What was the purpose behind the implementation of the Great Leap Forward?
Purpose Second Five-Year Plan to transform China from an agrarian economy into a modern communist society through Rapid industrialization Collectivization GLF also aimed to push China to have an economy that could rival the United States and other advanced economies in Europe
Assumptions What were some of the assumptions that Mao adopted, which influenced him to implement the Great Leap Forward?
Assumptions Mao concluded that the Chinese people were capable of anything The resilience and perseverance shown during the Long March, Japanese invasion and civil war The success, in terms of numbers, of the first Five Year Plan (1952-57) Human endeavour and willpower to drive industrialization rather than technical knowledge
Reactions of party leaders How did the party leaders react to Great Leap Forward and how would it affect them later?
Reactions of party leaders Full support was given, government machinery was at full swing in promoting and building up enthusiasm for the Great Leap Forward Party leaders worked with their bare hands in the fields and factory grounds to model the way Lower to middle tier party officials set high targets for the peasants to achieve Ambitious, to climb up the political ladder Fear of failure and subsequent political repression (examples: Anti-Rightists Campaign, persecution of landlords and other enemies of the State)
Consequences of action Reported false figures to satisfy or please the higher- ups in the party Peasants were left with little or no food as all their grain had been taken away and given to the State per reported in official figures given by party officials High-ranking officials were afraid to speak up with regards to GLF for fear of political repercussions, as happened to Peng Dehuai, Minister of Defence Peng was ostracized and then demoted by Mao after he highlighted the problems of the Great Leap Forward during a party conference
Reactions of peasants How did the peasants react to Great Leap Forward and how would it affect them later?
Reactions of peasants Due to government propaganda, peasants were initially enthusiastic, worked hard to meet and beat set targets Communes set up “back-yard furnaces” to produce steel They added a considerable amount of steel to China’s annual total – 11 million tonnes. The figures for steel, coal, chemicals, timber, cement etc all showed huge rise Grain and cotton production also showed major increases in production.
Consequences on peasants Lack of technical knowledge to produce steel resulted in useless, poor quality steel Backyard production method had taken many workers away from their fields – desperately needed food was not being harvested Along with factors like bad weather and reporting of false figures by party officials, there was shortage of food, resulting in starvation of many peasants in China
Failure of GLF Why did the Great Leap Forward fail? Lack of proper skills and knowledge to propel industrialization Actions of ambitious or fearful party officials that disadvantaged the peasants Lack of openness in criticizing the problems of the Great Leap Forward Natural conditions like flood and earthquakes destroyed field crops
Mao and GLF Aftermath How did the Great Leap Forward affect Mao Zedong?
Mao and GLF Aftermath Initially moderated set targets after he was made aware of the problems of the Great Leap Forward Carried on with GLF even after it was criticized by Peng Dehuai In 1961, Mao Zedong stepped down as the Head of State (ie. Chairman or President) of the People’s Republic of China, though he remained as the Communist Party leader As he stepped down from his State position, GLF was assumed to have ended because there was no official statement nor acknowledgement from Mao himself about the outcome and consequences of the Great Leap Forward
Lessons Learnt After learning about the Great Leap Forward, what are the important lessons that you take away from this monumental event?