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To What Extent did the Gradual Abandonment of the Maoist Development Paradigm Between the years 1978 and 1988 Improve or Worsen the Lot of the Chinese Peasant?

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Introduction

To What Extent did the Gradual Abandonment of the Maoist Development Paradigm Between the years 1978 and 1988 Improve or Worsen the Lot of the Chinese Peasant? Unlike most modern dictators, Mao Zedong seems to have escaped the posthumous discredit that seems his due. He is still a national hero, and considered the father of the Chinese people. Although his political legacy may have avoided destruction, his economic one has not. Soon after his death, the ascension of Deng Xiaoping caused the beginning of a process that would change China from a large but inefficient nation to a world leader, poised to overtake America as the largest economy on Earth. It is fairly obvious that for the Chinese economy as a whole, the reformist policies of Deng and his successors were good news, but in the great capitalist game there are always losers as well as winners. In this instance the losers may well have been the rural peasants, the people that the party set out to protect. Was the transition from a centrally planned economy for the benefit or the detriment of the rural worker? There are many issues that must be addressed before an examination of the question proper can begin. For a start, it must be shown that the policies of Mao were actually abandoned. According to Diana Hunt, the Maoist Development Paradigm had as its central aim the abolition of all income differentials (you're right she does, but is she correct?), be they between individuals or regions. At the same time he wanted the social ownership of all productive assets to lead to a greater material abundance for the people. He was keen to develop and balance productive forces and productive relations, in the knowledge that it was important not only to have the capital and labourers to produce goods but also the correct relations to manage and integrate them. ...read more.

Middle

As mentioned earlier, this should lead to an implicit rise in rural incomes. As is evident from the graph, the gradual rise in rural incomes is roughly matched by that of state food prices. It can therefore safely be assumed that the rising prices of food had a positive impact upon the incomes of peasants. Because the price rises were deliberate, it can once again be said that the policies of Deng improved the situation of the peasant. Despite their huge importance, agricultural prices were not the only issue of significance for determining peasant incomes. Output levels, employment rates in different industries, food to cash crop production ratio, unemployment, as well rural industry all affect peasants' wealth. Between 1978 and 1984 per capita grain output rose by 78kg a year, an index rise of 24%. Cotton production went from 2.3kg to 5.9kg, a rise of 156 %, and meat production went from 9.0kg per person per year, to 14.9kg, a rise of 65.6%!7 When the government abandoned forced grain self sufficiency which had before been imposed on the collectives, more specialisation and diversification was possible. This is the main reason for the increased range of production, and therefore another way in which policy change helped the peasants. Because more diversification was allowed, the proportion of peasants working in agriculture dropped from 90% in 1978 to just 79% in 1988. Transport, building, commerce and industry all expanded greatly as a result of the loosening of laws, and the result was greater consumption production? options for the people. It was not all good news however. The freeing up and dismantling of the communes had the effect of greatly increasing unemployment. In 1978 there were 25,549,000 'surplus' rural workers, compromising 9% of the rural workforce. What does 'surplus' mean in this context? By 1987 this figure had risen to 111,255,000, meaning that 36% of the rural workforce was 'surplus to requirements'.8 One of the effects of this was the urban migration that occurred during this period. ...read more.

Conclusion

of an east coast resident being around 6 times that of a peasant. Communism is no more in China, with repression and human rights abuses the only remnants of an abandoned doctrine. Bibliography: * J. Zink, China's One Child Policy, axe.acadiau.ca/~043638z/one-child/index.html * C. Riskin, China's Political Economy, Oxford, 1991 * Kueh and Ash, Economic Trends in Chinese Agriculture, Oxford, 1993 * P. Nolan, The Political Economy of Collective Farms, Cambridge, 1988 * China SSB, Zhongguo Tonji Nianjan (ZGTJNJ) (Chinese statistical yearbook), 1989 * J. R. Taylor & J. Banister, China: The Problem of Employing Surplus Rural Labour * G. Heilig, Can China Feed Itself, http://www.iiasa.ac.at/Research/LUC/ChinaFood/index_h.htm * Z.X. Simon & T.S.P. Christopher, Spatial Disparities, Inflation, and their Impact on China's Investment Environment in the 1990s and Beyond, Hong Kong Baptist University * S.G. Powell, Agricultural Reform in China 1978-1990, Manchester, 1992 DEPARTMENT OF HISTORICAL STUDIES PROJECT FEEDBACK SHEET NAME: Joe Inwood TOPIC: Reforms MARK: 70 Very Good ? Satisfactory ? Needs More Attention STRUCTURE AND FOCUS Engagement with question as set ? Clear development of argument Good Sustained analytical approach Good Relevant deployment of evidence Good Effective introduction ? Range of issues covered Good Effective conclusion ? QUALITY OF ARGUMENT/EXPRESSION Clarity and fluency of writing ? Use of vocabulary and grammar ? Appropriate use of quotations ? Acknowledgement of sources Good Use of relevant analytical concepts ? Awareness/use of historian's ideas ? Independence of thought Good Ability to reflect on/interpret the past ? Presentation ? Length ? RANGE OF KNOWLEDGE Range of reading and knowledge ? Sense of historical development ? Integration of general/detail ? Use of IT (Excel, Access etc) ? Use of IT (Internet etc) ? COMMENTS A thoughtful, perceptive and carefully put together Project. You develop your theme quite effectively. I think you underestimate the effect of the rise of rural industry on peasant incomes (at least after the initial rise in agricultural prices). You also need to take account of the effect of various subsidies to the urban population. On the whole though, a good Project. There is no evidence that you have used any web-based material. ...read more.

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