Interesting Politics and History of China and Dalian

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If you are or will be living in Dalian, China it will be helpful for you to know some of the country`s and city`s history and politics.  You will want to know what the current situation is and also what has historically taken place.  This article is written to give you a brief overview.

What type of government does China have?

China is a self-declared socialist state that is run by the Communist Party of China.  A socialist state is a state where the production and distribution of goods are owned and controlled by a centralized government that plans and controls the economy.  This means that the government has direct control over the major industries and income sources.  Private companies and individuals are not in control as in the United States, but instead the central government owns and controls them.  In China, the centralized government is run by the Chinese Communist Party.  The Communist Party is the only party that runs the government.  Some other parties are allowed to exist, but they do not have any effective power

What are some major conflicts in China?

 

Five of the ten deadliest wars in history took place in China.  In addition to these wars, China also was heavily involved in World War II where it was invaded by Japan.  Here is a list of these conflicts along with the estimated death tolls.

  1. The Qing Dynasty Conquest Of The Ming Dynasty-25 Million Casualties
  2. The Taiping Rebellion-20 Million  Casualties
  3. The An Lushan Rebellion-13 Million Casualties
  4. The Dungan Revolt-10 Million Casualties
  5. The Recent Chinese Civil War-7.5 Million Casualties

What is interesting is that two of these conflicts were religious in nature.  The Taiping rebellion was started by a man claiming to be Jesus` little brother who attempted to create a Christian millenarian state.  The Dungan revolt was started by Muslims trying to create an independent Muslim state near the Yellow River. No wonder that the Chinese government today is weary of religion and religious groups.

 

What are the notable Constitutions of China?

The first constitution of the People’s Republic of China was declared in 1954.  The current version of the constitution was declared in 1982, and it has had four major revisions since then.  The last major revision was in 2004.  Articles 35 and 36 of the Constitution surprisingly on paper offer citizens many rights.

Article 35. Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.

Article 36. Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief. No state organ, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion. The state protects normal religious activities. No one may make use of religion to engage in activities that disrupt public order, impair the health of citizens or interfere with the educational system of the state. Religious bodies and religious affairs are not subject to any foreign domination.

 

What is Chinese people`s attitude towards the government (Communism, Socialism, Democracy)?

From the conversations I have had on the topic with a few different Chinese friends, it seems like most people do not have a hatred or love towards democracy.  I think most see some positive things in democracy but do not think it is the best form of government or the best fit for China.  People do not feel that their current communist, socialist government is oppressive or that it needs to be done away with.  They think it is a good government.  They may complain about some small things with the government just like any citizen would,  but on the whole they seemed to be satisfied with their government the way it is.

What is Chinese people`s attitude towards North Americans?

Most people seem to see North Americans in a positive light especially the more educated people.  I would say it is rare to meet someone that has a hatred for North Americans.  Constantly on the street when I practice Chinese, I tell people that I am an American, and they respond by saying that Americans are good people.  There is definitely not a general hatred present against North Americans, but some people may think that they are too arrogant or unfriendly.

Do Chinese people have respect for the law?

Yes, I would say most Chinese people respect the law.  They often may not understand the need or reason for certain laws. They may not respect certain laws that they do not understand, but in most cases they will have respect for the law. I think they see laws as being good for the citizens, and I think most would agree that the people as a whole need to do better at respecting the law.

Is there a history of unrest in Dalian?

While China, in general, has experienced much unrest throughout the centuries, Dalian also as a city has had quite a wild ride through the past couple of centuries.  In this section, I would like to share with you a little bit about the unrest that Dalian has experienced over the years.  The region that Dalian is now located in was originally part of China and was occupied by the different dynasties under many different names.  The British occupied the region in 1858, but in 1880 China under the Qing Dynasty again regained control.  The Chinese heavily fortified the area and used it as a base for their naval operations.  The area grew into a small city with the English name of Port Author.  In the first Sino-Japanese war, Japan took the city after a short resistance and took control of the entire region.  However, at the end of the war Western powers forced Japan to return the region to China.  China then leased the territory to Russia.  Russia had a great interest in the region as it allowed them to have an ice-free port in Asia.  They developed the area and built the city of Dalniy nearby the military town of Port Arthur.  (Present day Dalian and Lvshun) They built a railway to connect the city to the Trans-Siberian railway.  However in 1905, Russia and Japan were in an all out war.  An important battle was staged at Port Arthur where Japan defeated Russia and took control of the region and the two cities. Japan occupied what is now present Dalian from 1905 until its defeat in WWII in 1945.  After WWII, the region again returned to the Soviet Union.  Five years later the Soviet Union gave the territory back to China.  Since, 1950 China has been in control of Dalian.

This history is very interesting because it shows me two things. First, for much of Dalian`s history it has not even been a Chinese city.  Second, the city has had many different countries occupy it.  Britain, Russia, and Japan have all been involved.  The city has had much unrest and has a very modern history. It is not an old city with a lot of old history.  It is a new city that is just beginning to develop peacefully after all the wars and events that it has gone through.

How does China function?

The central government is very strong and has a lot of control.  They make sure that the country runs smoothly.  Currently, there seems to be a lot of stability. You don`t have to worry about the currency suddenly becoming worthless, planes and trains not running, or communication services being cut.

How Did China Get To Where It Is Today?

Chinese Civil War

Even though China is a country with many centuries of rich history, the present- day People`s Republic of China was established recently in 1949.  The Chinese Nationalist government was in charge of China in the early 1900`s.  However, communism began entering China and in 1921 Mao Zedong, and a group of other Chinese men met and started the Chinese Communist party. The Communist party worked with the government for a few years, but the Nationalist government quickly turned on the Communist party and killed several of them. Mao Zedong survived the attack on the communists, and he and the party moved to the safety of the countryside. A civil war broke out between Mao, his communist followers, and the Nationalist government. In 1933, Mao led his followers – over 100,000 people – into the mountains to escape. They marched about 6,000 miles in over 370 days. The majority of people that started the journey died on the way. The communist army gained peasant support along the way. This march became known as the Long March. During WWII, Japan invaded and controlled much of China, but after Japan`s surrender in WWII there was a struggle between the communists and nationalist forces to seize the territory that was left behind. The Nationalist army quickly seized many thousand square miles of communist territory. However after WWII, the balance of power had turned in favor of the communists. In June 1946, a full-scale war between the communist and nationalist forces broke out again. The Nationalist Army had been spreading its troops all throughout the conquered areas, seriously thinning out the troops available to fight the Communist Red Army. As the Communist armies grew, they began to inflict heavier and heavier losses on Nationalist forces. In the last year of the civil war, the communists inflicted over a million and a half casualties on the Nationalist Army. In the face of such staggering losses, the Nationalist Army simply disintegrated. On April 21st, Communist forces crossed the Yangtze River, and on the 23rd of April they captured the Nationalist`s capital in Nanjing. On October 1, 1949, before all of China had been conquered, Mao declared the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. The Nationalists fled to Formosa (Taiwan) and set up their government there.

Great Leap Forward and The Cultural Revolution

Mao tried to reorganize all of China along communist lines of collective ownership of farms and factories. Private ownership was done away with, and production quotas were set for agriculture and industry. In 1958, he decided to organize all farms into collectives, where the ownership and decision-making power would be in the hands of the government. Mao wanted to revolutionize agriculture by turning privately owned farmlands into communes where people would farm for the government. Millions of people were moved to work in steel production resulting in 20% of agricultural workers being lost to the steel industry. (Mao wanted to overtake British steel production) This policy was called the Great Leap Forward. Mao thought this policy would be extremely beneficial for the country, but it turned out to be a failure. The result was that there was a great shortage of food supplies. This policy caused the greatest famine of the 20th-century history. (over 27 million people died of hunger)

From 1966-1976, Mao wanted to rid the Party of his rivals. He Ordered “Red Guards” to destroy the “four olds” in the Chinese culture; customs, habits, culture, and thinking. This was the start of the Cultural Revolution. Anything religious was to be destroyed. Red Guards were to single out and remove anyone who was preventing China from becoming a classless society. Mao wanted China to become a nation of farmers and workers, all of whom would be equal. Leaders that had seemingly high positions were attacked. Business managers, college professors, and government officials who were not in agreement with the Cultural Revolution were thrown out. Some of these people were put into prison; others were actually killed. Colleges were closed so students could concentrate on “revolution”. Many people were killed, or abused with public humiliation, torture, and forced displacement meaning they were required to move to another area of the country. The Cultural Revolution raged on for almost ten years. It caused much of China`s traditional culture and norms to be lost.  In 1976, Mao died, and the Cultural Revolution also ended. By 1980, Deng Xiaoping was named the leader of China. Though Deng had been with Mao since the days of the Long March, he was more moderate in his ideas about the path China should follow. He began to allow farmers to own some of their own lands and make decisions about what they would grow. He allowed some private businesses to organize, and he opened China to foreign investment and technology advances. With this openness to western business came exposure to western ideas.

Tiananmen Square

In 1989, when communist governments were under siege in a number of places around the world, China went through a period of student protests that resulted in a huge demonstration in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Over 10,000 students gathered to protest what they felt was corruption in the Chinese government. They wanted more freedom and government accountability. The world watched as the Communist government on June 4th, 1989, ordered thousands of soldiers into Beijing to end the protest. They troops fired on the students and arrested thousands of people. The brief pro-democracy movement was destroyed as well, and Deng Xiaoping was left in control, until his death in 1997.  Today, China is still run solely by the communist party.  However with each year that goes by it seems like China is opening up to more foreign investment and ideas.  The industry is slowly becoming more privatized, and China as a whole is focused on development and technology advancement.

Lesson to Learn

Probably the most interesting thing that can be learned from this history is that it is all modern.  People that are seventy years old today were born at the end of WWII and at the break out of renewed fighting in the Chinese Civil War.  They would have been a teenager during the great leap forward and been in their twenties during the cultural revolution.  They have been through a lot.  War, famine, destruction, and killing are all very much a part of their lives.  China is a country that is recovering from some very dark times.  This history shows us that China is just recently developing and experiencing peace.  It does not have a long history of peace and stability.


Info for this article obtained from the following sources:

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_of_China
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_socialist_states
  • http://www.thefreedictionary.com/socialism
  • http://www.businessinsider.com/bloodiest-conflicts-in-chinese-history-2014-10
  • http://en.people.cn/constitution/constitution.html
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_of_the_People’s_Republic_of_China
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dalian#History
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Civil_War
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_Revolution
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiananmen_Square
  • Communism in China Course, taught in American Public School