A Half Century Later
Various Chinese leaders had quite different levels of interest in "united front (UF)" sectors such as the democratic parties and groups (DPG). Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin paid little attention to them. Mao Zedong, on the other hand, used to take such UF organs very seriously. Hu Shi had a great appreciation of the DPGs. Perhaps in part out of his own desperation to expand his inadequate political base, from 1977 until 1986 he assiduously cultivated relations with them. Many of the changes in the DPGs had to do with events in Taiwan. The new policies toward the parties were in part a guarded response to the toleration of opposition parties in Taiwan and elsewhere in the hitherto Leninist world. China's official policy was to encourage contact between the DPGs and Taiwan's parties. DPG people were particularly outspoken on the need for greater freedom of information and ideas.