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Title: Zhao Ziyang and the elite politics of the People's Republic of China, 1980-1989
Author: Gewirtz, Julian
ISNI:       0000 0004 7232 8558
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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This doctoral dissertation examines the history of the elite politics of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in the crucial period 1980-1989 by centering on Zhao Ziyang (1919-2005), who served as Premier of the State Council (1980-1987) and then as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (1987-1989) before his purge, house arrest, and official erasure. Using newly available, exceptionally rich primary source material, this dissertation analyzes Zhao's roles and the complex dynamics of his time in Beijing and engages in a substantial scholarly reappraisal of the elite politics and economic reform policies of the transformational decade of the 1980s. Drawing on new insights into the political, economic, and ideological debates of the 1980s, this dissertation deepens scholarly assessments of the politics of economic reform by arguing that the specific reform agenda that China pursued and which has been ascribed to Deng Xiaoping was, to a far greater degree than the dominant historical writing has acknowledged, the product of Zhao's vision and policymaking. His erasure has led to a major distortion of both scholarly and popular narratives of China's post-Mao development of "reform and opening" policies. On wide-ranging fronts as diverse as urban and industrial reforms, science and technology policy, and adjustments to China's governing formulations and ideology, Zhao must be restored to the center of the narrative. The dynamics of Zhao's time in power demonstrate that numerous different possibilities for China's development remained open throughout the decade and were contested as the leadership determined China's path through a process of policy development and competition in which ideas and individuals competed for influence. This dissertation concludes that despite Zhao's status as a historical non-person, both his actual historical role and his erasure by the CCP remain at the heart of enduring questions about China's future.
Supervisor: Mitter, Rana Shantashil Rajyeswar Sponsor: Rhodes Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available