China: Agriculture & Industry, 1949-65


Early changes in agriculture 1949-57

  • Mao needed to increase the food supply for industrial workers
  • He needed to increase popularity in the countryside 
  • Chinese landowners were feudal class enemies 
  • Work teams of cadres sent Landlords to struggle meetings 

Agrarian Land Reform 1950:

  • "Land to be redistributed to the Tiller"
  • Summer 1952 43% of the land had been redistributed to 60% of the population 
  • 1950-52 Ag production increased by 15% p.a. 
  • 1-2million landlords executed 
  • GMD still retained influence within the South, preventing land reform 
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Move towards agricultural co-operation

  • 1951 Mutual Aid Teams introduced (MATs):
  • Peasants households into teams of 10 or fewer,
  • effective and popular.
  • Private ownership 
  • 1954 Agricultural Producers' Co-operatives 1954 (APCs):
  • 30-50 households
  • Landholdings collective
  • State takes a small share
  • 1953-54 Ag production grew by less than 2%

Lui Shaoqi & Zhou Enlai claimed China was not ready

July 1955 Full collectivisation. By end of 1956, almost 88% of peasants were in Advanced APCs (150-200 person collectives, membership compulsory and pragmatism abandoned)

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1956 Mao believed everyone was ready for the next stage of collectivisation, Communes:

  • 5,500 households average size 
  • First was introduced in July 1958, named Sputnik 
  • Vision: self-sufficient, women burden free
  • Reality: Disaster, food poor and diets worsened, women forced to long harsh labour
  • Mao blamed poor production on vermin
  • Launched Four Pests Campaign, wasting time on sparrow killing
  • Plagues of locusts ruined harvest as result 

By 1958 99% of peasants were in communes, private ownership abolished. 

  • Lysenkoism, soviet agrobiologist,
  • encouraged close planting and deep ploughing.
  • Resulted in crop yields falling dramatically and helped produce famine 
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The Great Famine 1958-62

False reporting arose from terror from Hundred Flowers Campaign, leading to a spiral of unreachable production quotas. 

  • 8million starved to death in Henan, 9million in Sichuan 
  • 15-30million died due to famine
  • Food consumption dropped by 25% rural, 8% urban 
  • Outbreaks of cannibalism
  • Birth rates plummeted  

Luism 1962-65 

  • Lysenkoism dropped 
  • PLA on farms to allow privatisation 
  • Backyard furnaces removed 
  • Importation of food (short-term)
  • By 1965 Ag production had returned to the rate of 1957
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The First Five Year Plan, 1952-56

  • Closely modelled the USSR plans for industry. (1953 USSR fastest growing economy)
  • Ideological and Practical, USSR one of few trading partners after Korean War
  • Sino-soviet Mutual Assistance Treaty of February 1950
  • a loan of $300 million 
  • 11,000 experts for technical help

Targets: Quickly increase China's Heavy Industry, to also supply PLA with modern weapons 

  • Successes: Annual growth of over 9% 
  • Bridge over Yangtze River
  • Living standards and job security achieved
  • The population of towns doubles to over 100million
  • CCP established control over people 
  • 115% of coal target production achieved
  • 129% of steel target production achieved 
  • Failures: Many factories sacrificed quality for quantity
  • Low levels of literacy and basic skill (held back Growth long term)
  • China's administration lacked managerial experience (bottlenecks)
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The Second Five Year Plan (GLF), 1958-62

  • Reasons: Agricultural production was still low
  • Mao wanted China to be the leading communist power in Asia
  • Success of Industry in the FFYP gave him confidence 
  • Optimistic of communism, "East wind is prevailing over the West Wind"-1957 Moscow
  • Wanted to be "Walking on two legs" 
  • After the anti-rightist campaign, no political opponents 

State-owned enterprise, nationalisation of firms- inefficient, little incentive to be productive. 

  • Successes: Small-scale irrigation, steel and oil
  • Tiananmen Square remodelled, propaganda success
  • Ideologically, communal living was the closest China had been to communism 
  • Failures: Unrealistic targets 
  • Three-gate gorge & Yellow River projects poorly planned, environmental destruction
  • Backyard furnaces: produced poor steel, destroyed consumer goods
  • By 1962 industrial production had dropped by 40% from the 58-9 level.
  • by 1962 grain production had reduced from 200miltons 1958 to 160miltons 1962
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Lushan Conference 1959

Lushan Conference 1959- 

  • Minister of Defence Peng Duhai voiced doubts about grain harvests
  • Wrote a personal letter to Mao, believed status would protect him
  • Mao made letter public, accused as rightist and replaced by Lin Biao
  • No criticisms of Mao were welcome

Liu, Deng economic reforms 1962-65:

  • Mao forced to take a step back 
  • Liu and Deng pragmatists
  • Restored central control 
  • Factories told to make tools to help agriculture 
  • By 1965 Industrial production was almost double that of 1957
  • Light Industry grew at 27% per year
  • Heavy industry grew at 17%
  • Experts released from Laogai
  • Communes reduced in size and given greater freedom 
  • Private work improved incentives, by mid-1960s private production made up 1/3 of incomes
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