The Political Evolution of China

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Through numerous changes in imperial leadership, all Chinese monarchs viewed their immense population as members of one family. The people in turn revered each emperor as the "Son of Heaven" and believed that Heaven could bestow this title (and its divine authority) onto any mortal being. Thus, the founding of new dynasties was accepted by the Chinese people and provided legitimacy to successful revolutionaries.

For 50 years during the 20th century, the people of China experienced violent political upheaval. China evolved from an all-powerful monarchy through a succession of quasi-democracies to a country ruled by the Communist Party. Yet even under the decades of Mao Zedong's leadership, Mao played the same fatherly yet godlike role as the ancient imperial emperors. Today under the present regime, the Chinese version of communism is as much a form of nationalism and unity as it is of socialism.


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