In the first of a three-part look at ‘China’s changing role in the world’, the BBC’s China correspondent Stephen McDonnell looks at the CPC’s recent moves to tackle income disparity and intervene in social and cultural behaviour. But approaching these with the shallow misunderstandings of pre- and post-reform China typical of Western mainstream commentators, he is unable to answer the questions he sets himself.
The notion that the Cultural Revolution was a ‘disastrous quagmire’ out of which China needed to be dragged is one of these misunderstandings.
It is not hard to look at the data – none other than the Financial Times has laid out in no uncertain terms the progress that took place in Mao’s China: life expectancy nearly doubling, adult illiteracy falling from 80% to just 23%, and the achievement of gender equality in elementary education. Contrary to being a quagmire that China needed dragged from kicking and screaming, the FT states that “Without these, the rapid growth after the 1979 opening and reforms would not have been possible.” (Lessons from the first 70 years of the People’s Republic of China by David Daokui Li) Continue reading “BBC’s flawed understanding of China’s history leads to confusion”