Rural Life

One of the central goals of the Communists when they came to power was to quickly modernize the nation's economy. This movement was known as "The Great Leap Forward." Factory and farms were organized into a system of communes.

Animals do most of the heavy labor in the fields.

Taking a 55-hour train ride across the country, I observed quite a few communes from the train window. All are centered around some state appointed function: factories, mines, farms, or assembly plants. The people live in drab, dormitory style projects. The projects are all located close to their jobs, which occupy almost everything that has to do with their lives.

Traditional country farmhouse. Outdoor cooking and toilets are still the norm.

Although most communes are now privatized after Deng Xioping's reform programs of the 1980's, not a whole lot has changed for rural people. The high growth around the coastal regions is merely exacerbating the gap in living standards. This is creating resentment among the less developed inland provinces. Traditional suspicions of capitalism linger, and the bureaucratic ways of the communists is still strong in the communes.

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