Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fragment from AP report "China clears central Beijing for anniversary party"

Many Chinese are justifiably proud of what China has achieved since the People's Republic was founded in 1949, a transformation from an impoverished, war-wracked country to an economic and diplomatic power. Life expectancy has risen from 41 years in 1949 to 73 today. Incomes have soared, even as the population has more than doubled from 500 million to 1.3 billion. In just the last 30 years, GDP per capita has grown tenfold from $200.


Arable land in China has been reduced but the population tripled since 1949.  The fact that most people in China get enough daily calories to sustain life despite this is a remarkable accomplishment.  The extraordinarily extensive development of irrigation systems in the early years of the regime, accompanied by improvements in agricutural technology and widespread use of agricultural chemicals today accounts for this.


Pat said...

Weren't the irrigation canals and such constructed by unpaid labour, though?

Charles Burton said...

It was under the commune system of rural organization. The canals were dug off-season by farmers who were paid with "work points". Under current conditions of market economy these canals and reservoirs probably would not be able to be made.