"Every perception is to some degree an act of creation, and every act of memory is to some degree an act of imagination."
-- Gerald Edelman, Second Nature: Brain Science and Human Knowledge
2 Chapter 6: The Big Cycle of China and Its Currency2020-10-09Journal
After these 1971-72 moves of rapprochement and appeasement, US relations with China and trade and other exchanges began.
1976 was momentous because that was the year Zhou Enlai died (in January 1976), Mao Zedong died (in September 1976), and China faced its first generational change.
From 1976 to 1978 there was a fight for power between the Gang of Four (hardline conservatives who fostered the Cultural Revolution) and the reformists (who wanted economic modernization and opening up to the outside world and were against the Cultural Revolution). Deng and the reformists won, leading to Deng Xiaoping becoming the paramount leader in 1978. There are always political fights about how to govern and who should have what powers. They are especially brutal when the power transition process is not crystal-clear and abided by all the key players who have power. Amid this political fighting there are different factions that both fight with the other factions and compromise to make decisions to govern. For the governing system of an entity to survive (i.e., of a family, an organization, an empire, a dynasty) these factions must put the entity’s survival and prosperity above all else, certainly above any individual’s opinions and power, and reach compromises to achieve that sustainability. That was the case in China at the time. There were factions of leaders of the communist revolution who cared deeply about this new dynasty’s survival (i.e., the Communist Party’s survival) and were in the positions to make decisions about how it should be managed. In the time between Mao’s death and Deng gaining the primary leadership role, a consensus among those powerful leaders was reached to give the interim leadership role to another senior leader (Hua Guofeng), who was a classic compromise choice in that he lacked the strength to be too offensive to most people and to retain the leadership position. The more hardline Gang of Four faction, which was led by Mao’s wife, lacked skills, lacked broad support, and, with Mao gone, lacked the leader’s support, so they were quickly disposed of. Deng, who was very experienced, committed to China’s communist revolution since its earliest days, and widely respected, was an obvious choice to either be a top administrator (i.e., premier) or a rival to Hua. Over time broad support among senior party loyalists, especially the reformists, emerged for Deng to be the primary leader among equals, which led to his gradual ascendency.