China Since 1900

Chage under Mao 1949-63

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  • Created by: Farrah
  • Created on: 27-03-11 04:11


- CCP prove capable of providing strong and effective government
- Opposition to be removed or brought under control

- Very poor
- Industrial production 50% down
- Food production 25% down
- Manchuria had been occupied by the Japanese
- Rapid inflation

- Peasants couldn't read or write
- Chinese people didn't want change
- Mistrusted all modern ideas in farming, industry, education, medicine and women's rights

- Most of world refused to recognise communists
- USA continued recognise GMD in Taiwan
- Only Soviet Union would help the new China 

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Land Reform

June 1950 - Agraruab Reform Law - to speed up the process of land reform

Peasants encouraged to hold mass meetings - 'People's Courts' or 'speak bitterness'. Became increasingly violent - execution of landlords

By 1952 - two and three quarter million landlords killed

1950-52 - more than 47 million hectares (nearly half cultivated land) taken from landlords given to 300 million peasanst

Land reform proved disappointed to many peasnats - did not have the equipment and finance to cultivate aid.

Many set up mutual aid teams (about ten holdings) worked together on land and shared animals and tools

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The state took over major banks, the railways and much heavy industry

1951 - People's Bank - replaced private banks and controlled the issue of money
Removed inflation by the mid-1950s by insisting on buying and selling at low fixed prices

Gov. dealt with food shortages - made farmers sell 20% of their grain to the gov. at fixed low price. Had to pay an Agricultural Tax.

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1950 - Marriage Law - placed women legally on an equal basis with men.

Broke power of the traditional male-dominated family

  • Prohibited child marriage and matchmaking for money
  • Carefully laid down rights of women and child
  • Provided equal pay and maternity benefits. Also child care at workplace - women were encouraged to work outside home
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First Five-Year Plan 1953-57

By 1952:

  • Inflation was down from 1000% to 15%
  • A new currency, the yuan, had been introduced
  • Public expenditure reduced
  • Taxes on city dwellers increased
  • GMD already set up a national Resources Committee and 200,000 of its workers stayed in China
  • Mao able to call upon Soviet advisers as well as a loan of 3 billion
  • 1949-57 population of China's cities grew rapidly - 57 to 100 million

Main areas of concentration were coal, steel and petro-chemicals. Seven hundred new production plants built in central China and Manchuria.

All remaining private industry taken over by gov. All businesses still in Chinese hands taxed so heavily, until owners gladly handed over.

Light industry (cotton-making, food-processing) neglected. Slow growth in the standard of living with a shortage of consumer goods, especially bicycles.

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First Five-Year Plan 1953-57


Coal production increased from 63.5 million tons (in 1952) to 124 million (in 1957)

National expenditure rose from 6,810 million yuan (in 1952) to 29,020 million yuan (in 1957)

Economic growth ran at 9% per annum

The Plan was aided by the presence of 10,000 advisers from Soviet Russia as well as Russian machinery and equipment

Some 13,000 Chinese students were trainees in the Soviet Union

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  • Peasant farms were too small to be efficient
  • Unable to provide needs for rapidly growing cities
  • Mao feared if peasants kept their land, would become a new class of landlords - concerned only to make profits and opposed to any change

1953 - Lower-stage cooperative
30-50 families, usually of one village, pooled their land and their labour to make one bigger, more efficient farm.
Although the families still legally owned their plots of land, the land was on permanent loan to the cooperative (paid each family a rent for its use).

Higher-stage cooperatives - 200-300 families, a group of villages.
Families were not paid rent for the use of their land. They received only wages for their labour. Had to surrender title deeds to their land, equipment and their animals to the cooperative. Allowed only a few square metres  for personal use.

End of 1956 - 95 out of every 100 peasant families had joined HSC. Within 6 years of the Agrarian Reform Law, most of the 300 million peasants were once again landless.

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Mass Campaigns

1950 - The Three Mountains campaign 
Against feudalism, capitalism and imperialism. 

1951 - Three Antis Campaign
Against corruption, waste and too much bureaucracy (red tape). 

1952 - Five Antis Campaign
Get rid of bribery, tax evasion, fraud, theft of gov. property and spying. People found guilty of these were sent to labour camps to be 're-educated' with though reform 

Throughout 1950s - Swat the Fly
Every citizen asked to kill at least 10 flies per day. 

1951 - The Movement for the Study of Mao Zedong's Thought
Involved close study of his writings combined with public self-criticism at Party meetings. 

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The Hundred Flower Campaign 1956

Allowed free discussion and criticism of the gov. and its work.
"Let a hundred flowers bloom" - free speech and argument were healthy and should be encouraged.

  • Mao appears to have believed now - possible to allow greater freedom of expression in China
  • By 1956 CCP losing much of its early popularity - city population rose by 40 million -> over-population, food shortages, housing problems and shortage of consumer goods
  • Many peasants weren't keen on losing ownership of their land
  • Mao heard local CCP officials had been accused of acting heavy-handedly and wanted to hear other opinions
  • 1954 - President Liu Shaoqi delivered a report to the Congress of the CCP, mentioned Mao's name 104 times. 1956 - next Congress Liu mentioned Mao only 4 times
  • Campaign may have been an attempt to discover any potential opponents
  • Autumn of 1956 - Wang Meng published a short novel which attacked laziness and incompetence in the communist bureaucracy
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The Hundred Flower Campaign 1957

Many people openly criticised the Plan, especially university lecturers, artists, writes and teachers.

Party individuals and policies were attacked as being corrupt, inefficient or unrealistic - even Mao.

Leading figures in gov., education and the arts were attacked for their failures.

June 1957 - MZD suddenly cracked down on his critics. Anti-Rightist campaign - designed to flush out any critics of CCP and the gov. and purge the Party.

  • Leading critics forced to retract their statements
  • University lecturers, school teachers, economists, writers and artists had to make public confessions and submit themselves to 're-education'
  • Others sacked from their jobs
  • People forbidden to speak freely. Press was censored.
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The Great Leap Forward 1958


  • Mao wanted another revolution - hand control of agriculture and industry
  • He believed these were being run by middle class 'experts'
  • Still much unemployment in towns, cities and countryside - ineffective use of resource of manpower
  • Determined to turn China into a powerful industrial nation ASAP
  • Pace was too slow and money to set up new factories were scarce

Party propaganda

Posters, slogans and newspaper articles encourage mass enthusiasm as well as hours of long work no matter the conditions or weather

Wherever people worked, loudspeakers played revolutionary music and stirring speeches encouraging workers to go beyond their targets.

Many impressive construction projects finished in record time.

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The Great Leap Forward - Industry

  • Central planning was abandoned in favour of local organisation
  • Small commune factories set up to make all kinds of industrial products such as cement, ball-bearings and chemical fertiliser

Backyard Steel Campaign

600,000 BSF were set up in towns and villages all over China

Before long, they had turned out 11 million tonnes of steel - 65% more than the output for 1957


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GLF aimed to develop agriculture as well as industry - key to achieving this was the reorganisation of the Chinese people into communes.

Communes were groups of villages which varied in size. Average commune contained about 500 families who gave up their land, animals and equipment to common ownership by all members of the commune.

Purpose was to release what Mao called 'the tremendous energy of the masses' - made sure time and effort not waste, members of a commune could work at a great variety of tasks.

Communes organised so that nothing could distract people from their work.

  • Around 4 million communal eating halls set up -> number of people spent time cooking meals were reduced
  • Several million children put into nurseries and schools -> parents freed for full-time work
  • Old and infirm people moved into 'houses of happiness' -> families didn't have to take time off work to look after them 
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Communes controlled almost every activity in person's life - combined several different functions.

1. Commune was a unit of local gov., with a commitee made up of peasants, Party members and soldiers running schools, clinics, nurseries, eating halls etc.

2. Commune was a unit of work organisation. Work of the commune divided among work teams and grouped into work brigades.

3. Commune was a unit of the CCP, with a Party committee making sure that the commune always followed Party decisions.

By end of 1958 - about 700 million people (roughly 90% of population) placed into 26,578 communes in all parts of the country.

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The Great Leap Forward - Results


  • Thousands of small factories were inefficient and wasteful
  • Most of 'backyard' iron and steel was poor quality - unusable
  • Furnaces took too much of country's coal supplies - many steam locomotives could not operate
  • Party workers urged people to work faster to produce more
  • Old and overworked machines fell apart and factory workers fell asleep at their machines


  • Many peasants moved from farming to industry - food production slumped
  • By 1961, C. had to buy grain from abroad whilst strict rationing prevented a famine
  • Three years of disastrous harvest caused by floods and droughts. Reduced harvest of 1960 by 144 million tonnes
  • 1959-62 - some 20 million Chinese died of starvation and related diseases


  • Many were too large to be run efficiently
  • Peasants resented loss of private plots and the attack on family life
  • All received same wage
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GLF - Why It Failed

  • Series of natural disasters - badly affected harvests. 1960 - north and central C. had worst drought for hundred years. Yellow River dried up. Further south - serious and widespread flooding
  • Mao fell out with Soviet leader, Krushchev. 1960, J, ordered all scientists and engineers working in C. to return home -> C. seriously short of technicians and expertise needed to build up its economy
  • Factories under construction could not be finished without Soviet assistance. Some factories already built had to be closed down - supply of spare parts from S.U. dried up
  • Mao made GLF in too much of a hurry. Didn't give enough thought to practical problems
  • IT WAS NONSENSICAL. Major industrial development needed capital investment, technology and planning. Mao was afraid he would lose control of the revolution
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Three Bitter Years - 1959-61

Some Party leaders blamed Mao personally for what had happened and demanded his resignation. Mao resigned as China's head of state in late 1958.

China was now controlled by three leading communists:

  • President Liu Shao-chi
  • Prime Minister Chou En-lai
  • The CCP General Secretary, Deng Xiaoping

Introduced new more realistic economic policies:

  • Late 1960 - abandoned GLF
  • Thousands of factories closed down. Other factories grouped together and technicians and professional advisers sent in. People encouraged set up own businesses and bonuses given for increased output.
  • Millions returned from manufacturing to farming. Private garden plots returned to peasants.
  • Communes reduced to one-third of original size -> more manageable
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Tallylah Lilac


Really really useful....Thanks :)

Josie Randall


Really helpful, covers almost everything. Thank youu!!! :D

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