Two Republics in China - Page 14


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Thread: Two Republics in China

  1. #131
    Private Businesses Become StateProperty

    The economical ideal of the CommunistParty was that there should be no private businesses in a so-calledsocialist country. Private businesses were the typical symbol of thecapitalist system. So at the end of 1955, Chen Yun, in charge of thenational economy, declared a reform of private businesses over thenext two years. Then Peng Zhen, the mayor of Beijing, proposed tofinish the reform in 1956 in Beijing. In January of 1956, in just afew days, Beijing completed the reform. Mao pushed it by visiting atextile factory owned by Rong Yiren, the biggest national capitalistin China at the time, on the 10th of January. Rong offeredto turn over his factories to government ownership on the 20th.Others followed suit, in all cities where there were privatebusinesses.
    The carefully-formulated process wasthat the private business owner must send in an application beggingthe communist government to take over his business. Accordingly thegovernment would approve his application. This was like a traveleroffering his belongings to an outlaw and begging him to take them.The outlaw was only willing to accept the offer for mercy’s sake,as if the belongings were so heavy they would break the traveler’sback if he carried them any longer. The outlaw was only relieving himof a burden.
    Anyway, in Beijing, on the 15thof January, 1956, there was a celebration on TianAnMen Square where200,000 people gathered to celebrate the completion of the takeoverof private businesses by the government. The takeover was called a“purchasing policy,” which meant that the government bought theseprivate businesses from the private owners and paid them a certainamount of money called “fixed interests,” which would be paid offat the annual rate of 5% of the value of these private businesses.The government decided what was the value of a factory or a store,and the owner had no right to bargain. As a rule, the governmentshould have paid the owner for 20 years at the rate of 5%, but no,the government promised to pay only for 7 years. And at the end ofthe 7 years it would make a further decision to see whether it wouldcontinue to pay or not. Anyway, this sounded better than outrightexpropriation.
    This was the second financial blow tothe national capitalists, leaving them only their personal belongingslike jewelry and antiques, if they had any left after paying fines.But the final financial blow was coming soon.
    The payment of fixed interests mightlast for 3 years more, which meant the government only paid for 10years out of the 20 years, only half of the value.
    After these takeovers, the former ownerwould be given a position in the business (as a salesman or otherworker). If he was accorded a position like manager, he was onlyholding the position in name, and had no say whatsoever in thedecisions. The party secretary was the one to decide everything, evenif he understood nothing about the business. Older owners justretired and lived on the fixed interests while the younger onesaccepted their salary as well as the fixed interests.

  2. #132
    Chapter13. So-Called Three Red Banners

    The purpose of the slogan “Three RedBanners” was to help make China a strong and prosperous country inthe shortest possible period by building “socialism with Chinesecharacteristics,” that is, by avoiding certain limitations builtinto other nations’ experiments with communist/socialist models.
    Every dynasty in Chinese historyfavored a particular color. For the Qing Dynasty, yellow (or gold)symbolized the imperial authority. The Communist Party has alwaysfavored red. Initially that red was meant to symbolize the blood ofmartyred revolutionaries, but over time this image has been broadenedin some people’s view to include the blood of those bystanders whobecame victims to the various campaigns through which regime changewas accomplished.
    Anyway, the “three red banners”meant the General Line (for socialist construction), the Great LeapForward, and the People’s Commune.


    The General Line

    The General Line was “to keep up fullenergy, to fight your way upstream, and to build socialism quicklyand thriftily, abundantly and well.” On October 11, 1955, Mao saidat a meeting that the cooperatives must be developed abundantly,quickly and well. Then Li Fuchun (1900–1975), vice director of theplan committee and vice Premier of the state council, suggestedadding “thriftily”, which was accepted. So on January 1, 1956,the People’s Daily ran an editorial urging the people tokeep this theme in mind while carrying out the first five-year plan.In 1958, the People’s Daily New Year’s dayeditorialexhorted the populace to continue working with their full energy, tostrive to get upstream. So the General Line was formed. In theory, itwas a good mission statement (to use today’s terminology). But, incarrying it out, the Communist Party went astray and moved contraryto the reality of how processes unfold, and this was true as well inthe so-called Great Leap forward and the People’s Communemovements.

  3. #133
    The Great Leap Forward

    On the 29th of June, 1957,an article was published with the signature of one Yu Jianhui, inwhich the slogan of “the Great Leap Forward” was first heard. InSeptember, during the Third Plenary Session of the Eighth CentralCommittee of the CPC, the decision was made to carry out the GreatLeap Forward movement in agriculture. On the 13th ofNovember, the editorial of the People’s Daily said, “Somepeople are infected with Right-deviationist conservatism and havecrawled like snails. Since the agricultural collectivization hastaken place, we have all the conditions and the necessities to makethe Great Leap Forward on the productivity front.” On the 2ndof February, 1958, the slogan of an overall Great Leap Forward wasemphasized more broadly.
    In spring of 1958, major moves weremade for the building of agricultural irrigation systems and for thecollection of natural fertilizer on a large scale in the countryside.For irrigation construction, the labor force used reached 20 or 30million workers in October, and 80 million in December. In January of1958, it reached 100 million. Some provinces that produced mostlyindustrial goods guaranteed they would produce enough grain, meat andvegetables for the people in those provinces in that year. Formerly,these had been brought in from other provinces. This was consideredthe prelude to the Great Leap Forward. In the countryside the GreatLeap Forward was linked with the people’s commune movement.

  4. #134
    The Great Leap Forward

    On the 29th of June, 1957,an article was published with the signature of one Yu Jianhui, inwhich the slogan of “the Great Leap Forward” was first heard. InSeptember, during the Third Plenary Session of the Eighth CentralCommittee of the CPC, the decision was made to carry out the GreatLeap Forward movement in agriculture. On the 13th ofNovember, the editorial of the People’s Daily said, “Somepeople are infected with Right-deviationist conservatism and havecrawled like snails. Since the agricultural collectivization hastaken place, we have all the conditions and the necessities to makethe Great Leap Forward on the productivity front.” On the 2ndof February, 1958, the slogan of an overall Great Leap Forward wasemphasized more broadly.
    In spring of 1958, major moves weremade for the building of agricultural irrigation systems and for thecollection of natural fertilizer on a large scale in the countryside.For irrigation construction, the labor force used reached 20 or 30million workers in October, and 80 million in December. In January of1958, it reached 100 million. Some provinces that produced mostlyindustrial goods guaranteed they would produce enough grain, meat andvegetables for the people in those provinces in that year. Formerly,these had been brought in from other provinces. This was consideredthe prelude to the Great Leap Forward. In the countryside the GreatLeap Forward was linked with the people’s commune movement.

  5. #135
    The People’s Commune

    Mao wanted to enlarge the cooperativecommune into the so-called People’s Commune. On July 1, 1958, thefirst People’s Commune was established, merging 27 cooperatives,with 9,360 families involved, in Henan Province. Its official namewas Chayashan Satellite People’s Commune. The commune was really abasic local government. It controlled almost everything in thedistrict of the commune, from agricultural production to people’sdaily life. It had public canteens—no more eating at home, as afamily—kindergartens, clinics, shops, and its own armed forces(called militia) instead of police.
    As peasants no longer had their ownland and worked for the commune, for very low pay, their enthusiasmfor work was essentially quenched. The Party admitted later that itwas a mistake, a wrong policy. In order to increase productivity, in1958, the professor and rocket scientist Qian Xuesen created a theoryof “High Productivity,” on the basis of calculation only, withoutany practical investigation. He was not an agronomist nor a plantphysiologist, but he wanted to fulfill Mao’s desire and invented asuitable theory. It was called “high productivity satellite.”When Mao learned of the theory, he gave instructions that all thecommunes should implement the theory. But the land could not yield asmuch as had been calculated theoretically. Therefore, falsestatistics were reported to the Party. From June to November, highproduction was reported thirty-nine times. The highest yield of wheatwas 7,320 catties (about 24 tons) per acre, that of corn 117 tons peracre, and similarly exaggerated statistics for rice, sweet potato,etc. Possibly, Mao believed some of this; but people generally gotthe impression that everything said in the news was misleading.Simply lies.
    As it was reported that the peasantshad produced so much grain, Mao and other Party leaders worried aboutwhat to do with it all. Mao said the peasants could eat all theywanted, for free, and if the people could not consume so much, theywould be able to give the surplus to foreign people.

  6. #136
    They also wanted people in cities toorganize people’s communes. In every block, the resident committeehad to have a canteen so that the residents could go there for meals,like in the countryside. But most of the city residents did not eatin the canteens. They still cooked at home. So the city people’scommune was a quick failure. Then Mao criticized himself, saying thathe had listened to Qian as if he had no brains of his own. Even TianJiaying, his secretary, asked him how, coming from a peasant familyhimself, he could have believed that it was possible to produce suchvast quantities of food per acre. It seems that Mao had no grasp ofscience or mathematics. Qian Xuesen actually did have plenty ofbrains. He was a US-educated rocket scientist who helped establishthe Jet Propulsion Laboratory before being deported in 1955 as aCommunist. He went on to build China’s own space program, fromintercontinental ballistic missiles and satellites to putting a manin space in 2003.
    Mao was in a hurry to bring to life“communist society” before his death. Mao forced the nation toimplement his ideas even when they were ill-founded, and as a result,the whole nation sank into economical disaster. Things became scarce,especially food. People in cities were quickly put on rations and hadto use their limited coupons to buy all the necessities such as rice,flour, meat, eggs, cloth, cooking oil, sugar, cigarettes, matches,yarn or thread, products based on bean curd, and even bathroomtissue. There were also ration coupons to buy cakes, biscuits, oranything made from rice or flour. If anyone went to a restaurant andate rice or noodles, he had to give rice coupons besides payingmoney. The cashiers’ work was made a little more complicated, asthey had to calculate the money as well as the coupons.
    Ration coupons were distributedaccording to the number of persons in a family, and were given to thefamily every three months. At the beginning of every quarter,housewives waited in expectation of the distribution of coupons tobuy everything they needed. Every family had two small booklets, oneto buy rice or flour in grain stores (with a certain limit) if theywanted to cook rice or use flour in any kind of recipe at home, andthe other used to buy coal to fuel the cooking ovens. The “ThreeRed Banners” ended in failure.

  7. #137
    Chapter14. Soviet Experts Give Technical Assistance

    Soviet Counselors and Experts Help China

    The Communist Party was aware thatChina was very backward and had few technicians and scientists whocould take the lead in economical development when they took over thecountry. Therefore, they asked the Soviet Union for help. In 1949,the Soviet Union sent Anastas Ivanovich Mikoyan, member of theBolshevik politburo, on a secret visit to Xibopo where theheadquarters of the Liberation Army had moved in May 1948. Stalinwanted to know, first, what attitude the Communist Party of Chinawould hold towards the Soviet Union. At the same time he talked aboutpossible technical aid to China after the Communist Party of Chinaexpressed their willingness to accept Soviet leadership. At a meetingon February 1, Zhou Enlai requested the Soviet Union to send expertsand equipment for weapons manufacture, and advisors to train troopsand help to set up military academies.” Mikoyan could not give anyanswer but reported to Stalin, and asked the Communist Party of Chinasend a delegation to the Soviet Union for further discussion. In June1949, Liu Shaoqi headed a secret delegation to Moscow. In August, 220Soviet financial advisors and engineers came to China with him. Atthat time in northern China, 1,300,000 out of 1,500,000 cadres wereilliterate. So it was very important to have Soviet experts come in.
    Besides sending Chinese cadres to theSoviet Union for training and practical experience, the CommunistParty of China invited many Soviet experts to manage almost everydepartment of the central government, from security, military, andintelligence, to gymnastics and hygiene. There were over 400 Sovietadvisors in the central government, one third of all the advisors andexperts in China. According to Soviet statistics, during 1951–1953,there were 1210 Soviet experts working in China. A report from theCommunist Party of China revealed that Soviet experts helped to build51 factories by April of 1953, and from 1953 to 1959, 91 factorieswere built. The Soviet experts assumed the duties of selecting sitesfor the factories, the design, and the supply of equipment. Theyinstructed Chinese workers how to install the equipment and how tooperate it and manufacture new products. In one report, Li Fuchunsaid, “Without the assistance of the Soviet Union, we would nothave achieved such speed and scale in our construction in the firstfive-year plan. We would certainly have faced unimaginabledifficulties.”

  8. #138
    The Soviets With Their Advisors and Experts

    But in the Korean War, the Soviet Unionsold China out-of-date and unusable weaponry. During 1950–1951, onefourth of the airplanes that were delivered to China were notflight-ready but needed repairs. So towards the end of the firstfive-year plan, the Communist Party adjusted its policy on the use ofSoviet advisors and experts. At a meeting in Chengdu City, in Marchof 1958, Mao criticized the blind worship of Soviet experts anddemanded that his people push back against dogmatism and slave-likethinking. This change in Mao’s attitude towards the Soviet Unionwas after the death of Stalin in 1953. Stalin was openly acknowledgedas the leader of the Communist International movements. Although Maothought highly of himself, he did not dare to challenge Stalin forthe international leadership position. Since Stalin was gone, Mao hadno great esteem for the new Soviet leader. He thought that he himselfshould replace Stalin as the leader of world Communism.
    In August 1958, Khrushchev, the newhead of the Soviet Union, visited Beijing and held talks with Mao.One might conclude from this visit that Mao thought he held a moreimportant position in the communist world so that Khrushchev shouldcome to Beijing to see him. If Stalin were still alive, it certainlywould have been Mao who went to Moscow for any talks. Stalin wouldnever have come to Beijing. Anyway, Mao and Khrushchev had differentopinions about the need for Soviet advisors and experts. Mao couldnot tolerate having Soviet advisors intervene so deeply in China’saffairs and wanted to reduce their number, but he still needed thetechnical experts. So the number of the advisors and expertsdecreased year by year: 952 in 1957, 915 in 1958, 699 in 1959, and410 in 1960.
    The tension between the Communist Partyof China and the Soviet Communist Party became open during theBucharest conference in June 1960. Khrushchev and Peng Zhen, head ofthe Chinese delegation, had a quarrel. The Soviet Union accused Chinaof violating their agreement to present a unified front, notdisplaying the difference in views between the two parties and theChinese opposition to the common route supported by the communistworld. Only Albania stood with China. After the conference, theSoviet Union withdrew all its advisors and experts from China,leaving many tasks unfinished. The notion of an unbreakablefriendship between the Soviet Union and China was over.

  9. #139
    Chapter15. The Anti-Rightist Movement

    Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom

    In April 1956, Mao gave a speechintroducing the “Double-Hundred Policy,” the meaning of which was“To let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred (different) opinionsbe expressed.” Then the Minister for Propaganda, Lu Dingyi, made aspeech explaining to all the intellectuals that they should go aheadand think independently. They would have freedom to debate andcriticize, creative freedom, freedom of expression, and the right totheir own opinions. It was so sweet to hear that many believed it;but only fools gave out their opinions boldly.
    On May 1, 1957, the People’s Dailypublished “Instructions about the Rectification Movement,” whichhad been passed at the Central Committee of the Communist Party onApril 27. The Party had decided to start a rectification movementwithin the Party to foster anti-bureaucratism, anti-sectarianism, andanti-subjectivism. The Party called upon people outside the Party,upon people the country over, to express their opinions, to criticizethe Party and government, and to help the Party to rectify anyshortcomings. The request sounded earnest. This was the sole movementthat was aimed at improving the Party itself.
    Many people in the country, especiallythe intellectuals, educated people (which included many of thecapitalists, or propertied class), all those and other fools, didcriticize the Party for their so many obvious wrongdoings. Even thenewspapers followed suit. At that time, people thought that the Partywas really being open-minded. It was a snare that many naive peoplefell for.

  10. #140
    The Reaction

    Then the Anti-Rightist movement began.“Rightist” opinions generally included the common complaint ofpeasants that their life was worse than it was before and that thelife of workers in the cities was better than that of peasants; andthat the policy requiring peasants to sell a high quota of theirharvest to the government forced peasants to starve. Other peopledemanded to cancel the political lessons in schools and universities;to have the freedom to move to other cities or from the countrysideto the city; to have the freedom of speech and publication; tocriticize wrong-doings in the previous movements; to criticizeChinese interference in the Korean War (meaning the money used in thewar should be used instead to improve the life of their own people orfor the construction of China); to criticize the Soviet Union fortheir soldiers who raped Chinese women in 1946 when they occupied thenortheast after driving out the Japanese; to criticize one-partyrule; to demand equal opportunity in the elections of governmentleaders (there were some so-called democratic parties in China); andmany others.

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