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The Political Change in Modern China (1949 – Present)

This paper will outline the political changes in China from 1949 to the present day. The political developments since the takeover of the country by the People’s Republic of China after the Chinese Civil War of 1949 will be examined in the context of the rapid economic success of the country. The analysis will also be made of the conflict of the People’s Republic of China with the Republic of China and where the two parties stand today in terms of the vast differences in their ideologies.

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The Communist Party of China (CCP) had achieved control of most parts of mainland China after its victory in the Chinese Civil War in 1949. Under the leadership of Mao Zedong, the People’s Republic of China was formed on October 1st, 1949. The People’s Republic of China became a socialist state that was headed by a dictatorship with the Communist Party of China being conferred with authority as the only recognized political party. Hence it staked its claim to form the government in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). As a consequence, the government of the Chinese Nationalist Party under its leader Chiang Kai-shek had to withdraw and shift its base to Taiwan. Most of the armed conflicts had ended by 1950 but there was no treaty of peace signed. Over 36 million people had perished in the Chinese famine that lasted from 1958 to 1961.

Starting from the later part of the 1970s, the Republic of China had begun to implement a complete multiparty representative democracy in regions that were under its jurisdiction (Hauss et al, 2005). Taiwan and some smaller territories such as Matsu and Quemoy were also under the control of Chiang Kai-shek. Presently the Republic of China is characterized by active political representation from all sections of society. The main issues in Chinese politics have always reverberated around the amalgamation of Taiwan with mainland China.

Mainland China had undergone a number of disruptions after the Chinese Civil War by way of socio-economic movements that started during the later part of the 1950s. The Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward during the 1960s had adversely impacted the country’s education systems and led to heavy economic losses. After the death of its leaders such as Zhou Enlai and Mao Zedong, the People’s Republic of China commenced with the implementation of a succession of economic reforms as initiated by Deng Xiaoping which ultimately became the basis for the rapid economic advancement of the country starting from the 1990s (Hague et al, 2002).

After the introduction of reforms in mainland China, there has been a reduction in controls in a number of areas. But the government continues to exert control over the entire political situation and is constantly on the watch in eradicating what it recognizes as being a threat to the economic and political strength of the nation. Examples in this regard comprise the struggle against terrorist activities, imprisonment of political rivals and media reporters, control over the press, enforcing guidelines on religion, and the containment of secessionist and other independence movements. A case in point is the suppression of the student protest movements in 1989 whereby extreme violence was used by the government at Tiananmen Square. The people’s Republic of China had finally managed to exert its influence in regaining its authority after several years over Hong Kong in 1997 and over Macau in 1999. Presently the PRC has authority over mainland China in being ruled by the Chinese Communist Party. Taiwan and nearby islands are ruled by the Republic of China which is a democratic state comprising multiple political parties.

After the PRC was established in 1949, the legitimate rule of China was claimed by both parties but after 1970 there has been a visible shift in the political hold and recognition of the PRC in the international community (Li, 2008). Representatives of the Republic of China were asked to leave the United Nations in 1978 which paved way for the PRC to officially represent China in the UN General Assembly and UN Security Council. The later efforts of the Republic of China to gain entry into the UN have not proved fruitful as every time, the PRC in having veto power in the UN Security Council, rejects its attempts. However, the Republic of China has not renounced its claim over mainland China and continues to mark the territories in its official maps (Fenby, 2008).


  1. Fenby Jonathan, Modern China: The Fall and Rise of a Great Power, 2008, Ecco
  2. Hague Rod and Harrop Martin, Comparative Government and Politics, 2002, Palgrave Macmillan
  3. Hauss Charles, Comparative Politics: Domestic Responses to Global Challenges, 2005, Wadsworth Publishing
  4. Li, C. (ed.) China’s Changing Political Landscape : Prospects for Democracy. Brookings Institution Press, 2008.

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StudyCorgi. "The Political Change in Modern China (1949 – Present)." November 1, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "The Political Change in Modern China (1949 – Present)." November 1, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'The Political Change in Modern China (1949 – Present)'. 1 November.

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