Terrill, Ross
March 1980
Foreign Affairs;Spring80, Vol. 58 Issue 4, p920
Academic Journal
The article discusses the economic, political and social changes that occurred in China during the start of the 1980s. The mood in China as the 1980s begin and a policy line envisioned by its leader Mao Tse-tung, is consolidated. There is a fervent desire for progress, blended with an acute awareness of the limits on future possibilities. First, people high and low see economic growth as China's highest priority. In the factories the slogans are about output, product quality and competitions between teams of workers: the conversations in the canteens are about pay packets and what to spend them on. Some private enterprise is returning to the cities, to provide much desired special products and services, and to alleviate an increasingly serious unemployment problem. In most of the countryside political and bureaucratic pressures on the farmers have been eased, to spur them to grow more by growing what they want to grow. In town and village alike, hard work and initiative (as well as birth control) are being rewarded in cash; one-sixth of an industrial wage can hinge on a bonus, and one-fourth of a farm income can come from private cultivation. The change here, to borrow terms from political science, looks like a de-escalation from totalitarianism to authoritarianism.


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