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 A Clarion Call to Action

A Clarion Call to Action

— First in a series of reports on the nationwide movement to build Tachai-type counties

by Our Correspondent Chin Chi-chu

Source: Peking Review, No. 48, November.28, 1975
Transcribed by www.wengewang.org

   "Build Tachai-type counties throughout the country” is a great revolutionary mass movement rising in China. What does it signify and how did it get started? Beginning from this issue we publish a series of articles giving some basic facts on the movement.
THE national conference on learning from Tachai held from September 15 to October 19 this year issued the call: "Mobilize the whole Party, make greater efforts to develop agriculture and strive to build Tachai-type counties throughout the country!" In response to this call, millions upon millions of people — from the snowbound northeast to subtropical Hainan Island and from the eastern seaboard plains to the "Roof of the World." the Tibetan Plateau — have under the leadership of Party organizations gone into action.


   A mountain village, the Tachai Production Brigade of the Tachai People's Commune in Hsiyang County, Shansi Province, is about 400 kilometres southwest of Peking. Every day people from all parts of the country flock to Tachai and learn from its experience. Friends from foreign countries also frequently go there on a visit. The Tachai Production Brigade, consisting of 83 households, is the standard-bearer on China's agricultural front It represents the direction in which the hundreds of millions of Chinese peasants are advancing. Chairman Mao called on the nation in 1964 to learn from Tachai in agriculture.
   Pre-liberation Tachai was an appallingly poor hamlet whose 4,700-odd fragmented pieces of farmland were spread all over the ridges and gullies of a mountain named by local inhabitants as Hutoushan (Tiger Head Mountain). They called and still call the biggest gully there Langwochang (Wolfs Haunt), a name that gives people some idea of its wilderness in the past To remind posterity of former sufferings, Tachai to this day has deliberately left some tiny plots on the mountain intact. Previously known as "Corners of Divine Soil," these tiny plots were considered the "best" Tachai had at that time, yielding at most 56 kilogrammes per mu (or 840 kilogrammes per hectare). Taking the village as a whole, the average per mu yield never exceeded 50 kilogrammes. So harsh was feudal exploitation that peasants were forced to give up most of the fruit of their labour to the landlords as rent in kind. Of the 48 poor and lower-middle peasant families, six perished without a single survivor and nine others had to beg for food at one time or another.
   After years of painstaking efforts, Tachai has merged its small fragmented plots into 1,500 terraced fields and transformed its hitherto poor soil into nationally known fertile "sponge farmland," so named because it sops up and holds earth, water and fertilizer like a sponge. In recent years, the Tachai people started building "man-made plains" by removing mountains and filling up gullies on a still larger scale so that their grain production in 1974 went up nearly tenfold compared with the highest pre-liberation level.
   Irrigation was unknown to Tachai in the past. Today, water has been brought up to Tiger Head Mountain from two reservoirs and some plots are installed with water spraying devices. There was no farm machinery of any kind in the past. Today, tractors, bulldozers and cable-ways are used. The once barren hills are being afforested with fruit trees alone numbering more than 40,000.
   Life for the peasants yesterday is poles apart from that today. While Tachai still retains several mountain caves to remind coming generations of what kind of shelters their parents and grandparents had, every brigade member has moved into newly built sunny stone caves or brick houses, all with glass windows, electric light and tap water at the doorstep. Towering over those few dark, dank and dilapidated caves of the old days is a new and even better housing project. Near by is a hundred-year-old willow tree on which landlords before liberation often tied tenants and flogged them because they were unable to pay their rent or debts. This "Tree of the Unfortunate," as it was called before, has been renamed the "Tree of the Happy People." Not far off is a department store, a post and telegraph office, a bookshop, a commune clinic where surgery, such as gastrectomy, can be performed. There are, of course, a school, a nursery, a kindergarten. . . .
   In short, Tachai has completely changed. How has this come about?
   First of all, this must be attributed to its adherence to the principle of putting proletarian politics In command and placing Mao Tsetung Thought in the lead. Tachai set up an agricultural co-operative and took the road of socialist collectivization in 1953. As pointed out in the basic line laid down for our Party by Chairman Mao, "Socialist society covers a considerably long historical period. In the historical period of socialism, there are still classes, class contradictions and class straggle, there is the struggle between the socialist road and the capitalist road, and there is the danger of capitalist restoration." Over the last two decades and more, the Party branch of Tachai has been incessantly using Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought to educate the peasants and led them in rigorously criticizing revisionism and capitalism and going all-out to build socialism.
 Taking the capitalist road in the countryside will inevitably weaken and disintegrate the collective economy and revert to individual farming, resulting in class polarization with a few getting rich and becoming exploiters; the impoverished peasants who make up the majority will go bankrupt and will once again be subjected to exploitation. This would mean the restoration of the rule of the landlord and capitalist classes and the return of the dark, old society. By adhering to the Party's basic line, Tachai has fought against a handful of class enemies and against erroneous lines, capitalist tendencies and wrong thinking. It has unswervingly kept to the socialist road and, working with concerted efforts and soaring enthusiasm, succeeded in conquering nature.
   Another salient feature about Tachai is its spirit of hard struggle and self-reliance. Chairman Mao has pointed out: "The establishment of our socialist system has opened the road leading to the ideal society of the future, but to translate this Idea into reality needs hard work." This is exactly what Tachai has been doing.
 Never wanting to live off state help, the Tachai people choose making strenuous efforts and doing the sweating themselves. By all-out efforts they have transformed the terrain of the old days. In the last four years, for instance, they have removed altogether 33 hills, big and small, filled 15 gullies and moved nearly 700,000 cubic metres of earth and stone. Yet the labour force of the whole production brigade is only 160 men and women all told! Thanks to these all-out exertions, they emerged victorious from the big 1963 flood, one that had seldom occurred in a hundred years' time, and from 1972 to 1974 they rode out unprecedentedly severe dry spells. It goes without saying that there are calluses on the palms of the older generation; the younger generation now beginning to drive tractors and bulldozers are carrying on their elders' hard-working "shoulder-pole" spirit
   Tachai is known far and wide for its communist style of loving the country and the collective. Always bearing in mind Chairman Mao's instruction that "China ought to make a greater contribution to humanity," the Tachai people think neither of a single household's nor a single individual's private gain, but of the collective interests and the interests of the socialist motherland and take the needs of the world revolution into consideration. This is why they declined state relief after a disastrous flood and saved the water from a nearby reservoir for their neighbouring brigades in the years of drought. When there is an increase in grain production, the first things entering their minds is making greater contributions to the state by selling it more marketable grain. Life is much better now, but they continue to work hard, without letup, because it is their wish to play a still greater part in socialist construction and contribute more to the cause of the world revolution.
 People say: "All Is new in Tachai — the people, things, ideology, land, village and yields." Tachai is a typical example of adhering to the Party's basic line, of continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat and of building socialist agriculture with greater, faster, better and more economical results.
   Leading Tachai forward is a strong Party branch. For years Chen Yung-kuei, who is now a Member of the Political Bureau of the Party's Central Committee and a Vice-Premier of the State Council, was its secretary. The present secretary is a young woman, Kuo Feng-lien.

Tachai-Type County

   Following the 1964 call by Chairman Mao to learn from Tachai, a mass movement has developed that serves as a powerful motive force to push agricultural development ahead in China. Tachai-type production brigades and communes have been springing up all over the country. There have been bumper harvests for many years running while farmland capital construction has grown In scale and mechanization of agriculture has been speeded up China's grain output in 1974 was 2A times that of 1949 when the country was liberated. This year is another good harvest year. The nation's 800 million now have enough food and enough clothing. This is a great victory, a fact that even our enemies have to admit
   Since the two bourgeois headquarters with Liu Shao-chi and Lin Piao as their chieftains were destroyed and their counter-revolutionary revisionist line was repudiated in the Great Cultural Revolution, Chairman Mao's revolutionary line has been implemented in a still better way and the movement to learn from Tachai has been rolling on with growing vigour. In 1970 Hsiyang, the county where Tachai is, succeeded in building itself into a Tachai-type county after three years of arduous struggle.
   China's administrative structure is divided into provinces, autonomous regions of the national minorities and municipalities directly under the central authorities. Provinces and autonomous regions, roughly speaking, are divided into prefectures which are subdivided into counties (rural districts in municipalities directly under the central authorities are also classified as counties). Under a county, there are a number of people's communes, these being the rural political power at the grass-roots level combining government administration with commune management. Under a commune, there are production brigades usually made up of a number of production teams. At present, there are over 2,200 counties in the whole country.
   Building a Tachai-type county means introducing Tachai's basic experience to the whole county so that the leadership at all levels and every department can work in the Tachai way to ensure that the overwhelming majority or most of the communes and production brigades in the county are of the Tachai type.
 In the Taihang Mountains, Hsiyang County has little arable land with a thin topsoil, and there used to be a dearth of water sources. Tachai is one of the 411 production brigades there. Agricultural production in Hsiyang did make some progress after liberation. Later, however, because a leading member of the former county Party committee followed Liu Shao-chi's revisionist line and failed to learn from Tachai, total grain output between 1960 and 1966 actually dipped by 16 per cent.
  The Great Cultural Revolution was launched in 1966 in Hsiyang started learning from Tachai in earnest the next year. Led by the county's- new Party committee, the Hsiyang people vehemently criticized revisionism and capitalism, and set about transforming the mountains and taming the rivers on a gigantic scale. Total grain output doubled in the three years between 1967 and 1969 and it tripled in the five years up to 1971. There was much progress also in forestry, animal husbandry and side-line occupations. As a result, the local inhabitants have become far better off with the rapid growth of the collective economy.
 The year 1970 witnessed the convocation of the Agricultural Conference of the Northern Areas. Delegates to the conference visited Tachai and the Hsiyang people shared their experience with them. During the conference, the Peking Renmin Ribao, organ of the Party's Central Committee, published the editorial “Learn From Tachai in Agriculture." "The fact that Hsiyang has become a Tachai-type county," observed Renmin Ribao editorially, "has presented a very pointed question to the leading comrades of various counties: Can't you accomplish what Hsiyang has achieved? If you can't do it in one year or two, what about in three years? At any rate, four to five years should be quite enough!"
 Five years have passed and more than 300 counties have emerged throughout the country, distinguishing themselves as advanced units in learning from Tachai. Tachai-type communes and production brigades have emerged in still greater numbers, and a revolutionary torrent of learning from Tachai has taken shape in many areas and a number of provinces.

A Great March

 The recent National Conference on Learning From Tachai in Agriculture was a large-scale conference of far-reaching significance convened since the founding of New China. The 3,700 delegates included leading personnel of the provinces, municipalities, autonomous regions, prefectures, counties and state farms; advanced men and women on the agricultural front; agro-scientists and technicians; people working in the finance and commerce departments as well as school graduates who have settled in the countryside. They first met at Hsiyang and then in Peking to review the achievements made and they had lively discussions about their future tasks.
   China now is in an important period of historical development. The whole nation is carrying out Chairman Mao's important instructions on studying the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat to combat and prevent revisionism, promoting stability and unity and pushing the national economy forward. There must be a big advance in agriculture. The Fourth National People's Congress (the Congress is the highest organ of state power under the leadership of the Party), which was held early this year, has mapped out a splendid and grand programme for the modernization of agriculture, industry, national defence and science and technology before the end of the century, so that our national economy will be advancing in the front ranks of the world. A key link in this endeavour is to speed up the modernization of agriculture which is the foundation of the national economy. Internationally, the factors of revolution and war are both growing. It is imperative to develop agriculture in a big way so as to race for time and speed and do a good job of getting prepared against war.
   Conference delegates were unanimous that the situation is excellent and at the same time pressing, that they must not rest content with merely having some Tachai-type communes and production brigades, and that they must build Tachai-type counties as Hsiyang did.
   Hua Kuo-feng, Member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and Vice-Premier of the State Council, made a summing-up report at the conference (see Peking Review, No. 44, 1975). "Build Tachai-type counties throughout the country!" The clarion call to action was sounded.
 To build Tachai-type counties throughout the country means building every county into a fighting bastion which adheres to Chairman Mao's proletarian revolutionary line and the socialist road. This will not only help promote the rapid growth of China's agriculture and the national economy as a whole but will also further consolidate the dictatorship of the proletariat and the socialist system in our country.
   The conference called for turning more than one-third of the nation's counties into Tachai-type ones by 1980. This means that, besides continuing to consolidate and develop the existing 300-odd advanced counties in learning from Tachai, an average of at least 100 new Tachai-type counties will be built annually in the next five years.
 The conference also discussed how to ensure mechanization of agriculture in the main before 1980, so that 70 per cent of the main jobs in farming, forestry, animal husbandry, side-line occupations and fishery will be done by machines.
   In retrospect, developments in China's countryside since the 1940s were initiated by the land reform in which the peasants in their hundreds of millions sprang into action and destroyed the feudal land ownership. The movement for agricultural co-operation in the early 50s transformed the individual peasant economy into a socialist collective economy. In 1958 came the surging tide of establishing people's communes. All these great revolutionary movements, which took place under the guidance of Chairman Mao's revolutionary line and the leadership of the Communist Party, have played their part in bringing about big progress in agriculture and profound changes in the countryside. Learning from Tachai and building Tachai-type counties throughout the country is yet another great revolutionary movement in China's countryside whose far-reaching significance will be fully borne out by history.

Figures on Tachai

Population: Over 450 inhabitants in 83 households, with a labour force of 160 men and women. Land: Close to 53 hectares in the past, now 56 hectares averaging a little over 1/10 hectare per head. Grain Output: Before liberation, the average annual yield was less than 0.75 ton per hectare, and the highest total yearly output was 40 tons. The output in 1974 was 385 tons in spite of three consecutive years of severe drought.

Income From Forestry, Animal Husbandry and Side-Line Occupations: In 1974 it was 77 times that of 1955 in the early period of agricultural cooperation.

Total Income: Compared with 1955, an 11-fold rise in 1974 reaching 194,800 yuan.

Grain for the State: Grain delivered and sold to the state between 1955 and 1958 averaged 52.5 tons per annum. Between 1971 and 1974, the average was 165 tons per annum, i.e., each household delivered or sold an average of 2 tons.

Commune Members' Income: Average per capita income directly distributed to brigade members in 1955 was 66 yuan. In 1974, 176 yuan, an increase of 2.7 times. (The proportion of increase in the public accumulation and public welfare funds is much larger. That of the former has enhanced the ability to expand reproduction and mechanization. The rise in the latter brings the commune members more collective welfare.)

Housing for Commune Members: More than 770 new brick rooms or stone cave rooms have been built, 1.8 times more than in the past, an average of three rooms for two persons.

Source: Peking Review, No. 48, November.28, 1975
Transcribed by www.wengewang.org


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