Before I started researching this series of posts, I believed that Mao’s agricultural reform policies were mostly responsible for the famine, and then I learned that drought and severe weather also played a role in the famine.
The other factors that may have contributed to China’s so-called Great Famine will be listed in order of influence with the most damaging factor listed first and the least damaging last.
In 1959 and 1960, the weather was less favorable due to droughts and floods in some provinces, and the situation grew considerably worse, with several of China’s provinces experiencing a severe famine.
Droughts, floods, and bad weather caught China completely by surprise, and in July 1959, the Yellow River flooded in East China and directly killed—through starvation from crop failure or drowning—an estimated 2 million people.
In 1960, at least some degree of drought and more bad weather affected 55 percent of cultivated land in China where only 10 percent of the land area is arable, while an estimated 60 percent of northern agricultural land received no rain at all. – Great Leap Forward – Climate Conditions and famine in China (Wiki)
In addition, it helps to know that droughts and famine are common in China. Between 108 BC and 1911 AD, there were no fewer than 1,828 major famines in China or one nearly every year in one or more province.
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010” Awards
Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival
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