What Was Life In China During The 80s?


China is the third-largest country in the world by landarea, spanning roughly 9.6 million square kilometers. It is also the most populous country in the world, with records showing around 1.428 billion people in 2017. The vast land has several divisions, regions, municipalities, and provinces, which are all ruled under the same government, the Communist Party of China.

Interestingly, China is one of the world’s first civilized countries, starting as early as the 21st century BCE, under the rule of the Xia dynasty. The early government of China consists of hereditary monarchies, also known as dynasties.

From the early years of China, they make efforts to preserve their culture and tradition, including their arts, industries, values, and lifestyles.

Moreover, from 1978 up to the beginning of the 80s, China is one of the world’s fastest-growing countries with a growth rate of six percent annually. With this said, we will further look into life in China, and mainly – what was life in China during the 80s?

Post-Mao Generation

For nearly two decades, China was under the rule of Mao Zedong, starting from 1949. During the leadership of Mao, many people live in fear and poverty, and freedom was not a privilege that everybody has. Those who witnessed the era of Mao experienced hardships in life – whethereconomic, social, and cultural. They described the Mao generation as a monotonous way of living because of the system that the leaders impose on the government – not embracing the idea of foreign trade and not giving liberty to their people, mainly caused their economy to collapse.

However, everything changed after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976, followed by the fall of the Gang of Four. This event changed the political tides in China, and Hua Guofeng quickly took over.Guofeng introduced new policies and proposed systems to help the country’s economy. In 1978, Deng Xiaoping became the leader of China, which marked the era of reform and opening. During the start of his generation, he created new policies and opened foreign trade, which significantly helped the country’s economy. All children born during the rule of Deng were what the elders call – the little emperors.

The economic status of China rapidly grew over the years and was the fastest-growing country during the late 70s. During the 80s, people started to live a typical life under the leadership of Deng. Unlike the Mao generation, people became free and gained the liberty of voicing out their thoughts, even personal opinions about the government. There is a relative difference between the period of Mao and Deng.

During the time of Deng, several markets and industries opened, providing more jobs to the people. Furthermore, the people of China gained hope in having a better life, and they have the free will to choose whatever career they wanted to do; open stores, businesses, and other structures. Unlike during the Mao generation, the officials give specific tasks for the people without their initiative.This freedom significantly improved the country’s economy since people are more eager to work and earn not just for themselves but for the economy.

Another remarkable milestone during the 80s is agricultural success in China. Their agriculture dramatically rose during the early 80s. In 1978, their grain production was 305 million tons, while in 1984, it increased to 907 million tons.

Many people considered the 80s as the new China and started new lives with hope and optimism. People are free to hang out, go to parties, and learn more about the outside world. Because of this, the western culture reached China and influenced their style, art, music, literature, and many others.

One-Child Policy

In 1979, China introduced a new way to control the country’s rapid population growth and continued throughout the 80s until 2015. The One-child policy is a birth planning program designed in hopes of reducing and maintain the country’s population significantly. From the name itself, the idea is to have one child only for each family. However, because of several reasons, there are a lot of changes in this policy over the years. One factor is if the child is a daughter, then the family would be allowed to have another child. Because of this, experts regarded the one-child policy as a misnomer since the term didn’t apply to most families in China – a large number of them having two children instead of one.

From the era of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor who unified China and set the foundation for its imperial history, to the dynamic changes of the 1980s, China’s journey is a testament to its resilience and capacity for evolution. For a deeper understanding of the roots of this ancient civilization and the impact of its first emperor, check out our post titled Why Is Qin Shi Huang Considered China’s First Emperor?

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