Compare and Contrast the Policies of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping

Compare and contrast the policies of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.
To what extent did their policies change the lives of the average Chinese citizen?

Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping both wanted a communist government for China. I feel that Deng Xiaoping was the better choice of the two leaders. His actions resulted in the improvement of the Chinese society. While, Mao Zedong appeared to do more damage than good for the Chinese people.

Mao Zedong worked with the "Red Guards attempting to destroy the four olds - old thought, old culture, old customs, and old habits." The Red Guards were radical groups used to purify Chinese society of disorderly capitalist activists and enemies of the revolution. The Red Guards indiscriminately accused and brutalized their victims. There was constant turmoil and several people were severely punished or killed for disobedience to Zedong and his policies. (Duiker 256)

Deng Xiaoping established “four modernizations” to help improve China as a society. “Industry, agriculture, technology, and national defense” were areas that were lacking in support and influence in Chinese civilization. “Under these innovations, all limits against private actions and revenue guidelines were removed. People were encouraged to work hard to benefit themselves and Chinese society. Some people felt that Xiaoping’s program excluded a fifth modernization of democracy which was essential to the success of China.” (Duiker 257)

Mao Zedong was the leader for the Chinese Communist Party which wanted to consolidate the power base and heal the wounds of war for China. “The CCP’s long term goal was to construct a socialist society, but the leaders realized that popular support for the revolution was based on the party’s platform of honest government, land reform, social justice, and peace. The goal could be achieved through adopting a moderate program of political and economic recovery known as New Democracy.” (Duiker 252)

Mao Zedong thought a socialist society would improve the industrial development of China. “Under New Democracy, the capitalist system of ownership was retained in the industrial and commercial sectors. A program of land redistribution was adopted, but the collectivization of agriculture was postponed. Only after the party had consolidated its rule and brought a degree of prosperity to the national economy would the difficult transformation to a socialist society begin.” (Duiker 252)

Deng Xiaoping was able to accomplish success quickly, and the nation made steps in improving the major community problems of poverty and economic difficulties. “Rising expectations aroused by the economic improvements of the early 1980s led to increasing pressure from students and other urban residents for better living conditions, relaxed restrictions on study abroad, and increased freedom to select employment after graduation.” In the 1980s, an agitated economy led to increasing inflation and rising dissatisfaction among salary paid workers in the cities. At the same time, people were frustrated and showed criticism towards the corruption, nepotism, and favored treatment for senior officials and party members. (Duiker 257)

The leadership of Deng Xiaoping helped improved lifestyles for the Chinese people as they were allowed to buy more important items for their homes and have more personal freedoms, which were not available when Mao Zedong was in control. There were a few problems that developed by “inflationary pressures, greed, envy, increased corruption, and rising expectations.” (Duiker 263)

Mao Zedong created a program “The Great Leap Forward” which had disastrous results. “As many as 15 million people may have died of starvation and food production declined significantly.” He wanted to modernize through collective farms. His actions resulted in an agricultural problem. (Duiker 253)

Mao Zedong had a dream of an egalitarian, communist, and socialist society. He was responsible for “The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution” from 1966 to 1976. This revolution was a horrific event in which millions of educated people were murdered or committed suicide. (Duiker 253 to 255)

Deng Xiaoping made positive improvements in China. “China made great strides in ending the chronic problems of poverty and underdevelopment in the nation by adopting this pragmatic approach in the years after 1976. Per capita income roughly doubled during the 1980s. Housing, education and sanitation had improvements, while both agricultural and industry output skyrocketed.” Under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping, people were encouraged to work to benefits themselves and Chinese society. The government encouraged foreign investment and capitalist ideas and students were allowed to study abroad to enhance skills in these areas. (Duiker 257)

Deng Xiaoping was a leader for the people, while Mao Zedong was against the people. Deng considered the economic, living, and industrial conditions for China. Mao Zedong did not care about the awful living conditions for the people. Between the two men, Deng Xiaoping was the leader for China who made positive improvements.