TheGreat Leap Forward
TheGreat Leap Forward was initiated by a Chinese leader called MaoZedong. Mao had seen the need for China to shift from agrarian to anindustrialized society. Other leaders and citizens of China believedthat it was impossible to turn China into an industrial society infive years1.Mao had intended to use his powers to ensure his dreams of turningChina into an industrial society come to reality. Due to the greatforce that he subjected his people to, the results turned out to becatastrophic and a lot of people lost their lives.
Maothought that he could increase productivity in agriculture and stillpull some workers from their farms and use them in steel production.The agricultural sector in China was highly deprived of labor and asa result, China reaped lower yields compared to the previous years2.The plan that Mao had started to failed leading to great suffering tothe people of China.
Maohad adopted some nonsensical ideas from theSoviet Union on how toconduct framing. The farming ideas failed terribly when implementedin China. The Soviets had very strange farming ideas3.The crops were grown very close together so that their stems couldprovide support to each other. Plowing was done up to six feet deepto allow proper root development. The type of farming practices fromthe Soviets demanded a lot of labor and time. These farming ideasbrought by Mao to China led to destruction of massive pieces of landand resulted in a drastic drop in food production. The massive dropin food production led to great famine and many people starved todeath within a five year period4.
Maothought that China could be safe only if they could produce theirsteel products. The citizens were encouraged to set up backyard steelfurnaces in every home. The backyard furnaces would be used torecycle scrap metal into steel products that could be utilized again.The people of China were overworked since they were also supposed totend the farms too5.Quotas for steel production were set for every family to meet. Thepeople became very desperate to meet the quotas and as a result, theyended up melting down their useful items which included the farmimplements. The peasants who had become the backyard smelters lackedadequate metallurgy training and skills, as a resulted they producedproducts which were worthless.
Withina period of a few years, the Great Leap Forward had caused a lot ofdamage to the environment in China. The smelters needed fuel to smeltsteel. The backyard steel production led to the destruction offorests in search of fuel6.Clearing of forests made the soil prone to erosion7.
Duringthe first autumn of the Great Leap Forward, the farms did well, andthere was a bumper crop on many farms. However, most of the farmerswere now busy in the steel production processes leaving few people toharvest the crops. Most of the crops went to waste while still in thefarms.
Theyear that followed, the Yellow River flooded.2 million people werekilled due to drowning and starvation since the farms had beenflooded. In 1960 there was a drought in the whole of China and 20 to48 people are believed to have died8.The Great Leap Forward was called off after three terrible yearsthis period is remembered as the “Three Bitter Years” by thepeople of China9.
AlfredL. Chan (7 June 2001). Mao`s Crusade : Politics and PolicyImplementation in China`s Great Leap Forward. Oxford UniversityPress. pp. 71–74. ISBN 978-0-19-155401-8.
Becker(1996) pp.271-272. From an interview with Chen Yizi.
Chan,Alfred L. (2001). Mao`s crusade: politics and policy implementationin China`s great leap forward. Studies on contemporary China. OxfordUniversity Press. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-19-924406-5. Retrieved2011-10-20.
Chang,Jung and Halliday, Jon (2005). Mao: The Unknown Story, Knopf. p. 435.ISBN 0-679-42271-4.
Lardyand Fairbank (1987). p.368.
Li,Kwok-sing (1995). A glossary of political terms of the People`sRepublic of China. Hong Kong: The Chinese University of Hong Kong.Translated by Mary Lok. Pages 47–48.
NikitaKhrushchev 赫鲁晓夫(1970).Khrushchev`s Memoirs [赫鲁晓夫回忆录].Little Brown & company. pp. 250–257. ISBN 0316831409.
Perkins(1991). Pages 483-486 for quoted text, page 493 for growth ratestable.
TaoYang, Dennis (2008). "China`s Agricultural Crisis and Famine of1959–1961: A Survey and Comparison to Soviet Famines."Palgrave MacMillan, Comparative Economic Studies 50, pp. 1–29.
1 Tao Yang, Dennis (2008). "China`s Agricultural Crisis and Famine of 1959–1961: A Survey and Comparison to Soviet Famines." Palgrave MacMillan, Comparative Economic Studies 50, pp. 1–29.
2 Chang, Jung and Halliday, Jon (2005). Mao: The Unknown Story, Knopf. p. 435. ISBN 0-679-42271-4.
3 Perkins (1991). Pages 483-486 for quoted text, page 493 for growth rates table.
4 Becker (1996) pp.271-272. From an interview with Chen Yizi.
5 Li, Kwok-sing (1995). A glossary of political terms of the People`s Republic of China. Hong Kong: The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Translated by Mary Lok. Pages 47–48.
6 Chan, Alfred L. (2001). Mao`s crusade: politics and policy implementation in China`s great leap forward. Studies on contemporary China. Oxford University Press. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-19-924406-5. Retrieved 2011-10-20.
7 Alfred L. Chan (7 June 2001). Mao`s Crusade : Politics and Policy Implementation in China`s Great Leap Forward. Oxford University Press. pp. 71–74. ISBN 978-0-19-155401-8.
Lardy and Fairbank (1987). p.368.
8 Nikita Khrushchev 赫鲁晓夫 (1970). Khrushchev`s Memoirs [赫鲁晓夫回忆录]. Little Brown & company. pp. 250–257. ISBN 0316831409.
9 Lardy and Fairbank (1987). p.368.