Modern China is an enigmatic country by today's standards concerning economic values and political ideals. The "communist" government that Mao Zedong brutally sculpted and administered has gone through an intensive transformation. The days when Marxism and Socialism supposedly provided guidelines for Chinese economic policies have passed. Now the government exists as a quasi-communist authoritarian regime supported by a market economy.
Economic progress is commonly associated with democratization, and in many cases this theory holds true. Taiwan is the exemplary East Asian model of a formerly authoritarian regime turned democratic due in part to economic development. Yet some nations, Singapore for example, maintain healthy economies and high standards of living despite the presence of authoritarianism within the government. Although China has experienced noteworthy economic development over the past twenty years, its government has not made any significant progress towards democracy. .
The Chinese economy stagnated during the social-oriented rule of Mao in the 1950's. Instead of focusing on the modernization of the country's agricultural-based economy, China's leader intended to install the many values and doctrines of communism into Chinese society. It was evident that economics took a back seat to Mao's greater vision of a communal society, " Stalin emphasized only technology, technical cadres. He wanted nothing but technology, nothing but cadre; no politics, no masses Stalin speaks only of the production relations, not of the superstructure, nor of the relationship between superstructure and economic base Stalin mentions economics only, not politics."1 The chairman of the People's Republic believed that once communism had grown deep roots in his country's society, economic development would inevitably follow. .
The failure and disastrous aftermath of "The Great Leap Forward" brings to light many aspects of the precarious relationship between economic progress and political policy in pre-reform China.