Re: rural reconstruction

From Hans Steinmuller <>
Date Fri, 13 Jan 2006 14:07:41 +0800
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Dear all,
I've just read some documents of the current education campaign of the party (保持共产党员先进性教育活动) and the next five year plan [e.g. ] ; and I found it really insightful to look at 'rural reconstruction' and the three problems of the countryside from this perspective. The official discourse, especially the one about 'the new countryside' is very close to the one of the academics who are writing on these issues, to people like Wen Tiejun and others. The key notion promoted by the party is 'to construct a socialist, new countryside' (建设社会主义新农村). Economic cooperatives are explicitly encouraged by the party (if I take 合作组织 to be that?).
An interesting Chinese researcher on these issues is He Xuefeng. The Sannong Zhongguo website is based at his institute in Wuhan. From what I can tell of his work, it is all very much based on his research and personal experience, it also includes the experience of from the 50s until the 80s. In his book 新农村建设与中国道路 he outlines what 'rural reconstruction' could mean; in a way that does not ignore the people's communes, and a way that is at the same time largely compatible with the official discourse of the party.
He states at various points that scholarly discussions with foreigners are of not much use for the Chinese countryside, and that people who are too influenced by Western theory can not see the Chinese reality. (for example in his other, quite successful book, "Xin xiangtu Zhongguo, which is onine at; the chapter on 'methods' is particularly interesting Examples he gives for 'Western theory' are mostly those of liberal economics, who cannot understand the Chinese situation, who cannot understand that the people's communes also had their benefits, and who don't understand 'socialist reconstruction' now. His aim would be a research that is native, that is 'bentuhua'. 
Now He Xuefeng's position is interesting in itself, I find, but what is clear from all that is that "rural reconstruction" in itself is far from beiing "alternative"; rather it is the official discourse in China now.

On 1/12/06, Mobo Gao <> wrote:
Good points Chuck. But don't some academics working in the China field not
only accept but also propagate the 'Deng saved rural China' argument?


-----Original Message-----
From: [ ]
On Behalf Of William C Wooldridge (woldrdge@Princeton.EDU)
Sent: Wednesday, 11 January 2006 1:10 AM
Subject: Re: rural reconstruction

Lynn White makes a similar point in his book Unstately Power, which has a
wealth of information from around Shanghai suggesting that even some of the
agriculture research undertaken during the CR contributed to a growth in
rural output.  Others are more expert than I, but I remember something about
more efficient methods for transfering rice seedlings...and also I think
better access to tractors and such.

Why the Party might want to tell a different story is clear to me.   Why
academics working outside China accept the "Deng saved rural China" argument
merits further discussion.

Chuck Wooldridge

Brian Turner wrote..

> Has anyone read the new book _Revolution, Resistance,
> and Reform in Village China_, the sequel to _Chinese
> Village, Socialist State_?  In comments about the book
> prior to publication, Selden said that they planned to
> discuss how the roots of the reforms can be traced to
> 1970, and the green revolution as well.  Apparently
> there were more periods of relative market relaxation
> and local experimentation than usually portrayed,
> which probably explains why agricultural output growth
> was pretty good in the 1970s.  My point is that the
> 1970s may be closer to the 1950s than people imagine.
> Though there's so much regional variation.
> __________________________________________
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