Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung



Handicrafts in the Border Region exist in two forms. The majority are subsidiary family undertakings and a proportion are independent handicrafts. The largest is the spinning and weaving undertaken by women. However. for many years past a large proportion of local yarn and local cloth has been displaced by foreign yarn and foreign cloth. Only recently. because of our encouragement, has there been some resurgence. Even so the peasants of the Border Region still want to take their surplus products, skins , and salt-transport trade to outside regions in exchange for large amounts of foreign yarn and foreign cloth. Their own spinning and weaving industry is still far from sufficient to supply their own needs. I shall therefore take textiles as the key popular handicraft for discussion here. In addition I shall deal with silk and oil-pressing, ignoring others for the moment. 


The people, the troops, and official personnel need 250,000 bolts of coarse cloth per year (each bolt is 2 feet 4 inches wide and 100 feet long [Chinese measurement].) Of this, the amount required by the troops and official personnel is roughly 50,000 bolts, and that by the people 200,000 bolts. What is the present supply? The seven publicly-run textile mills produce approximately 11,000 bolts per year. The seven large and small textile cooperatives run by the people produce roughly 18,000 bolts per year. There are no statistics for the amount of local cloth produced by the women at home, but it is estimated to be around 30,000 bolts per year. Public and private annual production totals 100,000 bolts, 150,000 bolts less than the amount needed. That is easy to say, we can already supply 40 per cent of our needs, which is a great achievement. But we are still 60 per cent short, and meeting this is our future task. This task is very great. and we shall need several years to complete it. But it can be done if we rely on, improve and expand the existing textile enterprises run by the government and by the people. If we have the raw cotton, we can in a planned way encourage the women to spin yarn and to weave cloth made half of local yarn and half of foreign yarn. Gradually we can reduce the import of foreign yarn, until eventually we reach the position where we use only our own yarn to weave cloth. In this way we can solve the problem.

As regards weaving, the responsibility rests first with the publicly-run mills. In 1942 publicly-run textile mills were capable of producing 11,000 bolts of cloth. This could supply almost half of the needs of the troops and official personnel. In a few more years we can be completely self-sufficient. Second, we must encourage women to weave cloth as a popular industry. In the Suide sub-region the women can already produce more than 30, 000 bolts per year. However, the widths and lengths are not uniform. The people do not like to buy it. They still prefer imported cloth. If improvements can be made, there are good prospects for increasing the production of cloth. Third, the people's cooperatives can already produce 18,000 bolts per year. This can be further developed. We must rely on the combination of these three forms to provide the cloth required by the Border Region. However in the first place the greatest problem is the supply of yarn. At 12 jin of yarn per bolt, we need 3 million jin to weave 250,000 bolts of coarse cloth entirely from local yarn. If we use a mixture of half local yarn and half foreign yarn, we will need 1,500,000 jin of local yarn and 150,000 bundles of foreign yarn. At present the cloth woven by publicly-run mills and the people's cooperatives is made from this mixture of half local and half foreign yarn. However, there is still not enough local yarn. We must greatly expand the amount of spinning done by the people, and improve the quality of the yarn. Therefore it is extremely important for the Border Region to gradually expand handicraft spinning and weaving among the people, to increase the quantity, and too improve the quality.

How should we gradually solve these problems? In the light of past experience, we propose the following methods.

(1) First we should reorganize and expand spinning and weaving among the people in the counties of the Suide special military area. The way to do this is, under the direction of the special office of the military area, to unite the efforts of the commodities Bureau and the Daguang Yarn Factory of 359 Brigade, issuing raw cotton to women and ordering them to produce more local yarn to supply the yarn needs of the publicly-run cloth factories. This method was effectively implemented in 1942. It should be continued and expanded in 1943. Apart from supplying yarn to the publicly-run cloth factories, the people of the special military area may weave cloth themselves. The Commodities Bureau can determine measurements and quality, and guarantee a market. That is, the cloth can be purchased by the Commodities Bureau either for its own use or for selling among the people. Next, the government should invest 1 million yuan in order to increase the quantity of local yarn. Based on the experience of the Southern District Cooperative of Yan'an county which organized spinning by women in 800 households, lending funds to 3,000 households in Yan'an and Ansai will increase the number of spinning-machines in the two counties by 3,000 in 1943. Organizing spinning by women in 1,000 households in Qingyang and Quzi counties will increase the number of spinning-machines by 1,000. These credit funds can be handled by the Commodities Bureau, which can issue raw cotton and spinning-machines. It can purchase the local yarn produced to supply the needs of the publicly-run factories. Next, in order to increase cloth production the government should invest a further 1 million yuan either as loans or as share capital in the existing cloth-weaving cooperatives run by the people as a means of expanding their undertakings.

Here we should consider the plan for Yan'an county. In their Plan for Production and Construction in 1943, the comrades in Yan'an say:

In 1943 we shall increase the number of women able to spin and weave by 40,000. Estimating that they will be able to spin 18 jin of yarn each in a year (11/2 jin per month ), this gives a total of 72,000 jin. In addition, there were already 1,000 women able to spin in 1942. Each year one of these can spin 20 jin, giving a total of 20,000 jin. The two groups can together spin 92,000 jin, which can be woven into 8,363.6 bolts of cloth. However, this is still 4,886.4 bolts short of our needs. He plan to solve this problem within two or three years, and to achieve complete self-sufficiency. The population of this county is 64,000 (excluding the city of Yan'an). Of these, 42,000 are adults. Each adult needs one-quarter of a bolt of coarse cloth per year (a suit of plain clothes requires 11 feet of cloth and half a suit of padded clothes requires 14 feet of cloth, a total of 25 feet; each bolt of coarse cloth is 100 feet long). Their total requirement is therefore 10,500 bolts. The 22,000 young people each need half the quantity of cloth required by an adult. A bolt of cloth is enough for eight and their total requirement is 2,750 bolts. The annual requirement for the whole county is thus 13,250 bolts.

The 92,000 jin of yarn spun in 1943 will be woven into 8,366.6 bolts of coarse cloth. This requires 56 looms (each loom can weave 150 bolts of coarse cloth per year ) . In 1942 there were twelve looms in the villages and factories of this county. Thus we must expand the number in the village by forty-four during 1943 using the cooperative structure. There are three methods for doing this. The first is investment (i) in incentive awards to encourage women to spin, 50,000 yuan (ii) in producing 5,000 jin of raw cotton at 100 yuan per jin, 500,000 yuan, and (iii) in expenses for spinning and weaving-equipment, 1,000 spinning-wheels at 100 yuan each, 100,000 yuan, and 44 looms at 1,000 yuan each, 44,000 yuan. The total required for the above items is 694,000 yuan. Second, looms in the villages should be set up by the peasants organizing themselves into partnerships. The government can help them overcome their difficulties by training skilled workers, or by investing capital for looms and so forth. Third, for every 2 jin of raw cotton issued, 1 jin of yarn should be collected. The cotton cloth woven in the villages may be used by the peasants themselves. The Gaodan Yarn Spinning Factory should play the leading role in encouraging women to spin, and in training workers.

This plan by the comrades in Yan'an is really worth looking at. If the people of Yan'an, who lack experience of spinning and weaving, are able with the encouragement of the Party and government to become fully self-sufficient in yarn and cloth within two or three years, other counties without experience should also be able to solve the problem within a similar or slightly longer period. We hope that the comrades in the various counties will all make such a plan. As for the various counties where the peasants have experience, such as the special military area, the problem should be solved even more easily. According to the calculations of the comrades in Yan'an, adults make up two-thirds of the population and children one-third. One bolt of cloth is enough for four Adults or eight children. Therefore, the yearly cloth requirement for the 1,400,000 population of the Border Region is not 200,000 bolts but 337,500. According to the opinions of the comrades in Yan'an a large quantity like this can be provided within two or three years. In sum, by relying on the masses setting-to and on the leadership of the Party and the government any difficulty can be overcome.

(2) The Reconstruction Department should do research into the people's experiences in spinning in order to improve the quality of local yarn so as to prepare to produce Border Region cloth entirely from local yarn, gradually reducing and ultimately stopping the import of foreign yarn. If the quality of yarn cannot be improved then we cannot suspend dealings in foreign yarn.

(3) Improve the woolen goods made by the publicly-run factories. Using woolen goods in place of some of the cotton clothing and bedding used by the army is a way of reducing the consumption of cotton cloth.

(4) In 1943 official personnel should set a personal example and wear local cloth without exception. At the same time they should encourage the people to use more local cloth and less foreign cloth. According to the situation in the development of local cloth, the Commodities Bureau can gradually limit the import of foreign cloth.

The above methods will help us gradually to solve the great problem of self-sufficiency in cotton cloth. Although it can only be done gradually, it is nevertheless entirely possible. We must resolutely implement all methods for doing so.


In 1942 the peasants of the counties planting cotton harvested around 3 million jin of cotton seeds capable of giving 360,000 jin of oil, and, with the expansion in cotton-planting, from 5 to 6 million Jin of seed can be obtained next year which can further increase the quantity of oil. We should prevent all this being wasted. Cotton-seed oil is edible but the peasants of the Border Region are still not accustomed to it. If the government does not promote it, they will not extract the oil. Therefore the government of the Border Region should invest 300,000 yuan and, through the governments of the counties where cotton is planted. encourage the peasants to experiment with pressing cotton-seed oil. After the experiments succeed, it can be widely promoted. The oil can be bought by the government. This will not only provide edible oil but also at present oil prices of 30 yuan per jin give the peasants an income of 10,800,000 yuan from 360,000 jin of oil.


In the counties of Suide, Qingjian, Anding, Yanchuan, Gulin and so forth many peasants rear silkworms. It is a relatively large subsidiary undertaking. For example, in Anding alone there were 3,585 peasant households rearing silkworms during 1942. They harvested 23.662 jin of silkworm cocoons, at a value of 600,000 yuan.

Our sewing and repair industry needs silk thread and our woolen-blanket industry needs silk edging. We. can also use silk thread for the woof when weaving cotton cloth as a means of reducing the import of foreign yearn. Therefore, we should develop the silk production of the Border Region. The way to do this is for the government to issue 300,000 yuan in credit to the peasant families to expand the rearing of silkworms. Credit should be given especially to those peasant households which have a good record in rearing silkworms. Moreover, the commodities Bureau should buy the peasants' silk through the local cooperatives and order woven-silk articles from the peasants in order to promote the expansion of the silk industry.

The total investment in the above three undertakings, spinning and weaving, oil-pressing, and silk, is 2,600,000 yuan (yarn spinning 1 million, cloth-weaving 1 million, oil-pressing 300,000 and silk 300,000). Although these funds are not great, they can stimulate the people to progress a little in solving the urgent needs of the moment. In 1943 when we have even more experience, we should consider increasing the amount of capital. Spinning and weaving are particularly important. Unless the people set-to and the public sector helps, the problem cannot be solved as a whole.

Here I have only taken up spinning and weaving, oil-pressing, and silk. Other items have not been mentioned. The counties can according to actual circumstances, do research into handicrafts which are related to the people's economy and which need stimulus from the Party and the government, and they can make their own plans.

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Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung