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Was Mao’s China A Temporary Aberration?

Was Mao’s China A Temporary Aberration?

Author: Omar Burhanuddin,

St. Paul’s School, Barnes, London, United Kingdom

Advisor: Edward Beesley, St. Paul’s School,


In this paper, it is argued that the aberration in China's modern history was not the Maoist period, so much as the 'Century of Humiliation' which directly preceded it. Owing to significant but frequently overlooked continuities between pre-1839 dynastic and Maoist China, Mao's China primarily represented a national restoration. To bolster this argument, it is also shown how this revisionist thesis has great explanatory value in the present: in both illuminating why Mao remains the most revered figure in China's modern history, and in contextualising the current practises of the Chinese Communist Party within a longer nationalist lineage. Moreover, this 'restoration not aberration' thesis is entirely compatible with recognising and condemning the indefensible human evil of the Maoist period. Flaws in this grand continuity-centric interpretation of Mao's China are also identified.

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