What was the Chinese foreign policy under the

China

Uli Franz

To person

Uli Franz, born in 1949, lives as a writer in Munich and on the Dalmatian island of Bra─Ź. For three years he worked as a lecturer and correspondent in Beijing. He achieved international recognition with his biography of Deng Xiaoping. Since his Beijing years he has published twelve books on China and Tibet.

After Mao's death, Deng Xiaoping took power in China. With his economic reforms he introduced a radical change in politics: away from the centralized planned economy. Nevertheless, he never aimed at the creation of a free state, for more democracy and liberalism. He remained a communist with Chinese characteristics.

Chinese politician and veteran of the communist revolution Deng Xiaoping in January 1978. (& copy AP)
No memorial hall for his corpse, no banknote and no souvenir with his likeness: Deng Xiaoping only lives in memory. In the memory of older Chinese and those foreigners who are familiar with the beginnings of China's opening-up policy.

In contrast to Mao Zedong (1893-1976), Deng Xiaoping was always reluctant to cult around himself, to idealize what was said and done. He followed this maxim not only during his 92 years of life, but also after his death. He died on February 19, 1997. The short man from Sichuan, from the province of fiery and spicy cuisine, followed the tradition of the German communist Friedrich Engels and ordered his ashes to be buried at sea. Sunk in the China Sea, the remains of China's innovator, to whom more than a billion Chinese owe different amounts - some for great prosperity, others for small.

Opening policy pioneer

Prosperity came over the country thanks to the introduction of a capitalist market economy, which to this day is misleadingly called "socialism with Chinese characteristics". Economic growth came about through a radical change in politics, through the turning away from the centralized planned economy. Deng Xiaoping initiated it in December 1978 at the third plenary session of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (CP) of China. For this he took sole responsibility and pushed his will through against the resistance of the concrete communists. Thanks to this turning point, 1978 went down in modern history as the prelude to the "Deng era".

De facto, with his policy of opening up to the west, Deng initiated the rescue of a thoroughly ailing planned economy. After a decade of political campaigns and power struggles in the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), the old concept of China as the "sick man of the East" was back in vogue and rightly on everyone's lips. If this "man" has now recovered and after three decades is about to jump in to play as a "global player" on the world market, then this reversal is thanks to Deng Xiaoping, the pioneer of opening-up politics.

But wealth and prosperity, which are as important to the Chinese as a long life, have not been and are not achieved by everyone today. For many townspeople and peasants, life has even deteriorated due to persistent inflation. In addition, there is a shortage of rural resources, especially agricultural land, due to increasing urbanization. It can be stated that in the years of economic reform from 1978 to today, the income gap widened. The legacy of the man who coined the now famous phrase "No matter whether the cat is white or black - the main thing is that it catches mice" is therefore contradictory. Back when he spoke this way, in 1962, a famine that had killed at least 20 million Chinese lay behind the country and the responsible Communist Party. It was then that Deng first fundamentally recognized the utopian character of the Mao Zedong ideas. Thanks to this knowledge, the foundation stone for today's development was laid in 1962. At least with the wiser Communist faction. "At the moment it is important," postulated Kader Deng, "to produce more grain. As long as the yields rise, the private initiative of the individual is also allowed. Regardless of whether the cat is black or white - the main thing is that it catches mice," said he was in plenary at the time. If Deng had not left Mao in charge, the crimes of the Red Guards in the Cultural Revolution would not have happened, because after his seminal plenary speech, free markets were introduced for a short time and the farmers were allowed to cultivate part of their fields again. But the Mao faction fatally seized power.

Communist with Chinese characteristics

Mind you, Deng Xiaoping's economic reforms have always had stability and unity in mind. He never aimed at the creation of a free and individualistic state, for more democracy and liberalism. He was a communist with Chinese roots until his last breath. What kind of communist is that, one might ask in the West?

Born in the end of imperial China in 1904, little Deng was instilled with Confucian ideas with his mother's milk. Then and now again, the teaching of the pedagogue and state thinker Confucius is considered to be the greatest cultural treasure. The old master spoke of virtues and of humanity and meant by that: A piece of you is also in me. This is the root from which every Chinese draws its origin. But with Deng there were other, un-Chinese ideas.

Deng Xixian, born on August 22, 1904, came under the influence of western and grassroots democratic ideas and was reborn - under the name Deng Xiaoping. Deng Xiaoping ("Deng, Small Bottles") was henceforth his new name, his org name, as communists say.

In his youth he learned about the injustices of history from democratically minded teachers and missionaries. What he learns outrages him. He learns of the bitter defeats of his mother country: in the Opium Wars of the English (1840-42), the wars of the French (1884-85) and Japanese (1894-95) and in the Boxer uprising of 1900. In all of these wars his feudal homeland, the Middle Kingdom, exploited and driven into self-denial. One of Deng's greatest strengths is already evident in his youth: he does not succumb to nationalism and chauvinism like many of his contemporaries, no, he wants to get to know foreigners, he wants to know what characterizes imperialism in the western world. On September 11, 1920, he traveled to France as a student trainee, where he took part in the internationalist movement "Work and Study" for young Chinese. It goes without saying that his early interest in the West was aroused not only by war messages, but also by positive events. In his homeland he got to know the occidental culture from Catholic missionaries who ran a school in the county town of Guang'an.