In the Wake of Mao
The PRC from Mao to Now

Mao lying in state with hysterical masses streaming past
Zhao Cai Jin Bao (Chinese symbol ushering in wealth and treasure)
Deng Xiaoping on the cover of Time Magazine as 1979 "Man of the Year"
Deng Xiaoping
The Post-Mao Transition
People's Daily Newspaper (December 22, 1980)The first open sign of a change in thinking came ... on December 22, 1980, [when] the People’s Dailycarried a front-page article saying that Mao Zedong had made mistakes in his late years, especially in initiating and leading the Cultural Revolution, mistakes which had brought grave misfortunes to the Party and the people. But the assessment of Mao’s historical role was a delicate matter for the Party. Many of the leaders, formerly associates of Mao, had themselves been the victims of his policies during the Cultural Revolution. However, if they were simply to condemn the Chairman posthumously, they risked reopening the question of Party authority in a way that might jeopardize their own hold on power. A resolution adopted by the Central Committee in June 1981 formally blamed Mao for the mistakes of the Cultural Revolution, which had “brought catastrophe to the Party, sthe state, and the whole people.” But as Hu Yaobang ... declared the following month, Mao committed most of his errors in his later years. “It is clear that from the perspective of his entire life, his contributions to the Chinese revolution far outweigh his mistakes.” The Party’s final conclusion was that Mao had been correct 70 percent of the time and incorrect only 30 percent of the time and that his errors had mostly occurred near the end of his life. (China: Its History and Culture, 228-9)
“Had Mao died in 1956, his achievements would have been immortal. Had he died in 1966, he would still have been a great man but flawed. But he died in 1976. Alas, what can one say?” (Chen Yun, senior Communist Party official under Mao and Deng, in The Economist)
Zhao Cai Jin Bao (Chinese symbol ushering in wealth and treasure)
Beijing 2008 Olympic poster with Mao Zedong drinking Coca Cola
Socialism with Chinese Characteristics
[Deng Xiaoping’s] most distinguishing personal characteristic was pragmatism: he was widely quoted in the English-language press as saying that it does not matter whether a cat is black or white as long as it catches mice, and “seek truth through facts” (shishi qiu shi) became the slogan that the reformers heavily promoted in China. Market forces, the pursuit of profit, and even stock exchanges gradually became tolerated. To the extent that some Marxist theoretical justification was still necessary for such apparently capitalist behavior, it came to be argued that because China was still only in the “initial stages of socialism” a little capitalism was only to be expected. ...
Deng Xiaoping cartoon with the words "It doesn't matter if it's a black cat or a white cat: if it catches mice, then it's a good cat!
Outside critics objected that China’s gradual, piecemeal, hybrid approach to economic reform could not possibly succeed, comparing it to trying to leap over the Grand Canyon in [a] series of small jumps rather than one big leap, but in practice it actually seems to have been more effective than the big-bang sudden shock therapy reform that was attempted in the former Soviet Union, where gross domestic product (GDP) actually contracted sharply after the initial privatization in the 1990s. According to American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimates of purchasing power parity, by 2014 the real size of China’s GDP was almost five times that of Russia’s, although the Russian economy had originally been much more developed. ... Although most Chinese people remain poor by the standards of the world’s most developed countries, hundreds of millions of Chinese people have been lifted out of the direst poverty, and China’s major cities have become utterly transformed. (HEA, 370-1)
Zhao Cai Jin Bao (Chinese symbol ushering in wealth and treasure)