Mao's Maintenance of Power
Journal: The People's Republic of China at 50: The Economy
From the period of 1949 to 1972 since the establishment of the PRC until Mao Zedong's death in 1976, Mao was said to have absolute control over China through his consistent consolidation of power and maintenance of political control. On the surface, it seems that Mao's successful economic policies, specifically his agrarian reform played the most important and essential part in gaining his popularity from the mass peasantry population, whom he considered as the most important revolutionary class in China. In reality, economic benefits were at best brief and minimum as seen through the disastrous Great Leap Forward from 1956 to 1959 and the 10-year Great Proletarian Cultural revolution which rendered China widespread poverty, and economic dislocations. The fact that Mao's esteemed position as the Chairman of the Party and his reputation were not affected by the economic disaster indicated that his credibility was not really established through successful economic policies, but more of a result of his effective use of propaganda in manipulating the mass support of the people.
Moreover, Mao had fully utilized terror in order to further strengthen his control of China by wiping out all the potential political enemies, both within and outside the party. Mao implemented rectification campaigns and "thought-reform" that would be able to brainwash the Chinese people, and eventually, to establish a dictatorship for himself.
Mao's economic policies
One of the biggest changes introduced by Mao in the early years of his rule was the agrarian land reform, which saw the destruction of the power and wealth of the landlord class. Before the land reform, 4% of landowners had won 40 % of China's arable land. CCP cadres were sent out to the villages, and in keeping with...