Mao and the Middle Kingdom

Christopher A. Ford

in The Mind of Empire

Published by University Press of Kentucky

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780813192635
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813135519 | DOI:
Mao and the Middle Kingdom

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After the collapse of the Kouminating in the civil war following Japan's surrender to the US in 1945, the People's Republic of China emerged, with Mao Zedong as its leader. Although they were in many ways anti-traditionalist, Mao Zedong and his CCP were, nonetheless, notably influenced by China's long history and classical traditions. Mao appeared to be a staunch anti-Confucian, however, finding his most obvious ancient analogies instead in the totalitarian traditions of Legalist philosophy and the Machiavellian bingjia literature of statecraft. With its curious mix of Marxist-derived class analysis and virtue-centric Sinic moralism in dialectical materialist clothing, Maoism was both nationalist and internationalist. Perhaps the most remarkable development of the post-1949 period was China's initial acceptance of a relationship of subservience to the Soviet Union. Apparently, this was simply a decision of expediency, rooted in Mao's understanding of the fact that a weak and battered China needed assistance to restore its vigor and global stature. However, their relationship would be strained by the growing Chinese discomfort with its subservient role and the Soviet's distrust of Mao. When the Sino-Soviet alliance finally ended, Chinese Communist officials began a highly organized effort to promote the People's Republic of China as the moral and political center of the dawning socialist universe. Using aggressive diplomacy aided by large-scale propaganda and an influencial campaign, China competed with the Soviets for the hearts and minds of revolutionary movements and postcolonial governments around the world, especially in the developing countries of Asia. The CCP began to foster a relationship with the Third World that could be characterized by a sort of tribute system psychology.

Keywords: People's Republic of China; Mao Zedong; Chinese Communist Party; international relations; regional assertiveness; Sino-Soviet alliance; Third World; socialism; diplomacy

Chapter.  11020 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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