chapter  7
34 Pages

Agrarian Reform in China: Feeding the Billion-Plus

WithChristopher J. Smith

The typical procedure began with the formation of the local Land Reform Work Team, its job to raise the consciousness of the peasants. Land reform was accompanied by substantial increases in agricultural production, but in reality the major gains were political rather than economic. The primary goal of land reform was to set the peasants free from the shackles of China's feudal landownership system, and in that sense it was more of a social movement than a production system. The opponents of collectivization pointed out that the loss of the peasants' land and decisionmaking powers was unprecedented in China. In objective terms the official data released from China indicate that significant improvements were recorded in these areas by the mid 1980s. The agrarian reforms were associated with trends that were causing some unanticipated problems for China's leaders. Most observers agree that in general China's rural land is underutilized and yields are far too low.