Red China: The Self-Bound Gulliver

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resulted in mismanagement and administrative lunacy to the extent that the Communists have lost China a good five years in its rebuilding, and the nation is now estimated to be just about where it was in 1957 in industry and crop production. Even in 1957, supplies were just barely sufficient for needs, and since that time, at least 70 million more Chinese have been born—and must be fed, clothed, housed and educated. Peking has dug into its slender cash reserves to buy wheat from abroad at a total cost of $782 million.

The quarrel with Russia has been equally damaging. When Soviet engineers and technicians were abruptly called home in 1960, they not only left many construction jobs incomplete but also took their blueprints with them. Peking finds spare parts for Soviet equipment hard to get, and must cannibalize some machines to keep others working. Many factories are now devoted to making spare parts instead of new items. Heavy industry has had to give way to light, and at least two railroad car plants are now turning out rubber-tired handcarts and wheelbarrows.

Iron Monuments. Agriculture is China's jugular vein, and the year's critical period is the winter crop harvest, which takes place in spring and early summer. Current estimates are that this year's crop will fluctuate around the 180-185 million tons of grain achieved last year—a good but not a sensationally good harvest.

The communes of the Great Leap exist no longer except on paper, and the countryside is dotted with rusting pillars of pig iron, melancholy memorials of the backyard furnaces that Mao thought would revitalize China. The typical farm unit now is a production team of 25 to 40 families, which are given considerable autonomy in deciding what and when to plant. Private plots were returned to the peasants in 1961, and are producing well for the free market. As usual, the Communists keep close watch: the stick comes down in the form of close regulation of the free market, and the carrot is dangled in the guarantees of slightly higher prices for crops sold to the state over and above the compulsory deliveries. In the past and in the foreseeable future, every harvest becomes a time of national breath holding. In a borderline economy, any improvement is immediately felt, and so is every decline.

Double Selves. But what most threat ens the regime is the squandered reserves of good will among millions of Chinese who had been impressed by the Communists' display of strength, incorruptibility and iron discipline. More than by physical labor, the Chinese have been worn out by mass brainwashing sessions, public-accusation meetings, collective confessions, and endless "struggle" conferences in which relays of Reds upbraid backsliders. As a result, harried citizens develop what one expert calls "double selves, an outer, superficial self that conforms to Communist demands, and an inner, moral self that remains hidden."

But in general, rigid discipline fell away with the collapse of the Great Leap, and food rations were increased to appease a restive citizenry. More recently, a new campaign has been instituted to stamp out apathy. It is a more sophisticated project. These days no one urges the citizenry to collect flies in matchboxes; the cry is: Fight waste, fight corruption, fight privilege.

Nice to Mothers. Some of the trappings

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