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Why did Mao Zedong introduce a second five-year plan in 1958 and to what extent did it succeed or fail?

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Introduction

David Nelson Why did Mao Zedong introduce a second five-year plan in 1958 and to what extent did it succeed or fail? Mao Zedong took over the running of China from the GMD in 1949. The country was in an awful situation; it was weak, bankrupt and had little power. There were several reasons why the country was left in such a state. The Emperors who had ruled China for centuries had failed to modernise the country and China still believed in the ancient traditions of life. Foreign intervention had also hindered the development of China and caused problems. Foreign countries, such as Hong Kong, which was controlled by Britain and Mares, which was controlled by Portugal, controlled the main port areas in China. The intervention of foreign influence meant that China was unable to make important decisions for themselves. The world wars and the civil wars also affected China. The continuous battles between the GMD and the CCP striped the land of valuable resources. At the end of the civil war the defeated GMD left China for Taiwan and took the countries gold reserves. When the CCP took over as the governing body of China, they were bankrupt and had little power or resources. Mao Zedong decided action needed to be taken and this was one of the reasons why the second five-year plan was introduced. ...read more.

Middle

The function of the communes was to act as a unit of local government with a committee made up of peasants, party members and soldiers. Each commune had an eating hall, schools and houses of happiness for the old. They were also set up as a unit of work organisation and finally a unit of the communist party. Mao encouraged the peasants to work by using propaganda. The government made every effort to whip the people into a frenzy of enthusiasm for work. They used posters, slogans and newspaper articles to urge the Chinese people to work, also loudspeakers played revolutionary music and stirring speeches to encourage work. The peasants may have been Chinas biggest resource but they were also theirs biggest problem as there was a tremendous amount of them and it was difficult to feed them all. China had very poor relations with America and there was a risk of conflict. The USA feared that China would spread communism to Asia and then to other parts of the world. The USA also showed its support for the GMD and in 1949 sent a US fleet to Taiwan. This was to show China that its support lay with the GMD and not them. This enraged Mao. In 1950 the USA sent troops to South Korea against the Chinese backed North Korea who were attempting to spread communism. ...read more.

Conclusion

During the '3 bitter years 1959-61', over 20million people died as a result of lack of food. This was due to bad planning and the awful weather conditions. When the Russians withdrew their aid in 1960 the second five-year plan collapsed. Mao then lost support and the moderates kicked him out of office. Mao was left with the post of chairman of the party but had no control in the economy or the running of the country. During the second five-year plan the following successes were made. The population was reorganised into communes, this was such a success because there was over 700 million peasants living in China. To start with the plan achieved early success in the production of food and steel. There were also 600,000 furnaces set up to aid in the production of steel. The Chinese peasants also constructed a dam and canal. These were completed in record time. The second five-year plan also suffered a lot of failures. Poor planning caused these. The backyard steel campaign wasted resources such as coal and timber and took peasants away from food production. The output of the steel was impure and unusable. There was competition between communes, which led to each commune setting ridiculous targets. This led to the government believing it had more food and so food rations were increased. The second five-year plan ended in complete failure causing the deaths of more then 20million people from starvation and other related diseases. ...read more.

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