You are here -allRefer - Reference - Country Study & Country Guide - China >

allRefer Reference and Encyclopedia Resource

allRefer    
allRefer
   


-- Country Study & Guide --     

 

China

 
Country Guide
Afghanistan
Albania
Algeria
Angola
Armenia
Austria
Azerbaijan
Bahrain
Bangladesh
Belarus
Belize
Bhutan
Bolivia
Brazil
Bulgaria
Cambodia
Chad
Chile
China
Colombia
Caribbean Islands
Comoros
Cyprus
Czechoslovakia
Dominican Republic
Ecuador
Egypt
El Salvador
Estonia
Ethiopia
Finland
Georgia
Germany
Germany (East)
Ghana
Guyana
Haiti
Honduras
Hungary
India
Indonesia
Iran
Iraq
Israel
Cote d'Ivoire
Japan
Jordan
Kazakhstan
Kuwait
Kyrgyzstan
Latvia
Laos
Lebanon
Libya
Lithuania
Macau
Madagascar
Maldives
Mauritania
Mauritius
Mexico
Moldova
Mongolia
Nepal
Nicaragua
Nigeria
North Korea
Oman
Pakistan
Panama
Paraguay
Peru
Philippines
Poland
Portugal
Qatar
Romania
Russia
Saudi Arabia
Seychelles
Singapore
Somalia
South Africa
South Korea
Soviet Union [USSR]
Spain
Sri Lanka
Sudan
Syria
Tajikistan
Thailand
Turkmenistan
Turkey
Uganda
United Arab Emirates
Uruguay
Uzbekistan
Venezuela
Vietnam
Yugoslavia
Zaire

China

"Reds" Versus "Experts" in the 1950s and 1960s

Tensions between scientists and China's communist rulers existed from the earliest days of the People's Republic and reached their height during the Cultural Revolution (see The Cultural Revolution Decade, 1966-76 , ch. 1). In the early 1950s, Chinese scientists, like other intellectuals, were subjected to regular indoctrination intended to replace bourgeois attitudes with those more suitable to the new society. Many attributes of the professional organization of science, such as its assumption of autonomy in choice of research topics, its internationalism, and its orientation toward professional peer groups rather than administrative authorities, were condemned as bourgeois. Those scientists who used the brief period of free expression in the Hundred Flowers Campaign of 1956-57 (see Glossary)--to air complaints of excessive time taken from scientific work by political meetings and rallies or of the harmful effects of attempts by poorly educated party cadres to direct scientific work--were criticized for their "antiparty" stance, labeled as "rightists," and sometimes dismissed from administrative or academic positions (see The Transition to Socialism, 1953-57 , ch. 1).

The terminology of the period distinguished between "red" and "expert" (see Glossary). Although party leaders spoke of the need to combine "redness" with expertise, they more often acted as if political rectitude and professional skill were mutually exclusive qualities. The period of the Great Leap Forward saw efforts to reassign scientists to immediately useful projects, to involve the uneducated masses in such research work as plant breeding or pest control, and to expand rapidly the ranks of scientific and technical personnel by lowering professional standards. The economic depression and famine following the Great Leap Forward, and the need to compensate for the sudden withdrawal of Soviet advisers and technical personnel in 1960, brought a renewed but short-lived emphasis on expertise and professional standards in the early 1960s.

The scientific establishment was attacked during the Cultural Revolution, causing major damage to China's science and technology. Most scientific research ceased. In extreme cases, individual scientists were singled out as "counterrevolutionaries" and made the objects of public criticism and persecution, and the research work of whole institutes was brought to a halt for years on end. The entire staffs of research institutes commonly were dispatched to the countryside for months or years to learn political virtue by laboring with the poor and lower-middle peasants. Work in the military research units devoted to nuclear weapons and missiles presumably continued, although the secrecy surrounding strategic weapons research makes it difficult to assess the impact of the Cultural Revolution in that sector.

In the most general sense, the Cultural Revolution represented the triumph of anti-intellectualism and the consistent, decade-long deprecation of scholarship, formal education, and all the qualities associated with professionalism in science. Intellectuals were assumed to be inherently counterrevolutionary, and it was asserted that their characteristic attitudes and practices were necessarily opposed to the interests of the masses. Universities were closed from the summer of 1966 through 1970, when they reopened for undergraduate training with very reduced enrollments and a heavy emphasis on political training and manual labor. Students were selected for political rectitude rather than academic talent. Primary and secondary schools were closed in 1966 and 1967, and when reopened were repeatedly disrupted by political struggle. All scientific journals ceased publication in 1966, and subscriptions to foreign journals lapsed or were canceled. For most of a decade China trained no new scientists or engineers and was cut off from foreign scientific developments.

During the decade between 1966 and 1976, China's leaders attempted to create a new structure for science and technology characterized by mass participation, concentration on immediate practical problems in agriculture and industry, and eradication of distinctions between scientists and workers. Ideologues saw research as an inherently political activity and interpreted all aspects of scientific work, from choice of topic to methods of investigation, as evidence of an underlying political line. According to this view, research served the interests of one social class or another and required the guidance of the party to ensure that it served the interest of the masses.

The early 1970s were characterized by mass experimentation, in which large numbers of peasants were mobilized to collect data and encouraged to view themselves as doing scientific research. Typical projects included collecting information on new crop varieties, studying the effectiveness of locally produced insecticides, and making extensive geological surveys aimed at finding useful minerals or fossil fuels. Mao Zedong took a personal interest in earthquake prediction, which became a showcase of Cultural Revolution-style science. Geologists went to the countryside to collect folk wisdom on precursors of earthquakes, and networks of thousands of observers were established to monitor such signs as the level of water in wells or the unusual behavior of domestic animals. The emphasis in this activity, as in acupuncture anesthesia, was on immediate practical benefits, and little effort was made to integrate the phenomena observed into larger theoretical frameworks.

The effects of the extreme emphasis on short-term problems and the deprecation of theory were noted by Western scientists who visited China in the mid- and late 1970s. For example, work in research institutes affiliated with the petrochemical industry was described as excessively characterized by trial and error. In one case, large numbers of substances were tried as catalysts or modifiers of the wax crystals in crude oil, and little attention was given to the underlying chemical properties of the catalytic or modifying agents.

Data as of July 1987


China - TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • China -Economic Context

  • China - Agriculture

  • China - Industry

  • China - Trade and Transportation

  • China - Science and Technology


  • Go Up - Top of Page

    Make allRefer Reference your HomepageAdd allRefer Reference to your FavoritesGo to Top of PagePrint this PageSend this Page to a Friend


    Information Courtesy: The Library of Congress - Country Studies


    Content on this web site is provided for informational purposes only. We accept no responsibility for any loss, injury or inconvenience sustained by any person resulting from information published on this site. We encourage you to verify any critical information with the relevant authorities.

     

     

     
     


    About Us | Contact Us | Terms of Use | Privacy | Links Directory
    Link to allRefer | Add allRefer Search to your site

    allRefer
    All Rights reserved. Site best viewed in 800 x 600 resolution.