Gayn, Mark
January 1973
Foreign Affairs;Jan1973, Vol. 51 Issue 2, p300
The article examines the impact of the cultural revolution from 1966 to 1969 on China's foreign relations. It would be wrong to think that the Cultural Revolution is gone without a trace. It provided a searing experience for tens of millions, especially in the urban areas. It has broken countless lives, divided families and may have produced lasting discontents. But it has also chastened the arrogant and given the young a life-style based on self-denial, modesty, discipline and hard work. It has sent millions into the countryside in tides of unusual political migration. It has changed the ways of governing and the behavior of the governors. The growing normality at home has permitted the leaders in Peking to begin putting China's foreign relations in order. They had long realized that China could not influence the Third World by urging all to mount the barricades, and that the principal enemy, the Soviet Union, had exploited the years of China's self-isolation to win influence. By the end of 1972, thus, Peking had gained considerable ground, at home as abroad. But the problems remain, many and harsh. China's economy is backward, her population is too big, and the gap between the slowly rising production and the slowly declining birth-rate is still dangerously narrow. There bas been no lack of decision-making in Peking in the past two years. Whether in foreign or domestic policy, there have been bold and dramatic changes. But still, one cannot escape the feeling that what one sees in Peking now is an interregnum, a time of transition, a season of many crucial decisions put off. China is the only state in the world today that has no chief of state, no defense minister, no chief of a general staff, no chief of the air force.


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