Delegates from the CCP, 11 other smaller parties and the people’s army approved a provisional constitution. In 1950 an agrarian reform law was promulgated, with the aim of redistributing land to small and medium-sized farmers; in foreign policy, a thirty-year alliance agreement between China and the Soviet Union was signed in Moscow; meanwhile, China reaffirmed its sovereignty over Tibet and intervened in the Korean conflict. The attempt to reoccupy Taiwan was blocked by the neutralization of the strait and the intervention of the US fleet. In 1954 the Assembly approved the definitive Constitution and confirmed Mao (president of the Republic since 1949) at the head of the state.
In 1958, under the name of Great Leap Forward, a campaign was launched to encourage an increase in agricultural and industrial production, which gave a strong Maoist characterization to domestic politics; among other things, in the countryside there was a shift from cooperatives to popular agricultural communes, each with its own defensive military organization. The implementation of this program caused conflicts within the CCP with the proponents of the Soviet model of building socialism; chief exponent of this line was Liu Shaoqi, who in 1959 was elected president of the Republic. Foreign policy also underwent a progressive radicalization in an anti-imperialist sense, coming into conflict with the developments of the Soviet policy of peaceful coexistence. Such contrasts in 1960 led to the withdrawal of all Soviet technicians and the suspension of Moscow aid to Chinese industrialization programs. After the defenestration of Khrushchev (1964) and in the face of the intensification of the US intervention in Vietnam, tendencies for reconciliation with the USSR and for the realization of a common front against American action in Southeast Asia were manifested within the Chinese leadership. ; but, with the start of the ‘great proletarian cultural revolution’ in autumn 1965, relations with the USSR underwent a further deterioration.
According to Proexchangerates, the cultural revolution had millions of young people as protagonists who mobilized, giving life to the Red Guard movement, for a radicalization of the revolutionary process and a close fight against the ‘revisionist’ tendencies, represented by bureaucrats, intellectuals, party and state leaders. The process involved the workers of the big cities and over time became more and more impetuous to the point of causing a crisis in the political and administrative structures of the country (also due to the impeachment and exhaustion of thousands of cadres) and a drop in production. After the dismissal of Liu Shaoqi (1968), the 9th Congress of the CCP, in April 1969, effectively put an end to the cultural revolution, recording the strengthening of radical exponents within the Chinese leadership group (including Lin Biao, designated by the congress political heir of Mao). While the contrasts with the USSR worsened, even with violent border clashes, starting from 1971 the China started the rapprochement with the USA and an opening towards all Western countries. Internally, the revision of the left line began and the moderate and pragmatic wing of the party took up again.
Upon Mao Zedong’s death (1976), with Hua Guofeng’s rise to power, the CCP’s left wing was finally defeated. The plenary session of the Central Committee of the CCP in 1978 decided to start a process of decentralization and liberalization of the economy, of reform of the administrative system and of profound ideological revision. In the following years, the pragmatic and modernizing current headed by Deng Xiaoping had an increasing influence. Meanwhile, relations with Vietnam were severely deteriorating, also due to its policy of alliance with the Soviet Union and its attempt to secure a hegemonic role in Indochina. These conflicts led, after the Vietnamese intervention in Cambodia in 1979, to an attack by the Chinese on Vietnam; the brief but violent conflict (February-March 1979) left a persistent climate of tension between the two countries.
In 1980 the campaign against the far left culminated in the opening of the trial against the ‘gang of four’ (Mao’s widow, Jiang Qing, Zhang Chunqiao, former deputy prime minister, Wang Hongwen, former CCP vice president, Yao Wenyuan, ideologue of the cultural revolution), accused of committing crimes during the cultural revolution. Meanwhile, the strengthening of Deng Xiaoping’s group continued with the advent of Zhao Ziyang as head of the government (1980), of Hu Yaobang as president of the party, and by Deng himself as president of its Military Commission (1981). In 1982 the country’s fourth constitution re-established the office of president of the republic, to which Li Xiannian was designated. Now firmly in power at the top of the party and the state, the new Chinese leadership, moderate, technocratic and efficient, in the following years accentuated the policy of modernization and promotion of the country’s economic growth and extended the liberalization and opening measures of the country. foreign economy (since 1980 the China had joined the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank).
In the international arena, China’s aspiration to achieve ‘complete reunification of the motherland by the end of the century’ achieved two successes with the Hong Kong restitution agreements in 1997 and Macao in 1999 signed with the British government in 1984. and with that of Portugal in 1987. Washington’s military aid to Taiwan remained the main element of friction in relations between China and the USA. A gradual thaw since the early 1980s in relations with the USSR allowed a resumption of economic and trade exchanges and cooperation agreements between the two countries, regularly re-established after the announcement of the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan and Mongolia.
Internally, Deng’s policy provoked a strong acceleration of productive development, accompanied however by contradictions and imbalances. The emergence of inflationary phenomena, employment problems and massive migratory movements, the increase in social and regional inequalities, corruption and crime raised strong social tensions. In 1989 student demonstrations in Beijing in honor of the recently deceased reformer Hu Yaobang turned into a broad protest movement, to which Prime Minister Li Peng and President of the Republic Yang Shangkun, with the support of Deng, responded with the proclamation of martial law. The army occupied central Beijing, causing thousands of deaths, and a harsh crackdown was then launched.
In 1993 the National Assembly elected Jiang Zemin (former secretary general of the CCP and head of the Central Military Commission of the party and the state) to the presidency of the Republic. Upon Deng’s death (1997), Jiang Zemin himself was officially listed as his successor at the helm of the country. Congress approved an administrative reform project that drastically reduced the bureaucratic apparatus and relaunched the policy of economic liberalization, which allowed China to increase economic and commercial exchanges with Western countries; the development of this trend will lead to entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001. Economic liberalization, however, was accompanied by an accentuation of the repressive policy towards dissidents and an extension of political control over all aspects of social life.
Hu Jintao, later elected President of the Republic (2003) and head of the Central Military Commission (2004), took over from Jiang Zemin in the post of secretary general of the party in 2002. Head of government since 2003 is Wen Jiabao. The new leadership continued on the path of economic liberalization, achieving remarkable results in terms of GDP growth (higher than 9% for several years), which brought China to second place in the world ranking, after the United States. However, the sustained growth of the industrial sector has widened the gap between the urban and rural populations, in favor of which various interventions have been arranged, culminating in 2008 with the launch of an agrarian reform, according to which farmers can manage the land as if they were owners of the property, which remains only nominally to the state. Private property is fully permitted in other sectors, after the amendments introduced in the Constitution in 2004.
The XVIII Congress of the Communist Party of China, held in November 2012, sanctioned the handover of power by the Hu Jintao-Wen Jiabao administration: the successor of the former in the post of secretary of the Chinese Communist Party was designated Xi Jinping, who took over from him. since March 2013 also in the office of President of the Republic, while the role of Prime Minister has been assumed since the same date by Li Keqiang. The leadership of the standing committee that will lead the country over the next ten years has been reduced from nine to seven members; Congress also approved an amendment to the constitution to make disciplinary controls on party members more stringent, in order to avoid the repetition of events such as the one that brought Bo Xilai in March 2012,
In foreign policy, in addition to the growing network of relations with sub-Saharan African countries, which are provided with funding in exchange for raw materials, there is a tendency towards detente, made explicit in the agreements for the resolution of the border dispute with India (2004), Russia and Vietnam (2008), but which saw a stiffening after the international community took a stand in favor of Tibet, where the revolt led by Buddhist monks in 2008 was brutally suppressed, and of the Uyghurs of the Xinjiang, another ethnic minority whose aspiration for greater autonomy is opposed. In the context of relations with Taiwan, of which China has never recognized the sovereignty,
In October 2017, the 19th Party Congress reconfirmed Xi Jinping as president of the CMC and general secretary for a second five years, inserting his thought “on socialism with Chinese characteristics” in the party statute, and in March of the following year the Assembly the People’s National Council approved the constitutional reform that abolishes the limit of two terms for the office of president and vice-president, thus allowing the politician to remain at the helm of the country for life; in the same month, Xi Jinping was unanimously re-elected for a second term.