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China – The Making of Modern China

4. How did China become so rich?

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the rapid growth of the Chinese economy between 1976-2020, focusing in particular on: (i) the different views of Mao’s potential successors, including the Gang of Four, Hua Guofeng, and Deng Xiaoping; (ii) the state of the Chinees economy in 1978; (iii) the importance of Deng’s speech at the 3rd Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China; (iv) the rejuvenation of the rural economy through the Household Responsibility System and the rise of Town and Village Enterprises (TVEs); (v) the liberalisation of the labour market, including the disintegration of the Mao-era ‘work units’ (danwei); (vi) the opening-up of the Chinese economy to foreign companies, beginning with Coca-Cola in 1978; (vii) China’s accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 2001 and its impact on the Chinese economy; and (viii) the shape of the Chinese economy today and its economic priorities for the future.


In this course, Professor Kerry Brown (King’s College, London) provides a broad introduction to Chinese history from the 2nd millennium BC to the present day, with a focus on how China became the economic and political powerhouse it has done in the 21st century. In the first module, we think about how we might define ‘China’. Is it the geographical area? The people that live here? The culture? In the following four modules, we turn to four topics related to China in the 20th and 21st century. In the first, we think about why China has a Communist Party (with a focus on China’s relationship with Japan and the West between 1919-49). After that, we think about the figure of Mao Zedong. In the third, we ask how the Chinese economy has grown so dramatically between 1976 and the present day, before turning in the fourth to think about the nature of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. In the sixth module, we return once again to the evolution of the Chinese nation over the past 2,500 years in order to answer the question ‘How long is Chinese history?’


Kerry Brown is a Professor of Chinese Studies and Director of the Lau China Institute at King's College, London. He is currently working on a study of the Communist Party of China as a cultural movement.

From 2012 to 2015, he was Professor of Chinese Politics and Director of the China Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, Australia. Prior to this, he worked at Chatham House (2006 to 2012) as Senior Fellow and then Head of the Asia Programme. Meanwhile, from 2011 to 2014, he directed the Europe China Research and Advice Network (ECRAN), giving policy advice to the European External Action Service.

From 1998 to 2005, he worked at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, as First Secretary at the British Embassy in Beijing, and then as Head of the Indonesia, Philippine and East Timor Section. From 1994 to 1996, he lived in the Inner Mongolia region of China.

He has a MA from Cambridge University, a Postgraduate Diploma in Mandarin Chinese (Distinction) from Thames Valley University, London, and a PhD in Chinese politics and language from Leeds University.

He is the author of over ten books on modern Chinese politics, history and language, including: The New Emperors: Power and the Princelings in China (2014); What's Wrong with Diplomacy: The Case of the UK and China (2015); Berkshire Dictionary of Chinese Biography (in Four Volumes, 2014-2015); China's CEO: Xi Jinping (2016); China's World: What Does China Want (2017).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Brown, K. (2020, November 06). China – The Making of Modern China - How did China become so rich? [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Brown, K. "China – The Making of Modern China – How did China become so rich?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 06 Nov 2020,