Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Revolution, Resistance, and Reform in Village China

Revolution, Resistance, and Reform in Village China

Edward Friedman
Paul G. Pickowicz
Mark Selden
Copyright Date: 2005
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 368
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Revolution, Resistance, and Reform in Village China
    Book Description:

    Drawing on more than a quarter century of field and documentary research in rural North China, this book explores the contested relationship between village and state from the 1960s to the start of the twenty-first century. The authors provide a vivid portrait of how resilient villagers struggle to survive and prosper in the face of state power in two epochs of revolution and reform. Highlighting the importance of intra-rural resistance and rural-urban conflicts to Chinese politics and society in the Great Leap and Cultural Revolution, the authors go on to depict the dynamic changes that have transformed village China in the post-Mao era.This book continues the dramatic story in the authors' prizewinningChinese Village, Socialist State. Plumbing previously untapped sources, including interviews, archival materials, village records and unpublished memoirs, diaries and letters, the authors capture the struggles, pains and achievements of villagers across three generations of social upheaval.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13323-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. 1 PRELUDE
    (pp. 1-5)

    This book explores an epoch of clashes between forces of rural revolution and reform from China’s Great Leap Forward at the end of the 1950s through the Cultural Revolution to the new millennium. Our study centers on Wugong, a North China plain village 120 miles south of Beijing in Raoyang county, Hebei province. We locate that village in a matrix of power relations and resource conflicts spanning county, province, region, and center, examining contrasting and intertwined experiences of communities that enjoyed none of Wugong’s benefits as a state-endowed model village.

    Together with our earlier volume,Chinese Village, Socialist State,this...

    (pp. 6-27)

    The calamities of the Leap initiated in 1958 spread alienation. But the desperation of villagers rarely caused officials to question whether the party dictatorship could achieve revolutionary goals. Party leaders had lost touch with policies that had won the allegiance of patriots and the poor during the 1937–45 resistance war against Japan. In contrast to Jacobins and Bolsheviks, who attacked the market, thereby harming villagers, from the late 1930s to the early 1950s China’s communists achieved a nearly silent revolution by combining limited redistributive policies with freeing the market and permitting money lending, land rentals, and the employment of...

    (pp. 28-45)

    As the 20th anniversary of the original 1934 coop neared, Hebei party secretary Lin Tie sought to involve Mao in legitimating Wugong’s achievement. When some of Mao’s personal guards visited Nanwangzhuang, a Hebei village whose leader, Wang Yukun, the chairman had once received, Lin got the leader of the guards to convey an invitation to Mao to visit Wugong (as well as Nanwangzhuang) to celebrate its pioneering of socialism. Lin’s ort to win Mao’s blessing failed, but Lin believed that Wugong best displayed the superiority of socialism: a productive, redistributive collective economy in contrast both to a polarizing market economy...

    (pp. 46-58)

    In early December 1936 just after Wugong’s 20th-anniversary gala, Geng Changsuo attended an award ceremony in Tianjin hosted by Hebei governor Liu Zihou, a proponent of class struggle. Hebei party secretary Lin Tie was not present. Participants included representatives of all Hebei prefectural and county party committees and more than 1,000 provincial labor models.

    When Lin Tie was in charge, Geng was often the top labor model. But with Governor Liu, Geng was twenty-fifth. A provincial official commented, ‘‘Just because we give someone an award doesn’t mean he deserves it!’’ Geng and his aides worried that their village was considered...

  8. 5 A WHIFF
    (pp. 59-70)

    Wugong breezed through the start of the socialist education movement. It won fame by sticking to revolutionary fundamentals in agriculture, nurturing red successors, and maintaining its network of influential contacts.

    In most of Hebei, the four cleanups followed the wishes of President Liu Shaoqi and provincial party secretary Lin Tie, rooting out corrupt officials who alienated villagers and slowed recovery. Stories had spread of local tyrants who ate well while villagers went hungry. Villagers bridled at the corrupt and cruel ways of local chiefs.

    President Liu wanted party-organized investigative teams to root out corruption. He did not mobilize the poor...

    (pp. 71-83)

    The clash between revolution and reform was still not obvious to Raoyang village leaders. Both lines sought to root out corruption and restore confidence in the party. Both supported the experience of the national model village of Dazhai. In Raoyang county, village leaders invoked the language of survivalism and class struggle while attempting to meet practical needs through improved water control, housing, and education.

    In Beijing in December 1964, Dazhai village leader Chen Yonggui, a delegate to the National People’s Congress, made headlines by meeting with Premier Zhou and Chairman Mao. Friends with Chen since 1961, Geng Changsuo, also a...

  10. 7 THE STENCH
    (pp. 84-111)

    Geng Changsuo was riding high in early 1966, but, as memory has it, villagers noticed bad omens. In late February an epidemic attacking the central nervous system swept through Raoyang High School, the county town, and several outlying communes, including Wugong. Seventy-six people were stricken. Nine died. The authorities said it was encephalomyelitis. The March earthquake that hit nearby Xingtai and five neighboring counties was followed by two more major jolts. Black lava oozed from cracks in the earth’s crust, damaging 197 Raoyang villages. More than 30 aftershocks hit in the next few days; then two more big quakes struck...

    (pp. 112-131)

    The hasty departure of the Tianjin red guards in late February 1967 left Geng Changsuo loyalists ruling Wugong. Its “poor and lowermiddle peasants” urged that local party leaders be treated fairly and used wisely.¹ The United Headquarters, which had protected Geng, took him in along with party secretary Zhang Duan, administrator Qiao Liguang, and Zhang Chaoke, the production specialist.² Geng became “honorary” deputy chair of the village Cultural Revolution Committee.

    Jinggangshan rebels were furious. Humiliated Qiao Yong put up a protest poster. “It’s a travesty that Geng Changsuo can grab any official post he seeks without us peasants knowing anything...

    (pp. 132-150)

    In March 1969 Chinese and Soviet forces fought along the Ussuri River.¹ Preparations for war further militarized Chinese society. Between 1969 and 1971 China increased military spending at the fastest rate since the end of the Korean War.² In February 1969 a new leap in agriculture and industry was announced.³ Each small region was to become self-reliant so it could regerminate true communism if China was attacked. The center ordered localities to “grow grain everywhere.” Military representation at the April 1969 Ninth Party Congress soared from 19 to 45 percent. More Politburo seats were filled by the military.4The economy...

  13. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
    (pp. 151-173)

    Revolutionary theorist Chen Boda was in trouble. Short and a bit rotund, Chen had a thick Fujian accent that often required a translator in Hebei, where his call to support rebels to the hilt was seen as an invitation to execute counterrevolutionaries. On August 23, 1970, Mao sharply criticized Chen.¹ Among other things, Mao questioned the agricultural briefings Chen submitted while a member of North China Bureau head Li Xuefeng’s core group. Mao’s attack also implicated Chen’s ally, the chairman’s “closest comrade-in-arms,” successor Lin Biao.²

    Reverberations were felt throughout Hebei. Former foreign minister Chen Yi ended his exile in Shijiazhuang...

  15. 11 STALEMATE
    (pp. 174-197)

    In 1972 modernizers called for economic diversification, rural industrialization, and trade. Collective rural industries increased, but many lost money. State-imposed low farm-gate prices and grain and cotton delivery quotas kept villagers toiling for a pittance. In March 1972 the hopes of modernizers were frustrated when Mao found that the principal danger came from the right, that is, reformers. The conflict between reform and revolution stalemated.

    Following Lin Biao’s fall, life improved for millions. Many were released from prison or internal exile. Boss Geng’s scribe Ji Suozhu, tortured in 1966 and 1967, became deputy head of the Raoyang Bureau of Education...

  16. 12 TREMORS
    (pp. 198-221)

    Jiang Qing and her revolutionary associates virtually monopolized the media, while modernizers rallied around Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping. China faced a high stakes succession crisis. While Geng Changsuo and Wugong won accolades in the revolutionary press, the tremors of intraparty conflict reached Raoyang.

    Throughout 1973 and 1974 the center touted gender equality and criticized Confucius. On January 31, 1974, after receiving a document prepared under Jiang Qing’s aegis, Boss Geng joined 20,000 in the Hebei capital to denounce the dead Lin Biao and the long-dead Confucius. Whatever villagers may have made of this combination, they were again told to destroy...

    (pp. 222-239)

    From summer 1976 to fall 1978 earthquakes shook the highest levels of power and began to reverberate throughout society. First, however, nature erupted.

    An earthquake measuring 7.8on the Richter scale devastated the Hebei coal-mining center, Tangshan, 175 miles northeast of Wugong, on July 28, 1976. More than a quarter of a million people died. In Tianjin 40,000 perished, in Beijing a few thousand. The disaster cascaded across rural Hebei.¹

    Guo Baofan worked at the insect-control station in Wugong. Her parents were in Tangshan. Local authorities rejected her request to go home. When a letter arrived from her parents saying they...

  18. 14 REFORM
    (pp. 240-261)

    Reform, contested and delayed in Hebei and in Wugong, promised wealth, normalcy, and ethical meaning. But the debris of the past and decisions among the national, provincial, and local leaderships, made any path ahead excruciatingly painful.

    While Hebei resisted reform, ever more villagers sought moneyearning work beyond the reach of the collective in construction, peddling, crafts, and transport. In 1978 a fireworks factory opened in Raoyang’s Dongcaolu village, famous for pyrotechnics since the Ming dynasty. Demand soared. Fireworks were sought for marriages, funerals, New Year celebrations, and opening of enterprises. The Cultural Revolution had ended legal manufacture of the explosives.¹...

    (pp. 262-286)

    Despite reform, many institutional dynamics persisted. Wugong continued to benefit from a thick network of political ties, while Hebei authorities continued to shackle reform. Villagers made the most of opportunities to improve life while coping with an economically polarizing and corrupt system.

    To loyal party conservatives in Hebei, reform turned things topsyturvy. Losers waxed nostalgic about revolution, hoping for morality and selflessness as the antidote to a system in which money turned into power and power into money, with greed in the saddle.

    Reform seemed to alter everything. The dynamic role of the south was now openly acknowledged. As reflected...

    (pp. 287-300)
    (pp. 301-302)
  22. NOTES
    (pp. 303-322)
  23. INDEX
    (pp. 323-340)