Skip to comments.Why Doesn't China Have Famines Anymore? Two explanations for end of 2,000 years of starvation
Posted on 04/08/2014 7:43:04 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
Essayist Gerald Early said that the history of the United States will one day be reduced to the Constitution, jazz, and baseball. If someone had made the same summary of Chinese history 30 years ago, the trio would likely have been the Great Wall, Maoism, and famine. Over the past 2,000 years, China has suffered almost one famine per year. Severe drought killed as many as 13 million Chinese in the two-year famine beginning in 1876. The 1927 famine killed as many as 6 million. There were significant famines in 1929, 1939, and 1942. The Great Famine, which began in 1958 and lasted three years, was probably the deadliest famine in human history, killing between 30 and 45 million people. The causes of Chinese famines have varied, ranging from drought to hoarding to Mao Zedongs horrifically misguided food procurement policy, which took food from the mouths of the people who grew it, concentrating deaths in traditional farming areas.
For most of Chinas history, famine was just an extreme version of the normal state of affairs. As recently as the late 1970s, 30 percent of Chinas population was undernourished. Grains supplied the overwhelming majority of their calories. One in 3 children under the age of 5 had stunted growth.
Its almost hard to believe how different todays China has become....
(Excerpt) Read more at slate.com ...
The Chinese don’t sabotage their farming community like we do.
If there are no famines in China, N. American kids shouldn’t have to eat all their peas.
Chairman Mao fixed that.
Exactly, the Great Leap Forward I believe saw a very brutal famine that killed untold numbers, people resorted to eating grass if they could find that.
There is a book called “Bones of the Master”, this Buddhist Monk left his temple after it was stormed, traversed from Mongolia to Hong Kong, largely on foot, some on train, a real hand to mouth situation during that famine.
It may be "both/and" so Brian Palmer doesn't need to sweat an "either/or."
Maybe the communists starved to death all the hungry people.
China has never operated under a “market economy” for grain/food. The Emperors of the past behaved quite similarly as Mao and the Communists behaved in the 1950’s and 60’s. Bureaucratic control, combined with fairly regular droughts and civil war means frequent famines.
Maybe because they have enough money to buy food now from other countries!!!
If there are no famines in China, N. American kids shouldnt have to eat all their peas.
I am afraid that one day the Chinese people will be telling their children to eat their peas because poor American children are starving.
Before Obama gets through with us, it may very well come true.
From National Geographic, May 2013, "Fertilized World: Song Linyuan, an elderly but spry farmer in a village northwest of Nanjing, recalls how he once kept his 1.3 acres of cropland as fertile as possible, composting household waste and spreading manure from his pigs and chickens. In all, his efforts added perhaps a hundred pounds of nitrogen per acre of land each year. He harvested 2,600 to 3,300 pounds of rice per acre.
Thats a respectable harvest, a better yield than in many parts of the world. But now he gets more than twice that: 7,200 pounds per acre. Its a harvest many farmers can only dream of.
The difference? Better fertilizer, he says. Were sitting in a shop surrounded by farmers. Songs answer provokes a loud discussion. Some agree that fertilizer was key; others say better seeds were more important. In reality the two technologies are intertwined. The high-yielding varieties of rice and wheat that breeders created in the 1950s and 1960s could reach their full potential only if they got more nitrogen.
The Chinese government made sure those crops were well fed. Between 1975 and 1995 it built hundreds of nitrogen factories, quadrupling the countrys manufacture of fertilizer and turning China into the worlds biggest producer. Song now spreads about five times as much nitrogen as before, saturating his fields with ureaa dry form of nitrogenby casting handfuls of the snow-white granules across green shoots. This adds up to 530 pounds of nitrogen per acre. Farmers who grow vegetables use even more; some spread a ton of nitrogen, or even two, on each hectare (2.47 acres). Few of them think theyre doing anything harmful. No, no pollution, says Song, when asked about the environmental effects of fertilizer.
Here's a recent photo of the plant I worked at in Shuifu, Yunnan Province. This was a remote backwater when I was there and an entire peasant village was razed to build the plant. People lived in rammed-earth houses with mud floors, no windows, thatched roofs and a single bare electrical bulb hanging from the ceiling. "Butchers" would squat on the dirt roads and sell their fly-covered meat. Fertilizer came from the vast honey-pots where all the villagers did their business. There were no motorized boats on the Yangtze River...the barges were hauled up the river against the current by teams of men pulling tow-ropes. They didn't even have mules to pull the barges up the river. Our guest house for the foreign workers from Europe (mainly The Netherlands), Canada, and the US was over on the right side by the dam near that group of silos. There was nothing at all in the town or surrounding countryside. I cannot believe what 40 years of development and investment has done to the place.
Answer - Capitalism!
I didn’t read the article, but I bet Slate didn’t come up with that answer.
Environmentalism and delta-smelt hugging are low on China’s priorities list.
Unlike in California...
I used to teach many FOB's from China and THEY didn't have any fannies. The ABC's did -- American Born Chinese, like all other Americans: regular normal roundish, perfect-for-sitting FANNIES!!
Why isn’t China starving anymore? It adopted capitalism.
Walk in a city and you will see the hungry ones just in from the fields looking to get some money for home.
I saw a guy that looked like he had not eaten in a few days. He was not begging but it was obvious he needed help. I handed him enough for a meal. He did not speak a word but he eyes said thanks I really needed that.
I would disagree with you on Southern China being the most prosperous region. It may just be my extreme dislike for all the pay offs you have to make to grease the wheels in Southern China.
Capitalism, no, entrepreneurialism, yes, and state planning that developed from concensus rather than dictated by Mao and perhaps one or two others. When farmers were actually given control over part of the land, productivity mushroomed. State directed irrigation, nitrogen fertalizer and newly developed seeds helped. The situation was worse than just eating grass. The bodies of the dead were actually dug up and eaten by the starving. Look for the book Tombstone, by a Chinese researcher who had inside access to information, records, interviews, etc.
Years ago, my late husband was visiting friends at the Amana Colonies, a primative socialist/communist religious colony in Iowa and other places (also producers of Amana appliances). He watched the man assigned to plowing that day take out the tractor, and later run out of fuel when he was far across the field. He walked back, got a gallon, went back to the tractor, drove back to the barn, filled the tank and continued plowing. At least an hour of work lost. He said no self respecting independent farmer would do anything so stupid as starting plowing without filling his gas tank. Entrepreneurship is more efficient than either socialism/communism or many large scale capitalist enterprises.
Yeah, or they have enough money to buy up our farmland, or our food production capabilities. Somebody said that the Chinese bought up Smithfield, our largest pork producer (besides congress). Look where the price of pork has been going lately (sky high). We build housing developments over prime farmland in this country.
It's a fairy tale until you check the historical record.
When was the last time a capitalist country experienced a famine?
Maybe Ireland in 1845, but I'm not sure Ireland actually had a capitalist economy in 1845.
Under Socialism, people line up for food.
Under Capitalism, the food lines up for people.
It’s quite simple — Mao died. Mao was a mass-murderer, just like all Marxist dictators. He was succeeded by managerial state types. Historically, China has always been ruled by one or more big fist regimes.
The Three Gorges Dam, which has been excoriated by enviros, has as one of its purposes rerouting Yangtze river water to the vanishing rivers of the north. That drying is the tail end of the long-gone last ice age.
Thanks Jet Jaguar.
Capitalist countries do have greater divides between rich and poor... but they also have richer poor.