China. The most interesting event of the year was the
Communist Party Congress in November. It became guard duty
without drama: the party's 76-year-old general secretary
Jiang Zemin handed over to 59-year-old Hu Jintao, once
appointed "crown prince" by Deng Xiaoping. But Jiang
retained power as chairman of China's military commission, and
six of nine members of the newly elected Permanent Committee
of the Politburo are Jiang's allies. One of them, Luo Gan,
has led the hunt for Falun Gong followers.
In March 2003, the change of power will be completed.
Then Hu Jintao also becomes president and then Prime
Minister Zhu Rongji is replaced by his "disciple" Wen Jiabao.
Human rights were a problem for China even during this year.
Amnesty International criticized the thousands of executions
during the "Strike Hard" campaign against crimes, of which
46 were executed just before the party congress. A Falun
Gong demonstration in February on Tiananmen Square resulted
in the expulsion of 53 foreigners, including Swedes.
China's 45 million Internet users also had a difficult time.
China turned off the search engines Google ® and
Alta Vista ® and raided Internet cafes.
North Korean refugees seeking asylum at embassies in
Beijing were met by relative tolerance. They were allowed
after negotiations to travel to South Korea.
China softened against the United States; criticized the
military deployment of Americans in Central Asia, but
supported the war on terror. China welcomed the US stamp of the Xinjiang separatists as terrorists. The US security police
opened an office in Beijing. President George W. Bush
visited China in February and received Jiang Zemin in Texas in
October. The mood was positive, but China refused to support
the US war plans against Iraq.
Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Beijing in
December. The parties agreed that a counterbalance to the US
superpower was needed. During the year, an agreement was
signed on Russian supply of oil to Daqing in northern China. In
this oil town, tens of thousands of workers protested
against poor compensation after being rationalized - one of
many worker demonstrations.
Unemployment and corruption were described during the
party congress as China's biggest problem. Against corruption,
power was taken before the congress: 780,000 party members
During the congress, a major step was taken away from
Marx's principles in order to broaden the party. Zhang
Ruimun became historic when he was elected as the first
private entrepreneur in the party's central committee.
Water from Chang Jiang was released for the first time in
the disputed Three Ravines pond in November. Next year, the
mastodont plant will start producing energy, but it is not
ready until 2009.
Countryaah website, economic growth was 8% during the year despite the Asian
recession. Gradually, China adapted to the WTO requirements by
lowering tariffs and phasing out state-owned enterprises.
But the United States felt that China after one year of
membership should have done more.
China is investing in increasing the Zhongchan - middle
class, now about 20% of the population thanks to increased
wealth. But the farmers, 70% of China's nearly 1.3 billion
residents, are still poor, which Prime Minister Zhu Rongji
China, who emits the second most greenhouse gas in the
world, wrote on the Kyoto Protocol against emissions. The
environmental problems in the country continued to be large.
Deserts, which make up 30% of the country's area, grew. More
than 100 cities suffered from severe water shortages. In the
summer, flooding caused serious problems in many provinces,
even in deserts. Over 700 people were killed.
The UN warned of disaster unless anti-AIDS measures were
launched in China. In the autumn, China recognized for the first
time the AIDS problem and commissioned one million students
to run a campaign against the infection. One million are now
HIV-infected according to official data.
China announced that taikonauts, Chinese spacecraft, are
preparing for a manned spaceflight before 2005. An unmanned
aerial vehicle, Shenzhou III, completed a successful
spaceflight in March.
The soccer World Cup in South Korea and Japan fared
worse. China's debut in the World Cup was over without a single
Chinese goal against Brazil, Turkey or Costa Rica.
1958-61 The big leap forward
In 1958, Mao launched an attempt to solve the Chinese
development problems. It was known as: "The big leap
forward" and had as a basic idea a decentralization of
industrial development all the way to the villages and a
stronger collectivization of agricultural production.
The organizational framework for the new policy was the
People's Municipality. The emergence of peoples
municipalities was partly a spontaneous process, partly a
process driven by the local and central party apparatus.
Already in 1958, people's municipalities were established
all over the country - approx. 26 000. The main tribe in the
people's municipality was the work team, which consisted of
20-30 families. The work team made use of the land and
worked out its own production and sales plan. Above the work
team was the brigade who took care of major agricultural
work, irrigation plants, canals and smaller industrial
companies. The brigade consisted of 150-300 families.
At the top stood the municipal council, which took care
of the larger administrative tasks, the larger industry and
the larger schools and hospitals, and which coordinated the
larger tasks with other public municipalities. In this way,
production should be able to increase considerably, while at
the same time increasing production should benefit the local
community directly. During 1958, more than 7 million small
industries grew in the villages. produced steel, coal,
cement, fertilizers and consumables. For starters,
expectations were rampant. China talked about overtaking
England in industrial growth over 15 years and overtaking
the United States a few years later.
It was going to go quite differently. The small local
industries entailed a huge waste of resources while
extracting labor from agriculture. When the harvest failed
at the same time, the consequence was widespread famine. It
is estimated that around 20 million Chinese lost their lives
in the period 1959-61 before the big leap was
finally shelved. The experiment thus became one of the
biggest tragedies of the century, and one of the few
disasters that has released the least information.
1961-65 Mao removed as head of state
Already during the 1959 Lushan Conference, Defense
Minister Peng had directed a strong attack on the strategy
behind the big leap forward. He called it petty-bourgeois
fanaticism, and it was about replacing realism with
miraculous faith. Peng was a supporter of making the army
professional and of introducing modern weapons. Peng was
But in 1962, Mao had to make self-criticism for his
disastrous leadership of the country's economic policy. He
was replaced by Liu Shaoqi as head of state, but continued
to lead the party and had the backing of the People's
During the same period, relations with the Soviet were
deteriorating. Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev had already
unveiled the crimes in the Soviet Union under Stalin in
1956, and had begun the cleanup after Stalin's 30 years in
power. But the Chinese did not need any showdown with
Stalin. The ideological and political conflict between the
two countries continued to grow until the final rupture in
1963, when the last Soviet advisers left China and Soviet
Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping was now given the main
responsibility for implementing a political stabilization
policy in China. Professional expertise came to the fore
again. The central administration gained greater control
over the development. The education system again aimed to
provide purely professional education. The bureaucracy
increased its influence - also at the local level. The
material stimuli were reintroduced. The private plots that
had been abolished during the big leap were reintroduced
together with private markets for agricultural products.
Agriculture was given priority over the first five-year plan
and greater emphasis was placed on scientific methods to
increase agricultural production. In addition, emphasis was
placed on limiting population growth. The new political line
brought economic growth back on track.