How Far Do You Agree That Violence Was a Key Feature of Communist Rule in China in the Years 1949-57?

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During these years, which mark the first in Mao’s reign as leader in China, there were a number of key features of Communist rule in China, notably land reform, economic policies, as well as violence. In this essay, I intend to argue that violence was a key feature, but that there are other factors that could be described as being ‘key’ also. Mao’s immediate aim upon coming to power was to gain control of the cities, where the GMD had been at its strongest. He was determined to stamp out any remaining support for the GMD and ordered massacres of suspects. 65,000 people were killed in Guangzhou and 28,000 in Shanghai. All organisations were closed down, including churches and all religions were attacked. The Danwei (neighbourhood unit) became the chief means of repression and control. People were expected to spy and report on each other. As many as 750,000 were killed and 1.5 million arrested in a wave of persecution. This undoubtedly demonstrates that violence was a key feature of Communist rule when Mao came to power; something he would justify by saying that it was necessary to secure control over China and eliminate opposition. Centralisation was a strong element in the consolidation of power: control of China was divided up between the main leaders. The country was split into six ‘bureaus’, or districts. The three most important were Manchuria in the north-east controlled Gao Gang; the south-west run by Deng Xiaoping; the south where Lin Biao was in charge. The creation of the bureaus resulted in a high degree of centralisation. This meant that final decisions were in the hands of the CCP because all bureaus were controlled by senior party figures. Mao was Chairman of the People’s Republic while Zhou Enlai was the nation’s prime minister. Though Mao claimed to lead a coalition government (there were 14 separate political parties in the government), the country
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