The famine in China from 1959-1961 is the world’s largest famine which starved to death an estimated 30 million Chinese. The famine resulted from various combined social, political, economic and ecological factors affecting China at the time. One to remember were the many floods and drought during the period. Mainly, due to China’s refusal to give enough information regarding the episode, it remained quite unknown to the world. Peasant deaths were the highest. Urban people have a better purchasing power and better tended by the government to prevent unrest in the cities.
Death rates in the provinces of Ganzu, Sichuan, Hunan, Guizhou, Anhiu and Guangxi were 2 ? times higher than normal. CHINA’S RESPONSE TO FAMINE China responded to these conditions with centralized relief efforts in mobilizing the physical and economic resources for the good of the majority of the populace. To intervene with famine problem and to bring food relief the state called on the people to store grains and initiate crop protection. The state were allowed to sell grains at much lower prices and grain transfers prevented hoarding and price manipulations.
As food production came under state controls, it was thought to end the famine as the government centered to increase food supply and improved the transportation of these supplies. But it did not succeed as the demand for huge quotas were not met when the state halted foreign and outside assistance and resources not being distributed equally. This period referred to as Great Leap Famine of 1958-1961 is considered the worst famine condition in the history of the human race. It is believed to be caused by the failure of politics in China at the time of Mao.
But when Mao died in 1976, the state started to institute liberalization in its economic policies and permitted private control of its agriculture while it still maintained a controlled central government. It was highly believed that the policy of the government led to the disaster when the state intervened to establish the People’s Communes where cooperatives merged. The merging of too many groups into one resulted to a poorer organizational and administrative set up. The famine led to many effects in society and the populace.
It brought postponement to many marriages as the man and his family has become reluctant to marry for it will mean an additional mouth to feed if he brings home a wife. Even if the couple so decide to marry, they tend to avoid having children which was confirmed by the statistics of fewer births during that period and the given fact malnutrition could have affected the fertility of the woman. The populace mostly those from the rural areas did not trust the idea of the People’s Commune in food production. This resulted to the killing off their animals and crop hoarding.
As the central government encouraged fieldworkers to work on steel making, agriculture suffered through the lost of manual labor force. The central government kept information as to the true state of the economy. The real output were kept from the public thus in a way gave the attitude of unaffectedness to the people. Their belief things are getting better when in fact they were not, set to a very unrealistic targets that did not balance the demand for the supply of sufficient food production to feed the millions.
This inefficiency in government policy has given the worst effect on the tragedy of famine the befalls China during that period. When the diplomatic relationship with the Soviet Union did not succeed, government busy with foreign affairs of the state , was blinded to focus more on food production. Mao saw it as a resulting conflict on the political struggles in China. CONCLUSION As ideological causes were undeniably responsible for the famine, the modern China after four decades sought refinement in its ideology.
It has modernized itself and was a success. It has now more than adequate food production for its people.
Harms, W. (1996). China’s Great Leap Forward. The University of Chicago Chronicle, 15, Retrieved July 28, 2008, from, http://chronicle. uchicago. edu/960314/china. shtml. Yang, D. L. (1996). Calamity and Reform in China: State, Rural Society, and Institutional Change since the Great Leap Famine. Stanford, CA: Stanford University.