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By W.A. Boyce. We communists are now in power. But China is weak after 20 years of war and civil war. We need to build up China’s strength to protect.

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Presentation on theme: "By W.A. Boyce. We communists are now in power. But China is weak after 20 years of war and civil war. We need to build up China’s strength to protect."— Presentation transcript:

1 By W.A. Boyce

2 We communists are now in power. But China is weak after 20 years of war and civil war. We need to build up China’s strength to protect its borders from our enemies. We need a strong army! But most of our factories have been destroyed and China has few arms factories anyway. We can buy weapons from our friends the Russians! China has few resources available to sell to the Russians to buy weapons. We also need to buy machines for our factories. China has lots of land and millions of peasants. We will sell FOOD! And I want to be the most powerful man in the world

3 Stealing of harvests Forcible conscription of peasants for military service Massive numbers of refugees Much destruction and use of terror.


5 Former land deeds and other documents seized by the communists in 1951.

6 In the days of the Emperors, all land was held in the name of the Emperor, though most land was held by a few wealthy landowners or landlords. Very few peasants possessed their own land but had to rent it from their local landowner.

7 Land reform was the major issue that persuaded many peasants to support the Communist Party. As the PLA moved into new areas they removed the landowners and redistributed their land amongst the local peasants. This process was formalised in the 1950 Land Law Land redistribution was often accompanied by ‘Speak Bitterness’ meetings against local landowners. A ‘People’s Court’ was established which had Communist officials and poor peasants sitting upon it. The poorest peasants in the village would be invited to make accusations against the former landowners. Most landowners lost their lands and became poor peasants but over 1 million landlords lost their lives.


9 A man is publicly tried for trying to sell one of his relatives – the young girl is seated on the stool



12 A debate on class struggle in a commune outside Shanghai. “Rightists” like the man in the centre once again become the target of humiation.

13 The 1950 Land Law basically removed the established land owners and redistributed their land to the peasants. It formalised a process that had already been taking place for several decades. When Communist troops took control of new areas one of the first things they did was to redistribute the land amongst the peasants. Land redistribution more than anything else won the loyalty of the peasantry for the Communist Party and for Mao. The land was legally theirs and they were given title deeds to prove it. OVER 300 MILLION PEASANTS, MORE THAN HALF THE POPULATION, WERE GIVEN LAND.

14 Most peasants did not own their own land but worked for powerful landlords. Farming methods were often very traditional using animals and human labour, with simple ploughs. Plots of land were very small, which did not allow machines to be used. Peasants were often ill-treated by the landlords and were often taxed very heavily. Many peasants had been taken away from their farms and were forced to serve in various armies



17 The first attempt to increase production came with the introduction of ‘Mutual Aid Teams’. This is where local peasants were encouraged to share their scarce resources to help each other out – sharing their animals, tools, time. About half of all peasant farmers joined such teams. These were very successful and Mutual Aid Teams led to a significant increase in farm production. Peasants were generally enthusiastic because they still had control of their own land and could organise their farming activities as they wished.

18 1. Mao felt that farm production was not rising quicky enough to pay for the first Five Year Plan. 2. He was worried that private ownership of peasant farms might lead to new class inequalities. 3. The average peasant farm was less than 2.5 acres (approx. 10,000 square metres). Larger farms and modern methods would be needed if food production was to increase significantly. Usually people of one village pooled their land and labour to make one bigger, more efficient farm. Although the families still legally owned their plots of land, the land was actually on permanent loan to the co- operative, which paid each family a rent for its use.

19 Most peasants accepted the co-operatives because they still had ownership of the land and food production continued to increase. But there was resentment at the increasing control of the Communist Party.

20 The ‘co-operatives’ were gathered into larger units called ‘collectives’, consisting of 200-300 families (ie. several villages). By 1956 95% of peasants were in collectives. The Communist Party further increased its control over the peasants by: - All peasant land had to be handed over to the collective. - Private ownership, except for small garden plots, ceased to exist. - Peasants had to give up the title deeds to their land, surrender their animals - Families now received a wage and were no longer paid a rent for use of their land. - Peasants were allowed to keep only a few small square metres of land for growing vegetables, etc.

21 Communes were introduced as part of the second Five-Year Plan [1958-62]. These were huge organisations which could include towns as well as villages. Communes served not only a farming purpose but was a means of using the peasantry to help develop industry. Communes were also the lowest level of local government and served as military districts Mao intended to organise the peasantry into massive work units so that they could be used on large-scale projects, such as, building canals, tunnels and bridges – they were also to be used in expanding China’s iron and steel production.

22 Large-scale farming district Large-scale industrial and manufacturing unit Unit of local government Local Defence



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