The Great Leap Forward Campaign of PRC    

 

The Great Leap Forward of the People's Republic of China (PRC) was an economic and social campaign of the Communist Party of China (CPC), reflected in planning decisions from 1958 ...More

 

Thu, Jul 7, 2011 10:21 AM | Cascade view | views: 1181

Great Leap Forward,大跃进,Agricultural collectivization,Backyard furnace,Sending off satellite
The propaganda pronounced China would surpass UK in 15 years and catch up US in 30 years.

By Bernd Chang

 

The Great Leap Forward of the People's Republic of China (PRC) was an economic and social campaign of the Communist Party of China (CPC), reflected in planning decisions from 1958 to 1961, which aimed to use China's vast population to rapidly transform the country from an agrarian economy into a modern communist society through the process of rapid industrialization, and collectivization.

At the beginning of the Great Leap Forward (大跃进) in 1957, Mao proclaimed that China would overtake Britain in production of steel and other products within 15 years. And by 1988, China would have an economy that rivaled USA. This episode was called surpassing Britain and catching up USA (超英赶美).

A year later, Chinese government radically revised the timeline for catching up to Britain -- what was to be accomplished in 15 years now had to be done in just one more year.

In pursuit of its goals, the government executed people who did not agree with the pace of radical change. The crackdown led to the tens of thousands of deaths by 1958.

People were mobilized to accomplish the goals of industrialization. The most famous campaign was to produce steel by masses (大炼钢铁).During the campaign as many as 600,000 backyard furnaces (土高炉) were erected nationwide. The Chinese were also forced to work together on massive building projects, including one undertaken during the winter of 1957-58 in which more than 100 million peasants were mobilized to build large-scale water-conservation works.

Chief changes in the lives of rural Chinese included the introduction of a mandatory process of agricultural collectivization, which was introduced incrementally. Private farming was prohibited, and those engaged in it were labeled as counter revolutionaries and persecuted. Peasants were forced to form people’s communes (人民公社). The geographical size of a commune varied but most contained about 5000 families. People in a commune gave up their ownership of tools, animals etc so that everything was owned by the commune. People now worked for the commune and not for themselves. The life of an individual was controlled by the commune. By the end of 1958, 700 million people had been placed into 26,578 communes.

Local leaders competed with one another to see who could create the most activity. In the rush to recruit labor, agricultural tasks were neglected, sometimes leaving the grain harvest to rot in the fields. In the frenzy of competition, the leaders over-reported their harvests to their superiors in Beijing, and what was thought to be surplus grain was sold abroad. This phenomenon was called “Sending off satellite” (放卫星).

Although in theory the country was awash in grain, in reality it was not. Rural communal mess halls were encouraged to supply food for free, but by the spring of 1959, the grain reserves were exhausted and the famine had begun.

The Great Leap ended in catastrophe, resulting in tens of millions of excess deaths. The Great Leap Forward was actually Great Leap Famine. Estimates of the death toll range from 16.5 to 46 million, with estimates by demographic specialists ranging from 18 to 32.5 million. Historian Frank Dikötter asserts that "coercion, terror, and systematic violence were the very foundation of the Great Leap Forward" and it "motivated one of the most deadly mass killings of human history."

However, until today, the Chinese government blames “three years of natural disaster (三年自然灾害)” and “Soviet Union pressing for payment of debts (苏联逼债)” for the actually human made catastrophe. All mainland Chinese have been taught in this way.

In subsequent conferences in 1960 and 1962, the negative effects of the Great Leap Forward were studied by the CPC, and Mao was criticized in the party conferences. Party members less economically left-wing like Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping rose to power, and Mao was marginalized within the party, leading him to initiate the Cultural Revolution in 1966.
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
Party newspapers such as the People's Daily were the major player in "sending off satellite" campaign. Within less than a year, without any major scientific breakthroughs, the newspaper claimed that China's grain output per Mu (亩,0.167 acre) had increased from two or three hundred Jin (斤,0.5 kilogram) to several thousand or even tens of thousand Jin by the almost illiterate Chinese peasants.
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
Other provincial party newspapers refused to admit inferior to the national party newspaper. Sichuan Youth Daily claimed that a commune had created grain output per mu of more than 10 thousand Jin.
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
Rice output per mu were up to 15 thousand Jin.
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
China's missile father Qian Xuesen ( 钱学森, 11 December 1911 – 31 October 2009) argued that grain output of 10,000 jin per mu was possible.
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
In 1958, through a parade, people were propagating the party policy of three flags (三面红旗): general path, people's commune,great leap forward.
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
The peasants were making steel with backyard farnace. People were mobilized to accomplish the goals of industrialization. The most famous campaign was to produce steel by masses (大炼钢铁).During the campaign as many as 600,000 backyard furnaces (土高炉) were erected nationwide.
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
The private iron tools were collected to produce steel.
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
To realize the goal of make 10.7 million tons of steel in 1958, communist cadres and ordinary Chinese without any knowledge of making steel were mobilized to work on the farmland, along the hill or in the campus.
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
A backyard furnace were erected in First Middle School of Xiamen.
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
A spectacular human made scene was only seen in Mao's China: tens of backyard furnaces for making steel lined on the farmland.
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
Steel was also made in Zhongnanhai, the power center of communist China.
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
Local leaders competed with one another to see who could create the most activity. In the frenzy of competition, the leaders over-reported their harvests to their superiors in Beijing and to party newspapers, the editors of which also pretended to believe them and widely reported the great achievements. These phenomena were called "Exaggerative Wind" (浮夸风) or “Sending off satellite” (放卫星).
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
A commune claimed that they harvested 120,000 jin (60,000 kilogram) grain per mu (1/6 acre).
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
A commune named Jianguo First in Machen County of Hubei Province had harvested 36,956 jin (18,478 kilogram) rice per mu. In the picture, the crops had produced so much rice that children could even stand on the crops.
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
The major contributors for realizing harvest of 36,956 jin rice per mu were the four almost illiterate peasants in the picture.
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
People were watching members of the Jianguo First Commune reaping first season rice in the farmland claimed to have the highest output per mu.
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
New record of output of middle season rice had been created in our country.
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
Members of the people's commune in Xiangcheng County of Henan Province were digging 4 meters deep into the "satellite farmland" as a measure to increase output of grain.
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
This piece of farmland owned by Gaofeng Commune in Jiyang County of Anhui Province had an area of only 1.04 mu, but the spike of rice were more than 0.6 meter high. It had taken 300 and more peasants to finish reaping all the rice.
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
The 1.04 mu farmland of Gaofeng Commune had turned out 16,227 jin rice. Look, the rice heap had looked like a hill.
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
Members of Changfeng Commune in Xiaogan County of Hubei Province which had produced 15,361 jin rice per mu were continuing the triumphant pursuit by planting second season rice seedling very densely.
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
A patch of experiment farmland with an area of 3.67 mu in Tongli Commune of Wuchang County of Hubei Province had produced 50,866 jin rice. One of the members, Zhou Xidong, aged 75, said :"I had been in agricultural activities for tens of years, I have never dreamed that one mu of farmland can produce so much rice!".
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
Rural peasants and their children were having meals in the commune mess hall. During the Great Leap Forward, rural life was completely collectivized. Peasants were required to eat, work together.
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
Wish rural commune mess hall become better and better.
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
Good news had come one after another in industrial field
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
Every day a new kind of tractor had come to birth.
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
Short term weather broadcast technology had catched up world level.
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
This truck had hauled 50 trailers, had capacity of tonnage of 150 and could run at speed of 30 kilometers per hour.
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
Great achiements of our motherland
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
Posters during Great Leap Forward: More steel should be made to safeguard peace, and hammer USA and Chiang Kai-shek to death.
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
A wall picture showed pig were big like a buffalo。
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
The pumpkin were bigger than a human.
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
Wow! Such a big pumpkin!
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
Crops had grown like a tree
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
Earthnut could be used as ship to carry people to cross Yellow River.
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
Cotton tree had grown to meters high.
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
Contrary to the propaganda, the actual conditions were desastrous. It is estimated at least 30 million people starved to death from 1959 to 1961. But due to strict control of the party, few photos were taken to describe the famine. This picture is rarely seen, which disclosed the true face of the Great Leap Forward.
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
Chairman Mao visited his hometown in Shaoshan, Hunan. The picture shows few of the peasants wore shoes in not hot weather!
Great Leap Forward,大跃进
In this group picture, except Mao and an old man, the peasants wore no shoes.
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Past coverage: Great Leap Forward   大跃进   Agricultural collectivization   Backyard furnace   Sending off satellite  

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