Chinese Economic Reform
Two years after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976, it became apparent to many of

China\'s leaders that economic reform was necessary. During his tenure as China\'s
premier, Mao had encouraged social movements such as the Great Leap Forward and
the Cultural Revolution, which had had as their base ideologies such as serving
the people and maintaining the class struggle. By 1978 "Chinese leaders
were searching for a solution to serious economic problems produced by Hua

Guofeng, the man who had succeeded Mao Zedong as Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
leader after Mao\'s death" (Shirk 35). Hua had demonstrated a desire to
continue the ideologically based movements of Mao. Unfortunately, these
movements had left China in a state where "agriculture was stagnant,
industrial production was low, and the people\'s living standards had not
increased in twenty years" (Nathan, Andrew J. China\'s Crisis pg. 200). This
last area was particularly troubling. While "the gross output value of
industry and agriculture increased by 810 percent and national income grew by

420 percent between 1952 and 1980; average individual income increased by only

100 percent" (Ma Hong quoted in Shirk, Susan L. "The Political Logic
of Economic Reform in China." Berkeley pg. 28). However, attempts at
economic reform in China were introduced not only due to some kind of generosity
on the part of the Chinese Communist Party to increase the populace\'s living
standards. It had become clear to members of the CCP that economic reform would
fulfill a political purpose as well since the party felt, properly it would seem
that it had suffered a loss of support. As Susan L. Shirk describes the
situation in The Political Logic of Economic Reform in China, restoring the

CCP\'s prestige required improving economic performance and raising living
standards. The traumatic experience of the Cultural Revolution had eroded
popular trust in the moral and political virtue of the CCP. The party\'s leaders
decided to shift the base of party legitimacy from virtue to competence, and to
do that they had to demonstrate that they could deliver the goods. This movement
"from virtue to competence" seemed to mark a serious departure from
orthodox Chinese political theory. Confucius himself had posited in the fifth
century BCE that those individuals who best demonstrated what he referred to as
moral force should lead the nation. Using this principle as a guide, China had
for centuries attempted to choose at least its bureaucratic leaders by
administering a test to determine their moral force. After the Communist
takeover of the country, Mao continued this emphasis on moral force by demanding
that Chinese citizens demonstrate what he referred to as "correct
consciousness." This correct consciousness could be exhibited, Mao
believed, by the way people lived. Needless to say, that which constituted
correct consciousness was often determined and assessed by Mao. Nevertheless,
the ideal of moral force was still a potent one in China even after the

Communist takeover. It is noteworthy that Shirk feels that the Chinese Communist

Party leaders saw economic reform as a way to regain their and their party\'s
moral virtue even after Mao\'s death. Thus, paradoxically, by demonstrating their
expertise in a more practical area of competence, the leaders of the CCP felt
they could demonstrate how they were serving the people. To be sure, the move
toward economic reform came about as a result of a "changed domestic and
international environment, which altered the leadership\'s perception of the
factors that affect China\'s national security and social stability" (Xu,

Zhiming. "The Impact of China\'s Reform and Development on the Outside

World." pg. 247). But Shirk feels that, in those pre-Tienenmen days, such a
move came about also as a result of an attempt by CCP leaders to demonstrate, in
a more practical and thus less obviously ideological manner than Mao had done,
their moral force. This is not to say that the idea of economic reform was
embraced enthusiastically by all members of the leadership of the Chinese

Communist Party in 1978. To a great extent, the issue of economic reform became
politicized as the issue was used as a means by Deng Xiaoping to attain the
leadership of the Chinese Communist Party. Mao\'s successor, Hua Guofeng, had
"tried to prove himself a worthy successor to Mao by draping himself in the
mantle of Maoist tradition. His approach to economic development was orthodox

Maoism with an up-to-date, international twist" (Shirk 35). This approach
was tied heavily to the development of China\'s oil reserves. "When, in

1978, estimates of the oil reserves were revised downward, commitments to import
plants and expand heavy industry could not be sustained" (Shirk 35). Deng
took advantage of