Mao: Domestic Policies 1949-1956

Domestic Policies enacted by Mao to solve problems at rise to power:


  • 40 years of war
  • Became involved in Korean War in 1950
  • Rampant lawlessness: country areas roamed by bandits, drugs & crime in cities
  • CCP no experience in running a country; still quite small
  • Uneducated, peasant countryside
  • Hyperinflation


  • National Capitalism: 1949-52
    • Worked with ‘national’ (non-GMD) businessmen & other (non-GMD) parties
    • Nationalised heavy industry
    • Recovery in industrial (250%) and agricultural sectors
    • Renminbi (‘people’s currency’) introduced to tackle inflation
    • Budget balanced: better at collecting tax than GMD
    • Land reform: peasants encouraged to ‘Speak Bitterness’ and rise against landowners (4% owned 40% of land) – ~2m killed, others beaten; peasant involvement and land ownership now gave them a stake in the revolution
    • Thought control: National Women’s Association; New Democratic Youth League (14-25); Children’s Pioneer Corps (9-14). Children instructed in Five Loves: country, people, labour, science, public property. Neighbourhood surveillance units.
    • Thought Reform Movement (1951): intellectuals attend Comm lectures; Art & Literature to conform. “No such thing as art for art’s sake or art that is detached from politics”
    • Campaign against Counter-Revolutionaries: Crackdown on ex-GMD: 700k executed, 500k imprisoned
    • Three Anti Campaign (1951) – Corruption, waste, elitism (govt officials)
    • Five Anti Campaign (1952) – bribery, tax evasion, fraud, theft of govt property & economic secrets (business
    • Social Reform:
      • War on crime: organised crime cartels smashed, lower levels within organisation treated as victims
      • Education: Literacy doubled 1949 (24m) – 1953 (51m), but still 80% illiterate. USSR help in schools and unis.
      • Marriage reform: end to arranged, child and polygamous marriages. Women able to initiate divorce. Changing men’s attitudes, esp in rural, more difficult, still lower pay, status etc.
  • Socialism
    • First Five Year Plan 1953-1957
      • Followed Soviet model, centralised planning, concentrated on heavy industry
      • Feb 1956 nationalisation of all private business
      • Targets exceeded by 20%; heavy industry output trebled, light 70% (agriculture only 3.8%)
      • Money from agriculture sector, set low grain prices so (Govt-owned) profits invested in industry, not agric
      • Careful of Russia’s collectivisation of agric, China went slowly, 1954 establishing Lower Level Agricultural Producers’ Cooperatives (ownership of land retained by peasants) but increased pace so that by end 1956 90% in Higher Level APCs (land owned by govt, farmers on wages)