The Importance of Land Reform in the Reconstruction of China


  • William Hinton



Ecology, History


From the early 1920s through 1949 when the Peoples Liberation Army liberated Beijing, the Chinese people, rising in revolution under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, targeted domestic feudalism, bureaucratic capitalism, and foreign imperialism as the three mountains on their backs that had to be thrown off. In the 1920s and early 1930s, the landord-dominated feudal land system was the central issue, and land reform—equal distribution of the land to all who labored on it—formed the heart of the revolutionary program. After 1937, when the Japanese embarked on the military conquest of China, their imperialist invasion, threatening China's very existence as an independent country, preempted all other political issues. Chinese revolutionaries responded by forging a united front with all forces, including those bureaucratic capitalists holding state power and those landlords in the countryside who were willing to join in resistance to Japan. For eight years mobilization for land reform in the countryside gave way to rent-and-interest reduction schemes, a Communist Party policy to which all resisters gave lip service, but not all landlords and usurers put into practice.

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