• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

To what extent may the Great Leap Forward launched by Mao in 1958 be considered a failure?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

To what extent may the Great Leap Forward launched by Mao in 1958 be considered a failure? When the Communist party came to power in 1949 after a brutal war against the Nationalists, China was in a devastated state. War against Japan had resulted in the destruction of many of it's cities including Beijing. China's people were left scared with the horrific memories of the Japanese army's horrendous acts. Rescuing China from the gutter was to prove to be a difficult task for Mao Zedong and his communist comrades. In order to understand the fundamental problems with the Great Leap Forward, previous reforms must be considered in order to fully assess the reasons for the it's failures. One of China's most notorious problems was land ownership. Most of China's land was owned by cruel landlords. Peasants were being exploited and were forced to work long hours for poor pay and terrible living conditions. Mao used this in order to take a fundamental step in assuring that he had total control over the people. He introduced the policy of land reform. Mao re-distributed 40% of China's land and gave it to the peasants. This proved to be a truly brilliant political decision as he swept the hearts of the peasants on his side. He realised that as 90% of China's population were peasants, he needed to appeal to the masses. This policy was considered a success as an estimated 60% of the entire population benefited form the reform. ...read more.

Middle

By the time the he announced the launch of the great leap forward 70% of women were employed. The success of the first 5 year plan can be explained by several factors. The targets set were plausible and most importantly Mao had the help of Russian economic and agricultural experts. However Mao deeply mistrusted experts. Some may argue that this was one of the main reasons for launching the hundred flowers campaign. In order to lure out intellectuals and opposition Mao gave a speech in 1957. During this speech Mao encouraged the intelligentsia to 'constructively' criticize the communist party. At first the movement was slow to take of but once Mao forced the media to get behind it, people started speaking their minds about Mao's regime. Communist party members were being heavily criticized and the Chinese people demanded reform. Mao, not uncharacteristically decided to reverse the policy in May 1957. This was to result in a crackdown on the intelligentsia known as the 'anti rightist campaign'. Over 300,000 people were sent to labour camps. The hundred flowers was not simply a way at removing the intelligentsia, it was a way of removing Mao's opponents, and this was to make the launch of the Great leap forward less difficult and certainly less questioned for the few experts that remained would be too terrified of speaking against the communist party chairman. ...read more.

Conclusion

According to Jung Chang and Jon Halliday "Mao aim was to dehumanise China's 550 million peasants and turn them into the human equivalent of draft animals" Mao had betrayed the peasants and was going to trade the peasant's life for economic growth. Mao expected far too much from these communes. This may explain why the harvest predictions were astronomically high. Mao would have done well to examine the previous harvesting results. The normal yield was a ton per acre. The previous harvest of 1957 yielded a poor 195 million tons of grain. In 1958 Mao announced that the harvest figures for that year had been 430 million tons, western experts place this figure around 200 million tons. This demonstrates how much the production figures were exaggerated. Mao 's political secretary Chen Boda told Mao that China was accomplishing in a day what it took capitalist states 20 years to accomplish. Production actually decreased during the Great Leap Forward by significant amounts, the harvest of 1959 was yielded a disappointing 170 million tons the CCP reported it at 282 million tons. This figure was to get even lower in 1960 when it fell to 143 million tons. This can be attributed to poor agricultural techniques. Close planting and deep ploughing were considered to be at the hear t of agricultural success. During these years Mao was asked how he intended to pay for his newly ordered soviet heavy machinery. Mao answered by claiming that "China has unlimited food supplies". Consequently China increased its food exports towards Russia. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 essays

  1. Explain how the Schlieffen Plan was meant to work?

    This again shows that Source F is not wrong. Similarly, Source F and G have quite a few similarities; this proves that F is not wrong. Source G and F are both very similar; they both agree that the strategy Haig used was incorrect.

  2. Why did Mao Zedong introduce a second five year plan in 1958 and to ...

    His influence diminished with failure of his 1958 - 60 Great Leap Forward, but he emerged dominant again during the 1966 - 69 Cultural Revolution. Mao adapted communism to Chinese conditions as set out in the little red book. In 1945 the Japanese defeat at the hands of the USA,

  1. Dunkirk - A success or failure?

    position allies were in to make it a miracle as they were rite on the coast. However it is not very accurate to be very valid as it is not a map done from a geographical scale as it has jus been drawn or estimated the whereabouts of them.

  2. Why did Mao Zedong introduce a second five-year plan in 1958 and to what ...

    The output of coal increased from 63.5 million tonnes in 1952 to 124 tonnes in 1957. The output of steel also increased. It rose from 1,9 million tonnes to 5.8 million tonnes. The 'Second five year plan' was introduced in 1958 to build upon the successes of the 'first five year plan'.

  1. Indian History. To what extent did large dams built before 1990 fulfil Nehru's ambitions?

    32) in which the Indian people had grown to believe. Sunil Khilnani goes so far as to propose that 'these dams ... embodied the vision of modernity to which India had committed itself' (2004, p. 62). Amita Baviskar agrees, arguing that there was a strong belief in the large dams' ability to convey a powerful image of development (2004, p.

  2. During this piece of coursework I shall look at how China has changed since ...

    Babies lying dead in the street are not a uncommon sight "The body of a newborn baby lies dead in the gutter ignored by passers by as if she was a piece of rubbish" This tells us that this is something people are accustomed to not uncommon.

  1. Explain why the Great Leap Forward failed?

    The people were taught to follow orders and not to make their own decisions, which created a population of non-thinkers. None of the problems therefore, were ever questioned, and so never solved. People did as they were told even if it was obviously wrong, pointless or going to get them killed.

  2. The Great Terror in Leningrad: a Quantitative Analysis.

    Soviet past under Gorbachev, various regional studies were undertaken which attempted to identify the victims of the purges in the period 1936-38. [9] Early listings were sometimes published in regional newspapers. Employing records collated by the voluntary organisation Memorial and formerly top secret NKVD files, the Leningradskii Martirolog provides an

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work