The Chinese Revolution which took place in the 20th century was as a result of intertwined socio-economic and political factors in China. The Chinese economy was predominantly composed of agriculture and the revenue load imposed on the peasants resulted in their outcry (Lieberthal et al. 12). The status quo was pronounced at that time and the Chinese politics were disorganized. Foreign powers had resulted in the division of china into spheres based on influence. They were only interested in their own agendas and sabotaged the genuine needs of the Chinese people. China’s war with Japan has also seen the country lose many of its territories (Dirlic 35).
These factors led to the establishment of the Kuomintang (KMT) government in 1922 by a man called Sunyat Sen. He worked (in conjunction with the communist party with the objective) to make China a unified and prosperous country (Weston 27). However, the death of Sunyat Sen led to the KMT turning out to be inefficient as a result of corruption and ignoring the mass. This happened when Chiang Kai Sheik took over leadership of KMT. Chiang preferred to stay silent on the oppression of peasant farmers by their employers in terms of remuneration because the employers were his industrial supporters. Peasant poverty was also not addressed and the KMT forces did not put up effective resistance against the Japanese (Zarrow 14).The Cultural Revolution of China
The Chinese revolution that took place between 1911 and 1912 was aimed at making China a republic. Later on in 1949, the Communist revolution came up with the purpose of changing the attitudes of the public (Fitzgerald 45). This revolution was led by Mao Zedong in an attempt to steer China in the right direction. Since the KMT had failed to address the problems of the peasants, their conditions worsened based on the effects that droughts and bad harvests brought along (Perry 12).
For these reasons, Mao Zedong decided to take advantage of the weaknesses of the KMT. His purpose was to remove the impure elements that had cropped up in the Chinese society and restore the revolutionary spirit that had led to the successful formation of the Republic of China after a severe civil war (Dirlic 19). The Cultural Revolution had a long-lasting impact on the people of China, some positive, some negative. Among the positive consequences was the freedom of China from disorganized political systems as well as the economic reorganization of China. The land reform was also put in place and new technologies introduced to improve farming (Spence 57).The White Haired Girl
The White Haired Girl (1950), a film directed by Wang Bin and Shui Hua, was produced after the funding of the People’s Republic of China, based on the legend an immortal, the white haired girl. It clearly represents the lifestyle that peasant farmers led during the revolution; the problems they faced, the things they believed in and the impact these challenges had on them on a personal level (Chinaculture.org).
The characters include Yang Bailao, a peasant who lives with his daughter Xi'er. Yang Bailao was a tenant farmer who toiled in the farm to survive. His landlord, Huang Shiren, was attracted to Xi’er and tries to impose himself on her but Yang refused him. However, as a result of the inadequate wages tat peasants were given for their labour, Yang Bailao is in deep debt, his debtor being his landlord. The landlord out of malice and greed forces Yang to repay the debt with his daughter. This thought is unbearable to Yang and he drinks himself to death. Huang orders for the capture of Xi’en who is taken to his house where he makes her his concubine and afterward repeatedly rapes her and makes her work as a slave. Bailao’s mother is worse of a tyrant than her son and she mistreats Xi’er by making her slave in the house. At one point, she threw back the soup that Xi’er had offered her and demanded more to be made. This made the slave girl angry to the point off taking a whip and beating the woman mercilessly. This led to her being locked up in a cell by the landlord who made her escape seem impossible.
The girl’s lover, Dachun, who is also a farmer, tries to help her escape from the hands of Bailao to no avail. He later leaves in search of the red army. Xi’er finally manages to escape and with no place to go hides in the mountains. Life is tough out there and her hair turns white. Dachun later returns in the company of his army unit and finds Xi’er. He assists her in getting revenge against Huang whereby they seize his land and distribute it to the farmers. They later marry and live a normal life afterwards (Kun 24).Moral of the Film
This film showed the lives that the peasant farmers led before the revolution whereby the old society turned normal people into “a ghost” and the new one brought them back to being human beings. The film portrayed the mystery that the Chinese peasants suffered (Zarrow 37). It especially brought out the problems that the female members of the society went through with several real life stories represented in the movie by various characters. The female members had especially experienced sexual exploitation and slavery because of their economic state and lack of knowledge on their rights. Xi’er portrays the exact phases of life that the poor peasants went through and the unjust way in which they were solved (Kun 13).Bai Xianyong – Winter Nights
This is a story that represents the reunion of two friends who nostalgically recalled their involvement in the may forth movement of 1919 in Beijing. They also talk about the involvement and eventualities of other people they knew. Their memories are mostly those of sorrow and regret and these two men feel that they have wasted their lives. They experience a sense of failure and unfulfilled dreams whereby even the character that may have done something useful with his life is filled with regret. Wu Zhuguo felt that he had abandoned his country and friends despite having had a stable, established life. He had been a teacher of Chinese literature in America. In the story, he is back to China as a visitor and as much as those around him view him as having been successful, he can’t help but experience feelings of failure and cowardice for having left the country when it required his input the most, and having left his friends to toil as he lived comfortably (Saich 38).
Wu Zhuguo considers himself unworthy of the praise he receives, a feeling that is worsened by his hearing of the fate of some of his friends. His friends seem to want to leave Taiwan so badly because of the state it is in and the threat by the Chinese. They are afraid that the Chinese could invade any time and punish them and are desperate to go to America. They view America as the only place where they can find an opportunity and make something useful of themselves before they die (Dirlic 35).Moral of the Story
The may forth movement that took place in Beijing in 1919 was an imperialist student protest (Schwarcz 28). The movement was aimed at protesting the inadequate response of the Chinese government to the Treaty of Versailles that allowed Japan to take over some Chinese territories. The demonstration triggered national protests that in turn paved way for Chinese nationalism. Several resolutions were drawn prior to the protest that included the hope to create a Beijing student union and to oppose the allowing of Japan to take over Shandong among others (Fitzgerald 36).
This movement resulted in permanent physical and psychological scars of the participants. They had participated in it while in their student years and most of them had their education disrupted and their lives ruined. As for those who went to other countries in search of better lives, they faced feelings of guilt for leaving their friends to fight for the good of Beijing alone.Conclusion
The Chinese revolution occurred in phases and contributed a great deal towards making China the successful country it is today. As much as there are a number of negative impacts of the movements that were undertaken during the revolution, the positive counteracts the negative and with time the scars of the Chinese people have healed resulting in an economically successful country where political order and culture are well organized.
The stories and films produced after the revolution of China portray exactly what the Chinese people had to go through during and after the wars, and the long term effects careless policy implementation and decisions led by greed could have on people. Many youths were instructed to move to the farms to learn from the peasants because living in the town was believed to make people lazy. The end result was a lot of the poor and uneducated generation referred to as the “The lost generation” of China.
Chinaculture.org. The White Haired Girl. 19 January 2004. Web. 15 April 2012
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