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Developing National Economy

Relationship Between Agriculture, Light Industry and Heavy Industry

— Summary of a discussion among cadres in Kwangtung Province

[This article is reprinted from Peking Review, #34, Aug. 25, 1972, pp. 7-9, 20.]

CHINA’S industrial and agricultural production has been developing steadily. 1971 witnessed the tenth bumper grain harvest in a row and a 10 per cent increase over 1970 in total industrial output value. Steel output last year was 21 million tons. The fundamental cause of all these achievements lies in the implementation of Chairman Mao’s revolutionary line, particularly the correct handling of the relationship between agriculture, light industry and heavy industry.

Leading cadres in charge of economic work in several administrative regions and counties in Kwangtung recently discussed some questions on the relationship between agriculture, light industry and heavy industry. They laid special emphasis on studying Chairman Mao’s relevant theses.

Chairman Mao long ago scientifically elucidated the dialectical relationship between agriculture and industry and showed the way to correctly handle the relationship between agriculture, light industry and heavy industry. In his speech On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People made in 1957, Chairman Mao once again pointed out clearly: “In discussing our path to industrialization, I am here concerned principally with the relationship between the growth of heavy industry, light industry and agriculture. It must he affirmed that heavy industry is the core of China’s economic construction. At the same time, full attention must be paid to the development of agriculture and light industry.” ”As China is a large agricultural country, with over 80 per cent of her population in the rural areas, industry must develop together with agriculture, for only thus can industry secure raw materials and a market, and only thus is it possible to accumulate fairly large funds for building a powerful heavy industry.” ”As agriculture and light industry develop, heavy industry, assured of its market and funds, will grow faster.” Later, further explaining the theory that agriculture is the foundation of the national economy, Chairman Mao summed it up in these words: “Take agriculture as the foundation and industry as the leading factor” — which makes up the general principle for developing the national economy. He pointed out that first place must be given to the development of agriculture. These instructions of Chairman Mao’s are profoundly dialectical; they reveal the objective laws governing the growth of socialist economy in China and are a development of the political economy of Marxism.

The consensus of opinion among the cadres taking part in the discussion was: Guided by Chairman Mao’s revolutionary line, the entire nation has carried out the general principle of “taking agriculture as the foundation and industry as the leading factor” and put a timely stop to the interference and sabotage of the revisionist line pushed by Liu Shao-chi and company, namely, ”stressing industry but neglecting agriculture” and ”developing heavy industry at the expense of agriculture.” As a result, the relationship between agriculture, light industry and heavy industry has been handled comparatively well and a steady increase in agricultural production has been achieved. The growth of agriculture has given great impetus to the swift growth of light and heavy industries and other branches of the national economy. Our markets are brisk, prices are stable, and agricultural and side-line products and consumer goods are rich in variety. All this contributes to the relatively rapid advance of China’s socialist industrialization.

Taking Agriculture as the Foundation

A coastal province in south China, Kwangtung had some light industrial and handicraft enterprises but little heavy industry. Though heavy industry later developed to some extent, the speed of its growth still lagged behind that of some other provinces, and its products fell short of the needs of the province’s developing agriculture and light industry. It was, therefore, necessary to further develop heavy industry.

On the other hand, Kwangtung is a high-yielding farming area. Its average grain yield has topped the target of 800 jin per mu set by the state. Its sugar output accounts for a big proportion of the nation’s total, and its jute, oil-bearing crops, aquatic products and subtropical produce also make up a fairly large proportion. The country’s economic development calls for a further growth in the province’s farm production so that it can provide the state with more grain and more raw materials for light industry.

Heavy industry must be developed simultaneously with the further growth of agriculture. But how should the relationship between agriculture, light industry and heavy industry be correctly handled? And how should contradictions in regard to the distribution of labour power, funds, equipment and materials among the three be solved?

Practice in their localities has enabled the cadres taking part in the discussion to come to a deep understanding that they must first of all firmly bear in mind the principle of taking agriculture as the foundation of the national economy if the relationship between the three is to be handled satisfactorily.

Raw materials, equipment and technique are indispensable to industrial development; but if we consider the national economy as a whole, it is agriculture, in the final analysis, that determines the scope and tempo of industrial development.

The example of Kwangtung’s Hsingning County abundantly proves this. Though the county abounds in coal and iron resources, it had to get iron and steel from other areas before the Great Cultural Revolution to meet its needs. To change this situation, the former county leadership appropriated a large amount of funds, equipment and labour power to build a number of small blast furnaces, with the result that agriculture and light industry were adversely affected. Moreover, its iron and steel industry did not get anywhere.

After the county revolutionary committee was established, it adhered to the principle of “taking agriculture as the foundation and industry as the leading factor” and worked out an overall plan and a rational arrangement for the county’s agriculture, light and heavy industries. It mobilized the masses to emulate Shansi Province’s Tachai Production Brigade, a national pace-setter in agriculture, in an effort to accelerate farm production. Since 1969, the county’s average grain yield has exceeded 1,000 jin per mu every year and there has been a big increase in industrial crops, forest and side-line products. This has provided light industry, including sugar-making, with abundant raw materials and stimulated its quick development.

On this basis, they went in for heavy industry in a selective and planned way and achieved encouraging results. The county has now built and put into operation 38 small blast furnaces as against only seven in 1968. Its 1971 pig iron output was over 4,300 tons, 27 times that of 1968. Coal output also increased fivefold.

Taking Industry as the Leading Factor

Participants in the discussion held that when engaging in socialist economic construction we must keep to the principle that “heavy industry is the core.” It must be affirmed that top priority must be given to the development of heavy industry. This is because heavy industry turns out the means of production, and only with an increase in the means of production can agriculture and light industry as well as heavy industry itself constantly obtain new technology and equipment, and only in this way can national defence be strengthened and the development of the entire national economy be expedited.

Meanwhile, we must bring the leading role of industry into full play in order to continuously strengthen the role of agriculture as the foundation. Chairman Mao has pointed out: “The fundamental way out for agriculture lies in mechanization.” Only by mechanizing agriculture can labour productivity be steadily raised, the socialist collective economy of the rural people’s communes strengthened and the backward state of our countryside changed, thereby narrowing, the difference between city and countryside and further consolidating the worker-peasant alliance. Mechanization of farm production depends on help from industry. An important aspect of industry’s leading role is to support agriculture with more and better farm machines, chemical fertilizer and insecticide.

These cadres fully realized this from the experience of Hsingning County and other regions. When Hsingning’s iron and steel industry had made some headway, the Huangpi Commune, which was the first to build small blast furnaces here, used the iron it produced to make 25,000 pieces of farm tools such as ploughshares, rice threshers and huskers in a little over a year. Other communes which had built small blast furnaces and coal-pits also relied on their own efforts to produce large quantities of farm machinery and implements. With funds accumulated from industrial production, many communes bought chemical fertilizer, tractors, lorries, draught animals and other means of production, thus putting agriculture on a solid material base and bringing about its swift development. In 1971 the county’s grain output hit an all-time high, averaging 1,100 jin per mu, while its industrial crops, stock-breeding and side-line production also reported big increases.

During the discussion, the cadres stressed that in implementing the principle of “taking agriculture as the foundation and industry as the leading factor,” industrial departments must take supporting agriculture as their long-term task and pay special attention to producing urgently needed farm machines and accessories. They cited the Pearl River Delta as an example.

A big power network was set up by the state in the delta which is crisscrossed by waterways. With a complete electrically operated drainage and irrigation system, some people thought that everything would be plain sailing. But the fact was that while the plain had the benefit of the power network, some hilly areas did not have electric supply. Moreover, the amount of power generated by the big hydroelectric stations dropped as a result of long spells of drought in the past two years and so could not meet irrigation needs. In view of this, industrial departments in many counties promptly produced power-generating equipment and necessary accessories to help rural people’s communes build small hydroelectric stations to supplement the big power network. This gave powerful support to agricultural production and helped bring about an all-round development, of the economy. In other counties where industrial departments did not take effective measures to solve the problem of electricity shortage, farm production was adversely affected because of inadequate means to combat drought, and this in turn was unfavourable to the further development of industry.

Interdependence and Mutual Promotion

Practical experience has enabled the cadres to realize that ”more” agriculture leads to ”more” light industry, and ”more” agriculture and light industry lead to ”more” heavy industry, while ”more” heavy industry makes for ”much more” agriculture and light industry. This is the dialectics of the growth of agriculture, light industry and heavy industry.

Closely related to this growth is the rational arrangement of labour power. There is an objective ratio for the allocation of labour power to industrial and farm production, which in the last analysis is determined by the level of agricultural development.

At present, the level of mechanization of farm work in China is still not high; the greater part of the work is done by manual labour, that is to say, labour power constitutes the main productive force. Such being the case, it is therefore imperative that there is sufficient manpower on the agricultural front. This is a major condition for the further development of agriculture and a guarantee for the advance of industry. Farm production will be retarded and both agricultural and industrial development will be affected if the increase of industrial labour power and urban population goes beyond the limit permitted by the level of agricultural production and too much labour power is transferred from the rural areas to the cities.

Hsuwen County is a case in point. Prior to the Great Cultural ReVolution, much of the county’s waste-land had not been reclaimed. Sugar-cane acreage was small and yields were low due to poor cultivation. This notwithstanding, much labour power was transferred from the countryside to build a sugar refinery.

The result, of course, was that its sugar-making industry failed to develop swiftly. In the light of this situation, the county revolutionary committee took measures to ensure stable and sufficient labour power for agriculture. During the sugar-producing season, the refinery did not engage additional people from the countryside as it had done before, but employed city dwellers and dependents of workers and staff on a seasonal basis. In running their mining industries, the rural people’s communes and production brigades worked out production plans with an eye to the actual conditions in the busy and slack farming seasons.

Thanks to the proper arrangement of labour power which first of all ensured normal agricultural production, this county has over the past few years completed a number of water conservancy projects and reclaimed land to expand the acreage sown to food crops and sugar-cane. What with improved field management, the result was a 100 per cent increase in sugar-cane output in 1971 as compared with the year before the Great Cultural Revolution. In addition to the old refinery which now has an abundant sugar-cane supply, a new sugar refinery has been built. Hsuwen County has thus become a rising sugar-making centre, and its industry and agriculture have developed simultaneously.

The cadres held that the development of the national economy would be handicapped if the needs of industry are not taken into consideration while developing agriculture. With respect to agriculture, to correctly handle the relationship between agriculture and industry, it is essential to implement the principle of “taking grain as the key link and ensuring an all-round development” put forward by Chairman Mao. That is to say, while firmly grasping grain production, measures suited to local conditions should be taken to raise the output of industrial crops and develop forestry, animal husbandry, side-line production and fishery. In this way, more raw materials will be supplied to industry, and at the same time both the accumulation funds of the rural collective economy and the commune members’ income will be increased thereby providing a bigger market for industrial products and ensuring the continued growth of agriculture and industry.

Surpassing the planned target set by the state for grain output in 1970, Chungshan County supplied more than 300 million jin of grain to the state. But its sugar output and other light industrial products decreased, that year owing to the shortage of raw materials. As a result, it failed to bring about an all-round development of its economy.

Guided by the principle of “taking grain as the key link and ensuring an all-round development” in 1971, the county Party committee made readjustments with regard to the acreage sown to food and industrial crops and succeeded in reaping a bumper harvest of both. In the wake of a big increase in sugarcane, sugar output soared and other branches of the light industry also developed. The county’s economy is thriving as never before. This year, while putting rice production on a solid base, the county added 28,000 mu of fertile farmland to its acreage of sugar-cane and other industrial crops in an effort to supply the state with more grain and more raw materials for light industry.

The cadres taking part in the discussion have come to the following conclusion: Being a socialist country, China develops her national economy in a planned way and proportionately. Not only can the central leading organs and planning departments work out an overall plan for agriculture, light industry and heavy industry, but each region can also handle well the relationship between the three to fit in with the needs of the entire nation. This can never be done under the capitalist system.

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