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How did China rise as a world power after 1949?

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There were multiple reasons for the rise of China during this period. First, and possibly most importantly, China emerged as a major superpower in the Communist bloc after the conclusion of the Second World War. Specifically, in the aftermath of the Sino-Soviet split (1956–60), Many Communists countries, such as Cuba,...

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There were multiple reasons for the rise of China during this period. First, and possibly most importantly, China emerged as a major superpower in the Communist bloc after the conclusion of the Second World War. Specifically, in the aftermath of the Sino-Soviet split (1956–60), Many Communists countries, such as Cuba, North Korea, and Vietnam, increasingly began to look to the Chinese Communist Party for moral rectitude and revolutionary inspiration. A significant reason for this was that the Soviet Party Secretary Khrushchev, after the death of Stalin in 1953, had begun to pursue a policy of détente with the West, whereas the PRC, under the leadership of Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, preached the revolution with militant zeal. Many countries, especially Yugoslavia, Albania, and North Korea, believed that the Soviet Union and Khrushchev had betrayed the revolution, and this catapulted China as Russia’s spiritual successor in the eyes of many who detested the capitalist West.

Second, all throughout the period, but specifically beginning the 1980s, China engaged in an extraordinary project of urbanization. New megacities were created essentially from nothing. For example, Shenzhen was built along the coast of China, and its economy was fundamentally linked to Hong Kong. It became what the Chinese called a “special economic zone,” meaning that the government put this city as its top priority for developing its economy and mobilizing mass amounts of people to populate it. Mass urbanization projects of this kind were possible because the Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping created a new economic reform program, known in the West as the “Opening of China.” Megacities like Shenzhen became major industrial and technological centers of the expanding Chinese empire and produced many goods that could be sold on the international market.

Finally, since around 2000, the Chinese government has increasingly put emphasis on sending students overseas to study at international universities in order that they may bring technical skills upon their return to the country. The government today offers packages to students who have earned degrees in universities, particularly in the United States, guaranteeing them high-paying jobs and houses for them and their families for the rest of their lives. In the past twenty years, China has experienced something of an education revolution because of these policies, and today it boasts some of the most highly-qualified technical and scientific experts in the world.

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