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Tsai, "The interactions between China's politics and education in the post-Mao era," 1994

USC Dissertation in Education
August 26, 2009
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Yu Jen Tsai, Ph.D.

Abstract (Summary)
This study attempts to prove the hypotheses that in post-Mao China education and politics have interacted and continue to interact to a remarkable extent that no other country has made so many drastic changes in education for political reasons, that in no other country has so proportionately small an intelligentsia had such an import (in reacting to these changes) on politics, and that the interactions between China's political leaders and China's educators have sometimes formed a pattern (e.g., all three of the Tiananmen student protests were against political policies and/or decisions, the last two were both suppressed with force, and all three led to political changes).

Because of the complexity of the issue, a lengthy study has been made of the background against which Deng was requested to assume power to put past wrongs right. He solved the problems--especially education problems--in an unorthodox, unsocialist way. When his "economics in command" was substituted for Mao's "politics in command," the end again justified the means. The end was to secure the political power which had come from the barrel of the gun, but the means was no longer the Party's ideology, or the government's socialist planning, or the army's guns (not until 1989; since then the gun has been used again), but the nation's economy. For this reason, the intelligentsia, which had been ranked No. 9 as a social in class, were wooed. However, when the genie was let out of the bottle in the form of the "Four Modernizations," these people asked for the "Fifth Modernization," namely, democracy.

This study documents how Deng brought education back to normal but then damaged it in a different way because of his economic priorities; how the intellectuals in making demands cost Deng's most pro-democracy designated successors, Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang, their jobs; how the pro-democracy activists indirectly forced Deng to take the capitalist road to save China from being the next domino following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the East European communist regimes; how they were responsible for China's "economic great leap forward" but "political great leap backward" in the Tiananmen Square incident when both forces clashed.

(Copies available exclusively from Micrographics Department, Doheny Library, USC, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0182).

Advisor: Eskey, David E.

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