Roy Gilbert

At 70, Communist China is older than the Soviet Union, while rivaling U.S. economic power

Communist China’s 70th anniversary

Tiananmen Gate in Beijing ahead of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. The 70 th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China on Tuesday will mark a triumphal moment for the nation’s ruling Communist Party, as it surpasses the defunct Soviet Union’s 69-year existence and rivals U.S. global dominance. As the party trumpets China’s stunning economic growth and poverty alleviation, authorities aim to keep its history of catastrophic, often cruel policies, including man-made famines and massacres that resulted in millions of deaths, hidden from its 1.4 billion people. Founded in the early 1920s with Soviet support, the Chinese Communist Party initially collaborated with the Nationalist Party, but the two groups turned against each other. The Nationalists drove the Communist Red Army in a military retreat across China in 1934, with tens of thousands dying on the way. The Communists in turn mythologized their retreat as a revolutionary “Long March,” building Mao Tse-tung’s cult of personality as its tenacious leader and solidifying the party’s support base among rural peasants on the way. A few years later, during the Sino-Japanese War, the Communists and the Nationalists formed a united front against Japanese forces. When that war ended in 1945, however, civil war resumed. In 1949, the Nationalists fled to Taiwan and the Communists and their allies founded the People’s Republic of China with Mao as its leader. In recognition of the anniversary, The Times interviewed people in China about their lives during key moments in […]

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