chapter  8
15 Pages

Post-socialism and cultural policy: the depoliticization of culture in late 1970s’ and early 1980s’ China

China’s post-Mao history has had its twists and turns,1 but the late 1970s and early 1980s saw a most vibrant transition brought about by the decision of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to adopt market-embedded mechanisms and abandon some of its socialist ideals. The Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1978 marked the beginning of Deng Xiaoping’s so-called Open Door Policy.2 However, the pursuit of wealth was not the primary state policy of this transitional period; the PRC was preoccupied with measures to guarantee national unity and political stability, which the country desperately needed. Unlike many post-socialist countries in the 1990s, in which market logic quickly superseded state control, and the mass media turned to powerful political and economic figures for financial support and patronage,3 the PRC continued to hold tight to its cultural control. However, state attention to culture shifted from political propaganda to pacification, in the sense that the people were granted cultural freedom as long as cultural practice did not interfere with government administration. While both entertainment and intellectual culture manifested a pluralization, they were also increasingly depoliticized.