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Fourth International, March-April 1953


China’s First Five-Year Plan


From Fourth International, Vol.14 No.2, March-April 1953, pp.55-56.
Transcription & mark-up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The following editorial is translated from Quatrième Internationale, a periodical published in Paris.

The historic importance of the first Chinese Five-Year Plan which begins this year, although the country is carrying on a war against combined imperialism, is not to be minimized.

Despite the modest goals set in comparison with the targets achieved in 1952, the plan denotes for the first time in the thousand-year history of China the stormy development of hitherto stagnant productive forces which will transform the country from top to bottom.

It should not be forgotten that industrial production had represented hardly 10% of the national income. China is embarking now on the road of industrialization at a speed which surpasses that of the USSR in the first decade of its existence: an annual rate of 20% for the entire next period opened by the plan.

Hardly three and a half years after Mao Tse-tung’s victory, People’s China has embarked on the road of economic planning in which the State already holds the key positions: 80% of heavy industry; 40-50% of light industry; 90% of foreign trade; 95% of credit – and 70% of agricultural trade is conducted by the cooperatives.

During these last three years, industrial production has more than doubled, surpassing the pre-revolution maximum. On the other side, grain production surpasses the highest pre-war figures by 9%. For the first time, China is self-sufficient in its rice crops; in 1952 it had exceptional cotton, sugar, tobacco and other crops which had previously been imported. Raw materials such as iron ore, oil, non-ferrous metals needed for the industrialization of the country, which up to now have only partly been explored or exploited, exist in abundance. Labor is more than plentiful. The only serious problem in this sphere is that of specialization and of technicians. The plan provides for the training of two and a half million technicians, teachers and skilled personnel which would be the equivalent of the present size of the Chinese industrial proletariat.

A number of measures are now being put into operation for the accumulation of capital required for the realization of the plan: aid from the USSR and the other “peoples’ democracies” in industrial equipment in exchange for agricultural products and raw materials; reorganization of the system of State resources which will develop with the development and the growth of the country’s economy as a whole; economies resulting from the struggle against wasta and bureaucratism; rationalizing of production.

The principal source of capital for the realization of the plan remains internal accumulation by means of numerous State projects.

Development of Modern Industry

Geographically the main base for the industrialization of the country remains the northeastern area of Manchuria, which supplies half of China’s industrial production. However, the plan provides for an encouragement to all local industry in order to cope with the increase of the needs and buying power of the peasantry. Very substantial measures are being taken to develop heavy industrial installations in the Northwest and Southwest, notably in Szechuan and Sinkiang, where systematic steps are being taken, for the exploitation of raw materials. “New modern industrial complexes are in construction in the Northwest with the aim of making this region one of the industrial bastions of China.” (China Daily News, November 24, 1952.)

The plan provides for ultra-modern industrial installations, and this is an example of the combined development of China which is not going through even the same cycle of experiences as the USSR after the revolution, but is starting out on a higher level. Alongside of picks and spades handled by twenty million peasants in clearing and irrigation, of carts often drawn by hand, of old weaving looms still in use in some Shanghai factories, there is the new almost entirely automatic linen mill in Harbin (in the center of the linen-raising area).

Electrically controlled heating, is used in the new Fushin mine. Automatic picks are utilized in the Tatung coal mines as well as motor-driven loading cars and pneumatic drills. This year China is constructing iron rails, “big steam turbines, high-speed Diesel locomotives, modern machines for the treatment of minerals, precision-tool machines and heavy duty cranes.” (China Daily News, January 25, 1953.)

The social and political conditions which permit the elaboration of the plan and will make possible its realization is the de facto proletarian state power allied to the poor sections of the population. A so-called intermediary regime between capitalism and the dictatorship of the proletariat, led by a “democratic” coalition of the proletariat, the poor peasantry, the urban petty bourgeoisie and even the “liberal” national bourgeoisie, which has long been the aim and even the perspective of Stalinist policy in China, passed into limbo before even being born. The Chinese leaders are obliged to speak more and more of “China having already entered on the road of socialism” and of recognizing in reality that their regime is related to the dictatorship of the proletariat, which is resolving the bourgeois-democratic tasks of the revolution while at the same time starting on socialist tasks proper.

Bureaucratic Deformations

However, this de facto proletarian dictatorship is strongly tainted with “bureaucratic deformations” which are due both to the Stalinist education of the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and to the very backward character of the country economically and culturally. The State is still a long way from being one where the working class and allies, the poor peasantry, actually exercise the power through democratic committees, a democratic national assembly, democratic trade unions. In reality everything is directed and controlled by the Chinese CP. By a combination of practices which are due both to the traditions of the country and the heritage of the Soviet bureaucracy, the Chinese leadership is trying to re-educate the masses and to forge a new state apparatus capable of realizing the tasks resulting from the program for the industrialization of the country.

In the first half of 1952, a big campaign against Wu Fan (cheating on a contract, pirating government employees, lying on tax returns, stealing government property and stealing government information for personal speculative purposes) was carried on in all the industrial and commercial establishments. At the same time the San Fan campaign (against corruption, waste and bureaucrcy) occurred in all the government services.

As far back as 1951 another campaign for the elimination of counter-revolutionaries had prepared the ground by a kind of revival of the civil war against tha former ruling classes, especially on the country-side, and by smashing in advance their opposition to the new tasks arising from “the march of the country to socialism.”

The revolutionary Marxists would have no criticism whatever of all these mteasures if they were directed exclusively against reaction and if they were carried out by the revolutionary activity of democratically organized masses. But this is not exactly the case. The Chinese CP has included in its campaign of elimination of counter-revolutionaries all former revolutionary Marxist opponents, and it has not at all favored the genuine democratic organization of the masses.

The convocation of an All-China Peoples’ Congress for this year, as well as the drafting of a national constitution, are naturally progressive steps in the right direction but they still perpetuate Stalinist practices insofar as they only establish formal democratic participation of the masses in the control and direction of the state and the economy.

The Chinese and the Russian Road

But despite these handicaps, the fate of the Chinese revolution is still to be decided. General historic conditions are quite different from those which led to the monstrous bureaucratization of the proletarian power in the USSR. China will not take the Russian road. It is undertaking the statification and planning of its economy under infinitely more favorable conditions, and with a far greater initial dynamism. It bathes in a world of unprecedented revolutionary ferment, a world witnessing the international extension of the proletarian revolution.

We salute New China’s first Five-Year Plan which marks the forward march of the Chinese Revolution, the vanguard of the colonial revolution, soon of the revolution in all of Asia which imperialism has already almost completely lost. It is a colossal achievement of the revolution deciding its henceforth inevitable world victory.

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