Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Joyce Madancy




government, china, project, china’s, cultural


This thesis examines the similarities and differences between major government campaigns during the Mao era and major government projects in China today. It uses the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution as representative of Maoist campaigns. The Three Gorges project is analyzed as an example of a major project carried out under the modern Chinese government. In each case, government motivations and methods of implementation are explored along with the consequences of the government’s action. Several themes common to both the Mao and modern eras are traced throughout the paper in order to provide clear points of comparison and contrast between the past and present governments. Mass mobilization, China’s desire to become self-sufficient, the idea that man should conquer nature, and environmental degradation are all components of the Great Leap Forward, Cultural Revolution, and the Three Gorges project. In all of these categories except China’s desire to become self-sufficient, the motivations behind government decisions today differ significantly from those during Mao’s reign. The methods through which each of these policies was implemented have also changed since Mao death. However, despite these changes, the negative consequences of the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution remain very similar to those caused by the Three Gorges project. This is due largely to the fact that the Chinese Communist Party is still in power. Although China has new leaders, many of the principles of Maoist China still exist within the government. Of these principles, the authoritarian nature of government and the legacy of China’s leaders controlling nature have contributed most to the continuation of government projects that negatively impact China and its people.