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To What Degree Did Conditions Improve in China?

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To What Degree Did Conditions Improve in China? The first three years of the Peoples Republic of China were a time of momentous change that seemed to confirm that the intentions of the regime and aspirations of the mainly peasant population. Mao started by introducing a 5 year plan to help turn China around, and help its industry recover from the long war that had affected it for so long. Mao focused on heavy industry, mainly steel and coal, as these would be the main materials needed to rebuild the areas destroyed by years of fighting. As a result, light industry was neglected, and towns and cities began to expand at a very fast rate. The first 5 year plan proved a great success for China. In April 1950, Mao introduced a marriage law, ending some of the worst aspects of a woman's life; * Arranged Marriage * The Marriage of children * The killing of unwanted female babies * Bigamy * Ownership of property became equal * Divorce by mutual consent For the first time in Chinas history, men and women were both treated as equals. ...read more.


By this stage, the communists had started to lose their early popularity, and as a result Mao proposed that the only way forward was to allow the people to have free speech and discussion; 'A hundred flowers bloom' to quote ancient Chinese philosophy. As the people had free speech, some revolutionists started to speak out against Mao and the communists, and it all started to hit too close to home. Some revolutionaries and critics were arrested and sent for "thought reform", while others were sacked from their jobs. Following the great success of the first 5 year plan Mao introduced a second known as "The Great Leap Forward". This would see China surpass Britain and the US economically and this would be achieved "through the power of the masses who could accomplish any task whatsoever". To harness this potential the population would be organised into communes. These varied in size, but on average contained around 5000 families. ...read more.


However, this was a false dawn. Chaos began to reign 'on a grand scale'. The backyard steel campaign in particular proved to be a complete disaster. The quality of the steel proved to be impure, fit only for scrap. Worse still, one in ten people were employed in the industry, which meant that there were not enough workers to man the fields resulting in failing harvests. Matters became even worse in 1959 - 60 when bad weather decimated the crops, resulting in the mass starvation of 9 million peasants in 1960 alone. Rationing was introduced, but it was too late. The Great Leap Forward was a huge disaster, responsible in no small part for the deaths of 20 million peasants between 1959 to 1963. In conclusion, Mao began with all the right intentions for China, freeing its people from the harsh taxes and conditions of the KMT, but eventually he realised freeing the people and giving them the freedom of speech would have its repercussions. As a result, he became extremely controlling and eventually doing more ham than good to the people of China. Rory Ward 11H Page 1 ...read more.

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