Fifth Modernization

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China underwent reform throughout the period known as the “long eighties”, which stretches from the late 1970s all the way until 1989 with the Tiananmen Massacre. In direct contrast to Maoist policies decrying capitalism and certain traditional elements of Chinese society, post-Cultural Revolution China saw economic reform moving them towards a market economy with greater openness to the West. Over time, people began calling for other reforms such as democratization, free speech, and a fix to government corruption. In Wei Jingsheng’s essay Fifth Modernization: Democracy and Liu Xiaobo’s written piece Xidan Democracy Wall and China’s Enlightenment, both authors, despite writing during two very different time periods, criticize ideologies from …show more content…
The “four modernizations” was a policy set by Zhou Enlai to modernize China by developing mechanized agriculture, incentivizing urban industrial production, strengthening national defense, and placing a new emphasis upon science and technology. Wei Jingsheng’s famous essay Fifth Modernization: Democracy, was written in December 1978 and titled as such in direct reference to these modernizations. It was posted on the Democracy Wall in Beijing as part of the overall “New Enlightenment” movement, which took place following the death of Mao Zedong and the arrest of the Gang of Four in 1976. This was an incredibly lively period in China as many were beginning to criticize the radical leftist portion of the Chinese Communist Party and were questioning the best policies to pursue going forward under the leadership of Hua Guofeng and later Deng Xiaoping. Fifth Modernization: Democracy directly appealed to the Chinese people, arguing that China ought to pursue a fifth modernization of democracy before beginning to develop any of the four other modernizations while criticizing the …show more content…
While there were some economic reforms, the Chinese Communist Party did whatever it could to retain its monopoly on political power; Liu Xiaobo’s piece Xidan Democracy Wall and China’s Enlightenment effectively describes the Chinese political situation during the “long eighties”. Liu acknowledges that the Chinese Communist Party did make certain concessions through reform. However, they made other moves in order to protect the regime’s interests; they only pursued economic reforms to change the market structure and economic efficiency, ignoring popular protests calling for political reform and human rights. These economic reforms were not even carried out fully, creating a hybrid planned and market economy and creating inflation that essentially offset any wage gains from reform. The people’s frustrations with the Party’s corruption and monopoly upon political power powered several protest movements at this time; this started with the April 5th Movement in 1976 when mourners for Zhou Enlai were removed from Tiananmen Square, continuing with the Democracy Wall Movement’s and the beginning of group solidarity in China from 1978 to 1979, and culminating in the Tiananmen Square protests in June 1989. One can see that the

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