1953: The Defining Moment for the Famine --The United Grain Procurement and Marketing System Revisited

Gao, James Z.
June 2010
Modern China Studies;2010, Vol. 17 Issue 2, p45
Academic Journal
This study is a close examination of the origins and implementation of the Unified Grain Procurement and Food Rationing policy beginning in 1953 which banned free trade in grain, abolished the tradition of "depositing grain with people,' and established a system of food distribution which favored urban areas. It argues that 1953 was the defining moment, which led to the great famine of 1959-1961, because it started the long process in which the state deliberately reduced the per capita grain intake of the rural population and rendered them weak, exhausted, and vulnerable. The Chinese and foreign scholars have focused on several other factors that contributed to the Great Famine of 1959-1961, such as the nation-wide natural disaster that served as the precipitating trigger. This study, however, reveals that the chronic starvation and vulnerability in rural areas since 1953 were the most pivotal factors in shaping the famine's magnitude and in causing such a high death toll.


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