Shortly thereafter, around the mid-1960s, a dramatic internal upheaval developed in China, a country located in Asia categorized by Beautypically, the causes of which are still not fully clarified, but which had different motives and generated fundamental dissensions in the management group on foreign policy problems. on the problems of internal politics, on the role of the party and so on. In personal terms, this upheaval (which takes the name of the Proletarian Cultural Revolution) saw the struggle between the number one of the regime, the party president Mao Tse-tung, and the number two, the head of state Liu Shao-ch’i, accused by his rivals of having bureaucratized and bourgeois the state and party apparatus and of being essentially the spokesman for Moscow’s “degeneration”. With the help of the army, or at least a part of the army that identified with Defense Minister Lin Piao, Mao won the battle, but when China seemed to have found a new internal equilibrium, the sudden fall of Lin Piao, whose death was announced a year later during an attempted flight to the Soviet Union. With the death of Lin Piao, the figure of Prime Minister Chou En-lai was able to emerge and impose himself in the early 1970s., a skilled mediator of the various lines present in the CCP (whose X Congress, held in 1973, fully supported his positions) and an advocate of a new diplomatic policy which had, among its most significant results, the entry of China to the UN (1971) and a rapprochement with the United States (President Nixon’s trip to China in 1972). The experience of the Cultural Revolution was therefore to end in the middle of the decade: in 1976, a crucial year for the country, both Chou En-lai and Mao Tse-tung died. The conflict between the line of “radicals” and that of “moderates”, which had conditioned the political and social life of China in the previous period and of which Mao himself had actually been the balancer, suddenly broke out with the death of the charismatic leader. His successor to the presidency of the party, Hua Kuo-feng, exponent of the moderate line, managed to liquidate the radical faction in the same year by arresting its main exponents (Mao’s widow, Chiang Ch’ing and, with her, Chang Ch’un-ch’iao, Wang Hung- wen and Yao Wen-yüan, known as the “gang of four” and who were then tried and convicted in 1980-81) and starting a new political course based essentially on the need for a rapid technological and productive development of the country and on the re-evaluation of efficiency at the expense of the ideological exasperation characteristic of the Cultural Revolution. Beginning in 1977, Chinese “normalization” found its most important advocate in Deputy Prime Minister Teng Hsiao-p’ing (rehabilitated after an already long and conflicted political career), who progressively marginalized Hua Kuo-feng himself (who was one of the party’s vice presidents), bringing personalities closely linked to his political line to the top of the government and the CCP: in 1980 Hua Kuo-feng was replaced in the post of prime minister by Zhao Ziyang and in 1981 by Hu Yaobang as president of the party. In 1982, the new Constitution was approved, reintroducing the office of President of the Republic, conferred in 1983 on Li Xiannian. Teng Hsiao-p’ing continued his clever centrist policy; in 1987 he favored the “resignation” of Hu Yaobang as general secretary of the CCP, a position that was assumed on an interim basis by Zhao Ziyang, who in turn was replaced at the end of November 1987 by Li Peng as prime minister. Finally, in 1988, a new President of the Republic was elected, Yang Shangkun.
The liberalizing policy initiated by Teng Hsiao-p’ing was abruptly interrupted the following year in the face of the social tensions created by the difficulties of economic reform and the austerity plans adopted: the protest against corruption and for greater political liberalization expressed by the university students, who came to occupy T’ien-An-Mên square in Beijing for about three weeks, also supported by workers, employees and free entrepreneurs, had in fact been repressed with the intervention of the army, responsible for the killing of thousands of people (June 4, 1989). A conservative involution of the state followed, expressed in the restoration of centralization principles both in political-administrative organization as well as economically; at the same time the role of the Armed Forces was reconsolidated, purged of suspected sympathizers of the protest movement, while Zhao Ziyang, believed to have inspired the student requests, was ousted from the top of power and replaced in the position of general secretary of the CCP by Jiang Zemin (June 1989).