Mao Tse Tung
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Mao Tse-tung is considered by many to be China's best and worst ruler. Urging his constituents to rise up and fight for socialism, Mao attempted to create a political, social and economic utopia. Perhaps best remembered for his "Great Leap Forward," Mao took an already prosperous country and transformed it into a land of chaos. "The Great Leap Forward degenerated into bureaucratic blundering and organizational chaos. The cadres stationed at the market town headquarters began issuing a flow of confused imperious commands. 'The whole thing was a mess,' an interviewee recalls". In many respects, one could argue that Mao took China to the heights of prosperity only to ruin the country shortly before his death.
Despite the chaos caused by the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, Mao was seen as the leader of the Chinese people. When he died in 1967, many of China's citizenry felt frightened by the prospect of moving forward without Mao. "Mao had been the 'Great Helmsman' and a unifying force in China. Where China was to go, and who was to lead her was the burning question of the day". Mao had led his people to greatness and many believed that his leadership was necessary to garner success once again.
Shortly after, Mao's death, China became mired in political upheaval. Unable to find a unifying leader that was capable of upholding the ideologies of Mao, Hua Guofeng was elected Party Chairman, and political tensions divide the socialist party even more. The end result was the reinstatement of Deng Xiaoping, one of Mao's successors that was denounced for his liberal views on capitalism. Despite criticism form the socialist party, Deng gained favor with the people for his four-modernizations program:
- Modernization of agriculture
- Modernization of industry
- Modernization of science and technology
- Modernization of national defense
Deng's rise to power brought with it a considerable amount of political stability: "agreements being reached with both the United Kingdom and Portugal for the return of Hong Kong and Macau to Chinese Sovereignty in 1997 and 1999 respectively". In addition China managed to increase foreign investment and the economy was beginning to grow and expand as well. Political stability and economic growth gave China and its political leaders a chance to reflect on where the country was headed and what could be done to achieve its goals.