Agriculture and Industry 1949-65

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  • Created on: 20-05-16 16:08

1950 Agarian Reform Law

- Portrays landlords as ruling class

- Mao wants to rally peasants onto his side 

- Needed a claim that he'd successfully adapted Marxism to China

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Attacks on landlordism and redistribution of land

- Eradication of landlord class

- Military help to silence hostiles and help Party officials organise Work Teams 

- Work teams calculate how much tax people owe depending on their land, label villagers, and create anti-landlord paranoia

- Public humiliation with possessions confiscated and divided amongst other peasants - victims often executed or beaten up by other villagers - shows a peasant-led revolution

- End of 1951 - 10 million landlords lose land and 40% land changes hands

- Death toll between 700K and 3 million

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Moves towards agricultural co-operation

- Moves towards collectivisation due to new class of landowners - measured approach taken of about 15 years 

- 1951 - groups of about 10 families encouraged into MATs (Mutual Aid Teams) to pool equipment, livestock and labour

- 1952 - successful MATs converted to APCs (Agricultural Producers' Co-operatives) of 40-50 families - keep private ownership

- Many APCs rushed into being made, leaving many in debt from buying equipment 

- Mao calls for slowdown in spring 1953 - things stabilise by 1954 but many start selling food and land

- Mao calls the slowdown a 'rash retreat' and renews pressure on APCs

- Rural protest due to grain requisitioning during poor harvest 1954

- Mao calls for 'Stop, Contract and Develop' for next 18 months 

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Moves towards agricultural co-operation (ctd.)

- July 1955 - Mao calls for all-out collectivisation - 17 million houses July 1955 to 75 million January 1956

- Many new APCs become higher HPCs with 200-300 households - no longer own land/equipment and profits based on work points

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Impacts of agricultural co-operation


- Carried out quickly        

- Party control increased

- Shows Mao's authority


- Own means of food, land and production


- Nobody owns their own land 

- Peasants seen as servants of the party rather than allies

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Impacts of agricultural co-operation (ctd.)


- Low labour productivity

- Low cultivated land per head 

- 1st FYP - food production only increases by 3.8% per annum - not enough to feed growing indus. workforce

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People's Communes: Reasons

- Continue the revolution - didn't want it to be becalmed by bureaucrats

- Pool larger resources of equip. and labour - higher food yields and more peasants freed for construction projects

- More manpower for water control projects in winter 1957-58

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People's Communes: Organisation

- 'Walking on Two Legs'

- Modern economy: farmers - grain - indus. workers - steel

- Expand communes and mobilise workforce for water conservancy projects

- First commune is Sputnik with over 27 collectives and 9K houses

- Internal passport system introduced - unable to move anywhere without one

- 750K collectives into 26K communes with 120 million houses 

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People's Communes: Communal living

- Same as before only with an added sense of communal identity

- Workers divided into production brigades

- Tractor stations provided

- Become units of local government (public health, education, policing etc.)

- Abandoned 'bourgeois' emotional attatchements for regimented lifestyle - ideals of utopian socialism

- Frees people up from domestic jobs

- Communes planned to expand into cities

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People's Communes: Abolition of private farming

- All private property surrendered

- Communist values become the norm

- No motivation to work with everyone receiving the same rewards

- Competition within communes - lack of sleep and stealing of supplies

- Loss of personal freedoms and possessions creating a military dimension

- Men between 15-50 must join the militia

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People's Communes: Lysenkoism

- Trofim Lysenko - Ukrainian agricultural scientist who Stalin relied on during the Great Famine of the 30s

- 1958 - made an official policy in China with an 8-point programme 

- Potentially dangerous ideas - 1000s peasant homes destroyed for soil fertilisation - pest control results in insect manifestation after culling of birds

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People's Communes: The Great Famine (1958-62)

- Mao announces the whole country had been collectivised into 26K communes 


- Mao trying to mobilise masses for engineering projects whilst launching the 2nd FYP

- Substistence farmers expected to provide huge surpluses for communes

- Too much acceptance of Lysenkoism 

- Technical experts purged in Antis campaigns 

- Cadres issue overly enthusiastic reports to please superiors

- Lack of reward and private ownership damages productivity

- Mao prioritises industrialising China over millions of peasant lives

- Could have been prevented if Mao had listened to Peng Duhai at the Lushan Conference 

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People's Communes: The Great Famine (ctd.)

What happened?

- 30-50 million deaths 

- Worse in rural regions - 25% Tibetan pop. wiped out to destroy their identity

- Wives and children sold, prostitution, banditry and some cases of cannibalism 

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The First Five Year Plan (1952-56)

Why its not immediately introduced:

- Sort out nationalist opposition

- Reward peasants for their revolutionary support with land redistribution

- Reduce inflation rate from 1000%

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1st FYP: USSR Financial and technical support

- Despite difficulties between Russia and China, Russia was still an inspiration 

- 1951 -  inflation rate cut down to 15% through cuts on public spending, increases in tax and replacing the Chinese dollar with the Yuan 

- Sino-Soviet treaty 1950 arranges Soviet advisors to come to China - over 10K civilian technicians bring specialist knowledge 

- Russia lend China $100 million which China had to pay back with loans and bullion stocks

- Adoption of Lysenkoism 

- 'Soviet brutalist'style buildings replace classical Chinese buildings

- Chinese delegates visit Moscow to train in propoganda and governmental organisation

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1st FYP: Targets

- Make PRC self-sufficient in food and manufactured goods to protect China from a Capitalist world

- Set from above by economic planners rather than in response to consumer demand

- Resources towards heavy industry

- Fear from 'five antis' brings private ownership to an end in 1956

- People encouraged to invest into patriotic saving schemes - which is directed into indus. 

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1st FYP: Successes and Failures


- More migrate to cities - 57 million 1949 to 100 million 1957

- Urban living standards improve - wages and job security increase

- Most sectors reach targets - annual growth rate at 7%


- Figures unreliable

- Soviet guidance higlights shortcomings in workers' skill and literacy

- Competition for resources between private and SOEs - unresolved until end of private ownership 1956

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The Second Five Year Plan (1958-62)


- Economic 

  • Industrialisation depends on a more productive agric. to feed workers
  • Conservatives want a 'carrot' approach with consumer goods and higher food prices
  • Radical hardliners want a 'stick' approach with food requisition and punishment for slackers - Mao finds this too risky as 70% of the party are peasants

- Political

  • Mao wants to show China's independence
  • Go from socialism to communism by 'walking on two legs'

- Personal

  • Mao's confidence high with rapid collec., his successful provincial tour 1958 and impressive work on water conservancy schemes 
  • Local cadres want to prove their credentials in light of the anti-rightist campaigns
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2nd FYP: Backyard Furnaces

- Autumn 1957 - Mao says steel prod. will x4 over next 4 years

- Dec 1957 - Liu Shaoqui says China will overtake Britain in steel and iron over next 10 years

- 1958 steel target from 6-8 million in May to 10.7 in September

- Mao orders backyard furnace campaign to acheive these targets

- Families urged to build their own - becomes more important than education

- Sep 1958: 14% China's steel from Backyard furnaces - October: 49%

- Spring 1959 - leadership realise only large smelting plants are making quality steel

- Economicaly and ecologically damaging - vast amount of woodland destroyed for fuel

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2nd FYP: SOEs and construction projects


- Nationalisation in 1956 - incentives removed to work harder

- 'Iron bowl' - workers enjoy high job security, high wages and medical benefits

- No longer any bargaining for better conditions

Construction projects:

- Water conservancy projects in late 1957 with millions of peasant workers

- Some irrigation schemes are complete disasters - Three Gate Gorge Dam designed to control flow of Yellow River but is rebuilt within a year

- Colossal costs of lives and labour with only some relatively successful

- Increase in salinisation (salt in the soil)

- Expert advice brushed away if it threatens delay

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2nd FYP: Successes and Failures


- Increase in output of raw materials - 131 tonnes coal 1957 to 290 tonnes 1959

- 1964 - development of nucelar weapons


- Inadequate quality control threatens China's reputation as a trading partner 

- Leadership lack basic managerial and technical skills 

- Lack of planning makes Mao's lack of scientific/technical knowledge clear 

- 1962 - 1/2 heavy indus. goods and 3/4 light indus. goods than 1958

- Slow prod. epecially in manufactured goods

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2nd FYP: Lushan Conference (July 1959)

- Assess the Great Leap Forward (2nd FYP) at the end of its first year

- Mao brings Jiang Qing to use her influence on the Shanghai wing of the party

- Only Peng Duhai stands up to Mao - isolated as a trouble maker and sacked


- Economic - GLF can continue, embarking on a 'second leap' and pushing on agriculture

- Political - Made clear that Mao's only critic could be himself

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The Third Five Year Plan (1963-65)

- Liu Shaoqui and Deng Xiaoping put in charge:

  • Break up communes
  • More realistic targets set
  • Relaxation of persecution to help factories reach targets
  • Most initiatives drawn up by Chen Yun - Yun was good at presenting facts to Mao by blaming the people who carried his orders out
  • Shift back to centralised control
  • Financial incentives introduced - agric. prod. back to 1957 level and oil and natural gas prod. rockets
  • Mao fears this retreat, calling it dangerous 'revisionism'

- Jan 1962 - Mao calls conference of 7000 cadres to discuss drift from communist principles - Shaoqui criticises Mao for avoiding blame so Mao simply accepts responsibility as Chairman

- Chen, Liu and Deng want enterprise and planning with private trade as a work incentive -   Mao wants mass mobilisation to avoid bourgeois class emerging

- Summer 1962 - Mao attacks right of the party, asking if China are taking the 'capitalist or socialist road'

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