People’s Republic of China – Land Reform and Industrialization

The first initiative of the new regime in the field of customs reform was the law on marriage, promulgated on April 13, 1950. It revolutionized ancestral customs, such as marriages decided by parents, polygamy, concubinage; proclaimed the equality of the sexes; legalized divorce by mutual consent. In short, he sanctioned the emancipation of women. Prostitution was prohibited and a strict puritanism was imposed on all of Chinese society.

The major reforms have taken place in the agricultural field. The success of the Communists in the civil war was in fact due to the fact that they presented themselves, like all the revolutionaries of the millenary Chinese history, as “agrarian reformers” and that, in the regions that fell under their control, the their principles by taking the land from the landowners and redistributing it to the peasants. Once in power, their agricultural policy took place according to three different stages: that of the redistribution of land, from 1949 to 1954 inclusive; that of the establishment of agricultural cooperatives, from 1955 to the first half of 1958; that of the constitution of the municipalities, from the second half of 1958 until today.

According to Getzipcodes, the first phase, that of the redistribution of land, officially began for all of China on June 30, 1950, when the land law was promulgated. This provided for a meticulous classification of peasants into various categories: local lords; feudal owners; rich peasants; middle-rich peasants; middle-poor peasants; poor peasants; agricultural laborers. Those belonging to the higher categories were usually eliminated in the course of spectacular trials and their lands redistributed among those belonging to the other classes. Almost simultaneously with the end of the campaign for the redistribution of land, the movement for the creation of agricultural cooperatives began, which – according to the report on the development of cooperatives of December 16, 1953 – had to be voluntary. The government authorities, however, admitted that persuasion would be necessary to overcome the resistance of the peasants to give up the properties they had recently acquired. At the end of 1954, 7% of peasant families were united in cooperatives for a total of 400,000 units. In 1955 Mao Tse-tung announced the government’s intention to proceed with the creation of cooperatives with greater resolve: it was the end of small independent farmers. The Chinese press indulged in fantastic predictions on the future number of cooperatives: in 1956 they should have reached the significant figure of 1,300,000 units.

The industrialization of the country proceeded hand in hand with the agrarian reform. The first three years after the establishment of the People’s Republic were engaged in the reconstruction of the industrial plants existing before the Sino-Japanese war and that the disappearance of Japanese technicians, the destruction caused by the civil war and the removal of materials, carried out by the Russians in Manchuria, they had rendered useless. The first five-year plan was launched in 1953, simultaneously with the movement for the creation of agricultural cooperatives and with the assistance of the USSR which, in September 1953, pledged to contribute to the industrial development of China. L’ enormous effort to achieve the results envisaged by the plan required the mobilization of the population and to this end the government launched a series of “campaigns” against corruption, waste and bureaucraticism (San-fan: 1952); against the five vices of the industrial and commercial bourgeoisie: tips, fraud and tax evasion, illicit use of state assets, sabotage and use of shoddy materials in the execution of contracts on behalf of the state, exploitation of state-owned industrial secrets (Wu-fan: 1952); against deviation among the high ranks of the party (purge of Kao Kang and Jao Shu-shih: 1955). These “campaigns” served to strengthen government control over the population; to galvanize the spirit of the masses; to create a mystique of work.

In 1958, with the successful completion of the first five-year plan and the movement for the establishment of agricultural cooperatives, a new step was taken on the way of collectivising land and regimenting the population: the people’s communes were created (Jen-min kung- she). Their official “launch” (29 August 1958) coincides with the beginning of the second five-year plan (1958-1962). They are defined by government spokesmen as “a social transformation that will lead from socialist to communist society”; they surpass the agricultural character of cooperatives to become basic social units composed of workers, peasants, merchants, students and soldiers “; they are” the basic units of the future communist society “, etc. One month after the official announcement of the constitution of the municipalities, statistical data from government sources make it known that as many as 26,425 municipalities of the people have been established, regimenting 98.2% of the peasants. Such a transformation of Chinese society will result in an enormous increase in the productive forces. Although the government propaganda claims that thanks to the Municipalities, women will be freed from the millenary slavery of domestic work (collective kitchens, kindergartens, dormitories for the two sexes, collective tailoring, etc.), in practice they will increase the ranks of industrial or agricultural workers. The mystique of work is brought to paroxysm, through the repetition of slogans that exalt production: “Let’s reach the industrial production of England!” “we produce more, In contrast to the previous contraceptive experiments, the growth capacity of the Chinese race is now exalted: “there is no problem of overpopulation in China” – states the text of the Wuhan resolution of 10 December 1958 – “there is only the problem of shortage of the hand of opera “. It is the triumph of the principle that “number is power”. In contrast to the previous contraceptive experiments, the growth capacity of the Chinese race is now exalted: “there is no problem of overpopulation in China” – states the text of the Wuhan resolution of 10 December 1958 – “there is only the problem of shortage of the hand of opera “. It is the triumph of the principle that “number is power”.

Naturally these measures, which disrupt the lives of the entire Chinese population, meet passive resistance, cause discontent, so that the government authorities are induced to somewhat temper the rigidity of their programs. At the end of 1958 it is stated that the movable property of the members of the Municipality (clothes, furniture, small tools, pets, bank deposits, etc.) remain the property of individuals, who can also devote themselves to domestic activities provided that this does not interfere with common work. But it is a strategic retreat that some Western observers mistakenly interpret as a disavowal of the commune creation program. Mao Tse-tung’s decision not to run for the third time as a candidate for the presidency of the Republic (December 18, 1958) is considered a confirmation of this thesis, as if Mao had fallen from grace due to the failure of the municipal experiment. But in 1959 the movement for the constitution of municipalities resumed with renewed energy. On 1 October 1959, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Republic, the creation of the Municipalities was praised as the main success factor in the struggle for the industrialization of the country. From the “rural” municipalities of the people to the “urban” ones, it is a short step: in fact, this is what happens during this year and is still being implemented in the main cities of China.

People's Republic of China - Land Reform and Industrialization

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