Repression has often been associated with natural disasters such as flood and famine, threatened or actual invasions by alien barbarians and periods when the central government's hold over the people has been weakened by internal corruption, nepotism and decay. According to Philips (2000, May 17), "3,000 years of history show no concept of individual rights or freedom of expression" (p. M 1). The Economist (1998, September 19) said: "the Chinese constitution's high-minded guarantees of free speech and association are not taken seriously" (Could, p. 55).
In the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, the regime headed by Mao Ze-dong committed gross abuses of human rights and killed many millions of its citizens. Mao's version of Marxist Leninist orthodoxy peaked during the Cultural Revolution of the late 1960s which Hsu (1990) described as "a decade of civil strife that drove the country into bankruptcy" (p. 702).
Mao died in 1979. His ultimate successor, Deng Xiaopeng (Deng) (1904-1997), became China's undisputed leader in 1982. Deng gave overriding priority to the modernization of the Chinese economy which required access to Western technology and trade. Schaller (1990) said Deng believed that "economic growth, not class struggle, must become China's priority" (p. 199). Deng, however, never wavered from his belief that China must continue to follow his Four Cardinal Principles, first an