Before Chairman Mao died, he mentioned to a small circle of people that he had accomplished two things in his life time. The first was the founding of the People’s Republic of China. He fought ten years against the Jiang Jieshi regime before the Japanese invasion. He fought against the Japanese aggressors for eight years, and fought three more years to overthrow the Jiang Jieshi regime to accomplish the first task.
The second was the launching of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. He was dismayed by the rising tendency among the Communist Party official ranks to live a life of privileges once the Communist Party came to power in 1949. As soon as the Communist Party came to power, Chairman Mao launched numerous political campaigns to fight tendencies toward official corruption within the Communist Party. He ordered the execution of high officials like Zhang Zishan and Liu Qingshan, in order to send a signal to his former comrades.30
But these political campaigns and executions were not effective enough in fighting the tendency toward official corruption. In 1966, at the age of 73, Mao, together with his comrades, launched the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. This was the final resort to fight official corruption, by empowering the Chinese people.
The reason that Chairman Mao considered the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution one of his two most noteworthy accomplishments is because it had a profound impact on the course of Chinese history. This was due to the educational reforms it introduced and the democratic experiment it carried out. The Cultural Revolution inspired the Chinese people to rise up and democratize Chinese society to an extent never before reached in human history. It also inspired a generation of young people outside China. College students in Europe, America, Japan, and elsewhere, like their counterparts in China, revolted against the existing order, asserted their influence on society, and had an impact on the course of world history. The world would never be the same after the Cultural Revolution.
The education reform
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was first and foremost an educational reform. It reformed the college entrance examination system. Before the Cultural Revolution, only a tiny percentage of children of school-going age were able to go to middle school and high school. An even smaller number of people were able to go to college. Most people who were able to go to college came from privileged families.
The majority of people were deprived of middle school and high school education, let alone a college education. Many rural children were not able to even go to primary school. The lack of access to education in the vast rural areas of China continued for 17 years after the Communist Party came to power. The educational system the Chinese Communist Government established after it came to power was not very different from the one it had inherited from the Nationalist Government. College was still the training ground for the future elite, which largely excluded the children of workers and peasants.
During the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, in response to the demand of students in Beijing, the Chinese Government suspended the college entrance examination system, and called for a reform of the educational system. As a result of the reform, college students were no longer selected through a set of entrance examinations. Instead, high school graduates were required to work at least for two years at a factory, or in the countryside, or in the army before they were eligible for the college entrance examination. After 1973, when Zhang Tiesheng protested against the academic tests, the academic test part of the selection of college students was eliminated completely.31 Students were selected by workers and peasants based on their work performance. In 1976, a further important reform was instituted: college graduates would return to the place they came from, to serve the community that sent them to college in the first place.32
Had this new college student selection system continued, the idea of college as the training ground for traditional elites would have been discontinued in China. We would have had a brand new type of college graduates: dedicated to service of the people in their community rather than to personal glorification and self-enrichment. I have always argued that the worker, peasant, and soldier college students have been the best college students that China ever had. It is too bad for China and for the world that the system of selecting college students from among workers, peasants and soldiers was discontinued abruptly in China in 1977. The post-Mao Chinese Government leaders could not see the merits of the new system introduced during the Cultural Revolution. They wanted an education system in line with the general reversal they were instituting.
The more profound change in the field of education took place in the primary, middle, and high schools of China. Before the Cultural Revolution, educational professionals were in charge of running the educational system in China. These educational professionals tended to stress certain standards of education, rather than the expansion of the school system to enable more people to go to school. By stressing the importance of standards, they inadvertently limited many people’s access to education. The Cultural Revolution weakened the educational professionals’ control of the educational system, and allowed workers and peasants to have more say in the education of their children. Peasants were allowed to run their own village schools. A village would build its own primary school with local materials, hire its own teachers, and then provide free access to all villagers’ children in the village.
Several villages would pool their resources to build a joint middle school which would provide free access to all peasants’ children in these villages. The people’s commune would open two to three high schools so that all the peasants’ children would be able to attend high school free of charge. There were 1,050 villages in my home town, Jimo county, Shandong Province. During the Cultural Revolution years, every village set up a primary school. All the rural children were able to go to school free. Before the Cultural Revolution, there were only seven middle schools in Jimo county, which had a population of 750,000. During the ten years of the Cultural Revolution, the number of middle schools increased to 249. Every four villages shared one middle school. All primary school graduates were able to go to these middle schools free of charge, without needing to pass any tests. Before the Cultural Revolution, there was only one high school in Jimo county.
For seventeen years before the Cultural Revolution, only 1,500 people graduated from that high school and more than half of them went to college and never came back. For 17 years, Jimo high school was not able to train a single high school graduate for each village in Jimo County. Most villages did not have even a single high school graduate before the Cultural Revolution.
During the Cultural Revolution, the number of high schools in Jimo increased to 89. Almost every commune had three high schools. When I graduated from middle school in 1972, only 70 per cent of my classmates were able to enter high school. By the time my younger sister graduated from middle school in 1973, all of her classmates were able to go to high school. By the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976, there were more than 100 high school graduates in my village and there were more than 12,000 high school graduates in my commune.33 The expansion of education during the Cultural Revolution years was unprecedented in Chinese history. It profoundly transformed the Chinese people and society. As the people became more educated, they became more empowered in both political and economic activities.
The Cultural Revolution and the democratization of Chinese society
One of the most important accomplishments of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was the empowerment of ordinary people and the democratization of Chinese society.
Most people who talk about democracy in this world tend to make the concept of democracy very complicated. Democracy is a very simple and straightforward concept. It means that, contrary to the old system which allowed the elite to run the political affairs, the ordinary people participate in decision making. It means that ordinary people are part of the governance of their society. In order for democracy to work, ordinary people have to be empowered and made equal to the government officials, the old elite. In a democratic society, there should be no privileged classes and there should be no elite. Everybody should be equal politically and economically. That is a prerequisite of democracy.
In the so-called western democracies, one per cent of the people own most of wealth. Because of this gap in wealth, the small rich minority can buy power, influence, and control. They literally have a monopoly over power. That is not a real democracy at all. Democracy like that is in name only. It is fake. The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution tried to build a real democracy. It empowered the ordinary Chinese people to write big character posters to criticize their leaders, and required their leaders to participate in manual labour like everybody else. It was a big step forward in the progress of Chinese society.
During the Cultural Revolution, most Chinese officials had lifestyles similar to those of ordinary people. They lived in houses similar to those of ordinary people. Their children went to the same schools as other Chinese people. They went to work on bicycles like everybody else. Production team leaders were elected by peasants and worked with peasants in the field every day. Village leaders worked with peasants 300 days a year in the fields because they had to attend meetings and make plans for the community. Commune leaders were required to work 250 days a year with peasants in the fields and county government leaders had to work with peasants for two hundred days a year.34
Chen Yonggui worked as a peasant all his life. After the Communist Party came to power, he became the party secretary of Dazhai Village in Xiyang County, Shanxi Province. He did a good job leading the people in his village to build a better future. During the Cultural Revolution he was promoted to be vice premier of the People’s Republic of China, and member of Political Bureau of Chinese Communist Party Central Committee in charge of China’s agriculture. But he continued to devote one-third of his time working with peasants in the fields, and continued to dress and live like a peasant even when he met foreign dignitaries. He was an example of the peasant, worker, and soldier officials that emerged during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. They continued to live like peasants, workers, and soldiers even though they were also government officials. That was the democracy, the proletarian democracy that Chairman Mao tried to build during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, a democracy that empowered the 99 per cent at the expense of the one per cent.
There were many other national leaders like Chen Yonggui. Wang Jinxi, an ordinary worker in the petroleum industry, Ni Zhifu, a mechanist who invented the most efficient drill bits, and Hao Jianxi, an efficient textile worker from Qingdao, Shandong, continued to work in their respective fields after becoming national leaders. Many more workers and peasants served in local government. These workers and peasants served in the government while continuing to work among the working class and peasants.
This created a strong egalitarian social climate in China that promoted a strong work ethic and led to an economic performance outstanding in world history. During the Cultural Revolution years, Chinese management personnel were required to participate in manual labour and workers participated in management’s decision-making process. Workers, engineers, and management cooperated to solve technical, and managerial problems. Unreasonable rules and regulations were reformed with workers’ input. This revolutionary management philosophy and style empowered the workers, engineers, and management personnel to work together. (Such pooling was formulated as a capitalist management concept and dubbed ‘post–Fordism’ in the West, or ‘team spirit’ in Japan.) It led to a great burst of productivity during the Mao era.35
The Cultural Revolution’s impact on industry and agriculture
When the People’s Republic was founded, its industrial base was smaller than that of Belgium, a very small country. Its per capita industrial output was less than one-fifteenth that of Belgium. But during the Mao Era, China’s industrial output increased 38 times and the heavy industrial portion increased 90 times. From 1950 to 1977, China’s industrial output increased at an average rate of 13.5 per cent annually. This speed of industrialization was faster than any country in a comparable period. It surpassed the performance of Germany, Japan, and the Soviet Union over comparable periods of their development. From 1880 to 1914, Germany’s industrial output increased by 33 per cent every ten years and its per capita increase was 17 per cent. From 1874 to 1929, Japan’s industrial output increased by 43 per cent every ten years and its per capita increase was 28 per cent. Between 1928 and 1958, Soviet industrial output increased by 54 per cent every ten years and its per capita increase was 44 per cent. By comparison, between 1952 and 1972, China’s industrial output increased 64.5 per cent every ten years and its per capita increase was 34 per cent.36
During the third and fourth five year plans, China invested 316,642 billion yuan in infrastructure, and increased its industrial assets by 215,740 billion yuan. By 1979, there were 355,000 enterprises, 2.25 times the number in 1965. The size of these State-owned enterprises expanded across the board. Among these enterprises, the big and medium-sized enterprises amounted to 4,500.37
In the field of energy, between 1967 and 1976, China’s petroleum output increased by an average of 18.6 per cent annually. By 1978, its annual output of petroleum reached 100 million tonnes, a five-fold increase over 1965. During the 10 years of the Cultural Revolution, China maintained an annual growth rate of 9.2 per cent in the output of coal, chemicals, and electricity.38
Between 1965 and the mid-1970s, China invested 205 billion yuan in third line industrial projects. A group of steel plants, machine tool plants, airplane plants, space programs, and electronic plants were built in the central and western regions. By late 1970s, the industrial assets in the third line region accounted for one-third of the total industrial assets in China. China’s industrial output increased 3.92 times. The industrial development of the central and western regions improved the overall picture of China’s industrial development, with profound strategic significance for China’s national security and development as a nation.
While stressing self-reliance, Chairman Mao approved of importing technology when necessary. In 1972, Chairman Mao and Premier Zhou Enlai approved the plan of importing 26 foreign industrial plants with a total investment of $5 billion. A big group of petroleum and chemical plants were constructed, which increased China’s output of fertilizer, chemical products, and artificial fabrics. The thirteen big fertilizer plants built during this time accounted for one-fifth of China’s chemical fertilizer output. During the 1970s, China also built many small-scale chemical fertilizer plants. By 1978, there were 1,534 small chemical fertilizer plants in China. The emergence of these small fertilizer plants in China played an important role in the country’s agricultural development.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the US and other western nations spread the Green Revolution technology to Third World countries like India, Mexico, Brazil, Philippines, and so on. The spread of Green Revolution technology in Third World countries had some devastating effects on the agriculture of the third world countries. The use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and big machineries increased the input of agriculture. But the increase of yield also caused grain prices to decline. Moreover, input costs went up over time. Many small peasants were not able to deal with the challenges caused by market fluctuations. A large number of small peasants became bankrupt, and lost their land. They had to migrate to urban areas in order to survive. The emergence of large shanty towns and homeless populations in the Third World countries was one of the direct results of the spread of western Green Revolution technology. It led to a three-fold crisis of agriculture, rural areas, and peasants. The long-term impact of this crisis is difficult to fathom today.
China was the only country that was able to successfully escape this three-fold crisis of agriculture, rural areas, and peasants, because of its collective farming practices. The organized Chinese peasants developed their own home-made Green Revolution. Because Chinese peasants owned the land collectively, and shared the benefit of the Green Revolution technology more equally, they enjoyed the benefits while avoiding the devastating negative effects. The homegrown Green Revolution technology reduced the intensity of farm labour, and also gave rise to many rural industrial enterprises. Because of the rise of these rural industrial enterprises, peasants were able to leave the fields, but not the village, to engage in industrial work. With the development of local Green Revolution technology, the use of locally-made farm machines, and the rise of rural industrial enterprises, Chinese peasants’ living standards improved significantly during the Cultural Revolution years.39
The emancipation of women
Before the Chinese Communist Party came to power, Chinese women had very little political power in Chinese society. Women could not choose whom they wanted to marry: that had to be decided by their parents (or their brothers if their parents passed away). When they got married, their lives were controlled by their husbands (or their sons if their husbands died). Women did not have the right to own property. Property would be owned by their parents or their husbands. Men could buy as many concubines as they could afford. In old China, rich old men often bought young girls to be concubines.
Chinese writer Ba Jin described this situation in his novel Family, where an 80-year-old man buys a 16-year-old servant girl from his friend to be his concubine.
After the Communist Party came to power, the first law the Government passed was the Marriage Law. This law, enacted on April 13, 1950, stipulated that the State would protect women and children. It guaranteed that wives and husbands were equal in marriage. There would be only one husband and one wife in a marriage. Men were not allowed to have any concubines. The State guaranteed the freedom of young people to choose their own marriage partners. In case of divorce, the court would make sure that the best interests of women and children were safeguarded.
The Chinese government not only passed the law, but also launched an unprecedented social movement to educate the public about the law, and to promote awareness of the law through the news media, print media, and performing arts (such as plays and films). With the new marriage law, Chinese women’s social and political status in Chinese society rose significantly.
The Chinese government also promoted equal work for equal pay in the State sector.
Women who worked for the State were able to get equal pay right away. The State-owned enterprises also provided women a three-month maternity leave, which could be extended to half a year. Factories and government offices provided free childcare services for women employees, and mothers were given breaks from work to breastfeed their babies.
To safeguard women’s rights, the Chinese government set up women’s federation committees throughout China. Every Chinese village, factory, school, and government office had a women’s federation committee during the Cultural Revolution years. If a husband did not treat his wife properly, the women’s federation in the village would organize a group of women to confront the husband, and force him to apologize to his wife. If the husband did it again, the women’s federation would come back. In the urban areas, women could file a complaint with the women’s federation committee, and the committee would take action on their behalf.
Besides the women’s federation committees, the Chinese government stipulated that every level of government had to have women representatives on the committees. Government laws and regulation had to take into consideration women’s special needs in life. Workplaces were required to provide mothers with childcare and breastfeeding breaks, and, when women had their menstrual periods, the right to change their work.
The Communist government took the issue of women’s rights seriously, and not simply as an issue of women’s rights. Its repercussions affect the well-being of children, the family, and the whole nation. When women’s rights are not safeguarded, not only women suffer. Children suffer, and families would suffer. If children and families suffer, the whole nation suffers. The Chinese Communist government was able to eliminate social vices like drug addiction, prostitution, trafficking of women and children, organized crime, and banditry very effectively in a short time because it empowered Chinese women to become productive members of Chinese society and helped them to participate equally in Chinese political, social, and economic life. Chinese people’s life expectancy rose from 35 years in 1952 to 69 years in 1976, almost doubling in less than 30 years. China achieved this 20 years ahead of India, whose average life expectancy in 1976 was only 50.This achievement had a lot to do with the Chinese government’s efforts to empower women and safeguard women’s rights.
With socialism and under Chairman Mao’s leadership, China in less than three decades built the most equal society in the world. Top Chinese leaders like Chairman Mao and Zhou Enlai worked the hardest for the Chinese people, but they were only paid the same salary as a professor. They never owned any private property in their life. With such good leadership by example, the Chinese people worked hard to build up their motherland into an industrialized modern country with the most advanced political and social system, free medical care, and free education for everyone. More importantly, real workers, peasants, and soldiers were in the Government and running the Government. These worker, peasant, and soldier Government leaders continued to work with peasants and workers even after they became Government leaders. The guiding principle for these Government officials was to serve the people. This is real democracy, a government of the people, for the people, and by the people. These peasant and worker Government officials were no longer just representing peasants’ and workers’ interests in the Government. They were peasants and workers themselves. They lived and worked as peasants and workers.40
III. The regression of China after Mao
The expansion of socialism and development of the Cultural Revolution in China was never a smooth process. It was filled with class conflicts and class struggles. It was filled with the struggle of two lines, the socialist line and capitalist line. Chairman Mao pointed out that there was class conflict and class struggle in socialist China and that there was danger of capitalist restoration. On September 9, 1976, Chairman Mao passed away. Four weeks, later, Hua Guofeng, Mao’s self-proclaimed successor, arrested the so-called the Gang of Four – Chairman Mao’s wife, Jiang Qing, Zhang Chunqiao, Wang Hongwen and Yao Wenyuan. Hua Guofeng thus became the first leader of the People’s Republic to use force to solve political differences with his opponents.
Hua Guofeng did what he did to seize power for himself.
But he needed to politically justify what he did. He used political lies and half-truths to anoint himself as Chairman Mao’s trusted successor and to claim that he was carrying out Chairman Mao’s will by arresting the supposed ‘Gang of Four’. He and his co-conspirators used underhand means to tarnish the images of these four representatives of Mao’s line. But his mean-spirited efforts inadvertently undermined his own position within the party. Very soon Hua Guofeng’s co-conspirators were forced to resign from their positions and Hua Guofeng became harmless in Chinese politics under the onslaught of the capitalist faction. Deng Xiaoping, who was removed from power twice by Chairman Mao during the Cultural Revolution, managed to return to power a third time. Chairman Mao had removed Deng Xiaoping from power at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution. Deng Xiaoping wrote three self-criticisms and two letters to Chairman Mao begging for an opportunity to work again. In 1974, Chairman Mao reinstituted him, but removed him again in April following the April 5 1976 riot in Tiananmen Square.
After Deng Xiaoping returned to power, he began to dismantle the many landmark accomplishments of the Cultural Revolution. He discontinued the practice of selecting college students from workers, peasants, and soldiers, and reinstituted the college entrance examinations. He also dismantled the people’s communes and collective farming. The collectively-owned farm land was divided into small spaghetti-like pieces for peasants to farm individually.41 After the land was divided up, the rural public education and medical care network (built up during the Cultural Revolution) collapsed.
As the urban-oriented capitalist development program under Deng Xiaoping was taking shape in the early 1980s, the Government’s investment in rural areas declined significantly from 15 per cent of the national budget to around 5 per cent. Peasant families had to pay tuition for their children to study in primary school. Many peasant children lost access to education because they could not afford to pay the tuition and other costs of education. During the Cultural Revolution years, enrolment of school aged children in rural areas reached close to 100 per cent. But with the collapse of collective farming, many rural schools were closed down. New generations of illiterate peasants, particularly women, emerged in the Deng Xiaoping era.
During the Cultural Revolution years, Chairman Mao criticized the Chinese Ministry of Health for ignoring public health in rural areas and for its focus on serving the urban population. In response to Chairman Mao’s criticism, China’s public health policy began to shift toward the countryside. Doctors based in the urban areas were required to tour the countryside to provide free treatment for peasants and workers on a regular basis, and they were also required to train ‘barefoot doctors’ for the countryside. The barefoot doctors were high school graduates of a village, chosen by the village to receive free training in urban hospitals for three- to six-month cycles. Each village would have three to six barefoot doctors who would continually receive service training on a regular basis.
These barefoot doctors grew up and lived in the village all their lives. They were paid for their services with work points, like other villagers in the village. They were available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year, in all weather conditions, because their clinic was in the village and they could always come to the villager’s home when they were needed. These barefoot doctors got rudimentary training from urban doctors, and provided rudimentary care to the peasants. If there was a problem they could not handle, they could always turn to the urban doctors for help. By the end of 1976, every village in China had a clinic and a few barefoot doctors providing free care for villagers.
Barefoot doctors played an important role in the improvement of Chinese medical care and the increase of life expectancy in China.
The rural network of barefoot doctors depended on the collective farming system, in which everybody was paid equally with work points, not salaries. When Deng Xiaoping dismantled collective farming, the network of barefoot doctors collapsed with it. Barefoot doctors were converted into rural doctors who had to charge their patients for their services. Many peasants could not afford the cost of the medical care. Fewer people could afford the medical service and as a result many barefoot doctors could no longer survive as doctors. They had to change their trade in order to make a living.
I do not think that Deng Xiaoping and his followers understood the systemic nature of the Chinese society, and social consequences of dismantling collective farming. Or maybe they understood, but simply did not care about what would happen to poor peasants when they could not afford to pay for their children’s tuition and medical care. Many peasants were forced to turn to crime in order to get money to pay for their children’s tuition and medical care.
With the collapse of collective farming, crime increased significantly. Peasants who could not afford to buy fertilizers, often resorted to crime. Rural children who were forced out of school turned to crime as well. By 1983, crime had reached such a high level that Deng Xiaoping ordered a campaign to suppress crime – with extra-legal measures. The top three leaders of any gangster group were ordered to be executed. The police and the courts were given a quota of the number of criminals that had to be executed.
In one of the villages I studied, there had been no crime in the village for more than 10 years during the Cultural Revolution. But during the two years after the collectives were broken up, more than three dozen people were arrested and sentenced to prison for stealing grain and chemical fertilizers from passing trucks on the highway to use in their private plots. In the spring of 1983, a group of six men in this village were arrested by police and the leader of this group was sentenced to 10 years in prison, and the next most important person was sentenced to eight years in prison. The third and fourth persons were sentenced to prison for five and six years.
The two leaders accepted the sentences. But numbers three and four of the group appealed against their sentences. They were caught by Deng Xiaoping’s order to suppress criminals, and were punished more severely. They were both sentenced to death – for stealing a few bags of fertilizers to be used in their own fields. The police executed the two young men in fields not far from the village in order to teach other peasants a lesson.
Throughout China hundreds and thousands of people were executed like that. One of my childhood friends, Ma Jihe, committed suicide when he heard that the police were coming to arrest him for his involvement in a criminal group. I was still in graduate school at the time. I was very angry when I heard about his death. Ma Jihe was such a good worker during the collective era. He worked very hard in the fields, and older peasants had to warn him constantly not to work so hard. After the land was divided, he lost his direction. He helped his friends to hide stolen properties. He knew that if he were arrested, he would be executed. He did not want his family to be humiliated by his execution, and committed suicide instead, leaving behind a wife and a young son. The Chinese Communist government rarely executed criminals for petty theft. Deng Xiaoping was the first to execute large numbers of peasants and workers for thefts. I hope that Chinese people remember that. After the first campaign to suppress criminals in 1983, the Chinese government under Deng Xiaoping, as well as after Deng Xiaoping’s death, carried out several similar campaigns. Many people whose crimes did not warrant an execution according to the normal legal code were executed on the whim of Deng Xiaoping and his mistaken policy.
30. Zhang Zishan and Liu Qingshan were party secretary and head of Tianjin Prefecture Government respectively. They embezzled the government relief fund intended for peasants hit by a natural disaster. They used this money to buy cars and build villas for themselves. They were executed in 1952. (back)
31. Zhang Tiesheng took the 1973 college entrance examination. But instead of answering the questions on the test, he wrote a protest against the academic tests being one of the criteria in the college student selection process. (back)
32. I was chosen by my village as a potential candidate for college in 1976. I received all the briefings about the revolutionary changes in the college enrollment policy, but was not able to go to college because of the limited number of places available. (back)
33. Dongping Han, The Unknown Cultural Revolution, (New York: Garland Publishing, 2000). (back)
34. Dongping Han, “Cultural Revolution and Democratization of Chinese Countryside,”Besides the Tragedies: On the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Ed. Luo Kinyi and Zheng Wenlong, (Taibei: Storm Forum Publishers, 1997). (back)
35.Cui Zhiyuan, “Angang Xianfa and Post Fordism,” Reading, Issue No. 3, 1996. (back)
36. Meisner, op. cit. (back)
37. Hu Sheng, op cit., pp. 415-416. (back)
38. Ibid., p. 416. (back)
39. Han, The Unknown Cultural Revolution. (back)
40. This is the comment Professor Bertell Ollman of New York University made after reading one of my papers regarding the system of government of the Cultural Revolution years. (back)
41. Bill Hinton, who wrote Fan Shen (an account of China’s earlier land reform), and followed Chinese agricultural development closely, coined the phrase “spaghetti land” to express his disapproval of the Chinese Government’s policy of dividing up the land: “This was not ‘postage stamp’ land such as used to exist before land reform, but ‘ribbon land,’ ‘spaghetti land,’ ‘noodle land’ -- strips so narrow that often not even the right wheel of a cart could travel down one man's land without the left wheel pressing down on the land of another.” -- The Great Reversal: The Privatization of China, 1978-89, (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1990), p. 16. (back)
42. Global Forum, “China’s Income Gap Solution, too little, too late?” Fortune, February 15, 2013. (back)