In 1978, Deng was elected leader of the Communist Party beating the Maoists. His goal was to have China’s economy catch up with the West within 20 years. “In this new age we will focus our efforts on modernizing industry, agriculture, technology and national defense to transform the country by the end of the century in a Chinese way.”
The first challenge was to grow food for China’s starving peasants. During Mao’s failed programs, millions had died. At the end of 1979, peasants in Anhui had started a private farming system. In one year, food production had increased three fold.
Deng was happy to support whatever worked, but local party bosses resisted change after 30 years of Maoism. There was a saying, “We’d rather have the weeds of socialism than the fruits of capitalism.”
Deng surprised the Maoists by giving his blessing to the farmers of Anhui, and by 1981, Anhui was feeding itself. They said, “We’ve been liberated. It’s not like in the past when peasants were rounded up like an army.”
The next step was to modernize China’s industry and that meant China had to work with the United States. Deng also wanted and ally because of threats from the Soviet Union.
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
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