The Chinese economy experienced some development during the Republican period, especially in the Treaty Port economy. A modern industrial sector of sorts had been established by the 1930s, and its output was growing at a rate which was impressive by most standards. For all that, China was an extremely poor country in 1949, and the economic inheritance of the CCP was severely impoverished. Per capita income was low, and had barely increased over the previous half century. Worse, the growth of modern industry was constrained by the abject performance of an agricultural sector incapable of supplying the wage goods and raw materials required. Indicators of human development gave no cause for satisfaction either. Life expectancy at birth was no better than the figures recorded in Britain in the
Показать все middle of the previous century, and the overwhelming majority of the Chinese population could neither read nor write. The China of the early 1950s was a land riven by a range of socio-economic inequalities along ethnic, geographical and class lines. And although China had a long coastline, the scope for international trade was to be limited by the American trade embargo. It was not a very auspicious inheritance, and it inevitably limited what was possible in the short term. That is not to say that China was without economic potential. On the contrary. Its large population provided a vast market which made it possible to exploit economies of scale. And China’s per capita natural resource base, whilst undoubtedly inferior to that of many other countries, was by no means small. However, low levels of human capital, the underdeveloped state of infrastructure, the extent of poverty and inequality (which demanded immediate action) and low productivity in agriculture inevitably constrained the pace of economic growth in the 1950s. Of these constraints, it was perhaps inequality of income and wealth that was the greatest, because it forced the new CCP to move quickly and decisively towards a thoroughgoing programme of land reform. This succeeded in addressing the clamour for redistribution but, as we will see below, the creation of a sea of small-scale peasant farms during the 1950s in itself did little to promote the cause of agricultural modernization or industrial development. Скрыть
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