Contemporary Period

(1949- )

From September 21 to 30, 1949, the First Plenum of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) was held in Beijing, with the participation of various political parties, popular organizations, non-Party democrats and representatives from all walks of life. The CPPCC drew up a Common Program, which served as a provisional constitution. It elected a Central People's Government Council, with Mao Zedong as Chairman, and appointed Zhou Enlai Premier of the Government Administration Council and concurrently Minister of Foreign Affairs. On October 1, 1949, a grand ceremony inaugurating the People’s Republic of China was witnessed by 300,000 people in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. On that day, Chairman Mao Zedong solemnly proclaimed the formal establishment of the People’s Republic of China.

The early days of New China were a period of economic recovery. While developing production, China gradually  established socialist public ownership of the means of production. From 1953 to 1956, large-scale socialist transformation of the national economy was implemented, the First Five-Year Plan (1953-1957) for the development of the national economy was achieved ahead of schedule, and China established and expanded basic industries necessary for full industrialization, hitherto non-existent domestically, producing airplanes, automobiles, heavy machinery, precision machinery, power-generating equipment, metallurgical and mining equipment, high-grade alloy steels and non-ferrous metals.

The 10 years from 1957 to the beginning of the “cultural revolution” in 1966 was the period in which China started large-scale socialist construction. The nation’s total industrial fixed assets quadrupled between 1956 and 1966, and the national income increased by 58 percent in terms of constant prices. The output of essential industrial products increased several-fold, even over tenfold. A group of new and developing industries were founded, and large-scale agricultural capital construction and technological transformation unfolded on a large scale. Both the number of tractors used in agriculture and the volume of chemical fertilizer increased by more than 600 percent. The 12-Year Plan for Scientific and Technological Development (1956-1967) was completed five years ahead of schedule. Outstanding achievements were recorded in many new fields of science and technology.

However, during this dynamic decade, serious mistakes were also made in the Party and government’s guidelines, harming the national economy.


On October 1, 1949, Chairman Mao Zedong declared the founding of the People's Republic of China on the forum of Tian'anmen Square.

In 1992, Deng Xiaoping inspected the Shen Zhen Special Economic Zone of Guangdong Province.


From the evening of Dec. 31, 1999 to the morning of Jan. 1, 2000, people from all walks of life in Beijing gathered at the newly-built Altar of Centenary to celebrate the coming of the new century. The picture shows President Jiang Zeming at the celebration ceremony.


The “cultural revolution,” which lasted for 10 years from May 1966 to October 1976, was initiated and led by Mao Zedong, the then chairman of the CPC Central Committee. Taking advantage of Mao Zedong’s mistakes in his later years, the Lin Biao and Jiang Qing counter-revolutionary cliques, unbeknownst to Mao, engaged in activities that brought great calamity to the country and people, causing the most serious setbacks and most damaging losses to the country since the founding of the People’s Republic of China. In spite of the grievous mistakes Mao Zedong made during the “cultural revolution,” his lifetime record shows that his contributions to the Chinese revolution far outweighed his errors.

Drawing on the support of the broad masses of the Chinese people, the CPC smashed the Jiang Qing clique in October 1976. A new era of development unfolded in Chinese history. In July 1977, responding to the fervent demands of all the people, the CPC reinstated Deng Xiao-ping in all the Party and government posts he had been dismissed from during the “cultural revolution.” The Third Plenary Session of the CPC 11th Central Committee held at the end of 1978 represented a great turning point of profound significance in the history of New China. Since 1979, China has pursued a policy of reform and opening to the outside world, a policy which was initiated by Deng Xiaoping. The errors of the “cultural revolution” and the earlier “Leftist” deviations have been rectified, and the focus has been shifted to modernization. Major efforts have been made to readjust the economic structure, and reform the economic and political systems. China is,  step by step, establishing a road with Chinese characteristics, a road that will lead to socialist modernization. Great changes have come about in China since 1979. The situation in the country is the best ever, and the people are enjoying more material benefits than ever before.

Jiang Zeming, since taking office as the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPC in 1989 , Chairman of the Military Committee of the CPC and the President of the People's Republic of China, is leading the third generation of the leading body to carry out Deng Xiaoping's theory, persist in and continue the policies and principles of reform and opening to the outside world advocated by Deng Xiaoping, making the country stable, economy developed and foreign relations promoted and winning the support from the people.

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Last updated: 2000-07-13.