Why Communism survived in China and failed in USSR?

Mao died in 1976. After Mao, Deng Xiaoping adopted policies which culminated in the form of market socialism. His policies included capitalist measures and opening up of the economy by reduction in trade barriers. Thus, under Deng China “gradually” moved towards a market economy model.

1) It is important to note that China implemented the economic reforms before going for the political reforms that would give more political freedom to the masses. The implementation of economic reforms without initiating political reforms helped China preserve Communism. Deng gave choice in the market to the people i.e. choice to buy and sell and to have private ownership of goods and businesses but without giving them a choice in politics as China continued to have a one party system. Economic prosperity and independence pacified people’s demands for political freedom. In contrast, Mikhail Gorbachev tried to introduce political reforms and economic reforms through Glasnost and Perestroika in 1991 simultaneously. The people blamed poor economy on the political system of USSR and this led to disintegration of USSR.

2) The Left-Right split within the Communist party never deepened to the critical level of splitting the party. In contrast, the left-right divide in Russia was very strong. Boris Yeltsin openly criticised the socialist policies of the party in the last years of USSR.

3) Deng Xiaoping vs. Mikhail Gorbachev: Both of them favoured a capitalist road and both were pro-economic reforms. But Xiaoping executed his polices much before from 1976 onward while Gorbachev came late to power (in 1985). Deng was ready to use force and believed firmly in one party system, but this was not the case with Gorbachev. Example, Deng used force during the Tiananmen Square (1989). Gorbachev even began to give in to
the demands of a multi-party system after which the conservatives removed him i n a coup. Also Gorbachev was not ready to use force and was sympathetic to the demands for autonomy of the Soviet republics.

4) Ethnically and culturally China was a much more homogeneous society as compared to Soviet Union where around half the population was non-Russian. The soviet republics had different cultures and different languages. Thus demands for secession were much more in USSR.

5) The 100 Flowers Campaign (1957) acted as an early warning for China and Mao took timely corrective measures in form of the Great leap Forward (1958) to save the revolution and adopted a model of communism relevant to the needs of China. On other hand, the policies of Stalin, Khrushchev and other leaders failed to evolve to address the many problems being faced by the Russian economy.

6) Chinese leadership emphasized “contact with the masses” more strongly than USSR. The innovation of Communes helped in putting the party in touch with masses.

7) Chinese Communism was flexible and there was unity among the party leaders which enabled it to survive. It changed with changing needs. Example, Russian Model was followed till 1958, after which Maoism in form of Great Leap Forward influenced Chinese Communism. Deng Xiaoping from 1976 onward adopted market friendly economic policies which gradually culminated into adoption of Market Socialism.

8) Russia was much more involved in the Cold War, which hurt its economy by diverting
precious resources

 

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