A relaxing, educational podcast covering China's modern history, current events, and academic analyses of China's politics, society, and culture in a variety of mini-series. Starting with the history of the 20th century, this podcast aims to explore all facets of the history of China, from the major events to the smallest local changes, to give you a full picture of the development of one of the world's most powerful nations. As the series develops, we will discuss Chinese art, religion, politics, culture, and economics, bringing the country's past to life. If you're more interested in modern China, stay tuned for the modern China series where we talk about how the CCP exercises control, makes people disappear, and encourages loyalty. We also get on the ground and talk to the people of Hong Kong about their recent experiences with the protests in the territory in 2019.
Episode 44: Religion, superstition, and the party 1949-1965
In this episode we go over the CCP's attitudes towards religion during the first 15 years of the PRC to 1965. These developments are important for understand why anti-religious sentiment reached such a fever-pitch during the Cultural Revolution, as well as why there has been a resurgence in interest in religion since the country's opening up in the 1980s.
We discuss the five officially recognised religions - Daoism, Buddhism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism - as well as Confucianism, and the local folk religions that were all thrown under the umbrella of 'superstition'. We start by examining the origins of the the anti-religious mood of 20th century China, which actually began as early as the late Qing dynasty. We then discuss the secularisation of China, and the institutionalisation of religions that made them easier to oversee and control.
There is a sudden change in audio around 15 minutes in because I had to change recording locations. Hopefully it's not too distracting, I tried to get the volumes to be the same!
Religion in Republican China 3:30
Marxism and Religion 9:08
CCP Religious Policy - Confucianism 10:45
Folk Religion 42:15
Religious Resurgence post-Mao 45:56
Episode 43: The Third Front
In this episode we'll be discussing the Third Front, a covert industrialisation campaign that took place between 1964 and 1972 in China's remote, mountainous interior. This little-discussed campaign actually formed a crucial part of China's Cold War policy strategy, and despite its clandestine nature cost billions of yuan in resource and personnel allocation, as well as for construction and transportation. The Third Front was part of China's preparations for war with either the US, the Soviet Union, or their allies in the region, especially after the US joined the Vietnam War in mid-1964. Major industrial and military complexes were built in southwest, central-west, and northwestern provinces, which were also interconnected by new railway lines and powered by grand hydro-electric dams.
In the end, the Third Front fizzled out, especially after the relationship between China and the US improved, Minister of Defence Lin Biao passed away, and particularly after the death of Mao Zedong. Many of the projects remained uncompleted, with others suffering from the pains of rushed construction, rendering them useless in the long-run. Despite its short run however, the Third Front did have have a major impact on China's economics and politics during the 60s and 70s, and deserves our attention as an important factor in China's Cold War policy formation. It also gives us another lens through which to view Chinese history, one which relies less on social history and a Maoist lens, and takes into consideration external factors that caused major shifts in the sentiments of the CCP leadership even during major domestic events such as the Cultural Revolution.
Don't forget to check out "Mao's Third Front: The Militarization of Cold War China" by Covell Meyskens, which you can purchase on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Maos-Third-Front-Militarization-China/dp/1108489559
NB: About 4 minutes in I accidentally say Gansu twice - I meant to say Guizhou the first time and Gansu the second!
Episode 42: The Socialist Education Movement, 1962-1966
In this episode we discuss the Socialist Education Movement (SEM), a campaign conducted in the Chinese countryside from 1962-1966 in order to restore socialist values and purge pernicious 'capitalist tendencies' that had reemerged after the Great Leap Forward. The period 1962 to 1965 generally saw Mao attempt to regain control over the cultural and ideological spheres in both the countryside and the cities, but ultimately these attempts failed to make a lasting impact. They were likely instrumental in encouraging Mao to stop relying on the Party cadres and intellectuals to continue as the vanguard of the revolution, and instead launch the Cultural Revolution to reinvigorate socialism in China and boost the prestige of his own cult of personality.
Episode 41: Post-Leap Economic Recovery & Struggles in the Party Leadership
Now that we understand the Great Leap Forward, we turn to the period just after the leap to see how China began to recover from economic and political disaster.
Two factions emerged in the party's leadership - a moderate group who wanted to allow some market forces to help boost the economy and reduce inflation, and the leftists who still believed in Mao's vision. Instead of ousting Mao when they could, the leadership decided to let the chairman keep his position, while taking all economic powers away from him. Their failure to denounce his role in the Great Leap Forward, however, left him ample space to stage a comeback, which eventually led to the launch of the Cultural Revolution in 1966.
Episode 40: The Sino-Soviet Split Part 2
This is the second of two parts covering the events that led to the breakdown in relations between China and the Soviet Union between 1958 and 1964.
In this episode we discuss the heating up of tensions, the publication of polemics, and the personal disagreements that served to worsen the situation. We talk about how external events such as the Cuban missile crisis were used by Mao to further his own political agenda, both at home and abroad, while also destabalising Krushchev's position. Finally, we outline the major causes of the downfall of Sino-Soviet relations, which could not be saved even with the introduction of a new government in the Soviet Union.
Episode 39: The Sino-Soviet Split Part 1
This is the first of two parts covering the events that led to the breakdown in relations between China and the Soviet Union between 1958 and 1964.
This episode covers the years 1958 and 1959, and discusses the major ideological differences between the two nations which led to them disagreeing on how to handle international relations with Taiwan, the US, and India. We also see how China's domestic policies served as a point of contention with the post-Stalin Soviet leadership, who saw Mao's cult of personality and the setting up of communes as a return to the horrors of the 1930s.
Best china history podcast
This show has it all folks: culture and how it influences history! Amazing work. Please keep it up!!
Great details and engaging
I love this podcast! As a high school history teacher it is a fantastic resource for teaching. The episodes are short enough that students are able to maintain focus and they are packed with excellent details.