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China – Deng Xiaoping and the Opening of China, 1979-97

5. Political Developments, 1979-97

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the political developments of the Deng years, focusing in particular on: (i) Deng’s imposition of mandatary retirement ages and term limits, and his reasons for doing so; (ii) Deng’s de facto leadership of China, even by 1989 when he had resigned from all his posts; (iii) Deng’s unwillingness to entertain the thought of a multi-party system in China, and his opposition to the separation of powers; (iv) his separation of party and state; (v) his willingness to get rid of colleagues who strayed too far from his own political position, e.g. Hu Yaobang after 1986, Zhao Ziyang after 1989; (vi) the political impact of Deng’s economic reforms, including corruption, nepotism and rising unemployment; and (vii) the importance of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.


In this course, Professor Frank Ching (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology) explores the development of Chinese society, politics and economics during the rule of Deng Xiaoping, sometimes referred to as the ‘Opening of China’. In the first module, we think about the state of China following Mao’s death in 1976, Deng’s attempts to consolidate power, and the some of his early economics reforms. In the second module, we think about the development of the Chinese economy under Deng Xiaoping, before turning in the third and fourth modules to track the evolution of US-China relations in between 1968-96. In the fifth module, we think about political developments in China between 1979-97, before turning in the sixth module to consider China’s position in the world at the time of Deng’s death in 1997.


Frank Ching is a writer and university lecturer who has written and commented on events in Asia, particularly China, for many years. He worked for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Far Eastern Economic Review. He opened The Wall Street Journal’s bureau in China in 1979, after the normalization of U.S.-China relations, thus becoming one of the first four American newspaper reporters to be based in Beijing since 1949.

His articles have appeared in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, World Policy Journal, China Quarterly, Current History, the Washington Quarterly, and other publications.

He has given speeches across the United States, including delivering the Inaugural Lecture of the Ravenholt-Severyns Lecture at the University of Washington. He was the inaugural lunch speaker at the annual Chiefs of Defense Mission sponsored by the Commander in Chief, Pacific, in Honolulu.

He received a bachelor’s degree in English from Fordham University, a master’s degree in philosophy from New York University and a Certificate in Advanced International Reporting from Columbia University as a Ford Foundation Fellow.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Ching, F. (2020, November 26). China – Deng Xiaoping and the Opening of China, 1979-97 - Political Developments, 1979-97 [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Ching, F. "China – Deng Xiaoping and the Opening of China, 1979-97 – Political Developments, 1979-97." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 26 Nov 2020,