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China in Ten Words by Yu Hua

China in Ten Words by Yu Hua

Author:Yu Hua [Hua, Yu]
Language: rus
Format: epub, azw3
ISBN: 9780307906939
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Published: 2011-11-07T20:00:00+00:00


In the 1990s, as the tide of economic development swept over China, a similar situation began to reappear. In the fields surrounding one large steel plant in eastern China, backyard furnaces went up and in the blink of an eye peasants became sweat-stained steelworkers. After melting the iron ore, they poured it immediately into a specially designed tanker. The driver would stamp his foot on the accelerator and drive the tanker full tilt into the steel plant, where the liquid iron was dumped into a standard industrial furnace for further processing. Under normal circumstances a large furnace produces steel about fourteen times in a twenty-four-hour period, but with the peasants first melting ore in their own furnaces, plants were able to increase production to thirty times a day. Of course, this time what the peasants made in their homegrown furnaces was not useless pig iron, and they were making steel not for some empty political agenda but to put money in their own pockets. Given this frantic effort to make more steel, it’s no wonder that China’s output has grown so rapidly. Because the tankers carrying liquid iron shuttled back and forth incessantly between the furnaces in the fields and the furnaces in the plants, they discharged so much heat that it roasted road surfaces and converted the leafy trees lining the highways into dry skeletons.

The Great Leap Forward of 1958 began, in a sense, as a comedy—a romantic and absurd comedy. Fakery, exaggeration, and bombast were the order of the day. Even the most productive rice fields at the time could produce only about one and a half tons per acre, but under the slogan “The more boldly a man dares, the more richly his land bears” districts all over the country claimed that per-acre production had topped five tons. On September 18, 1958, for example, the People’s Daily published a special news report: “Rice production in Huanjiang County, Guangxi, reaches six and a half tons per acre.” These bogus reports were fabricated to a high level of detail. Pigs, it was said, now topped the scales at more than eleven hundred pounds; their heads were the size of large wicker baskets, and there was as much meat on them as on three pigs in the old days; a pot three feet tall and three feet wide was not big enough to cook one of these jumbo-sized porkers—why, even with a pot six feet across you could cook only half a pig! Pumpkins had been induced to grow so big that children could play games inside them.

A folk rhyme called “A Sweet Potato Rolling Off the Slope” was all the rage. It went like this:

Through our commune fine a stream flows deep,



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