• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11

Economic Changes after the 1949 Communist Revolution in China

Extracts from this document...


Economic Changes Agriculturally, wars had left people starving, the rents were high and the lack of production meant that people could not be paid. During the Civil War, Mao noticed how peasants were willing to co-operate as long as the benefits were obvious to them. Mao aimed to up food production and prevent starvation by introducing the Agrarian Reform Law in 1950. This involved sending out communist cadres to survey land and classify the villagers on a social scale from landlord through "rich", "middle" and "poor" peasants down to landless labourers. Debts were immediately cancelled and rents reduced. Then came the transfer of surplus land from the top two categories, to the bottom two; leaving the former gentry families with just enough to live on. The situation of most middle families was unchanged. For millions of downtrodden peasants, the land reform was the heart of the Chinese Revolution. This was the moment when the peasants stood up to face their own personal enemy, the landlord. Land reform at last fulfilled Sun Yatsen's goal of "Land to the Tiller". But, despite the fairness of the original share out, differences of wealth and status would soon increase as, larger or harder working families bought up neighbouring land. It was also essential to increase agricultural output, and the government believed this could only be achieved by pooling the peasants labour, tools and animals, in larger farming units where machinery and new farming methods could be introduced. Peasants were not forced but gently coaxed into co-operative farming. First mutual aid teams were formed, with seven to ten households sharing their tools, labour and draught animals whilst working each families land separately. More money was earned from extra crops produced; it was then shared out according to how much work was done by each person. Some arguments arose over whose land was to be farmed first, but overall production did increase, however, not quickly enough to satisfy the demand. ...read more.


In 1958 the total actually increased to 200 million tons. At the time however, it was officially proclaimed that the crop had been 260 million tons. The exaggerated estimate led to dining halls in some communes to offer very generous meals, and use up most of their food stocks before the 1959 harvest came in". None of this would have mattered if the harvest in 1959 had been a good one. But the weather in 1959 was very bad. In some parts of china there were floods, in other parts there was drought. The result was a harvest of only 170 million tonnes. Before long, people were going hungry. Some began to starve. To complete the farming crisis, the weather in 1960 was even worse than in 1959. The bad weather, combined with the failure of the great leap forward, reduced the harvest to 144 million tonnes. This led to a major famine, killing around 9 million people in 1960 alone. The government introduced a rationing system under which people were given a maximum of 125 grams of grain a day, but the death toll continued to raise. Between 1959 and 1962 some 20 million Chinese died of starvation and relate diseases. This period was known as the 'Three bitter years'. Mao's Great Leap Forward proved to be a disaster for the Chinese. It so crippled the economy, that the people of China avoided famine only because of the government's strict and efficient rationing system. The failure of the Great Leap Forward brought stinging criticism from Nikita Khrushchev in 1960. Mao, in turn, criticized Khrushchev as a coward, and a capitalist. Khrushchev then cut off all economic and military aid. The rupture between the two governments would never heal. The world now had two separate communist superpowers pursuing radically different courses; the immediate effect, however, of the split was to isolate China internationally, for it now had no friends in the world. ...read more.


The two five year plans did not have his desired effect, but it did manage to boost the economy and morale. The failure of the great leap forward had something to do with the bad weather but as Liu Shaoqi said later that the disaster was "30% the fault of nature, and 70% human error". In the country it seemed maybe the communists would reform but Mao went over the top to introduce socialist values and resulted in leaving a country in possibly more ruin than when he had came to power. Before Mao many had died because of war. He managed to destroy the faith and hope of millions, many of which died from lack of organization at harvest time and generally throughout the year. He had not done much to help the peasants and their situation, he gave them land then took it away from them, in some cases their living conditions had become worse. Even the Red Guard, when they finally reached the rural areas, realised that while they thought their lives in the city were bad, that it was nothing compared to the hardship endured by those in the country. Song Mingchao, a red guard remembers "Chairman Mao said we were supposed to learn from the peasants, but the peasants didn't want anything to do with us. We couldn't understand their accents anyway. They thought we were lazy. They blamed us for eating all their food without earning it." The Red guards were not used to hard labour. Song tells us: "We were always hungry. We scrounged in the fields, looking for sweet potatoes, roots, herbs, whatever we could find." During Mao's reign no one gained anything, the peasants gained land then lost it, many people lost their lives. The educated, were stripped of their riches, their wisdom was ignored. As soon as a new leader emerged all the old values and ways were changed and the old china of Mao was left behind. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Politics 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 GCSE Politics essays

  1. What impact did Mao have on the lives of the Chinese people from 1949 ...

    Higher stage co-operatives were later introduced and by the end of 1956, 95% of peasant families had joined them. They consisted of 200-300 families. The main difference was that they were not paid rent for the use of the land, therefore most of the 300 million peasants who had been

  2. Was the Great Leap Forward a ‘Tragedy of Good Intentions’?

    plenum.7 This is when Mao articulated his desire for greater speed, outlining the methods with which the speed would be achieved after recently visiting Moscow. Newspapers printed articles and pictures reporting extraordinary accomplishments under Mao's plans. It is evident then that the lies and fabrications did not draw to a

  1. Comparative Analysis: The churches and their affect on society and politics in the cases ...

    Another factor, which made it difficult for the South African Church to affect politics and society, were the sheer number of divisions, not just between races but in the number of different denominations. In Namibia the opposite was initially true.

  2. This assignment identifies and discusses the major social and political trends expected to affect ...

    and Knight J) According to Kingdon and Knight (2002) in a study, researchers controlled for school quality to explain the differences between black and white unemployment rates. The results showed that as a result of discrimination in the education sector, the education received by blacks was extremely inferior compared to white education.

  1. To what extent are the experiences and attitudes of Yang Digong and Li Zucui ...

    To start off with she was brought up in a lower class family who lived in the countryside and was obviously very poor. The evidence I have used from the text to show that she was born into a poor family is that fact that she was the victim of

  2. What were the causes of the 1905 Russian Revolution? How successful was this revolution?

    lawyers and doctors. Whereas the peasants and factory workers lived in poor conditions the middle class people had a high standard of living with material comforts.

  1. The American Civil War

    (Kunhardt 411) General Zachary Taylor, the successor to James Polk was an unlikely candidate. He was a career military man who had fought in the War of 1812 and become a national hero during the Mexican War. He was nominated by three parties to run for president but eventually, more

  2. From 1949 to the beginning of the Great Leap Forward in 1958, China went ...

    However a number of women were fearful of the change, for not sure whether the government would enforce the law properly. Besides, the introduction of this law means that the concubines would loose everything. As for men, only the minority who had been influenced by the Western cultures would agree having equality between men and women.

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