China’s New Industrialization Strategy

China’s New Industrialization Strategy

Was Chairman Mao Really Necessary?

Y. Y. Kueh

Deng Xiaoping’s economic strategy is widely regarded as a complete anathema to Mao’s, but this study strongly argues that without the material foundations laid by Mao, it would have been very difficult for Deng to launch his reform and open-door policy. Deng basically shared Mao’s aspirations and approach in pursuit of China’s industrialization, and this had in fact helped to condition him to the successful gradualist methodology. Deng lost patience at times and resorted to the ‘big bang’ strategy, only to fail miserably. Taken together, the book tells a new story about the economics of China’s transition. This is a highly thought-provoking study, blending institutional and convincing statistical analysis.

Preface

Y. Y. Kueh

Subjects: asian studies, asian economics, economics and finance, asian economics, economic psychology

Extract

Deng Xiaoping’s economic strategy is widely regarded as a complete anathema to Mao’s. This study argues, however, that without the material foundations laid by Mao over his 30-year reign, it would have been very difficult, in the first place, for Deng to launch his reform and open-door policy starting in 1979. Contrary to the popular view, we also argue that Deng basically shared Mao’s aspiration and approach in pursuit of China’s industrialization and modernization. More importantly, the common aspiration and Mao’s material legacy, in particular, had indeed helped to condition Deng to the highly acclaimed ‘gradualist’ methodology in both domestic economic reform and China’s opening to the outside world. As a matter of fact, Deng’s most celebrated, and indeed quite abrupt, open-door strategy may also be traced to Mao’s drastic reorientation in foreign economic relations towards the West in the early 1960s (then mainly Western Europe and Japan), following the collapse of Sino-Soviet relations in 1961. More importantly, it was also Mao who personally initiated the ‘ping pong’ diplomacy in 1971–72 as a prelude to the rapprochement with the United States, which eventually led to the establishment of a formal diplomatic relationship and thus constituted the cornerstone for Deng to ‘bring China back to the West’. Thus, as a contrarian view, we also argue that Mao was, in situ, not at all ‘inward-looking’, ‘closed-door’ or ‘autarkic’-oriented, with a predilection for the philosophy of ‘self-reliance’, entirely ignorant of the technological advances made in the West, as many outside observers...