To win support from all social groups in rural China after the inception of Japan’s full-scale invasion, the CCP introduced the program of “rent and interest reduction” in place of its original radical land policy. Nevertheless, the “25-percent rent reduction” did not have much appeal to owner-cultivators in Shanxi province, where land ownership was dispersed and tenancy not predominant. Money-lending activities largely vanished after the implementation of “reduction of interest rates to 15 percent.” As a result, the Border Region Government had to raise the ceiling on interest rates. Later, to win support of owner-cultivators who had long paid only taxes rather than rents, the CCP modified its policy by confiscating and redistributing the land, houses, and other properties of landlords and rich peasants under the pretext of “Settling Old Accounts” during the struggles against corruption, local bullies, unregistered land, and pro-Japanese collaborators. This, in conjunction with the worsening shortage of resources, the radical mindset, and the vested interests of grassroots cadres, led to the emergence of leftist deviations.
Qianhou Yue and Aolong Qiao
Kangzhan Ribao (War of Resistance Daily) was the cornerstone of the CCP’s ideological propaganda among its troops in the Shanxi-Suiyuan Base Area, which the Party established in early 1940. In response to the Party’s call for publishing newspapers for and by all party members and the masses, this newspaper maintained a large network of reporters while relying on those at the grassroots as its authors and turning the illiterate and semi-literate populace into its faithful audience. All these made the newspaper a remarkable success in the history of Chinese journalism.
Aiming Zhang, Yingze Hu and Matthew Noellert
Shanxi experienced a severe population shortage after the late Qing Dingwu famine. The frequent disasters and warfare of the Republican era further increased population movements in north China, and in addition to northeast China, Shanxi became a major destination for migrants. In this period over two million migrants settled in Shanxi. Those that settled in the countryside formed a unique social group of immigrant households. The kinship and territorial bonds of north Chinese villages are well known, and such villages are often considered to have been very insular and xenophobic communities. Migrant households found it difficult to join the village community, and often had no choice but to live precarious lives on the outskirts of villages. Migrant households had to acquire “settlement rights” in the village in order to have any chance of survival and development. But settlement rights could not be achieved overnight; they were not only a matter of time, but also involved certain requirements and favorable circumstances. Through a close examination of “class background registers” compiled during the Four Cleanups movement (1963–1966), this article shows how migrant households in late Qing and Republican China used famine as an opportunity to gradually acquire settlement rights. On the one hand, migrants used wage labor, tenancy, and credit to form dependent relations through land with resident households. On the other hand, they used social relations, adoption, and uxorilocal marriage to form kinship relations with resident households. Compared to south China, where village settlement rights emphasized recognition of common ancestry, settlement rights in north China villages emphasized common lived experience. This difference is an important factor in explaining rural social formation and development in north China.
Philip C. C. Huang
This article takes as its point of departure contrasts between China’s fundamental philosophy of governance and the Anglo-American classical-liberal tradition, to show the differences between a mode of thinking that sees binary opposites as forming interactive unified wholes rather than mutually exclusive either / or opposites. It reviews the Chinese state’s relationship with village communities by looking back at the history of the past century, in North China and in the Yangzi Delta. The article summarizes the traditional mode of governance in the Qing period, undergirded by both state leadership and village self-governance, as well as both moralism and practicality, in the management of village affairs and mediations of disputes. That was followed by the decline and partial breakdown of the system in the Republic, and then excessive state control in the collective era, followed by the opposite of nearly complete state withdrawal in the late Reform period. What is needed is a more balanced relationship between the state and the village, with both top-down leadership and bottom-up participation. Within the party’s own “mass line” tradition, we can separate out the excesses of movement politics from positive practices like the emphasis on investigation and study in public policy-making, on test-point trials before enacting public policies, and on popular participation. Such popular participation should be developed further today to build a better and more balanced relationship between state and society, and prevent recurrences of tendencies toward either too much or too little state involvement in village affairs, in order to implement better the moral ideals of “humane government” and “serve” “the people.” Voluntary popular participation should actually be established as the sine qua non for enacting major public policies affecting the people’s livelihood.