One event that was culturally informative was the hidden and public history of the Tiananmen Square. Tiananmen is the public political face of China. Mao began a series of Five Year Plans to improve the economy, beginning with heavy industry. In 1957, as part of those reforms, he initiated a campaign he named the Great Leap Forward, whose goals were to modernize the agricultural system by building dams and irrigation networks and redistributing land into communes. At the same time, industries were established in rural areas. Many of those efforts failed because of poor planning. The portrait of Chairman Mao that looks down from the Tiananmen Gate is replaced with a freshly painted copy each year. It shows a man with no wrinkles, and by implication, with no faults. This was interesting to me because although a lot of his reforms failed the people of china still admire him as a leader of the communist party.
There are two things that I was surprised with my first impressions of China.
- Hard working people. I simply did not see a lot of laziness. People worked very long hours. There is a palpable sense that it’s China’s time to shine and join the world stage in a way that is haven’t in the last century. Everyone seems willing to row in the same direction
- Nationalism. The Chinese are very proud of their country. Their country’s history dates back thousands of years. Americans have no concept for what it does to the psyche to be immersed in a culture that rich, powerful, and old.
- What is the historical significance of Wu Zetian for the people of the past and today?
- Why was China broken into 3 fragments before the Mongols came to power?