The Post-Mao Interlude, 1976-78

China Table of Contents

After the fall of the Gang of Four, the leadership under Hua Guofeng--and by July 1977 the rehabilitated Deng Xiaoping-- reaffirmed the modernization program espoused by Zhou Enlai in 1975. They also set forth a battery of new policies for the purpose of accomplishing the Four Modernizations. The new policies strengthened the authority of managers and economic decision makers at the expense of party officials, stressed material incentives for workers, and called for expansion of the research and education systems. Foreign trade was to be increased, and exchanges of students and "foreign experts" with developed countries were to be encouraged. This new policy initiative was capped at the Fifth National People's Congress in February and March 1978, when Hua Guofeng presented the draft of an ambitious ten-year plan for the 1976-85 period. The plan called for high rates of growth in both industry and agriculture and included 120 construction projects that would require massive and expensive imports of foreign technology.

Between 1976 and 1978, the economy quickly recovered from the stagnation of the Cultural Revolution. Agricultural production was sluggish in 1977 because of a third consecutive year of adverse weather conditions but rebounded with a record harvest in 1978. Industrial output jumped 14 percent in 1977 and increased by 13 percent in 1978.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress