China’s Great Leap Forward (1958 to 1961) – Part 2 of 6

Mao has more power than anyone since the emperors, and he wants China to be a purer, fairer more progressive state than the Soviet Union, so the peasants were the first to benefit.

As promised during the revolution, there were land reforms. Luo Shifa, a party official in Sichuan, tells his story about what happened in 1950.  Rural landlords were judged enemies of the people and hundreds of thousands were executed.

Changes in urban areas were not as violent. The owners and managers of factories were needed to keep things running but all property was signed over to the state.  Factory and business owners  who resisted were executed.

Women were given new rights at work and in marriage and foot binding was abolished. Literacy was also important. Before 1949, illiteracy in Mainland China was 80% and life expectancy was 35.  When May died, only 7% were illiterate and the average life expectancy had increased to 55—today it is 76.

To deal with disease, the Communists launched programs to improve health care that had never existed before. Millions were inoculated against the most common diseases.

Return to Part 1, China’s Great Leap Forward or go to Part 3

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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