The Great Leap Forward

The extraordinary number of deaths during the Chinese revolution is difficult to comprehend. The Soviet Union had a similar experience when Stalin forced the population to modernize Russia's agricultural and industrialization practices. Historians estimate that Mao's Great Leap Forward (1958–1962), mandatory collectivization, forced labor, and the famine that ensued caused the deaths of between 18 and 30 million people in China.

Read this article on the Great Leap Forward. Pay attention to the toll it had on the people of China and how these experiences have shaped today's China.


The founding of the People's Republic of China did not put an end to the political struggle of the Communist Party of China (CPC), whose policies on economic development still featured political motivation. China launched the Great Leap Forward Movement from the late 1950s to the early 1960s, in hope of modernizing its economy. Why this movement was initiated and how it evolved subsequently were affected by manifold reasons, such as the aspiration to rapid revolutionary victory, the mistakes caused by highly centralized decision-making, and the impact exerted by the Soviet Union. However, the movement was plagued by the nationwide famine that claimed tens of millions of lives. Thus, fueled by the Forging Ahead Strategy advocated by Mao Zedong, the Great Leap Forward that was influenced by political factors not only ended up with utter failure, but also deteriorated the previously sluggish economy to such an extent that the future economic, political and social development was severely damaged. This study will explore the causes, consequences and impact of the Great Leap Forward in China.

Source: Hsiung-Shen Jung and Jui-Lung Chen,
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