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China Completes Dismantling of Communes

June 4, 1985

PEKING (AP) _ China has completed dismantling its people’s communes, the once-pervasive legacy of Mao Tse-tung’s disastrous ″Great Leap Forward″ campaign of nearly three decades ago, the official Xinhua news agency reported Tuesday.

The country’s 56,000 communes have been replaced by 92,000 townships in which economic and administrative functions are separated, Xinhua said.

The communes were formed in the late 1950s by combining many small villages, which in turn were organized in production brigades. All workers earned the same pay regardless of their output.

The communes were set up during the ″Great Leap,″ a catastrophic economic experiment by Mao that was designed to dramatically increase China’s agricultural and industrial output by emphasizing ideological incentives.

Instead, a famine resulted and 10 million people died from what the government last September officially called ″unnatural causes.″ The process of dismantling communes began in October 1983.

The production brigades have been replaced by 820,000 directly elected villagers’ committees, Xinhua said.

Civil Affairs Minister Cui Naifu said in January that the administration and production plans are to be handled at the township level, with village committees handling local civil affairs such as public security.

″In some places, the name ‘people’s commune’ is still retained, but the commune now is a purely economic organization,″ Xinhua said.

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