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To what extent did life improve between 1949 and the early 1960s in Communist China?

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Introduction

To what extent did life improve between 1949 and the early 1960s in Communist China? On the 1st of October 1949 Mao Tse-Sung declared the Peoples Republic of China. This drastically changed the lives of most people living in China. Some people had already been under Communist rule before 1949, in liberation areas, for them life hardly changed. However the majority of people lived under the Kuomintang before 1949, and for them life completely changed. Women for example, were considered as men's possessions and were subjected to outdated practices and cruel humiliations, like foot binding. Some were married at birth and many were treated like domestic servants. Peasants didn't lead a good life in KMT areas either. Land taxes were high and took around half a peasants income, peasants led a poverty stricken harsh life, and between 1929 and 1932 three million peasants died of starvation. The main group of people that led a good life under the KMT were the businessmen and the landed class. They benefited from a strong government and high taxes, especially high land taxes. Urban areas were also improved and the infrastructure and a lot of industry were modernised. ...read more.

Middle

Lower stage co-operatives meant that thirty to fifty families loaned their land to the co-operative and pooled their land and labour to make a more efficient farm. This was yet another small improvement for peasants since they had received the land; as yet again their land was more productive. Next came the higher-stage co-operatives, which consisted of 200-300 families, however the families where no longer paid rent for their land but only received wages. This was a small loss for peasants compared to when they had first received the land in 1951, as they had now lost it. However they were still better off than they had been under the KMT. The 2nd five-year plan (1958) or Great Leap Forward was a social and economic change that affected peasants. Communes off around 5000 people were organised so people could work at a great variety of tasks (it was in these communes that backyard steel furnaces were set up) and so that nothing could distract a peasant from his work. Although a peasant did gain from the fact that there were many opportunities, the communes also meant that peasants had lost a huge amount of freedom as most aspects of their lives were controlled. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is clear that peasants' lives improved vastly under Communist rule from 1949 to 1960. Before Communism, peasants had led a poor and harsh life, but as soon as the Communists came to power gained hugely and were regarded with a lot more respect and significance. Businessmen and landlords lives didn't improve between 1949 and 1960 but in fact got a lot worse. They went from being influential and rich to being poor and discriminated against. It is clear that although women gained a huge amount of new rights, it is hard to say whether their life improved, as it depended on whether they were poor or rich before the Communists took power. Before 1949 some people were already living under the Communists in liberation areas and for them life would hardly have shown any change. This is just one reason why it is hard to answer the question of whether Chinese men and women's lives improved under Communists between 1949 and 1960. There is no one answer to this question and life wasn't the same for any group of people in Communist China. Depending on who you were, or in a womens case whom you were married to affected on whether your life improved between 1949 and 1960, and to what extent it improved. ...read more.

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