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Mao’s reforms: A total failure?

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Mao's policies.
  3. Mao's role in the Chinese economy.
  4. Mao towards industrialization.
    1. The success of industrialization.
    2. Stability in economy.
  5. The government investments.
  6. The slack in the agricultural sector.
  7. Establishment of an independent economy.
    1. Free of foreign domination.
  8. Progress in technology.
    1. Increase in the life expectancy.
    2. The rise of the modern industry.
  9. The critics against Mao's rule.
  10. Conclusion.
  11. Bibliography.

?In time of difficulties, we must not lose sight of our achievements.? This quotation from the Communist leader Mao Tse-Tung (1893-1976) could perfectly apply to his economic policy. When Mao came to power in October 1949, China was out of a decade of war and its economy was still very backward and when he died in 1976, Chinese economy had made significant progresses in many fields, but China was still an underdeveloped country in comparison with Western countries, or even with Asian countries such as Japan or South Korea. After 1978, China felt the need for reforms and took the path toward ?Socialist market economy? and now it seems that there is nothing left of Mao's era. Given the high growth rates reached by China during the last two decades when it seems to have got rid off its Maoist heritage and the denunciation campaigns Mao has been the target of, we may wonder if it is possible to find any positive achievement from Mao's period. In other words, did Mao achieve to improve the Chinese economy, or on the contrary, did he slow down the Chinese ?take-off? (Rostow)?

[...] But, as we will see in a first part, even if Mao's reforms have been mostly successful in the short run, they had some positive consequences in the long term too. Nevertheless, our second part will highlight that many bad impacts of Mao's policies balance them. In the short-term, Mao's reforms can be considered as successful in many ways. Primarily, Mao has been undoubtedly able to bring China's economy out of the Middle Ages. Indeed, in 1949, the Chinese economy was really backward and China was just out of a decade of war which had severely damaged its industry and its agriculture . [...]


[...] Then, after the collectivization took place, the yield in grain crops double within a few years, indeed the collectivization process has been very efficient in mobilizing labour and rural resources notably for large-scale construction projects. Thanks to the first waves of land reforms, Mao managed to suppress the landlords as a class and to equalize the living standards in the countryside[8]. Mao's authoritative government has also been able to reduce the inequalities between provinces, by transferring wealth from the richest provinces to the poorest, by investing in firms in the poorest areas to help their economic development.[9] . [...]


[...] Moreover, the discrepancy between rural and urban areas became even more important and the State had to curb the flow of rural people willing to move to cities.[27] To conclude, it is hard to determine whether or not Maoism as a whole has been a total failure since it has had so many consequences in so many fields. Although Mao's reforms have been really efficient to make China recover after the Second World War and to launch the industrial development of China, the planned economy soon proved inefficient and had been a burden for the Chinese economic development. [...]

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