I have to take issue with you on the question of free choice of farming system in China and the accuracy of your statement (MR, November 1983, p. 1). In your editors' note, you write: "The peasants in each commune were called upon to choose whether to adopt the new system or stay with the former collective operation of the land." Now since I know of literally dozens of cases where the peasants had no such choice, your statement cannot be valid. If you had said, "The peasants in some communes were called upon…etc.," then you would have a case, but you have made a sweeping statement based on investigation in two very special areas, communes on the fringes of two of China's largest cities, and have concluded that all peasants had the same choices. From all the knowledge that I have been able to gather, those who had choices were definitely in the minority and most of them were in the counties controlled by the large municipalities such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Canton. It seems that city party committees worried a lot about whether the breakup would be a good thing for local food supplies and took various steps either to protect old collective forms or to ensure that contracting did not interrupt large-scale farming, mechanization, etc.
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