China Economic Situation in the 1960’s and 1970’s

According to YOUREMAILVERIFIER, the assessment of the progress of the Chinese economy, which are judged relevant on the basis of partial observations, is made difficult by the lack of reliable statistical indications subsequent to those published by the government in 1960. There are, however, factors that slow down economic development, which are both internal than external to the state. On the outside, the hostile position taken up until a few years ago by most foreign states (including the USSR), towards which a profitable exchange of goods and technical knowledge could have taken place, is an obstacle; for example. the sudden withdrawal of several thousand Soviet experts in 1960 caused a real technological and scientific vacuum. The internal factors of delay are recently given by the uncertainties generated by the political movement of the cultural revolution (1966-68) and more generally by the difficulty of conducting centralized economic action in such a large country. Statistical estimates and evaluations are often approximate and perhaps in order to avoid public errors, general economic data has not been provided in recent years. However, planning does not pretend to frame economic development in a rigid system and there are large margins left for economic dynamics. It is not surprising that the plans are always fulfilled and exceeded: the production standards are almost always very low and suitable for the modest initial production possibility. The five-year plans are therefore not followed point by point but are adapted to changing needs. The second five-year plan (1958-62) did not foresee the communes, and yet it seems that in the period between 1958 and 1959 no rules were followed and that the planning was set aside. After the end of the second five-year plan, blocked by the agricultural crisis, the third did not begin immediately, but for the “three years of adjustment” there was a pause. The third five-year plan covers the period 1966-70 and was also upset by the events of the cultural revolution, which first blocked production and then directed it towards goals not foreseen in the plan. The orientation of the fourth five-year plan (1971-75) is mainly directed towards the reduction of costs, the increase in industrial productivity and simplification of the administrative apparatus. Also part of the plan is a tendency towards decentralization, the stimulation of small local industrial units, the resumption of initiatives largely abandoned after the wave of the Great Leap of 1958, while concentrating efforts on productions of local interest for the development of countryside (fertilizers, small electrical systems, building materials, simple agricultural tools, etc.).

Mineral resources and industries. – The natural resources that support industrial development are large, especially for heavy industry: coal reserves have been confirmed to be practically inexhaustible and iron is also present in considerable quantities, as well as antimony and tungsten necessary for steels special. Coal production is the largest in Asia, between 250 and 280 million t (1970) and with lignite over 350 million t; the reserves are very large and widespread in almost the entire territory. Oil production has increased in recent years: in 1963 self-sufficiency for crude oil was declared and in 1971 the quantity extracted was about 25 million tons, mostly coming from the large Taching field, in Heilungchiang, in operation since 1961..

Modern industry, excluding crafts, occupies about 10% of the active population, a significant figure when compared to that of Western countries or the Soviet Union. Heavy industries prevailed in the first five-year plans and they received the most funding. Until the time of the cultural revolution, management was centralized and controlled by the central committee of the communist party and the ministry of industry. Decentralization and the increasingly widespread practice of collective management of company workers have been implemented since 1967. The vast handicraft sector, which remained on an individual basis or in any case with antiquated structures, was stimulated and passed under the control of the districts or departments.

Industrial production has grown much faster than agricultural production, especially in the steel and other metals sector, where production has risen 20 times between 1949 and 1971. In this last year, steel production has grown. was 27 million tonnes, although it was only 7 million tonnes in 1962. Among other industrial products, cement and chemical fertilizers grew slowly in the early years of the socialist regime and had an accelerated boost in recent years (cement, 12 million tons in 1970, and chemical fertilizers, 18 million tons in 1971).

Routes of communication and trade. – The communication routes have been further improved and the China now has over 35,000 km of railways. Another great work has been completed on the major railway lines along the meridians, the Nanjing Bridge, on the Beijing-Shanghai line, completed in January 1969: it has two floors, one for the railway and one for car traffic, and is 7772m long, of which 1577m on the Yangtze River. Also in inland navigation there have been useful advances and the goods have 147,000 km of waterways, of which 40,000 can be traveled by motor boats and 18,000 km equipped with regular services with boats of appreciable tonnage. The Grand Canal has also been partially reactivated and since 1963 a 404 km stretch has been opened from Yangchou (on the Yangtze) to Suchou in the north;

Chinese foreign trade, despite having to deal with political isolation and the American trade bloc (until 1973), has made good progress. The export, which until 1960 was mainly directed towards the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, is now directed mainly towards Japan and other Asian countries (Vietnam, Cambodia); relations with Western Europe have recently developed.

China Economic Situation in the 1960's and 1970's