China has a long history with several great leaders, but none of those leaders have even come close to being as great as Deng Xiaoping. Deng Xiaoping was a loyal communist who sacrificed his own life so his people could have a better one. During his long political career, he served as a Communist politcommissar of the 129th Division (Liu-Deng Army) from 1929 to 1949. As politcommissar, he bravely and successfully fought the Nationalists. In 1945, he was elected to the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. He became a member of the Politburo in 1955 and ever since that year, he has been an invaluable member of the party.
Depending on your personality or view, you may come to conclude that Deng Xiaoping was a force for evil and that he was responsible for taking away the freedom of millions of Chinese citizens. Some people may even conclude that Deng Xiaoping was a "power-hungry" dictator who would do anything to obtain power. I have concluded differently. I believe that Deng Xiaoping was a force of good. He has devoted his entire life to helping his country, China.
Before the Communist began to revolt, the Nationalists were doing a poor job of running the country and did not keep their promise for land reform. Deng Xiaoping believed that a Communist government would do a better job of running the country. During the Nationalist- Communist Civil War, Deng greatly influenced the outcome in favor of the Communists by using effective military strategy. Deng Xiaoping was appointed Politcommissar of the 129th Division of the Eighth Route Army (the Liu-Deng Army) from 1938 to 1947. He employed several campaigns against the Nationalists in which he inflicted severe damage. One campaign was when he led his army in the battle of Huaihai, which put 550,000 men of the Kuomintang troops out of action. Afterwards, he led his army across the Yangtze and liberated Nanjing, the capital of the Kuomintang government. Then his army liberated the entire southwest of the country.
In October 1, 1949, China became a Communist nation. Without Deng Xiaoping's tremendous performance during the war, the Nationalists probably would have easily won. Because of Deng Xiaoping, the people of the nation were finally able to begin to modernize and enjoy a higher standard of living.
From the day China became a Communist nation, to 1976 when Deng Xiaoping's superior, Mao Tse-tung dies, Deng Xiaoping did several things that greatly influence China. However, most of what happens to China during that period should be credited to Mao Tse-tung because he decided what policies to use and not to use. This however does not mean that Mao made good decisions.
Several times during the 1960s and 1970s, Deng Xiaoping and Mao Tse-tung started to disagree on how to run the country. The reason is that Mao Tse-tung started to become interested only in maintaining his own power. However, Deng Xiaoping, truly cared about the welfare of the people in his country.
The first disagreement between Deng Xiaoping and Mao Tse-tung occurred in 1962. Mao proposed a plan called, "The Ten Points." This agricultural plan was an extension of the commune system. It disregarded the negative experiences the people had at the communes. The main purpose of this plan was to keep all the people in the same class. Deng Xiaoping and his supporters within the party disagreed with this plan. Therefore, they proposed an alternative plan called, "The Ten Further Points." This plan gave the peasants more freedom to grow crops and more freedom in politics. Mao did not like this and began to feel paranoid. He believed everyone in the party was against him. As a result, he launched the Cultural Revolution that led to the downfall of several Chinese leaders including Deng Xiaoping.
Deng Xiaoping eventually rose back to power (he had two more downfalls but regained power both times too). He never really opposed Mao again until his death in 1976. After Mao's death, Deng Xiaoping finally stepped out of Mao's shadow and attempted to reverse the country's "backwardness."
In April 1976, four months before Mao's death, the Gang of Four led by Mao's wife, Jiang Qing, a powerful member of the Politburo caused the third downfall of Deng Xiaoping. Deng Xiaoping was forced to hide with old comrades from the Nationalist-Communist Civil War. He persuaded an old marshal, Li Xiannian, to join his side to fight against Jiang Qing. Deng Xiaoping also got the support of military leaders of northern and southern China. With all this support, he convinced Hua Guofeng, the premier of China, to arrest the Gang of Four.
On October 6, an armed force unit arrested Jiang Qing in her home. The other three members were summoned to a nighttime emergency session at the Peoples' Congress Hall. The three came with the least bit of suspicion. When they entered through the door of the building, the trap was sprung and they were all arrested. By ridding China of radicals who could have easily harmed the lives of the Chinese people, he once again saved millions from unwanted suffering.
Deng Xiaoping finally controlled the nation as he desired. Although the general secretary is supposed to be China's most powerful official and Deng Xiaoping only occupied the position of Second Deputy Party Chairman (later the position of Chairman of the Military Commission), he was the one with all the power. In late December 1978, the "Deng Era" began. During the "Deng Era," Deng Xiaoping proved thoroughly that he was a force of good by spending the remainder of his career reforming China for the better.
One of the first things Deng Xiaoping did for the country was to make Mao less "Godlike." To make Mao less "Godlike," he convinced the people that Mao did make mistakes while he was in power. Deng Xiaoping told the people that Mao's greatest mistakes were the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward Policy. After Mao was made less "godlike," it became easier to reform China.
From the late 1950s to 1979, the economy of China was at a standstill. The living standard of the Chinese citizens was not improving and becoming worse. Industry was producing at only fifty percent.
The first policy Deng Xiaoping reformed was the land policy. In 1979, he eliminated communes and began to give greater independence to the 800 million peasants. He leased the land to the peasants and allowed them to decide what to grow. Part of his policy was to have the peasants relinquish a certain portion of their harvest (usually one-third) for a price guaranteed by the government by contract. The rest of the harvest was theirs to sell or keep. Because of this policy, production of food greatly increased and the net income of a farm family more than doubled. Soon the Chinese were enjoying a higher standard of living. Before this policy, the people of China usually did not have enough to eat. After the policy, the Chinese were enjoying eggs, meat (which used to be almost nonexistent) and other treats.
Deng also wanted to improve the industry of China. He did this by allowing small private enterprises do business. These enterprises were usually small restaurants and other types of shops. In 1979, Deng Xiaoping also created four special economic zones where foreign investors could invest their money. In 1984, fourteen more special economic zones were opened. Unfortunately, at the time this book was written, it was not yet determined if the economic zones were going to be successful. However, the intentions of Deng Xiaoping were for the good of the nation.
I remember when I was at the library just a month ago. I was stumbling through the shelves looking for a biography about a famous person. I started going through each biography alphabetically. It wasn't until I reached the letter "D" that I found the biography about Deng Xiaoping. I picked up this thick book and reluctantly decided to do my term project on Deng Xiaoping. The only thing I knew about him was that he was a Communist leader of China. Since I am a United States citizen who strongly favors democracy over other forms of government, I naturally disliked Deng Xiaoping. I believed he was a villain simply because he was a Communist.
One month and three hundred and forty pages later, Deng Xiaoping became my political idol. Deng Xiaoping was a very good man. As a leader, he treated his people like he treated his own children. He wanted his people to live happily, and in order to do so, he gave his life in exchange. Even when there was a lot of pressure from the public, Deng Xiaoping did not cave in. Instead, he tried his best to ignore the pressure and to choose what would be best for the people; even if it meant being unpopular sometimes.
I learned that Deng Xiaoping is the reason China is on the verge of becoming a superpower in the world. Today, most of China enjoys the fruitful success of a strong economy because of Deng Xiaoping's carefully planned policies. Also, Deng Xiaoping saved China from the corrupt Nationalists by winning the Civil War for the Communists.
This man did great things for the hundreds of millions of Chinese. Without his ingenuity and shrewd leadership, China would probably be a poor country with severe economic problems, and without this biography, I would have missed learning about a very interesting person. He dedicated his life for the well being of his people. Deng Xiaoping was not only a force for good, he was a prophet. If more people were like him, there would not be a need for heaven.