Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Life in Socialist China: Workers run Taching oil field

First Published: The Call, Vol. 6, No. 19, May 16, 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Recently in China, 7,000 workers and Communist Party cadres attended an important conference on Learning from Taching in Industry.

What is it about Taching oil field that makes it a model of socialist development of industry? What does the example of Taching show about the life of the workers under socialism?

Taching is one of the largest oil fields in the world. Situated in northeast China, Taching employs about 500,000 workers, who live with their families in some 60 towns and 164 smaller settlements on the oil field itself.

Less than two decades ago, this bustling area was nothing but a vast wasteland, and China was thought by foreign experts to be “oil-poor.” At the same time, China faced a critical shortage of oil. Attempting to sabotage China’s economy in 1960, the Soviet revisionists suddenly tore up their agreements with China, withdrew their experts and severely cut back oil exports.

The transformation of Taching to meet this challenge is a story of the power of the workers under socialism.

In 1960, a team of Chinese workers, scientists and technicians discovered oil in Taching. Chairman Mao immediately approved the organization of a large-scale campaign to open up the oil field. Tens of thousands of oil workers, Party cadres, technicians and army members converged on the vast ice-bound grasslands.

In a race against time, they set out to drill for oil even before all the material preparations had been made. At first, many builders had to live in tents or dugouts, eat wild herbs, and use candles and torches for lighting.

In addition, their work was very difficult because of a shortage of transport vehicles and water. But that didn’t stop the workers. The now famous “Iron Man,” Wang Chin-hsi, and his crew hauled the 60-ton equipment by hand, inch by inch from the railroad to the work site, raised it without cranes, and put it in working order. Hauling water in buckets and working round the clock, they successfully sank the first producing well in just six days.

Only three years later, the entire field was opened up, and China soon reached self-sufficiency in oil. Out of this great effort, a strong contingent of revolutionary workers developed. They firmly criticized those capitalist-roaders like Liu Shao-chi, Lin Piao and the “gang of four” who said Taching could never succeed.

Following the example of “Iron Man” Wang, the workers vowed to use the weapon of Marxism to raise production–to become both “red” and “expert.”

A production manager at Taching Chu Kuang-ling, explained: “We manage the oil fields by relying on the revolutionary initiative of the workers, while the capitalists exploit and control the workers and make them appendages to the machines. Every worker at Taching contributes his ideas for better management o the wells.”

The leading role of the Communist Party is exercised through its cadres which live and work in Taching. In addition to spending at least two months a year doing physical labor, leading cadres engage in a “learn from workers day” one day per month. On this day, they live, work am study with the workers in order to get their ideas, criticisms and suggestions.

The decision to build towns for the workers and their families right in the midst of the oil field was made deliberately by the workers themselves. In this way they figured, Taching could avoid the problems like traffic jams and pollution that go along with big cities.

In addition, this plan enabled them to combine industry and agriculture. Family members who do not work in the oil fields can easily engage in agricultural work, keeping Taching practically self sufficient in vegetables, grain and pork.

Each village has its own schools, hospital, child care and other services within walking distance of people’s homes. Water, electricity, natural gas and transportation are provided free of charge, and the oil field has its own TV station and other facilities for sports and cultura; events.

It is easy to see why Chairman Mao in 1964 made his famous call, “In industry, learn from Taching!” Taching is an inspiring example of how the workers run society in China.