In 1960, a widespread drought added to the nation's misery. It was many years before we knew that sparrows are good birds. Mao's Great Leap Forward 'killed 45 million in four years' The Independent. With hindsight, the results were predictably bad. Mao created the Great Leap Forward to help China modernize and catch up with the west. Mao's aims The Great Leap Forward was China's second Five Year Plan. Terrible. Liu Shaoqi, 1950, “Landlords in general will only be deprived of their land and abolished as a social class, but they will not be physically eliminated… Therefore it is a stipulation that after their lands have been confiscated, the landlords will still be given shares of land… That way they can make a living by their own labour, reform themselves through labour and become new men.” The results, unfortunately, were catastrophic. I thought that sounded alright.” In Gansu they killed outsiders; people told me strangers passed through and they killed and ate them. Friday, 17 September 2010. Between 1958 and 1960, millions of Chinese citizens were moved onto communes. Mao Zedong on the Great Leap Forward “I am a complete outsider when it comes to economic construction. In economic construction, like a child without experience, we declared war on the earth, unfamiliar with the strategy or tactics.” In 1957, at the 40th anniversary of the October Revolution, this was held in Moscow, Khrush… It wasn’t correct but we couldn’t help it, we had orders.” They say that under Jiang Jieshi they suffered but had plenty to eat. The Great Leap Forward, the second five-year plan of the Chinese revolution, was an attempt to develop rapidly both industry and agriculture. What Is Totalitarianism? For more info, visit Alpha History or our Terms of Use. Ronald Radosh. [But] there was too much haste. Mao Zedong. Backyard smelters run by peasants with no metallurgy training produced such low-quality material that it was completely worthless. This reform programme included the establishment of large agricultural communes containing as many as 75,000 people. This was the period during which the communes were formed and some 600,000 “backyard,” small-scale steel furnaces were built to supply local needs all over the country. Meat was almost non-existent and the cat population rapidly declined. However, so many farmers had been sent into steel production work that there weren't enough hands to harvest the crops. I sweated my guts out. Among 41 production brigades in ten communes of Linxia City, 588 people ate the remains of 337 others. She has taught at the high school and university levels in the U.S. and South Korea. Thus the landlords as a class are abolished and the exploitative feudal land ownership system is transformed… This is the greatest and most thorough reform in thousands of years of Chinese history.” Li Lei, CCP cadre from Gansu province, writing in 1999, “Among 14 work units… 3,132 persons are suffering from oedema, which afflicts 25 per cent of the staff in the most seriously affected units… The illness has struck workers more than cadres, those employed in heavy physical labour more than light work, and those eating at communal kitchens more than those taking their meals at home.” Anhui police report on cannibalism, 1960, “Cannibalism occurred in many places. The Great Leap Forward was supposed to be a five-year plan, but it was called off after just three tragic years. Improving public health by eliminating the "four pests"—rats, mosquitoes, spar rows, and flies—was one initiative of the Great Leap Forward, but the They do what they like. The Great Leap Forward, the period from 1958 to 1962 that saw the deaths of an estimated 45 million Chinese, lacks the heft of horror associated with Hitler's and Stalin's genocides. Mao Zedong. The Great Leap Forward was not simply a whim of Mao Zedong, but the program of … Peng Dehuai, 1958, “It was fun to wipe out the ‘Four Pests’. 2. People ate corpses and fought for the bodies. The worst that will happen is that the whole world will get a big laugh out of it.” The Great Leap Forward was a movement in China that started in 1958 and lasted two years till 1960. If you want to know the taste of a pear, you must change the pear by eating it yourself. Traditionally, each farmer in China farmed his own piece of land. Some were sent to farming cooperatives, while others worked in small manufacturing. In 1958 Mao Zedong announced the Great Leap Forward, an attempt to increase agricultural and industrial production. This was also the era of massive irrigation projects — local, regional, and national in scope — that were to result in impressive gains in crop yields in subsequent years. People in the countryside began to starve. Mao Zedong on farm collectivisation, 1955, “China has two advantages. The peasants were carrying out the work of the [Communist] Party, working day and night at the mines and homemade blast furnaces… And we know the results: they did not obtain any more iron than before and there was much less bread and rice to go round.” Mao believed this program would allow him to win the race with the Soviet Union to achieve commu nism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. Mao Zedong, 1958, “The Chairman talks all the time about more, faster, better, and more economical results. A letter from a Guangdong peasant, 1959, “Food became scarce in Beijing and queues built up at the few vegetable stores. Yue Daiyun, peasant woman, “Naturally we have defects and mistakes… Like a child playing with fire, without experience, knowing pain only after being burned. The first Five-Year Plan for the future of China was launched by Mao Zedong in 1953, in which the Soviet Union was held up as the model for development. In the third year, I did not manage to finish my ploughing. Millions also left the countryside to work in underground” Mao Zedong's Quotes Extra Facts Project Sources The Great Leap Forward. Mao's 'Great Leap Forward' and the Power of History. In the end, through a combination of disastrous economic policy and adverse weather conditions, an estimated 20 to 48 million people died in China. A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. They deserve far greater recognition of the horrible injustice they suffered. Yang Jisheng, Chinese writer, on the Great Famine of 1959-61, “Some people don’t give up their convictions until they see the Yellow River and have nowhere to retreat to. The Great Leap Forward (Second Five Year Plan) of the People's Republic of China (PRC) was an economic and social campaign led by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from 1958 to 1962. Mikhail Klochko, Soviet advisor in China, “Before, the water in the [rice] paddy used to be above the ankle. Dense cropping and deep plowing stripped the farmland of nutrients and left the agricultural soil vulnerable to erosion as well. He relied, however, on nonsensical Soviet farming ideas, such as planting crops very close together so that the stems could support one another and plowing up to six feet deep to encourage root growth. In 1955, Mao was in a rural farming village to plan for the Great Leap Forward. We made ladders to knock down their nests and beat gongs in the evenings when they were coming home to roost. It was so dense that I was afraid to go in there at night. In order to prove that China had made the “great leap” to an industrialized, rich, communist society, Mao ordered the complete collectivization of farms, factories, and most of society. Steelworkers got the most in bulk and grain, but intellectuals got more meat, sugar and fats.” Then the farmers’ cooperative people came along. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) lead by Mao Zedong or Mao Tse-Tung considered it was a time for the Great Leap Forward. The Great Chinese Famine (Chinese: 三年大饥荒, "three years of great famine") was a period between 1959 and 1961 in the history of the People's Republic of China (PRC) characterized by widespread famine. I remember a famous restaurant, the Lugaojian… their speciality was two salted sparrows on a stick… But after the Four Pests campaign, you couldn’t buy them any more.” The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images. He criticised himself at the Shanghai Conference, admitting that he had been somewhat hotheaded… What is great about the Chairman is that he can figure out problems in time and make a quick adjustment.” Anxious commune leaders vastly exaggerated their harvests, hoping to curry favor with the Communist leadership. Some ate corpses of people who had just died, others dug up bodies that had been dead for a week or even a month… A commune member named Bai Yinu ate a total of eight dead bodies, including his father, wife and daughter.” Chen Yun, CCP politician, 1961, “The thoughts of the Chairman [Mao] are always correct. In that way, no one would lose anything but all would gain. Relationship: spouse. I will not give up my convictions, even when I see the Yellow River.” Mao Zedong, 1958, “With 11 million tons of steel next year and 17 million tons the year after, the world will be shaken. Mao Zedong, 1959, “Even if there’s a collapse [in China’s food production] it’ll be alright. That is annoying. Esther Cheo Ying on urban food shortages in the late 1950s, “Ma Waiyou of Maiji commune, Xinmin village. This page contains a collection of Chinese Revolution quotations about agrarian reform and the Great Leap Forward, made by prominent leaders, figures, observers and historians. What does he want with chanting these liturgies all the time?” Mao Zedong. Formerly the young wife in poorer families would have to work in the field and rush home to get the meals on a very slow stove, then stay up half the night to grind the grain… The husband would grumble if the meal wasn’t ready at once when he came home from work… ‘Now all this grumbling is over’, said Mrs Chang.” Great Leap Forward. As a result of the exaggerations, party officials carried off most of the food to serve as the cities' share of the harvest, leaving the farmers with nothing to eat. Liu Shaoqi, 1950, “When the Third Five Year Plan is completed in 1967, the yields for grain and many other agricultural products should be double or triple the highest yields before the People’s Republic was founded [in 1949].” These farming strategies damaged countless acres of farmland and dropped crop yields, rather than producing more food with fewer farmers. This plan was called the Great Leap Forward. Part of an authoritarian regime is the dedication to ideological-based projects, even at the expense of economic or social progress. Dr. Kallie Szczepanski is a history teacher specializing in Asian history and culture. If you have to fart – fart! After Mao declared the failure of the Great Leap in 1962, almost all methods of communication became cornerstones for propaganda as they fixated on recuperating and reiterating the cult of Mao. His words are always so clear and direct. This Chinese Revolution website is created and maintained by Alpha History. Some scholars have also included the years 1958 or 1962. Only four to five inches on the surface are good. The program had two parts. Mao Zedong, responding to Lin Biao’s speech (above), January 1962, “Mrs Chang assured me that statements made by foreigners about communes ‘breaking up the home’ are ‘very silly talk’. Over just a few years, the Great Leap Forward also caused massive environmental damage in China. One is emptiness, the other is blankness, with no encumbrances of any kind. "Dare to … Wood can never burn hot enough to make steel.” This site was last updated on August 19th 2020. They are simply superb. Chairman Mao just said ‘Forget it’. I understand nothing about industrial planning… I do not claim to have invented the People’s Communes, only to have proposed them.” However, this plan backfired in a tragic fashion. We turned it over to the local steel factories to process further. Simultaneously, it would expand China's economy. Families had to meet quotas for steel production, so in desperation, they often melted down useful items such as their own pots, pans, and farm implements. So people are setting up more and more community canteens, nurseries, sewing groups…” No one has any rights at all… People fight each other to get to the rice barrels first but there is never enough. If you would like to suggest a quotation for these pages, please contact Alpha History. Instead, Mao envisaged a decentralisation of control to local Party cadres whose task it would be to A Yunnan botanist on the end of the Four Pests campaign, “Great achievements, numerous problems and a bright future.” Most of the victims starved to death in the countryside. So we stopped killing sparrows. In the period between 1949 and 1958, a policy of collectivization, where farmers would work in collectives and share tools and draft animals, was gradually introduced and implemented. On p.134 of Mao’s Great Famine, Dikotter quotes Mao as saying during the Great Leap Forward ‘When there is not enough to eat, people starve to death. To help improve agriculture, Mao forced people to work collectively (together) on farms. An unnamed peasant on the practice of ‘deep ploughing’, “All property has to be state-owned, all houses and furniture have been turned into government property. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another. Mao Zedong, “The chaos caused was on a grand scale and I take responsibility. ... Chan, Alfred L. Mao’s Crusade: Politics and Policy Implementation in China’s Great Leap Forward. (Video) Arifa Akbar. We tried to do too much, we wasted part of our investments, we deferred certain essential tasks, and that is a mistake.” Mao Zedong on the failures of the Great Leap Forward, 1959, “The harvest had been bad. Great Leap Forward, in Chinese history, the campaign undertaken by the Chinese communists between 1958 and early 1960 to organize its vast population, especially in large-scale rural communes, to meet China’s industrial and agricultural problems. For both Chinese and westerners, failure to acknowledge the true nature of the Great Leap Forward carries serious costs. The United States in George Washington’s era was blank, so it could develop very rapidly. Search for More Suggested terms to look for include - diary, diaries, letters, papers, documents, documentary or correspondence. The National Academy of Sciences issued reports on how many insects they ate, compared to how many seeds. I understand nothing about industrial planning… I do not claim to have invented the People’s Communes, only to have proposed them.” Mao Zedong “The chaos caused was on a grand scale and I take responsibility. And they ate their own children. Mao also wanted to free China from the need to import steel and machinery. The crucial slogan during the Great Leap Forward, a two-year campaign where Mao encouraged peasants to join together in collective farms. Online Sources: Great Leap Forward China's Great Leap Forward, 1958-1961 ... Forgotten Voices of Mao's Great Famine, 1958-1962 by Zhou Xun. Speaking at The Independent Woodstock Literary Festival, Frank Dikötter, a Hong Kong-based historian, said he found that during the time that Mao was enforcing the Great Leap Forward … Comrades, if you have to shit – shit! It was difficult. A crowd of citizens push toward government station selling rice very cheap. There were shortages… Rations differed according to work done. They killed him and ate him.” Quotes displayed in real-time or delayed by at least 15 minutes. Mao Zedong. It contains 183,984 words in 268 pages. Backyard Steel Furnace during the Great Leap Forward. The brush and branches we gathered were enough for all our firewood, we never had to cut the trees… I was only 10 or 11 during the Leap. We did it for several days. All work was shared on the communes; from childcare to cooking, daily tasks were collectivized. The period between 1958 and 1960 is known as the "Three Bitter Years" in China. Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun. The first autumn of the Great Leap Forward, in 1958, came with a bumper crop in many areas, because the soil was not yet exhausted. However, the extra work burden that neces… But deep down the soil is no good, too compact. This was supposed to be the first step. Mao hoped to increase China's agricultural output while also pulling workers from agriculture into the manufacturing sector. 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