Life After Mao – September 9-10, 1976 – Past Daily Reference Room
Click on the link here for Audio Player – CBS News – China After Mao – September 10, 1976 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
For those of you who don’t know who Chairman Mao was (and for those of you who do, imagine my shock at how many actually don’t), Mao Tse-Tung was leader of Communist China, from the early days of its turmoil and revolution until September 9, 1976 when he died at the age of 82. He turned China from an isolated backward nation holding one-fifth of the worlds population to putting China on the map technologically and reshaping the future of Communism in Asia. A ruthless dictator who ran purges which killed millions of his fellow countrymen, Mao was feared and despised but respected. And his death in 1976 raised a number of questions over his successor and what would be the future of China, now that its spiritual and political leader was gone.
China’s future was uncertain. Mao was so intertwined into the daily lives of so many people it was inconceivable anyone else could do it. Mao had picked successors, but no one knew who they were. For the rest of the world, it was a case of wait-and-see.
Within hours of his death, news spread quickly throughout the world, and analysis over the future of China ran rife.
One such program was a special broadcast by CBS News. Called simply; China After Mao, it was a panel discussion broadcast on September 10, 1976 giving some history of the Communist leader’s rise to power, the many changes that took place, and like everyone else, speculated on what would transpire over the coming months and years.
No doubt, the Communist China of today bears little or no resemblance to the Communist China of Mao’s time. Whether it will continue to change and reinvent itself is still up for speculation – or whether some series of circumstances will put the genie back in the bottle is always an open question. A glimpse of that was seen during the Tiananmen Square Free Speech Movement and how the violent crackdown on dissidents left many with the feeling things could conceivably change at any time.
In 1976, they were feeling the same way.
Here is that discussion program, China After Mao from CBS News as broadcast on the evening of September 10, 1976.
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