Glossary -- China
- barefoot doctor
- Especially during the Cultural Revolution (q.v.), a
paramedical worker possessing minimal formal training who provided
part-time medical service, primarily in rural areas. Promoted basic
hygiene, preventive health care, and family planning and treated
common illnesses. Acted as a primary health-care provider at the
- big-character posters (dazibao)
- Posters, limited-circulation newspapers, excerpted press
articles, pamphlets, and blackboard news using large-sized
ideographs and mounted on walls as a popular form of communication.
Used in China since imperial times but more commonly since literacy
increased after the 1911 revolution. Used more frequently after
1949 to publicize party programs and as a means of protest. Became
ubiquitous during the Cultural Revolution (q.v.);
guaranteed as one of the "four big rights" in the 1975 state
- Person who holds any responsible position in either the party
or the governmental apparatus throughout the nation. Term usually
denotes a person in administrative work. It often denotes, in a
more restricted sense, a person who has been fully indoctrinated in
party ideology and methods and uses this training in his or her
- China Proper
- Used broadly to mean China within the Great Wall, with its
eighteen historic provinces. Divisible into two major, sharply
contrasting regions, north China and south China. The dependencies
on the north and west--Manchuria (now usually referred to as
northeast China), Mongolia, Xizang (Tibet), and Xinjiang or Chinese
Turkestan--were known in the imperial era as Outer China.
- Chinese People's Political Consultative
- A quasi-constitutional united front (q.v.)
organization that provides an institutional framework for
interaction between party and state leaders and representatives of
mass groups and democratic parties (q.v.). Members include
distinguished scholars, educators, and intellectuals, key
representatives of religious and minority nationality groups, and
leading members of political parties loyal to the Chinese Communist
Party during the anti-Guomindang years. The first CPPCC convened in
1949, the second in 1954, the third in 1959, the fourth in 1964,
the fifth in 1978, and the sixth in 1983, the seventh was scheduled
for 1988. The CPPCC's 1949 Common Program served as the law of the
land until superseded by the 1954 state constitution.
- class struggle
- In Marxist terms, the conflict waged by the masses of the
workers and the oppressed under the leadership of the communist
party against the privileged, oppressive, and property-owning
ruling class. Until late 1978, class struggle was the official line
of the Chinese Communist Party.
- Short form for Communist International or the Third
International, which was founded in Moscow in 1919 to coordinate
the world communist movement. Officially disbanded in 1943, the
Comintern was revived as the Cominform (Communist Information
Bureau) from 1947 to 1956.
- county (xian)
- Rural administrative unit below the provincial level.
- Cultural Revolution
- A slogan introduced by Mao Zedong in 1940, noted again by Liu
Shaoqi in 1958, and used more frequently in connection with leftist
attacks on the "cultural front" in late 1965 and early 1966. The
expression was used to denote the Great Proletarian Cultural
Revolution, a political campaign officially inaugurated in August
1966 to rekindle revolutionary fervor of the masses outside formal
party organizations. The Cultural Revolution decade (1966-76) can
be divided into three periods: 1966-69, from the militant Red Guard
(q.v.) phase to the Ninth National Party Congress; 1969-
71, the period of the zenith and demise of Lin Biao; and 1971-76,
the period of Mao's declining health and the ascendancy of the Gang
of Four (q.v.). At the August 1977 Eleventh National Party
Congress, the Cultural Revolution was declared officially to have
ended with the arrest in October 1976 of the Gang of Four.
- danwei (work unit)
- The basic-level organization through which party and government
officials control social, political, and economic behavior of
residents. The danwei typically controls the allocation of
housing, grain, edible oil, and cotton rations; the issuance of
permits to travel, to marry, and to bear or adopt children; and
permission to enter the army, party, and university and to change
- "Democracy Wall"
- A wall in the Xidan district in Beijing where,
beginning in December 1978, in line with the party's policy of
"seeking truth from facts," activists in the democracy movement
recorded news and ideas, often in the form of big-character posters
(q.v.). These activists were encouraged to criticize the
Gang of Four and previous (failed) government policies, but the
wall was closed in December 1979 when the leadership and the
communist party system were being criticized along with past
mistakes and leaders. The shutdown coincided with suppression of
- democratic centralism
- A system through which the people influence the policies of the
government and party members influence the policies of the party;
while the government and party maintain centralized administrative
power to carry out the policies demanded by their constituents.
Within both representative and executive organizations, the
minority must abide by the decisions of the majority, and lower
bodies must obey the orders of the higher level organizations. The
concept, derived from the organizing principles of the Communist
Party of the Soviet Union, was called for as early as 1928 by Mao
- democratic parties
- Eight political parties that have been loyal to the communist
government since 1949. They are China Association for Promoting
Democracy, China Democratic League, China Democratic National
Construction Association, China Zhi Gong Dang (Party for Public
Interest), Chinese Peasants' and Workers' Democratic Party, Jiusan
(September Third) Society, Guomindang Revolutionary Committee, and
Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League.
- Term usually juxtaposed with "red" (q.v.). Denotes
special knowledge or skills, or both, relating to economic
management, science, and technology. Cadres are required to be both
red and expert, the emphasis on one or the other depending on the
current political milieu.
- fiscal year (FY)
- January 1 to December 31.
- Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence
- Mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and
sovereignty; mutual nonaggression; mutual noninterference in each
other's internal affairs; equality and mutual benefit; and peaceful
coexistence. Originated with a 1954 agreement between Zhou Enlai
and India's Jawaharlal Nehru.
- four cardinal principles
- Socialism; dictatorship of the proletariat; supporting the
party leadership; and Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought. In vogue
in China since 1979.
- Four Modernizations
- The core of a development strategy aimed at turning the country
into a relatively advanced industrialized nation by the year 2000.
The modernizations are those of agriculture, industry, science and
technology, and national defense. The concept was embodied first in
the Third Five-Year Plan (1966-70), launched in earnest by Zhou
Enlai at the Fourth National People's Congress (1975), and adopted
as the official party line at the Third Plenum of the Eleventh
Central Committee (December 1978).
- Gang of Four
- Term used by the post-Mao leadership to denote the four leading
radical figures--Jiang Qing (Mao's fourth wife), Zhang Chunqiao,
Yao Wenyuan, and Wang Hongwen--who played a dominant political role
during the Cultural Revolution (q.v.) decade (1966-76)
until Mao's death in September 1976 and their arrest several weeks
later. Their "antiparty" deeds are often linked with Lin Biao, an
early leader of the Cultural Revolution, who also has been
- Great Leap Forward
- A drive to increase industrial and agricultural production
following the suspension of Soviet aid and the desire to catch up
with the advanced nations of the world. The campaign was conceived
by Mao Zedong in late 1957, adopted by the National People's
Congress (q.v.)in 1958; it continued through 1960.
Emphasis was placed on accelerated collectivization of agriculture,
national self-sufficiency, and labor-intensive methods. The
campaign resulted in widespread waste of resources and was
partially responsible for famine in 1960 and 1961.
- Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution
- See Cultural Revolution.
- gross national product (GNP)
- The total value of final goods and services produced in the
economy. The "estimated GNP" figures used in the text are estimates
by United States government analysts of Chinese GNP according to
the U.S. definition, which includes personal consumption, gross
investment, all government expenditures, and net exports. Through
mid-1987, Chinese calculations of national income excluded
government and personal services, passenger transportation, and
- Also Han Chinese. Term used to designate the ethnic majority,
which constitutes 93 percent of the population. The fifty-five
minority nationalities make up the remainder.
- Hundred Flowers Campaign
- Also Double Hundred Campaign. Party-sponsored initiative to
permit greater intellectual and artistic freedom. Introduced first
into drama and other arts in the spring of 1956 under the official
slogan "Let a hundred flowers bloom, let the hundred schools of
thought contend." With Mao's encouragement in January 1957, the
campaign was extended to intellectual expression and, by early May
1957, was being interpreted as permission for intellectuals to
criticize political institutions of the regime. The effect was the
large-scale exposure and purge of intellectuals critical of party
and government policies.
- "iron rice bowl"
- A Chinese idiom referring to the system of guaranteed lifetime
employment in state enterprises, in which the tenure and level of
wages are not related to job performance.
- Long March
- The 12,500-kilometer-long trek made by the Red Army in the face
of the Guomindang's "annihilation campaigns." Began in October 1934
in Jiangxi Province and ended in October 1935 in Shaanxi Province.
Some 100,000 persons left the communist base area in Jiangxi but
only about 28,000 arrived in Yan'an, Chinese Communist Party
headquarters for the next decade. It was during the Long March that
Mao Zedong gained his preeminent role in the party.
- Mao Zedong Thought
- Sayings and writings of Mao that served as a major source of
national ideology until his death in 1976 and since then have
undergone a cautious but critical reappraisal. By 1980 the meaning
of the term had expanded to include the collective thoughts of all
key party leaders.
- "mass line"
- Term for party policy aimed at broadening and cultivating
contacts with the masses of the people and to accentuate the
leadership role of the Chinese Communist Party.
- mass movement
- Derived from the concept of "mass line" (q.v.). Party-
directed campaign designed to mobilize the masses in support or
execution of major policies. Such movements were characteristic of
the 1950s through the 1970s and were controlled and coordinated by
permanent mass organizations.
- National People's Congress
- Highest organ of the state, elected in accordance with the
principles of democratic centralism (q.v.). As of 1987,
six congresses had been held, the first (1954), second (1959),
third (1965), fourth (1975), fifth (1978), and sixth (1982), the
seventh was scheduled for 1988; annual sessions were held most
years except during the Cultural Revolution (q.v.). The
Standing Committee is the permanent organ of the National People's
Congress and functions between annual sessions.
- Term in general use in China for the urban administrative unit
usually found immediately below the district level, although an
intermediate, subdistrict level exists in some cities. Also called
streets (administrative terminology varies from city to
city). Neighborhoods encompass 2,000 to 10,000 families. Within
neighborhoods, families are grouped into smaller residential units
of 100 to 600 families and supervised by a residents' committee;
these are subdivided into residents' small groups of fifteen to
- New Culture Movement
- Refers to the period between 1917 and 1923, which was marked by
student and intellectual ferment and protests against the warlord
government. Culminated in the May Fourth Movement of 1919.
- one country, two systems
- A policy originating in the early 1980s that promotes
reunification of Hong Kong, Macao,and Taiwan with the mainland and
offers them a high degree of autonomy as special administrative
regions of China. Through separate agreements with Britain and
Portugal, Hong Kong and Macao are to revert to Chinese control in
1997 and 1999, respectively.
- overseas Chinese
- Term usually used to refer to any person of Chinese origin
living abroad on a permanent basis, without regard to his or her
current citizenship. Overseas Chinese minorities are concentrated
principally in Southeast Asia but are also found in other parts of
Asia, the Middle East, Europe, North America, South America, and
the Caribbean. Overseas Chinese have long been important to the
government in power in China as a source of business contacts and
of financial and moral support from abroad. The majority of foreign
investment in China is by overseas Chinese, and more than 90
percent of all foreign tourists who visit China are overseas
Chinese. Also used in China to refer to persons living in China who
have returned from sojourns abroad.
- people's commune
- Formerly the highest of three administrative levels in rural
areas in the period from 1958 to 1982-85, when they were replaced
by townships (q.v.). Communes, the largest collective
units, were divided in turn into production brigades and production
teams (q.v.). The communes had governmental, political,
and economic functions.
- production brigade
- Formerly the intermediate administrative level in the people's
commune system, the organizational structure of the collective
sector in agriculture. The highest level was the commune; the
lowest, the production team. Most brigades were transformed into
townships or villages in the period from 1982 to 1985. (See
also people's commune, production team, townships, villages.)
- production team
- Formerly the basic accounting and farm production unit in the
people's commune system. Production teams were largely disbanded
during the agricultural reforms of 1982-85. In the administrative
hierarchy, the team was the lowest level, the next higher levels
being the production brigade and people's commune. Typically the
team owned most of the land and was responsible for income
distribution. Since 1984 most teams have been replaced by villages.
(See also people's commune, production brigade, village.)
- The common spoken language; also called guoyu
(national language). The official spoken language of China, used in
its various forms by more than 70 percent of the population. The
People's Republic government started promoting putonghua
in 1956 for use in schools, the cultural arena, and daily life as
a means of bringing about the standardization of the language used
by the Han (q.v.) nationality. Putonghua is based
on the northern dialect, and uses Beijing pronunciations as its
- A term referring to political and ideological attitudes
prescribed by Maoist doctrine. Usually juxtaposed with "expert"
(q.v.), the term was seldom used in the 1980s.
- Red Guards
- Generally used to refer to young people--primarily students--in
their teens and twenties who began in May 1966 to support the
leftist intraparty struggle then emerging against Liu Shaoqi and
others. They made world famous the "little red book,"
Quotations from Chairman Mao, and were known for their use
of big-character posters (q.v.) during the Cultural
Revolution (q.v.). Acting under the leadership of Mao and
his radical adherents, Red Guards were the "soldiers" and the
vanguard of the Cultural Revolution. The term Red Guard was derived
from the early days of the Chinese Communist Party's armed
- A practice dating from the early years of the Chinese Communist
Party. Denotes the reinstatement in positions of responsibility of
former government and party officials and military personnel who
had been accused of wrongdoing. Rehabilitations sometimes take
place posthumously to clear a former leader's name and reputation.
- responsibility system
- A practice, first adopted in agriculture in 1981 and later
extended to other sectors of the economy, by which local managers
are held responsible for the profits and losses of the enterprise.
This system partially supplanted the egalitarian distribution
method, whereby the state assumed all profits and losses.
- As used by communists, term refers to political, economic, and
social tendencies that stray to the right of orthodox Marxism-
Leninism. The Chinese communists long insisted that these
tendencies were counterrevolutionary and that internal and external
enemies (such as the Soviet Union) were infected by this negative
- Socialist Education Movement
- Inaugurated in September 1962 at the Tenth Plenum of the Eighth
National Party Congress Central Committee as a mass ideological
campaign for both party cadre and the general population. The
movement was patterned along the lines of the Yan'an rectification
campaign of 1942-45 and was intended to increase ideological
"correctness" and consciousness, especially in regard to reversing
"capitalist" and "revisionist" tendencies perceived in social and
economic life. The Socialist Education Movement, which continued at
least until 1965, is considered a precursor of the Cultural
- special economic zones
- Small coastal areas established beginning in 1979 to promote
economic development and introduction of advanced technology
through foreign investment. Special preferential terms and
facilities are offered to outside investors in taxation, land-use
fees, and entry and exit control for joint ventures, cooperative
ventures, and enterprises with sole foreign investment. Special
economic zones have greater decision-making power in economic
activities than provincial-level units. Market regulation is
- township (xiang)
- The basic government administrative unit below the county level
in rural areas. Townships existed before people's communes were
organized in 1958 and were reconstituted when production brigades
and communes were disbanded during the period 1982-85. Each
township has a people's congress and an elected chairman. In the
mid-1980s, townships were about the same size as the communes they
had replaced. (See also county, people's communes,
- united front
- Chinese Communist Party strategy that attempts to utilize an
organization or movement for the purpose of building a consensus
and an organized following for party-supported programs and goals.
Historically, the term is associated with the Guomindang-Chinese
Communist Party first united front (1923-27) and second united
- village (nong cun)
- Replaced production brigades (q.v.) from 1982 to 1985
as the lowest-level semiofficial government entity. They provide
bureaucratic coordination, and welfare payments and settle
disputes. Party branches are usually organized at the village
- yuan (-Y)
- China's monetary unit, which in mid-1987 had an exchange rate
of US$1 to -Y3.72, or -Y1 to US$.269. The yuan is divided into 100
fen, and 10 fen constitute 1 jiao. The currency is known as
renminbi (RMB), meaning the people's currency. The
inscription renminbi (or renminbiao) appears on
bank notes as well as yuan, and the terms renminbi and
yuan are used synonymously in quoting exchange rates. In
transactions the terms are universally replaced by the word
kuai (piece). Beginning in the early 1980s, the standard
currency was paralleled by a special currency called Foreign
Exchange Certificates, which were issued in exchange for "hard"