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How Far Did Life Improve For Women, Landlords, Businessmen And Peasants Between 1949 And The Early 1960s In Communist China?

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How Far Did Life Improve For Women, Landlords, Businessmen And Peasants Between 1949 And The Early 1960s In Communist China? Over China's long history, through countless dynasties, the Chinese have endured immense hardship. Even by the twentieth century there was widespread suffering, and after many years of conflict culminating in a bitter power struggle and Civil War, the Communist Red Army finally emerged as victor and on the 1st October 1949, Mao Zedong announced the creation of the People's Republic of China. But this revolution was far more than a new flag and leader - Mao had massive ambitions for his new country. Before the revolution, the long- suffering people of China's 10 million square kilometres had undergone a hard life. The vast majority of people were barely managing to survive and women were abused, children starving and peasants had no land of their own. An "eleven year old" girl was put "in chains. ... She had been tortured and her face was swollen"1 by the Japanese. Meanwhile, a few despotic landlords and businessmen abused their power and exploited the hard-working peasants whilst steadily increasing their wealth. However, Mao had a difficult task to achieve in order to improve China try and recover years lost warring. The very nature of its vastness provides a communication problem in itself, and daily life and opinion varied greatly from province to province. A faltering economy, a quarter of the world's population to feed and disrupted infrastructure were all major obstacles but the Communists succeeded in introducing considerable changes over the years. Women arguably benefited most from Mao's new China. ...read more.


Mao recognised their importance and in turn, the refreshing air of the honest Communists meant that over 100 million Chinese were loyal to them before revolution in 1945. As the peasant population was so vital for Mao's vision of China, it's important to see how he changed their lives and how they benefited from a Communist revolution. Before the revolution, taxes were high and food sparse - though, the lucky peasants living in liberation areas benefited from tools, land, food money, freedom and interest-free loans from the Communists. Firstly, peasants (especially those classified as 'poor') obviously benefited from the land redistribution plan detailed above. Also, the aforementioned "speak bitterness" meetings gave the people a feeling of revenge and freed them from the all-powerful rule of landlords. However, despite receiving about 47 million hectares of land, a fundamental lack of tools and equipment meant many peasants couldn't cultivate their new land. This set-back spawned the idea of mutual aid teams - roughly ten families pooling their labour and equipment for a common aim. About forty percent of peasants had joined in schemes like this by 1952 and it spurred the greatest food production increase of the decade10. Peasants had to sell a small share of their harvest to the government at a fixed price but by late 1952, the scale of operations was stepped up. Lower-stage co-operatives started forming, involving thirty to fifty families (about one village). Peasants joined together and shared but although each peasant still legally owned his land, a low rent had to be paid to the co-operative as a whole. ...read more.


Earlier on, the Three Antis (and later Five Antis) campaign caused the killing of hundreds of thousands of people accused of corruption, waste and bureaucracy. Looking back, it's easy to point out the many mistakes made, but there's no denying some feats achieved by the Communists were remarkable. A revolution is "an instance of great change in affairs"20 and Mao certainly brought about a "great change". However, the question is, how did these changes affect people's lives? The peasants were influenced a lot by Mao's brand of Communism. Weighing up the ups and downs since 1949 I'd say life improved for the vast majority of peasants and guessing upon the outcome of Chiang Kaishek's continued leadership, they would be much better off in Communist China. Personally, I'd say that women benefited as a general group the most. The Marriage Law and similar rulings significantly changes their lives for the better and there was little brought about by the Communists that made life any worse for them. It was definitely an improvement on living under the Kuomintang and peasant women would gain doubly. The obvious losers in this revolution were the landlords and businessmen. However, for many classified under this category, if you followed the wishes of Mao, it was relatively easy to escape any major punishment. You'd still be reduced to the class of a peasant, and the businesses that were allowed to continue trading never made as much profit for their owners. Although many landlords and businessmen and landlords lost out and were even killed, if you played your cards right, things wouldn't turn out too bad. Obviously though, you'd never again see the rose-tinted days of KMT rule... ...read more.

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