Haoxi Village & The Role of Collectivism in Contemporary China

The first apartment block built since Haoxi village began the push for re-collectivization.
The entrance to the farmer’s market is also visible in the foreground.

Editorial Note: This piece is a submission from an unaffiliated supporter of the MCP-OC who is currently resident in the People’s Republic of China. We publish this work in the spirit of “letting a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools of thought contend” and in general interest of comrades who would like a voice from the PRC. It should not in any way be interpreted or misconstrued as representing the official line of the MCP-OC on the China question. The position of the MCP-OC is that China is a modern day social-imperialist power.

The following report is the product of both a literature survey and fieldwork undertaken by Cody Hartsburg, Wang Xuecheng, and Alexander Witherspoon(the author of this paper) between September and December 2018. The initial meeting between these three researchers and village leaders took place on December 3rd.  Unless marked otherwise, all information in this report was gathered from the interviews that Wang, Witherspoon, and Hartsburg conducted in Haoxi village on December 3rd and 4th 2018. It is the desire of us researchers and the hope of the Haoxi Village Committee that this report can inform comrades abroad about Haoxi’s re-collectivization push and the general struggle to develop and expand collectively-owned enterprises in China.

Part One: Collectively Owned Enterprises (1957-2019)

The question of whether or not China is a socialist country is one of the central issues of the global Communist movement. Polemics on the subject can be found everywhere. From academic articles to social media squabbles, virtually every Marxist has participated in this debate. We have all given our two cents and then some. And yet, in spite of such a plethora of perspectives, very little has been said about collectively-owned enterprises(COE’s). These enterprises are the most socially progressive unit of economic organization in China and the vehicle by which a number of rural cadres have legally conducted re-collectivization. They deserve to be at the center of any and all debates on the “China question.”

Legal Definition:

COE’s exist in virtually every part of China. In cities, they are usually organized under the supervision of district, county, or neighborhood-level (jiedao) party organs[2]; while in the countryside, they fall under the purview of village or precinct(xiang) party organs[3]. Both rural and urban COE’s are organizationally distinct from China’s other major economic units in the following ways: 1.) Unlike state-owned enterprises, COE’s are legally managed by a general meeting of laboring participants[4]; 2.) unlike the new generation of “Professional Farmer Cooperatives[5]” CCP officals can and do take leading roles in the development of COE’s; and 3.) unlike private corporations and mixed enterprises, COE’s are generally required to keep at least 51% of ownership in the hands of laboring participants[6]. Such legal distinctions demonstrate COE’s holistically progressive nature. In their management, ownership, and relationship with the Communist party, COE’s are recognizably socialist.

General History:

Modern COE’s have a direct connection to 20th Century collectivization. Following the development of People’s Communes in 1957 and 1958, both crop production and rural sideline industries largely fell under collective management[7]. These collective economic activities were directly coordinated by a given People’s Commune’s governing bodies[8], as well as provincial and national-level economic plans. Between 1958 and 1979, Over 80% of China’s population was rural and consequently organized into People’s Communes[9]. Within these “communes” and their constituent sub-divisions, collective farming and public work projects, such as canal construction or pest management, were carried out. Just like contemporary COE‘s, People’s Commune’s were answerable to a general assembly of member-owners and the leading committees that they in turn elected. However, unlike in contemporary COE’s, remuneration in People’s Communes often took the form of non-transferable ration slips, which were paid out according to the labor-hours that a given household had contributed towards collective work projects each month[10]. Such was the socialism of Mao Zedong; such was the society that gave birth to COE’s. Between 1979 and 1984, agricultural production was de-collectivized and the People’s Communes were disestablished[11]. In some places, this transition was almost instantaneous, yet in some places peasants and local-level cadres also offered fierce resistance to de-collectivization[11]. Most famously, It took a concerted media campaign and leadership “readjustment” to undo collectivization in Dazhai, the model Socialist village of the Maoist Era[12]. Despite the resistance from some sectors, Deng Xiaoping’s campaign to “divide the fields among the households” was complete by the end of 1984[13]. From this point on, agriculture in China has predominantly been carried out by a combination of cooperatives, “specialized household farms,” and an increasing number of traditional corporations. With the resumption of for-profit farming came also the reintroduction of a private market and all the market forces that we in the West are so familiar with. Just like in early 20th Century America, the vast majority of China’s small scale producers were out-competed by larger operations and consequently forced to quit the farm in favor of job opportunities in urban areas[14]. Between 1980 and 2010 the rural segment of the Chinese population declined from 80 percent to 41 percent[15]. Hundreds of millions of peasants left the countryside. These exiled farmers, educated and disciplined in People’s Communes, were a large part of the labor force that, with varied degrees of enthusiasm exchanged high-quality and efficient labor for low pay in the coastal cities’ foreign factories[16]. Such was the reality of China’s economic miracle.

COE’s, in spite of all this, have survived and ultimately flourished in the era of “Reform and Opening Up.” They survived decollectivization in the first place because of the nature of rural industry. It is relatively easy to divide up cropland, livestock, and tractors, but the same is not true of a gravel quarry, timber mill, or irrigation canal. The operation of such things demands specialized labor and plenty of it. Household management was thus unfeasible. Outright privatization was possible but legally and politically complicated in the early 1980’s. Imagine for a moment that a certain village committee wanted to hand over operation of a collectively-run coal mine to an entrepreneurial city slicker. Before the transaction could take place, the committee would need the consent of the ostensible member-owners, i.e. the village residents. Upon calling a meeting of the presumed member-owners, the village committee would be reminded that a large number of former residents have moved to nearby cities and a good few outsiders have moved in. It has thus become unclear who counts as a village resident, a member-owner, and who does not. Even assuming that the villagers approved of this sale, the village committee would still be faced with an even more difficult problem: how to divide the proceeds? Are the village residents who were around for the construction of the mine entitled to more compensation than new residents? How about those who work in the mine versus those that do not? The chronically underpaid and understaffed village committee could avoid all of these hard questions by leaving the mine in collective hands and letting the city slicker seek out less scrupulous officials in a different village. Many real grass-roots officials did just that, letting COE’s go on existing, in spite of the official ideological rejection of collective management[17]. Although a mere burden to some officials, there were also a good number of places in China where COE’s were used to initiate re-collectivization efforts. In most of these places, all of which are either villages or rural precincts[18], COE’s have flourished, leading to the enrichment of all the involved participants. Nanjie Village, Huaxi Village, and Zhoujiazhuang Precinct are perhaps the most famous such examples and warrant some discussion. All three of these localities began re-collectivization efforts in the 1980’s, under the leadership of cadres who were assigned to those respective places prior to the Reform Era[19]. Economically, the three localities are today similar in the continued centrality of collective management, high household income rates, and well-financed social services. Nanjie, Huaxi, and Zhoujiazhuang are, however, socially all quite distinct. Zhoujiazhuang, for instance, has retained most of the organizational forms handed down from the Mao era, billing itself as “China’s last Commune[20].” Nanjie’s leadership, by contrast, accepts the language and organizational titles of the Reform Era, but has retained most of the political and ideological trappings of the Cultural Revolution[21]. Nanjie is perhaps the only village in China where advertising and private business are completely absent; there, visitors are greeted by massive portraits of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin; there too, workers begin and end their shifts with the “red songs” typical of the 1960’s and 70’s[22]. Huaxi Village, in contrast to both Zhoujiazhuang and Nanjie, has fully embraced the ideology and culture of the Reform Era; there, a true labor aristocracy have become incredibly rich following the explosive growth of several collectively-owned corporations[23]. Only there can one find collectivized worker-owners living in western-style villas, complete with imported cars and all the other amenities of a Californian gated community[24]. The successes of such “re-collectivization” efforts in these places has not gone unnoticed.

An aging hand written Quotation from Chairman Mao’s Red Book.”

Part Two: Haoxi Village’s Re-collectivization (2011-2018)

Haoxi Cadres’ 2016 Proposal
Citing Nanjie, Huaxi, and other village as examples of successful COE-led development, Zheng Lijian and seventeen other cadres in Jinyun County called for a new generation of collectivization[25]. They circulated a formal proposal within the party and leftist circles at large during the Summer of 2016. In this proposal, they declared that reform-era policies were generally unsuccessful at alleviating rural poverty, let alone rural inequality. Although no “inappropriate” language was used, the authors of this proposal had also become worried about moves by central leadership to clearly delineate land usufruct between private households[26]. They, Zheng Lijian especially, saw this as a direct attack against collective land rights. In response to these concerns, they felt that a nation-wide revitalization of collective economic management had become warranted. Their proposal went on to articulate three policy points:

  1. “Firmly grasp the correct direction of innovations in the rural land management system.” This refereed to maintaining the legal framework of collective land ownership as a legal right while developing new cooperative enterprises, as promoted by Xi Jinping in certain speeches.
  2. “Adhere to the principle of democratic centralism by which the minority is subordinate to the majority.” This was to be accomplished by developing and expanding collective and cooperative enterprises in accordance with the specific material conditions and desires of a given community.
  3. “Implement the policy of membership (for rural households) under the system of collectivized land ownership.” This is to be done by the clarification of the relationship between rural households and the government such that local level officials have the power to rationally re-organize land use. The above-described proposal had little practical effect on Chinese policymaking. Although a limited discussion of the proposal has occurred on internet forums and Maoist-leaning blogs[27], coverage in the official media has been minimal and generally lukewarm[28]. Behind the scenes, according to Zheng Lijian, there were rebuffs from official leadership and no concrete moves to meet the three propositions. Many local cadres in Jinyun County, again according to Zheng Lijian, initially endorsed the proposal, but felt unable to implement any of the constituent policy points. Of the eighteen cadres who listed their positions and contact information in the 2016 Proposal, only three responded when called by the myself (Alexander Witherspoon) in September and October of 2018. One hung up after I explained what I was planning to do, another told me to call-off the report on account of “central government opposition” to the 2016 proposal, and the third was Zheng Lijian, who was the central author of the proposal and the man who went onto to be the main subject of my interviews in Haoxi Village.
    Basic Structure
    By the time the 2016 Proposal was published, Haoxi village was already in its fifth year of re-collectivization. Today, in their eighth year, Haoxi village has already implemented the policy points discussed in the Proposal and is well on their way to develop the sort of COE’s found in Nanjie Village. Such efforts have broadly been accomplished through three channels: the village government, a commercial cooperative, and private companies associated with Zheng Lijian and the village chief, Zheng Chuanyong. Through Haoxi’s village council, Zheng Lijian and Zheng Chuanyong have been able to re-establish collective control over the village’s residential and agricultural land. Through the village’s commercial cooperative, villagers has become engaged in a number of economic activities, which include a farmer’s market and tourist-oriented temple complex. In the background of all this, Lijian and Chuanyong’s companies have been quietly funneling in capital from bank loans and profitable ventures in the city. The personal investment made by Lijian and Chuanyong, which totaled more than 26 million RMB by December 2018, has become the lifeline of Haoxi in their re-collectivization efforts. If something were to happen to them, it is very easy to imagine the entire project falling apart. One should keep that in mind when assessing the village’s progress towards re-collectivization.
    Housing
    Modern housing was a pillar of rural development during the Mao era. Now, many houses in Haoxi that date from that period (or as far back as the Qing Dynasty) have been marked in spray paint with a single character, “demolish”(拆). The residents in these homes are themselves the would-be vandals, painting this character verifies the consent of residents in the building’s demolition. Once every tenet in a given complex paints the character on their door, confirming their consent, demolition will proceed under the coordination of the village government. So long as every tenet wishes to remain in the village and pools their land rights in with the village, they will have the opportunity to move into one of the newly built apartment blocks.
    Back in 2016, the same year that the proposal was written, work on the first collectively-owned apartment block was still underway. Now, two blocks have been completed, and several more buildings are in the midst of construction. All of these are collectively managed via the village committee. Villagers who have opted into collective management have gotten to split the costs with the local government on the construction and installation of utilities, which include electricity, modern plumbing, and internet. One must remember that a sit-down flush toilet and internet are still not universal amenities in Haoxi and much of the Chinese countryside[29]. With respect to the installation of such utilities, the help provided by the Haoxi village committee is truly going above and beyond what the average Chinese peasant has come to expect from grassroots leadership.
    Education
    Although a suitable home is no accessible to all the children in the village, scholarships are offered only to the gifted students. Students who pass the entrance exam into the Jinyun County High School can receive 1000 RMB in scholarships. Similarly, those who can test into “first tier” colleges receive 2000 RMB, whereas students completing master’s or doctorate programs may receive 4000 and 8000 RMB respectively. Although there have so far not been any PhD students from Haoxi village, students at every other level have already been awarded scholarships. While still far from the full-rides that students from Nanjie village can receive, 2000 RMB could cover a semester of tuition at most Chinese universities, whereas 8000 RMB might be sufficient for an entire year of grad school[30]. These scholarships are a small but valuable step. Going forward, the collective’s educational services will include a free early-education/child care center as well as increased scholarships. Along with these rising benefits, Zheng Lijian hopes to raise expectations on the village’s students. Starting in 2019, community service, be it within or outside of the village, has become a mandatory prerequisite for scholarship recipients. Students who use the village‘s collective services are excepted to in turn express their gratitude through a Socialist lifestyle and attitude towards others.
    Elder Care
    For the elderly, several services are now rendered. Collective birthdays are arranged for around 370 village residents aged 60 and up. These are designed to combat the loneliness and depression that is all too common among China’s rural elders. Residents aged eighty and above receive a small stipend as well as community outreach. 200 RMB is additionally awarded to each 80+ plus resident. Correspondingly, 500 RMB is given to nonagenarian residents and 1000 RMB to centenarians. Few live long enough to be awarded each level of birthday money. Every senior does, however, has free access to the recreation center, which includes a library, ping pong tables, and ample seats for chatting. Thanks to the efforts of village leadership, Haoxi’s elders enjoy a sense of community and a material standard of living which is nonexistent in much of rural China and Asia at large.  
    Sanitation
    The beautification of the countryside has become a pillar of China’s rural development strategy since at least the Hu Jintao administration[31]. Consequently, cadres all over China have been paying special attention to waste management. In Haoxi village, this policy effort is reflected through periodic inspection tours. Village authorities routinely evaluate households participating in re-collectivization. The households that receive full marks on the evaluation are rewarded with a stipend of several hundred RMB, which is updated periodically; those who at least refrain from dumping their trash along the street are given a small stipend, while the few who fail the inspection altogether are fined. These sanitation inspections are designed and carried out by the villagers themselves, and are an example of the village’s collective self-management.
    Medical
    Collective medical care is one of the goals of village leadership. Presently, the village informally organizes villagers to pitch in any expensive medical bills that residents might accumulate. Zheng Lijian told the story of one successful case where this arrangement allowed for a villager to pay for a 200,000 RMB operation. Despite such successes, this sort of mutual aid remains casual and purely voluntary.  It is in no way exclusive to collectivized villages. Over the next couple of years, the goal is to replace this arrangement with a formal collective medical fund, such as existed in the Mao Era[32]. Under such a system, the village would cover 70% of whatever the government-issued health care does not cover. Thus, assuming public health insurance will still cover 70% of large medical expenses, individual villagers would only be expected to cover 9% of whatever the original medical bill was after the state and village’s collective fund covered their respective shares. By participating in such a scheme, a 200,000 RMB copay could be brought down to just 60,000 RMB, a figure that Zheng Lijian is confident most villagers could cover between loans, savings, and family contribution. If realized, this medical fund would represent a serious advancement towards the kind of social safety net that exist in villages like Nanjie or Huaxi.
    Weaknesses in Collective Services
    Participation in collective land management is still not universal in the village. According to Zheng Lijian, nine of the village’s 687 households have refused to join in re-collectivization. On a self-guided tour of the village, we met an older woman from one of these abstaining households. Her reasons for not joining were simple: she wanted to build a strictly personal house on the land that is legally under her family’s stewardship. Another villager we met, who had personally handed his land rights back over to the village, pointed out a related issue. He claimed that housing and social services were preferentially given to households that joined “the collective” first, distinctiveness those who are still outside it from joining now. The author of this paper has yet to receive clarification on this second issue from the village’s officials. However, of the twenty plus villagers that we spoke to, only these two offered criticism. Inadequacies in the social safety net were not reflected in villager’s comments towards re-collectivization.
    Migrant workers, by contrast, are in a very different situation from official village residents. As with Nanjie and Huaxi, migrant workers are a source of contention in Haoxi village. Workers from as nearby as Lishui City or as far away as Guizhou or Yunnan, reside in the village. Some have stalls at the farmers market, others work in nearby factories, and some even do construction work for the village. All of them are permitted to rent rooms or houses in the village, but none can get access to any of the village’s collective services. Additionally, wages for them, unlike for village officials, are “set by the market.” Zheng Lijian views migrant workers as a negative social influence on the community. Beyond the simple fact that Haoxi has enough poverty and unskilled labor to go around, the village’s growing incidence of illicit drug use has been associated with the influx of migrants. Four or five known drugs addicts, in Zheng Lijian’s view, already represent an alarmingly high figure for this part of the country. With this in mind, there are currently no plans to extend collective services to migrant workers.

Economic Activity
While land use is still something of a contentious issue, the village’s general plan for re-collectivization, as told by Zheng Lijian and Zheng Chuanyong, has come to include the following projects:


Expand the cooperatively-operated farmer’s market.
Use the collectively-managed crop land for organic cash crops.
Promote the village as a tourist site.
Start new COEs in collaboration with other villages.


These four projects aim to create sustainable income for the village. Among them, the cooperatively-ran farmer’s market is the best established. It includes dozens of stalls, operated by a combination of local and outside producers. Unlike other aspects of the village, this market has been opened to migrant workers, as evidenced by a Guizhou snack-stand ran by several migrants and the large number of vegetable stalls ran by families from nearby villages. All vendors, local or not, pay annual fees to the cooperative organized by the village. According to one vendor at the site, this fee is set by vote at an annual meeting of all vendors.
Some of the local specialties at the market include rice cakes, dog meat, and wild rice (“jiaobai”). Not to be confused with traditional white rice, wild rice is a rarely consumed grain that is notable for its superior nutritional content and permacultural applications[33]. This hippy dream plant has become a high-profit cash crop that is now being grown on the some of the roughly 300 mu(49 acres) under collective management[34]. Wild rice will hopefully be the first of many organically-grown specialty crops that bring in revenue for the village. Formally, almost all the cropland is now back under collective management. However, the traditional vegetable gardens, which some older villagers still depend on, have not yet been cleared. Similarly, some members of the peasant population remain very skeptical about organic farming. Consequently, strict standards for organic production have not yet been enforced by the village committee. Zheng Lijian’s vision of a unified, collectively-managed organic farm has been only partially realized.More progress has been achieved when it comes to making the village more attractive to tourists. A recreation center, two fishing ponds, and a refurbished temple complex are all open to residents and tourists alike. The recreation center is always free to everyone, whereas the temple’s pagoda and the fishing ponds may charge a small fee to tourists. Summer camp-like activities are arranged at these sites during the warmer months, where tourists from across the Zhejiang province go to enjoy the relatively untouched natural environment. Projects currently under construction include a road connecting that will directly connect the village to the nearest stretch of highway, a secondary recreation facility, and a refurbished ancestral hall for the Zheng clan, which is dominant in the area. Zheng Lijian additionally expressed the desire to build “red culture” monuments, including a quotation from Xi Jinping and an effigy of Liu Hulan. All of these projects have provided employment for local villagers.  
Zheng Lijian, having visited dozens of other rural districts and participated in conferences with other collectivized villages, is now negotiating with other villages interested in starting collectively-run joint enterprises. One such hypothetical enterprise would include a food processing plant and large-scale organic farm. The idea would be to have a land-rich village take on management of crop production, whereas Haoxi village would handle the processing of these products into brand-name health foods. Haoxi village would take responsibility for the majority of the investment, asking no more than 1/5 of the profit these enterprises make in return. Despite the support of the village council, no actual businesses or income have grown out of these negotiations.


Closing Thoughts
Haoxi Village still has a long way to go in their re-collectivization efforts. Direct democracy appears to be limited to the farmer’s market where independent vendors pocket most of the money; the market determines wages for those who work in collective projects; social services are partial and not open to every resident in the village. Most concerning of all, the patronage of a few wealthy officials remains critical to the village‘s economic development. These facts all point to the conclusion that re-collectivization in Haoxi is neither complete nor stable. However, the existing accomplishments of Haoxi village are sufficient to call it a new rallying point for China’s new left and Communists everywhere. The village leadership succeeded in following the example of Nanjie village and others in undoing the “division of fields among households,” building collectively-managed housing, and rendering above-average social services. They did all of this within the law and without once contradicting the ideological boundaries of the Xi Jinping administration. As Haoxi village continues to expand its range of economic activities and inter-village cooperation, its prestige should only grow. With that, Zheng Lijian hopes official recognition and support will sooner or later be granted to them and other villages pursuing collectivization. The author of this article shares that hope.


More broadly, one must conclude that some modicum of socialism, in so far as we Maoists understand the term, is not yet dead and forgotten in Capitalist China. The achievements of revolutionary China cannot be so easily erased. Collective ownership of the means of production, democratic management, and an explicitly proletarian class line were the hallmarks of Mao’s Socialism. So long as it survives, some modicum of Chinese socialism will survive in China. Although “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” is revisionist double speak for state capitalism, more progressive modes of production have continued to exist and thrive in a handful of scattered villages. Hope lies with them. One can only hope that, with the international disintegration of the Neo-liberal Capitalism, these contemporary examples of collective management will be at the forefront of the Maoist movement both here in China and abroad.

Sources:

1.) The English-speaking revolutionary left is sharply divided on the “China Question:” critical support for “Chinese Socialism” can be found from the Trostkyist “International Communist League,” as well as “Marxist-Leninist” (revisionist) groups like the Communist Party of Great Britain (ML) and the Party for Socialism and Liberation. Less supportive perspectives on the PRC can be found from the Revolutionary Communist Party (Maoist) or Socialist Alternative (Trotskyist).

Defend the People’s Republic of China against US-led imperialist aggression-. (2014, December). Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist). Retrieved from http://cpgbml.org/index.php?secName=proletarian&subName=display&art=1089

On the 70th Anniversary of China’s Revolution -. (2019, October). Retrieved from https://revcom.us/a/615/on-the-70th-anniversary-of-chinas-revolution-en.html


Why China Is Not Capitalist: An Exchange. (2007, February 18). Retrieved from https://www.icl-fi.org/english/wv/890/let-china.html


China: 30 Years Since Tiananmen Massacre. (2019, June 25). Retrieved from https://www.socialistalternative.org/2019/06/04/china-30-years-since-tiananmen-massacre/

2.) zhōnghuárénmíngònghéguó chéngzhèn jítǐsuǒyǒuzhì qǐyè tiáolì ( 2016 xiūdìng ) dù xiǎo fǎ (666). (2016). Retrieved from guówùyuàn website: https://duxiaofa.baidu.com/detail?searchType=statute&from=aladdin_28231&originquery=%E3%80%8A%E5%9F%8E%E9%95%87%E9%9B%86%E4%BD%93%E6%89%80%E6%

3.) zhōnghuárénmíngònghéguó xiāngcūn jítǐsuǒyǒuzhì qǐyè tiáolì (059). (2011). Retrieved from guówùyuàn website: http://www.gov.cn/gongbao/content/2011/content_1860727.htm

4.) Comrades can get a good introduction on the structure and operation of SOEs via these two articles:

Wang, J. Y. (2014, February). The Political Logic of Corporate Governance in China’s State-owned Enterprises. Paper presented at Cornell International Law Journal Symposium 2014, Cornell Law School. Retrieved from https://www.lawschool.cornell.edu/research/ILJ/upload/Wang-final.pdf
Efficient Management of State-Owned Enterprises: Challenges and Opportunities (2017-4). (2017). Retrieved from ADB Institute website: http://www.adb.org/sites/default/files/publication/390251/adbi-pb2017-4.pd

5.) The exclusion of public sector managers in agricultural cooperatives is made very explicit in Article Three on membership:
zhōnghuá rénmín gònghéguó nóngmín zhuānyè hézuòshè fǎ (2006). Retrieved from dìshíjiè quánguó rénmín dàibiǎo dàhuì chángwù wěiyuán website: http://www.jingbian.gov.cn/gk/fgwj/48030.htm

6.) A product of SOE reform, mixed enterprises here refer to the variety of once wholly state owned enterprises that have become substantially owned by private investors.
Xinhua News. (2018, February 1). Chinese SOEs make headway in mixed-ownership reform [Online News Article]. Retrieved from http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-02/01/c_136942367.htm

7.) Following Communist victory in 1949, sideline industries were initially managed by employee-owned cooperatives up until the nation-wide collectivization campaign that took place between1957 and 1958. During what Joshua Eisenman dubs the Rightist Commune period(1962-1964), a large number of sideline industries were transferred back to individual household ownership. The “rightist” CCP of 1962 also set up stricter controls on new types of sideline collective work projects that communes could operate and organize.
èxī tǔjiāzú miáozú zìzhìzhōu gàikuàng (pp. 67-68). (1990). Wuhan, China: Hubei People’s Press.
nóngcūn gōngzuòshǒucè (pp. 124; 150-153). (1972). Chu County: Chu County Revolutionary Council – Agriculture and Forestry Department.
Eisenman, J. (2018). Institutional Origins and Evolutions. In Red China’s Green Revolution. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

8.)The work I am citing here is a compendium on rural work that was commissioned by the cultural revolution era “revolutionary council” set up in Chu County(now called Chuzhou City), Anhui. As it is very difficult book to find, even here in China, I have below also cited a website where one can find the specific article I am referencing from the compendium.

nóngcūn gōngzuòshǒucè (pp. 124-127). (1972). Chu County: Chu County Revolutionary Council – Agriculture and Forestry Department.
CCP Central Committee. (1962, September 27). nóngcūn ré mín gōngshè gōngzuòtiáolì. Retrieved from https://baike.baidu.com/item/农村人民公社工作条例

9.) UN estimates plot the rural population at around 12% of China’s total population in 1960 and around 20% in 1980. Since practically all county, village, and sub-village level governing bodies were quite literally replaced by the leading committees of people’s communes, production brigades, and production teams during the collectivized period, the national rural population was equivalent to the communal population. Taiwan province was of the course the one place in China where this was not true.
UN Estimates of China’s Rural and Urban Population, 1950-2030. (2003). Retrieved from China Profile website: http://www.china-profile.com/data/fig_urban_2.htm

10.) Eisenman, J. (2018).Economics: Super-optimal investments – Work Point Systems In Red China’s Green Revolution. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

11.) Zhun Xu. (2013, May 1). The Political Economy of Decollectivization in China [Online Journal]. Retrieved from https://monthlyreview.org/2013/05/01/the-political-economy-of-decollectivization-in-china/

12.) One of the pro-decollectivization work teams mentioned in Zhun Xu’s From Commune to Capitalism, was sent by county-level party officials to tackle the villager-initiated return to collective management in Dazhai, Shanxi. According to the official history, said work team was stationed in Dazhai starting in October of 1982 and remained until the villagers accepted deccollectivization after “repeated urgings and precise work.” Their acceptance also followed the removal of Dazhai-native Chen Yonggui and allies from local and national level leadership.

Song Liansheng. (2011). nóngyè xué dàzhài shǐ mò (p. 238; 252).
Beijing, China: JIuzhou Press.

Zhou Xu. (2018). Commune to Capitalism (pp. 60-61). New York, NY: Monthly Review Press.

13.) Zhou Xu. (2018). Commune to Capitalism (pp. 60-61). New York, NY: Monthly Review Press.

14.) Aside from the mention of immigrants, the following passage could perfectly describe both Chinese and American rural emigration:

p.134 “Economic depression and tight competition drove thousands from the land… who were both attracted by the prosperous cities and repelled by agriculture’s stark economic future… many families, owners and tenets, hurried to get out before they were too old to build new futures. It was a sad truth that farming was rapidly becoming an occupation for the old… half forced from the only life they knew, rural people poured into the bourgening cities. Unskilled and untrained, the rural migrants often became the new urban mudsills as they vied with immigrants, for unskilled position in the mines, mills, and factories of the industrial nation.”

Danbon, D. B. (1979). The Resisted Revolution: Urban America and the Industrialization of Agriculture, 1900-1930 (p. 134). Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press.

15.) Compare older UN estimates with the official Chinese state data for the last decade:
UN Estimates of China’s Rural and Urban Population, 1950-2030. (2003). Retrieved from China Profile website: http://www.china-profile.com/data/fig_urban_2.htm
https://www.statista.com/statistics/278566/urban-and-rural-population-of-china/

Shu Han. (2018, November 8). China: Urban and Rural Population. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/278566/urban-and-rural-population-of-china/

16.) Zhou Xu. (2018). The Political Economy of Decollectivization – Frustrating Urban Reform. Commune to Capitalism (pp. 60-61). New York, NY: Monthly Review Press.

17.)
Philip Huang made a good summary of the general reformist position by the mid-1980s:

In the current climate of opinion, it is fashionable to dismiss China’s collective past as a complete failure and to claim for the reformist present spectacular advances. Every change in Chinese leadership since the Revoluton has produced similar charges against predecessors and similar claims for new policies, and the latest has been no different… …All this is not to deny real differences between the two eras. The 1980s reforms, it is true, advocated in unprecedented ways dispersed as opposed to centrally planned initiatives. Leaders of collectives were encouraged as never before to seek out contacts and opportunities to establish rural industrial “enterprises.” There was an official recognition that, in the countryside at least, dispersed initiative could be better than planned, and small-scale production more rational than large.

Huang, P. (n.d.). The Peasant Family and Rural Development in the Yangzi Delta, 1350-1988 (pp. 283-287). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Deng Xiaoping guiding theoretical viewpoint regarding collective economics can be found here in the following three statements:

(1979)
However, some of our economic systems, especially enterprise management and organization, have been greatly influenced by the Soviet Union. For this reason, it is advantageous that we inherit the advanced methods of operation, management, and scientific development from advanced capitalist countries. We are still having many difficulties reforming these aspects of our economy.

Deng Xiaoping. (1979, November 26). We Can Develop A Market Economy Under Socialism. Retrieved from https://dengxiaopingworks.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/we-can-develop-a-market-economy-under-socialism/

(1980)
Now that more flexible policies have been introduced in the rural areas, the practice of fixing farm output quotas on a household basis has been adopted in some localities where it is suitable. It has proved quite effective and changed things rapidly for the better…..
Development of the collective economy continues to be our general objective. Where farm output quotas are fixed by household, the production teams still constitute the main economic units. What does the future hold for these places? It is certain that as long as production expands, division of labour increases and the commodity economy develops, lower forms of collectivization in the countryside will develop into higher forms and the collective economy will acquire a firmer basis. The key task is to expand the productive forces and thereby create conditions for the further development of collectivization.
Deng Xiaoping. (1980, May 31). On Questions of Rural Policy. Retrieved from https://dengxiaopingworks.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/on-questions-of-rural-policy/

(1985)
We used to practise egalitarianism, with everyone “eating from the same big pot”. In fact, that practice meant common backwardness and poverty, which caused us much suffering. The reform is designed, first and foremost, to break with egalitarianism, with the practice of having everyone “eat from the same big pot”. It seems to me that we are taking the right path.”
https://dengxiaopingworks.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/let-the-facts-speak-for-themselves/

Let the Facts Speak for Themselves. (1986, March 28). Retrieved from https://dengxiaopingworks.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/let-the-facts-speak-for-themselves/

18.) Wang Xuecheng, a former Party cadre, part-time blogger, and full-time Maoist agitator, estimated in one interview with the myself that 52 villages, towns, or sub-village council have made an explicit and public embrace of collective economic management since de-collectivization.

19.) Nanjiecun’s story of development:
People’s Food Sovereignty. (2018, November 6). zài zào cūnshè gòngtóng tǐ nánjiēcūn wéishá shì “ shǎ zǐ ” dàitóu ? Retrieved from http://www.shiwuzq.com/portal.php?mod=view&aid=1698Huaxi’s Story of development http://www.shiwuzq.com/portal.php?mod=view&aid=789

Zhoujiazhuang’s story of development:
Li Changping. (2018, November 11). 37 nián hòu , zhōujiāzhuāng “ rénmín gōngshè ” de fāzhǎn móshì , dān déqǐ zhōngguó mèng de shíxiàn? Retrieved from http://www.wyzxwk.com/Article/sannong/2019/05/403453.html

20.) Li Changping. (2018, November 11). 37 nián hòu , zhōujiāzhuāng “ rénmín gōngshè ” de fāzhǎn móshì , dān déqǐ zhōngguó mèng de shíxiàn? Retrieved from http://www.wyzxwk.com/Article/sannong/2019/05/403453.html

21.) Di Guosheng. (2018, December 12). sì fǎng nánjiēcūn. Retrieved from http://www.wyzxwk.com/Article/sannong/2018/12/396785.html

22.) Compare a recent Chinese documentary on Nanjiecun with the micro-article that Vice came out with;
bù wàng chūxīn · nánjiēcūn [Television series episode]. (2019, February 2). In zhōngguó wénhuà. Beijing, China: 北京新影百闻老故事传媒有限责任公司.

China’s Last Communist Village. (2015, November 20). Retrieved from https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/yvxjmg/chinas-last-communist-village

23.) Fu Danni, & Wang Yiwei. (2018, December 20). China’s Collective Villages Struggle to Keep It Together. Retrieved from https://www.sixthtone.com/news/1003362/chinas-collective-villages-struggle-to-keep-it-together

24.) Huaxi: The socialist village where everyone is wealthy. (2012, January 17). Retrieved from https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/huaxi-the-socialist-village-where-everyone-is-wealthy-6290583.html

25.) Kong Lingjun: Shangguan Xinwen, “shi ba wei jinyun ganbu lianming changyi wei tudi neng bi anhui shiba ge shouying,” (2016, December 03)

26.)
Xinhua. (2019, March 9). Top legislature to review draft Civil Code in 2020. Retrieved from http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201903/09/WS5c835c87a3106c65c34edb06.html

Ma Chi. (2018, August 28). Property rights clarified in civil code draft. Retrieved from http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201808/28/WS5b850399a310add14f388397.html

27.) Sun Lingjun. (2016, December 13). zhèjiāng 18 cūn gānbù liánmíng chàngyì yǐnqǐ méitǐ guānzhù , jítǐjīngjì xū yào gēngduō tànsuǒ kōngjiān. Retrieved from http://www.shiwuzq.com/portal.php?mod=view&aid=680

28.) It was Wang Xuecheng who characterized the “mainstream” media response as lukewarm or hostile. This 2016 article, which was reposted on a large number of Chinese news sites, is written skeptical but not hostile tone.
zhèjiāng jìnyún 18 cūn gānbù liánmíng chàngyì néng bǐjiān ānhuī xiǎogǎng 18 gèshǒuyìn? (2016, December 5). Retrieved from http://ah.ifeng.com/a/20161205/5202966_0.shtml

29.) Despite the ahead-of-schedule progress of the “toilet revolution” initiated by central leadership, 24% of the population might still be using “unsanitary toilets.” In my personal experience, these could mean an open-air cesspool or a squat toilet without the appropriate plumbing.
Hán hǎi liáng. (2019). quán miàn tuī jìn cè suǒ gé mìng nóng cūn wū shuǐ zhì lǐ (053000). Retrieved from Hengshui City Environmental and Sanitation Management Center 2019 04 01 website: https://www.doc88.com/p-2846115553160.html

30.)
XDF. (2018, July 31). zhōngguó gè dàxué xuéfei duì bǐ. Retrieved from http://www.sohu.com/a/244400719_645627

Jingjingzhuxue. (2019, June 3). yánjiūshēng yīnián xuéfèi duōshǎo? huán yǒu bìyào xiàng jiālǐ yàoqián má ?. Retrieved from https://baijiahao.baidu.com/s?id=1627241642110032857&wfr=spider&for=pc

31.)From a document laying out the eleventh five year plan’s: “We must coordinately push forward rural economic, political, cultural, social and the party’s development according to the requirements of productivity, well-off life, civilized lifestyle, clean and tidy appearance of villages and democratic management.”

People’s Daily Online. (2006, March 2). Editorial: Soundly Push Forward the Building of a New Socialist Countryside. Retrieved from http://english.cri.cn/811/2006/03/02/269@57065.htm

32.)As this article mentions, the Rural Cooperative Medical Insurance System expanded throughout the collectivist era, peaking in the Cultural Revolution with barefoot doctors and near universal access to simple and preventive medicine, before largely collapsing in the early phases of Deng’s market reforms.

Lee, Y., & Kim, H. (2018). The Turning Point of China’s Rural Public Health during the Cultural Revolution Period: Barefoot Doctors: A Narrative. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6124148/

33.) Wang JIanfu. (2011). yěshēng shūcài bǎojiàn pǐnzhǒng – yějiāobái. Nongcun Baishi Tong , 16, 43. Retrieved from https://www.doc88.com/p-7834017708683.html

34.) Although officials in Haoxi consistently estimated their cropland at 300 mu during the author’s visit, online government statistics list the village’s cropland as 90+ mu, with an additional 201 mu of forest land also present.

Office of Zhejiang Province People’s Government. (2015, November 20). hǎoxīcūn jiǎnjiè. Retrieved from http://lisjyhz.zjzwfw.gov.cn/art/2015/11/20/art_940214_261732.html

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s