How successful were Mao’s economic programs?

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Ken C. Share
Feb 18, 2016


Terrible. Absolutely terrible.


Not only did Mao's economic programs kill millions of people, they had very little success, if any.

His big economic program, the Great Leap Forward (which was also a major social program) ended in failure. He tried to explode Chinese steel production, forcing normal people to make steel from whatever they could find. Not surprisingly, most of this steel was useless, made from junk. And whatever comes from junk tends to be junk.

Mao also pulled about 90 million people from the farms to the factories to boost productivity and economic output. However, this left a lack of trained farmers to work the fields, resulting in famine. Even worse, Mao exported grain to other countries to try to prove the success of the Great Leap Forward - depriving his already starving citizens of much needed food.

Throughout Mao's rule, farms were destroyed, entire populations relocated, and general disaster befalling the country. You might be able to argue that Mao's policies set the stage for China's massive production in the modern day (it seems every American product is made in China), but it's likely that China would have gone down this road anyway. In short, all Mao's economic programs succeeded in doing was killing a lot of people and making China a pretty bad place to live.

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