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By Thomas Li, VI Form
An Analysis of Modern Chinese Economic Policy Progression and Reform
In the fall of 1944, a boy was born in Guizhou, China, one of the most impoverished parts of the war-torn country. His father had secretly joined the Chinese Communist Party while in college. However, he worked in a Kuomintang (KMT), which was China’s ruling party before the communist takeover in 1949, enterprise in Nanjing before escaping to rural Guizhou due to KMT spies’ suspicions about his communist affiliation. In Guizhou, he became a math teacher and eventually a head of school. In 1958, the Great Leap Forward began. It was a political movement centered around economic collectivization, but it resulted in widespread famine. In the boy’s family of nine, his father strictly rationed food for every meal so that, although nobody was free from hunger, everybody survived. Things were so desperate that the boy and his siblings searched for tree bark and plant roots for the family to eat.
Relief finally came in 1963 when the boy, who did well in school, went off to study engineering in a Chongqing college. But this relief was short-lived. Upon the onset of the Cultural Revolution (an anti-capitalist political campaign), he received news that the Red Guards, a youth group that enforced the Cultural Revolution, searched his home and labeled his father a “capitalist-roader” due to his past KMT ties, despite seeing that the family was so impoverished that everyone slept on rice straw. The Red Guards paraded his father down the streets so people could publicly humiliate him. With colleges shutting down due to the Cultural Revolution, the boy, hoping to support his father in person, boarded a train back home. Yet, the Red Guards on the train ordered him off and had him walk back home simply because his father was a teacher–who had knowledge as opposed to the working class–thus a man with a “capitalist background.”(more…)