An Economic History of Modern China

An Economic History of Modern China

Joseph C.H. Chai

As a country’s current development is path dependent, the rise of China and its strategic implications can only be understood in a historical context. Hence, the key to understanding contemporary China is the understanding of its past. So far there has been an absence of a comprehensive text dealing with Chinese economic history in the English language. An Economic History of Modern China fills this important gap, focusing on modern Chinese economic growth and comprehensively surveying the patterns of China’s growth experience over the past 200 years, from the Opium wars to the present day. Key events are traced back to their foundations in history to explain their impact on China’s modern economic growth.

Chapter 11: The Great Leap Forward

Joseph C.H. Chai

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


THE CONCURRENT MODEL OF THE BUILDING OF SOCIALISM The deviation of Maoist strategy from the Soviet approach can be traced back to the Sino-Soviet ideological conflict with regard to the building of socialism in the late 1950s. Marx was the only thinker in recent times who developed a comprehensive theory of social and economic change. According to him, social change results from the growing contradiction between the two basic elements: that is, the forces of production, including the dominant ones of labour, capital and technology; and the relations of production, that is, the way production is organized and, also, the distribution of goods. These two basic elements form the economic base of society which in turn, according to Marx, determines the superstructure of classes, government and the prevailing ideology. Marx predicted the downfall of capitalism and its replacement by socialism as a process of transformation from capitalism to communism, undertaken by a society ruled by a Communist Party. Communism is defined by the following traits: (1) all people own the means of production (so there cannot be any exploitation); (2) the production process is fully socialized; (3) scarcity ceases to exist; and (4) goods are distributed according to need rather than on the basis of work or labour. Unfortunately, Marx left no road-map on how to accomplish the transition from socialism to communism and, as a result, different socialist countries developed different strategies. The difference between the Soviet and Maoist socialist development is illustrated by the analytical framework developed by...

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