Great Leap Forward
Definition of 'Great Leap Forward'
The Great Leap Forward was a period of intense political and economic experimentation in China. Mao Zedong believed that China could rapidly catch up to the West by mobilizing the masses and using them to build up industry and agriculture. He called on the Chinese people to "build socialism with Chinese characteristics" and to "make revolution in every field."
The Great Leap Forward was marked by a number of radical policies. One of the most important was the collectivization of agriculture. In 1958, Mao Zedong ordered the peasants to form communes, large-scale agricultural units that were supposed to be self-sufficient. The communes were intended to increase agricultural production and to free up labor for industrial work.
Another important policy of the Great Leap Forward was the development of small-scale industry. Mao Zedong believed that China could industrialize rapidly by building up a large number of small factories and workshops. These factories were often built in rural areas and were staffed by peasants who had been mobilized from the countryside.
The Great Leap Forward was a period of great social upheaval. Millions of people were uprooted from their homes and forced to work in communes or in factories. The government also launched a massive campaign to promote literacy and education.
The Great Leap Forward was a failure. The collectivization of agriculture led to a sharp decline in agricultural production, and the small-scale industries were inefficient and often produced low-quality goods. The Great Leap Forward also caused widespread famine, which is estimated to have killed between 20 and 40 million people.
The Great Leap Forward was a major turning point in Chinese history. It marked the end of Mao Zedong's period of unchallenged leadership and led to the rise of Deng Xiaoping. The Great Leap Forward also had a profound impact on the Chinese economy, which did not fully recover until the 1980s.
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