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Red China's Communes

March 18, 1959

Report Outline
Revolutionary Changes in Red China
Steps on Path to Regimented Living
Communes and Sino-Soviet Relations

Revolutionary Changes in Red China

Creation of Communes to Spur Production

Communist China is in the midst of drastic social and economic changes that are revolutionizing the manner of life of great masses of its people. The Red regime, ruling a country of vast population and low living standards, has mobilized millions of men and women to do the work of thousands of machines. In effect, it is putting human capital to the stupendous task of transforming a primitive economy into that of an advanced industrial state capable of competing with the Soviet Union and with the United States.

The “people's commune” is the instrument that has been chosen to enable Red China to make a “great leap forward” in agricultural and industrial production. No two communes are necessarily alike, but each is supposed to be, now or eventually, a self-sufficient entity embracing from 10,000 to 50,000 persons organized on military lines. Members of communes are to be cared for from cradle to grave and, under Peking's original plans, were expected in return to give up virtually all personal possessions, accept extreme modification of age-old customs and institutions, and dedicate their lives and labor to a new China.

By autumn of last year, the more than 500 million peasants in mainland China were being rapidly reduced to the status of conscripts in a semi-slave army, required to work at whatever place and whatever task their Communist masters ordered. More than 99 per cent of the peasants already had “joined” communes, and government spokesmen confidently predicted huge increases in food, coal, and steel production.

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Regional Political Affairs: East Asia and the Pacific
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