country to take equal responsibility for the recent revolution and to take credit for it as well. This was the first step in creating what he felt was a joined national identity. China had a history of being colonized and terrorized by warring factions from around the globe. Part of the reason for this, he argued was the China was disjointed and separate. Only by uniting sociologically into one mass group did the country have a chance of avoiding similar instances of colonization and war later on. For example, Yuan-tsung Chen discusses an episode wherein peasants were suffering terrible hunger and the party ordered the landlords to redistribute food to some of the poor people. "Shen told us we should thank Chairman Mao for that" (Chen 273). All good things that happen are credited to Mao. He is put into a position of a deity, granting food to the needy.

Although there were positive components to this mode of government, there were assuredly negatives as well. Mao determined that the Chinese ought to forget as much of their aristocratic past as possible. "Many of China's relics were ruined during the Cultural Revolution, fifteen years after Chiang's departure, when Chairman Mao and his wife Jiang Qing encouraged the destruction of artifacts in an effort to reignite revolutionary fervor by removing evidence of class lines" (DeWoskin 240). Mao was also guilty of creating a worsening economic structure for the country. For instance, under Mao, the economy of China took a decidedly downward turn. He turned personal property into government property, including small farmlands which were owned by peasants whose only chance at survival was in their meager harvests.

Given all the above information, it can be stated empirically that Chairman Mao Zedong is indeed heavily responsible for the distress and turmoil that China has faced since the founding of Communism in that country. He created a situation in which the people of China were heavily dependent on the government for everything from supplies to information. Further, he created a system whereby the people become indoctrinated into a program wherein they were unable to question either the motives or the actions of the people in power. Instead, they had to follow blindly despite their better judgments. It is no wonder that the modern Chinese person cannot function without the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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China Under Communism, Confucian Values.  (2012, May 5).  Retrieved July 19, 2019, from

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