Deng’s early “reforms” initiated in the late 1970s were aimed at improving efficiency in the economy. But once the Chinese bureaucracy had embarked down the road of capitalist incentives the whole process had a logic of its own, sucking China more and more down the road of capitalist restoration. This did not happen all in one go. There were several key turning points which are analysed here.

From a Marxist point of view the 1949 Chinese Revolution, in spite of its bureaucratic deformations, was the second most important event in human history after the Russian Revolution. It led to the abolition of landlordism and capitalism and the end of imperialist domination. Now, however, capitalism dominates in China. How did this happen? Here we present Part One of a document approved by this year’s world congress of the International Marxist Tendency which looks at events from the revolution up to the end of the Mao era.

The march towards capitalism is not a simple straightforward process. There are opposition voices within the bureaucracy, but more importantly capitalist development has created a massive working class and this is now being expressed in the growing level of strikes.