You would make the People’s Republic of China great.

Your campaign would transform the agrarian population into an industrialised nation. 

The pressure of numbers on the land was not a new problem. Past leaders had increased food production by cutting down forests, and later by introducing New World crops like corn which would grow on marginal lands. Now there was no more new land to use. New ideas were needed to feed the growing population. 

If you controlled agriculture, you could establish a monopoly over grain production. You could export it and raise capital to industrialise. You held meetings to force the peasants to give their land to the government. The grain stores filled and your officials announced bumper harvests, ignoring the widespread famine they were causing. If quotas dropped, you punished the desperate, starving villagers. 

The ‘Great Leap Forward’ is the way to the future, you told them. Loyalty is essential. Those who spoke out were purged. Half a million disappeared in your Anti-Rightist Campaign. 

You caused the worst famine ever recorded. Thirty million died. In 1959 you stepped down as Chairman of the People’s Republic of China, Mao Zedong, feeling you had become a ‘dead ancestor’, still respected, but no longer consulted in matters of state. 

'Great Leap Forward'

Alex Harvie

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