Deng Xiaoping’s first Steps to Open China to the World

It’s time to leave Mao behind as part of China’s history. His era ended with his death and the arrest of the “Gang of Four”, including Mao’s widow, Jiang Qing. The “Gang of Four” was convicted of crimes against the state and Jiang said in court, “I was Chairman’s Mao’s dog. What he said to bite, I bit.”

Jiang was Mao’s third wife, and she was convicted in 1981 of “counter-revolutionary crimes” and imprisoned. In 1983, her death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. On June 5, 1991, she hung herself while still in prison. She was seventy-seven.

In 1977, Deng Xiaoping emerged as the dominant figure among pragmatists in the leadership. Under him, China launched far-reaching economic reforms.

One of the most famous maxims of Deng, dating back to the years before the Cultural Revolution, states that “It doesn’t matter whether a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice.” That quote caused trouble between Mao and Deng because it meant Deng did not worry about whether a person was a revolutionary or not, as long as he or she was efficient and capable of doing their job under the socialist economy.

Once you understand that quote, you will understand China’s amazing economic reforms in the decades since Mao’s death and why one of Deng’s first steps in 1979 was to establish diplomatic relations with the United States.

Deng Xiaoping paid an official goodwill visit from January 20 to February 4, 1979, to the United States at the invitation of President Carter. This was the first visit by a Chinese leader to the United States after the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

During his visit, Deng exchanged views with President Carter on the international situation.

About Taiwan, Deng said that China was willing to solve the Taiwan question in a peaceful way. The Joint Press Communiqué issued by both sides said that both sides are of the view that differences in social systems of the two countries should not impede the enhancement of mutual friendly relations and mutual cooperation.

During the visit, China and the United States signed an agreement on cooperation in science and technology and a cultural agreement. They also signed agreements on cooperation in education, commerce, and space, and on the mutual establishment of consular relations and the opening of Consulates-General in each other’s country.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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