Both China and the USA during 1976 look to their own body politic, and not much at broad world vistas. Yet from different starting-points. We focus on who the next President will be and now the list is pruned to two. But the election issues are as hard to sight as corks on a choppy sea. In China it is the personnel stakes that are elusive. The issues being debated under the orange tiles of Peking's palaces are, on the other hand, clearer than usual. And the "what" may be as momentous for China's future as the "who."
Glimpse six items that reflect what is controversial in China. The first is a visit to a primary school in a northern city. The place is abuzz with sport, science and language activities of a high standard. But party administrators harangue me about the evil influence on the school of "class enemy" Lin Piao (the former defense chief and heir to Mao who lost his job and his life in a foolish moment of panic five years ago). It all seems on a par with blaming President Ford for humid summer weather.
I find a chance to ask one pupil directly (in Chinese): "Is there class struggle in your school?" The headmistress hisses "yes" across a heavy silence to the poor boy. But he remains awestruck. At length he squeezes out a reply that the sweating headmistress must find hard to grade: "It's difficult to say there is class struggle in our school, but it's also difficult to say there is not."
Item two: A chat about China's international economic relationships with a Peking official purged during the Cultural Revolution but now back in favor. I mention the criticism made by Shanghai leftists of cadres "who think the moon is rounder abroad"—economic officials who give a relaxed interpretation to China's sacred principle of Self Reliance, who wish to import more rather than less high technology capital equipment from Japan and the West, The Peking official does not reject the Shanghai slogan but he gently undermines it with two remarks: “Premier Chou's speech on the modernization of China's economy [at the National People's Congress of January 1975] inspired us all," After a pause he comes back to the Shanghai slogan: "True, the moon is not rounder abroad. But equally true, the moon is not rounder in China."
Item three: All over China the memory of the Cultural Revolution (CR) and its fallout is a divisive issue. Official Peking would no more utter a word against this crisis-turned-tradition than would Washington snipe at the Constitution. But the makers of concrete policies sometimes shudder at "excesses" during that storm of 1966-1969. An economist in Hunan complains that CR "confusion" led the birth rate to rise above the desirable 15 per 1000. Now-fallen Teng Hsiao-ping said of Chiang Ch'ing's militant post-CR plays: "You just see a bunch of people running to and fro on the stage. Not a trace of art. Foreigners clap them only out of courtesy." He strode out of one model opera halfway through muttering "ultra-leftist."
Item four. In the lovely old Shantung town of Tsinan a visit to a theater troupe. Its boss is a military man not well versed in drama (the actors sit beside him with glazed eyes as he briefs the foreign visitors) who was brought in to stamp out "the black line in art and literature of Liu Shao-ch'i" (head of state until knocked off his perch and labeled "China's Khrushchev" in the Cultural Revolution).
In four hours this army troubleshooter rails much against Liu but never once mentions the name of the illustrious sponsor of the correct artistic line: Chiang Ch'ing, Politburo member, for nearly 40 years the wife of Mao Tse-tung. That same day the vice president of the Shantung Women's Federation talks about the role of women in China. Asked for examples of females in leading jobs, she speaks of pilots and sea captains, but not of Mrs. Mao. Many people in China resent the way Chiang Ch'ing has climbed up on Mao's back since the Cultural Revolution to become one of China's dozen top leaders. They dislike her barbs against twice purged Teng Hsiao-p'ing, some army officers, and the memory of Chou En-lai, who died January 8.
Item five: During the fall of 1975 a drive was mounted against the cherished old historical novel Water Margin because it praises "capitulationism." Mao was less concerned about the peasant character. Sung Chiang, having surrendered to the emperor 900 years ago than about some of his colleagues who would like to cool it with ("capitulate to") the USSR. A high official remarked evenly to me in Peking last September: "There are different opinions in China about this novel." The same month Teng told some New Zealand visitors that the Water Margin campaign had no one as its particular target. But in the next breath he blew the stuffing out of this argument by declaring that the CR—which he deflated by calling it merely "China's most extensive mass movement"—was also just a criticism of wrong points of view and not a struggle "between this man and that."
Well, the CR was a struggle between individuals. So in part was the modest Water Margin affair, and Teng was its big target. As the drive ebbed a bit in December an unprecedented step was taken in China's policy toward Moscow. A Russian helicopter crew, captured in Sinkiang province 21 months before and many times described as spies, were suddenly released, feted at dinner by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, and sent home to the accompaniment of a stunning announcement that they were not spies after all. The People's Republic of China (PRC) has never in 27 years reversed itself thus on a spy case and declared intruders, arrested by Peking, to be innocent. Were there two views on the matter at the heart of the Chinese government?
During January and February, while Teng was in eclipse following his last big appearance as eulogist at Chou's funeral, a rash of stories appeared in China's press about Russian spies all over the world. In the eyes of People's Daily and Peking Review every last Tass writer and Aeroflot clerk and Soviet cultural attache was a spy in the service of the global designs of "social imperialism." But Russian airmen in sensitive Sinkiang (it has nuclear weapons and minority peoples related to those beyond the nearby Soviet border) were not spies?
No surprise that the Water Margin campaign was revived in April when Teng was stripped of all his high posts. Or that Teng was accused of being ready to "give up China's independence." The issue of People's Daily which reported the April 5 mêlée in Tian-an men Square also declared Teng a "capitulationist" in Water Margin mold. The former vice premier was said to be "furious" with the drive against the novel. He scoffed of its proponents: "They hear the wind and think it's raining" (Ting dao feng jiu shi yu). Tough nut Teng evidently thought Mao was jumping to conclusions in drawing lessons out of a Sung dynasty novel for China's policies in the 1970s.
Final item: The subject of Laos came up in a talk with one of a half dozen top government leaders who handle policy toward the USA. It was September 1975 and the coalition regime of Souvanna Phouma still existed. The Foreign Ministry man said he did not like the trend of things in Vientiane because "social imperialism" was eying Laos with a hungry leer. "China would like to see a stable government in Laos." I took this to mean continuance of the coalition as against a shift to a pure Pathet Lao regime (which has now occurred and brought increased Hanoi and Moscow influence). And is "stability" a reasonable aim for other Southeast Asian governments? The dour official lit up like a candle: "Certainly. In the era of superpower contention these governments need to pursue stability." I walked out of the Foreign Ministry recalling that I had never before heard a Chinese leader praise stability as an aim for Asia. But I did hear John Foster Dulles do so in the 1950s.
These six episodes sum up, I believe, the issues that will characterize the momentous months after Mao's death. From such issues was woven the political rope that hung Teng. Churning debate over them put a surprise man, the modest regional figure with every reason to be modest, Hua Kuo-feng, into the shoes of former Premier Chou, They give us clues to what lies ahead for Chinese politics and the role of China in the world.
Xeng had become by 1975 the effective number-two man and number-two men do not fare well in the PRC. Chou was still premier but had cancer. Teng began to flex the muscles of his regained power. Like Liu and Lin before him—for complex reasons including his own lack of ambition Chou had never been an heir apparent—Teng reached the treacherous ultimate threshold of Mao's own supreme authority. Mao once more saw the fingers of a number-two man itching for the crown and chopped them off. People's Daily noted drily that Teng "got above himself in the past year,"
A related problem for Teng was that he made enemies. It was not only that he had the strong will and abrasive ways often found among Szechwanese. He had irritated the CR left by rising like Lazarus from the political grave in which they laid him in 1967. Chiang Ch'ing felt this way. So did Red Guards who were thrust after 1969 from the center-stage of politics to the dust and drudgery of farms, while "revisionists" crept back to power in the army, the state-center and the provinces. Sharp-tongued Teng had quipped that CR leftists had "risen up by helicopter" while the correct way to get to a high job is "step by step." He talked always about "educating the young" and seldom about promoting them to high positions.
Moreover Teng had never liked the policies of the CR. Mao himself pulled back by 1968 from extreme ideas like remelting the big cities into "Paris Communes," and cutting out private plots on which peasants grow vegetables for their own use or private sale. I recall noting during my first visit to China after the CR, in the summer of 1971, the reappearance of "Liu-ism without Liu" in industry and agriculture (not in the realm of culture where Chiang Ch'ing bristled). I found a stress on "ultra left" errors rather than "revisionist" errors.
After his resurrection in 1973, Teng turned Liu-ism without Liu into Teng-ism with Teng. He put the flesh of high state policy on the bare bones of his brisk maxim, which had shocked the Red Guards: "Black cat or white cat—it's a good cat if it catches mice." He uttered the last word in blasphemy by observing: "In real life, not everything is class struggle."
So Teng went full throttle for modernization and trampled on fragile flowers of the CR. He did not nurture "new born Socialist things" like colleges that honor "red" over "expert," and model operas that sound like an editorial from People's Daily set to Tchaikovsky. He dared to wonder if China's paramedical "barefoot doctors" should not eventually get more solid medical training. He complained that if the Shanghai left kept on sniping at the "theory of productive forces"—a bread and butter view of socialism as dependent on material progress—then Chinese planners would wake up one morning to find that "nobody dares any more to grasp production."
The newspaper Brilliant Daily summed up the danger in Teng's economism: "The satellite goes up to heaven and the red flag falls down to earth."
The final reason Teng has become a Nixon of China—idly reading in the papers what a monster he was in the days when the papers used to praise him—is that he came to doubt Mao's view of Russia. At stake here is the changing meaning of imperialism. Has the USSR really taken America's place as chief enemy of China and world socialism alike?
Equally involved is the pattern of Socialist priorities according to which China is being modernized. Moscow is the great negative example of the satellite going up and the red flag coming down. But is Russia so hopelessly wrong—"Fascist" says Mao—that China must do the opposite of anything Moscow does? At this point the issues of Russia and of the CR are intimately linked. Those who disagree with Mao on the one tend to do so also on the other. All of the CR themes appear in embryo in the letters written by Peking at the height of the Sino-Soviet ideological debate during 1963-64.
It is not that Teng was pro-Russian. But as number two man who no doubt glanced ahead to a day when he might become number one, Teng had to think about China's post-Mao policy toward the Soviet Union. He apparently wanted to keep a door open to Moscow for various reasons. Peking-Moscow hostility has cost China friends in Africa, Indo-China and other parts of the Third World, And by tilting so far against Russia, the Chinese have lost some leverage with the US on Taiwan and other issues.
Parts of the army would prefer a more evenhanded policy toward the two Superpowers. Lin once queried Mao: "If you can ask Nixon to China why can't I ask Brezhnev?" During 1975 many pro-Soviet officers came back to high posts in the army. These include men who had served under Teng in earlier years, and men who had been purged for speaking up for military cooperation with the USSR in the mid-1960s.
To contain Soviet influence all over the world, moreover, is to crib resources from China's internal development needs. Steelworkers in Wuhan, China's Chicago, put up a poster questioning the sending of their steel to build the Tanzam railroad when underdeveloped China needs more railroads itself.
Why is China active in Africa? Mainly because Russia is. To cool it with Moscow would suit Chinese moderates who want more than anything else in the world to fulfill Chou En-lai's great call for the modernization of China before the end of the century. Teng's tilt toward butter over guns was expressed in a scoffing remark made to some American visitors last year about India's nuclear bomb: "What good is it if you don't have food?"
If Teng got out of step with Mao on Russia (and released that helicopter crew in December) he is the latest in a long distinguished line. Chou En-lai told me in 1971 to study carefully the editorial celebrating the 50th birthday of the Chinese Communist party. It traced nine big party struggles; a 10th was under way with Lin Piao as Chou spoke. In all 10 struggles, dating as far back as the 1920s, the issue of Russia was involved, Mao beat back one colleague after another whom he judged pro-Soviet.
culprit number eight was P'eng Te-huai who went behind Mao's back to share his doubts about the Great Leap Forward with Russian leaders. Number nine was Liu, "China's Khrushchev," who wanted "joint action" with Moscow to help Vietnam (Mao confessed to Kosygin in 1965, during the last meeting he had with a Soviet leader, that "some" of his colleagues disagreed with his opposition to "joint action"). Number 10 was Lin, who died when fleeing toward Russia.
Someone once asked Mao when the polemics with Moscow would cease. "The sky won't fall, trees will grow, women will have children, fish will swim, even if they go on forever." Not surprising that Chinese leaders less bold and stubborn than Mao have had doubts about his view of Russia. The cold war with Russia cannot go on forever, Teng may have thought, any more than old Mao could go on forever. He didn't die in time to save Teng, Teng still may be back. By April a rope from these various strands tightened around the short neck of Teng Hsiao-p'ing, The balance of forces and viewpoints had thrice tipped back and forth since January 1975. The watershed National People's Congress and party meetings of that month struck a note of order and stressed economic tasks. Chou was making his last big appearance. Teng emerged with a party vice-chairmanship to add to his high posts in state and army, Moscow's chief negotiator in the China-Russia border talks returned to Peking for a fresh effort in the wake of the meetings.
But Mao did not bless the January meetings with his presence. The doors had no sooner closed on them than a strong breeze began to blow from the left. Scribes of the Shanghai CR group wrote restless articles about "bourgeois rights" that still exist even in Socialist society and ought to be whittled down. Wages are still very unequal in industry. Money itself is a capitalist hangover that must eventually go. New class enemies will pop up and use these remnants as levers for turning the Chinese social machine back to capitalism.
Last summer I heard these themes set forth at the Shanghai Diesel Engine Factory. It is a pet plant of the Shanghai radical leader Wang Hung-wen, whose photo and messages adorn its bulletin boards. The politically up-front cadres here view bonuses in any guise roughly as Methodists view whiskey. The factory chairman struck a note of pride and challenge as I left: "We know not all factories in China are like us."
Indeed they are not, and most of the Chinese industry turned a blind eye to the "bourgeois rights" campaign so far as the real world of policy went. By late summer the left breeze had dropped. The pen of Ch'u Lan, pseudonym for a writer who expresses the ideas of Chiang Ch'ing, lay unusually idle. The crown jewel of radical doctrine, "going against the tide," was even criticized in Hunan province. Big national conferences on agriculture and coal suggested that Teng was giving priority to the economy. Chief of all the purged pro-Soviet military officers, Lo Jui-ch'ing, came back on deck in August.
But the reprinting of a Mao poem mocking "goulash communism" at New Year began a fresh militant current against pragmatism. Typically it arose in education circles. Typically it complained that "modernization" was being used "as a big club to kill the Socialist new-born things." Typically it quibbled with statements made at the coal and agriculture parleys. The same month People's Daily made a fresh charge of "capitulationism" against Lin: "The anti-party crowd of Lin Piao openly announced they intended to enter into secret talks with the Soviet revisionists," The waters of class criticism swirled higher around Teng until by March he sank to the bottom of the well wearing the label "big unrepentant capitalist-roader in the party," He had become a victim of the succession bugbear; of his own peremptory ways; of being a pragmatist out of season; of thinking that detente with Russia might not be a bad idea. In the words of a Shanghai wall-letter he was "China's second new Khrushchev,"
On a TV show a couple of months ago I was asked how on earth an obscure figure like Hua Kuo-feng could suddenly become China's premier. But recall, I said, Hua has been the governor of a rich and rising province (Hunan), Days later a Peking official complained to me that American politics is truly inscrutable when an obscure figure like Jimmy Carter can step from his Southern farm to the doorstep of the White House, "But recall that Carter has been the governor of a rich and rising province,"
If Hua was not all that obscure, a degree of obscurity did work in his favor. The reasons for the amiable Hunanese's rise are the mirror image of the reasons for the high-powered Szechwanese's fall, Mao judged Hua to be loyal—they both have roots in the same district and Hua wrote the sensitive report on Lin's crimes in 1973—in a murky succession atmosphere where trust is in short supply, Hua is not scarred by as many past battles as Teng was. Yet he is not as young as leftist "helicopters" like Wang Hung-wen who abruptly displaced moderate officials during the CR—and thus made enemies of them, Hua survived the CR from the middle of the pack. He is solid proof that the age of heroes has gone in China for a while.
Mao seems to have said to the left: "You can have Teng's head but not the premiership," If the fall of Teng signaled a general policy swing to the left, the new premier would not be Hua but one of the Shanghai radicals.
How the Politburo handled the fall of Teng and the rise of Hua reveals some key trends. It was clear that Mao was in charge. Only the number one man can kick down an aspiring number two in today's China, Mao made many appearances in the months from December 1975, New quotes from him—always a sign that he is up to something—popped up in the press during the spring, Teng's fall and Hua's rise were conspicuously said to have been effected "on the proposal" of Mao,
However the zig-zags over 18 months suggested either Mao's role was intermittent or that he flashed vague signals that looked green from one angle and red from another. Between May and his death September 9, the chairman had pulled back and seemed more or less retired. This underlined how serious the 1976 crisis
n a TV show a couple of months ago I was asked at the top of Chinese politics is. No matter how messy of or risky the shifts in Peking have been since 1949, Mao's authority had always been there to set a limit on struggle and ambition. But that day is ended. How long will the struggle between these two factions continue now that Mao is gone? A tone of caution and a lack of enthusiasm marked the campaign. People's Daily admitted on February 17 that the Central Committee of the Party was "split" and that may be the point. The campaign was not given a label that stuck. Everyone was strictly forbidden to go outside their own organization and form "fighting groups," Teng was not expelled from the party as top "counter revolutionaries" have always been before. Parts of China such as Shanghai and Liaoning province lambasted Teng with glee. But little was said in other parts, such as the south, where Teng was strong and Russian revisionism does not seem the most pressing menace under the sun.
Remarkable was the amount of quotation of the "bad guys" creeping into the press. An entire eloquent poem written by the Tian-an men demonstrators was reproduced in People's Daily. Their likening of Mao to the old emperor Chin Shih Huang whose day is done was noted. Also their cry for "genuine Marxism-Leninism" (a favorite Moscow phrase for hitting at Mao's alleged descent to nationalism). Either people of influence were sympathetic to these quotations, or the Chinese public was just too disquieted to be kept safely in the dark.
Here we reach a third trait of long term significance: public opinion is on the rise as a force in Chinese politics. With the fall of Teng it may have come of age. The eloquent, if black poem at Tian-an men put it well: "China is no longer the China of yore, and the people are no longer wrapped in sheer ignorance."
The Tian-an men mêlée was not purely spontaneous, yet many of the crowd of 100,000 were spurred by genuine affection for Chou and by views on his policies. People's Daily conceded as much in a remarkable May 5 article with the odd title "Use Revolutionary Public Opinion to Smash Counter Revolutionary Public Opinion." Bad elements were accused of dealing in rumors about a will Chou may have left that expressed Teng-like views, Teng was said to have begun his drive to turn back the left by "creating a counter revolutionary public opinion," Very different from Lin, who began with a secret blueprint for an armed coup.
Ordinary folk wrote letters to the Central Committee urging Teng as the new premier. Teng tried to start a new magazine to air his views. From its side the official media did not keep silent about Teng's fall, as it did for months about Liu's and for nearly two years about Lin's, On April 8, for the first time ever, readers of People's Daily saw a prompt detailed official report of a political quarrel that they could compare with the reality they had just observed.
Doubts about Chiang Ch'ing sprang up from grassroots China like mushrooms after spring rain. One poster used a play on Chiang Ch'ing's name—"Chiang" means "river"—to honor Chou. "Don't let the river waters (chiang shui) wash away the memory of Chou," ran the swipe at Ms. River. (The full reference is probably to huo shui, an old Chinese term for a woman who causes trouble. Thus in "river waters," chiang shui, chiang would stand for Chiang Ch'ing and shui would be a short form of huo shui.) Banners praised an earlier wife of Mao's named Yang, dead for decades, in a ploy long used in China to damn the present wife.
This honor paid to the second of Mao's four wives recalls an afternoon last year at the memorial exhibit on Mao's life in the pretty Hunan village of Shaoshan. I had seen the museum four years before and did not plan a second close inspection. But I noticed suddenly that Ms. Yang's pretty face was prominently featured, which it had not been in 1971. Whoever made that change did not do so with Chiang Ch'ing's blessing.
Public opinion as a political force has grown especially fast this year because the succession is a universal issue accessible to all. Everyone thinks about it; official ideology has no answer to it. Mortality itself—not a class enemy—brings on the crisis. The person in the street understands this and can chat about it. One poem at Tian-an men voiced the shared dilemma of the Chinese people: "A generation of heroes created this world. A million people worry—who will succeed them?"
fourth feature of how Teng fell is that the PLA did not play a big role in it. Not the army, but the leftist militia, with Shanghai as its model, put down the Tianan men mêlée. It lasted 14 hours; the PLA could have squashed it in one. Amazingly, the People's Daily wrote of rioters who "sported a crew cut"—pejorative slang in China for soldiers. If PLA officers found that provocative, they resisted temptation and have kept a 16w profile.
The army keeps its fingers out of politics partly because it burned them doing the opposite in Lin's era. But some of the PLA are also dubious about the case against Teng. Many "rightist" officers have come back since the CR ended and Lin fell. Some had been accused of leaning to the Soviet Union, like the former chief of the general staff, Lo Jui-ch'ing. Others had suppressed Red Guards in the name of order, like the former commander at Wuhan, Ch'en Tsai-tao.
The PLA seems a bit divided on the Teng affair as it was on the CR. Some officers, mainly in the navy and air force, support the left, as some did at the climax of the CR, and as a similar lineup backed Lin's coup. But these are a minority. Most PLA leaders had nothing against Teng's policies, whether on "private plots" or toward Russia. Some old marshals have said so forthrightly.
Moreover Teng was not involved—being in the doghouse at the time—in the witch-hunt against Lin sympathizers within the PLA during 1972 and 1973. Soldiers who resented this for purely professional reasons blamed some moderates, but not Teng. Chiang Ch'ing and her Shanghai friends try to coax the People's Liberation Army leftward. But so far with little success. Soldiers are at present on the side of order at home and peace abroad.
Final trait of the Teng crisis: principle has lost ground prejudice in the Poulhuro. Mao always said that struggle should be based on line and not on personality. In this respect PRC practice, too, marks an immense advance over most of the dynasties, the warlord era, and Chiang Kai-shek's rule. Yet since the CR, politics has been colored by personality far more than from 1949 to 1966.
Back in January 1967, Chou En-lai strode to the microphone to address a CR rally. The Red Guard crowd was flushed with excitement. Red Book in hand; fire in the eyes; armbands that gave an impression of self-importance. The cry went up: "Down with Liu! Down with Teng!" Chou turned his back on the audience. He only began his speech after the Red Guards had adjusted the slogan to "Down with the reactionary line of Liu and Teng."
The issues between Teng and the left are worthy of debate and have received some. But a few scribes in cultural circles have dipped their pens in the ink of innuendo. Trivia stinking of personal rivalry has been tossed about. Teng was supposed to have said that "tickets are never even sold out"-for Chiang Ch'ing's model plays and operas. At a high level it was joked that Teng—whose wife's family had a pre-Liberation interest in a pork factory in the southwest—"can always go back to Kunming and run his ham shop." He was ridiculed as a "three-headed monster."
People's Daily found it relevant to mention that a bad element in the Tian-an melee was "wearing spectacles." (And the paper never once mentioned that the original act at Tian-an men, placing wreathes to Chou En-lai at the Monument to the People's Heroes on the occasion of Spring Festival, was in itself a valid one.) Maybe Mrs. Mao does not draw the distinction Chou drew in 1967. For this reason, over and above policy views, the selfless and self-assured Chou is already being missed in Peking's too-personalized politics. Maybe also the old warrior, the late Chu Teh, who exclaimed in 1959 when fights began to break out at the top of the party: "And to think that we once all ate out of the same dish!"
The issues of Chinese politics have been caught up, like a cotton thread bunched at the eye of a needle, but are now being pulled through to sew a new patch on the Chinese political process. The options have been spelled out in the struggle over Teng. The likely outcomes can be broadly sketched.
Chinese politics is moving from the age of heroes to the age of administrators. One man giving the nod among breathtaking options gives way to a committee slicing salami. No one will or should replace Mao. Now that the revolution is made, another bold Maker would be as out of place as a sculptor on an assembly line.
Now that Mao is dead, the left will probably lose strength. Chiang Ch'ing in particular will be in a threatened position. The left is not going to win out on policy during the first post-Mao decade.
That Chiang Ch'ing may fall does not undermine, but rather confirms, the point that "what" issues will edge out "who" issues. Her role was special to the span of Mao's life. She is resented because she entered the halls of power through the back door of marriage rather than the front door of merit. Her attacks against "pragmatists" will cease, now that the chairman is no longer there to pass the ammunition and guarantee her use of the gun.
Moreover the left will not find it easy to gainsay two ongoing trends. Many young moderns find the effort to whip up eternal waves of revolution a bit beside the point. And China will find it desirable, in order to achieve its stated goal of quick modernization, to continue the international economic involvement that grew so fast in the 1970s.
If there comes a shift in the balance of groups who make up the top leadership, the most likely gainer is not the left but the military. This would further carry policy to the moderate side. The rank and file of the PLA are peasants. Its political impulse has never been to push cautious farmers as quickly toward Utopian goals as city theorists might think fit.
So we may find, a decade from now, Chinese plays and stories and school curricula less charged with a political message than they have been since 1966. We will see China's foreign trade make zig-zags but basically go on rising (it quadrupled to $15 billion between 1969 and 1975), More high technology goods will be sought from Japan and the West, Chinese oil will swell Peking's import earnings. So will light manufactures for department stores in the Third World. In turn China will buy planes, truck plants, specialty steels, equipment for tapping its vast mineral resources. Cadres now called "slaves to foreign things" may hit the dust but their views will endure.
To facilitate foreign economic activity, China will go on doing things Teng did: extend banking links, remodel ports, teach its youth foreign languages. expand its air network, get short-term loans by schemes of "deferred payment" and by paying eight percent interest to Hong Kong residents who open time accounts in Chinese yuan.
China can be expected to cool it with the USSR—if Moscow gives it half a chance to. Other foreign policy adjustments would follow. The link with the US will certainly not be cut. However, Washington's leverage with Peking on Taiwan and other issues will be less if Peking-Moscow detente comes.
China may be more selective about its role as spokesman for the Third World, which fragments by the month. In Asia, China will emerge as the major influence. Elsewhere a reduced passion for swiping at Russia might result in a phase of benign neglect. Steel needed at home, for instance, is less likely to be spared for new railroads in Africa or Latin America.
At the conceptual level a foreign policy change will come. Younger Chinese leaders will not continue to see imperialism as the overriding world trait. Nor can they go on forever viewing their own formidable land as victim, as valiant David pitted against the Goliath of the superpowers, as the authentic voice of the dispossessed. I do not say that China will join the establishment. Such an entity is a mirage seen only by those far off. And even a development-minded China will not embrace shared values to the point of joining hands with other giants to boss the world.
Nor, though, will the Chinese hold forever to the revolutionary world view arrogant imperialism helped implant in Mao's generation. Revolution may be socialism's overture, but it does not by itself define the positive goals of socialism.
China under Mao got itself together and stood up proudly in the world. Economic progress was sound in nature and brisk for a land of such ponderous size. Social reorganization has given the ordinary person a chance for self-fulfillment; bringing health care, basic education, a new deal for women, a degree of equality of condition that makes a community of the people.
At the same time, the succession crisis is a serious one, China's political system (like that of other Marxist states) does not seem able to transfer power and deal with conflict within settled rules.
And now that Mao has gone, someone may dare to sweep away ideological cobwebs and rethink Marxism for an era when Socialist power is secure. Poor Teng is now accused of having made an apt remark: "One mustn't always trot out ready-made terms but should say something new."
In foreign policy Peking stands at a crossroad. China's past, forced isolation was galling but it was pristine. Her new influence in the world is satisfying but it requires unaccustomed choices among shades of gray. To Mao this might have been disturbing but he ought to have counted it an achievement. China's success, Mao's also, has brought it to the brink of ambiguity.
This article originally ran in the September 25, 1976 issue of the magazine.