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Whither China?Restarting the Reform Agenda$
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Wu Jinglian and Ma Guochuan

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190223151

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190223151.001.0001

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Rural Household Contracting Leads to the Incremental Reform Strategy

Rural Household Contracting Leads to the Incremental Reform Strategy

(p.74) Dialogue 6 Rural Household Contracting Leads to the Incremental Reform Strategy
Whither China?

Wu Jinglian

Ma Guochuan

Xiaofeng Hua

Nancy Hearst

Oxford University Press

In 1980, reform moved to the countryside. In 1958, China had achieved collectivization by imposing administrative directives and Mao Zedong had consolidated the cooperatives into people’s communes, featuring “large-scale production under greater public ownership.” However, incentive mechanisms were lacking. A precipitous decline in agricultural production ensued, leaving the rural areas in poverty, resulting in the Great Famine, and creating a dual social structure dividing urban and rural societies. For more than twenty years, farmers tried to implement household contracting that would allow them to rent land from the communes and then to farm it independently. Finally, in 1980, based on their appeals and with some support from central leaders, the Communist Party Central Committee allowed farmers to select their own modes of production, instituting a shift to household contracting. This greatly facilitated agricultural development, and as a result, rural incomes registered significant increases.

Keywords:   Chapter household contracting, agricultural collectivization, people’s communes, Great Famine, rural reforms

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