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Off To a Flying Start

Year:1958 Issue:1



Release Date:1958-03-04

Page: 11-13

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CHINA goes into her Second Five-Year Plan on the crest of a new revolutionary wave. As the rectification campaign goes forward, shortcomings and defects are being exposed, criticized and corrected; there is a spate of rationalization proposals. These form the basis for spectacular improvements in work. The call to catch up with and surpass Britain in the output of steel and other major industrial products in 15 years and to fulfil, ahead of time, the National Programme for Agricultural Development (1956-1967) has caught the imagination of the people and got a terrific response.

Successful completion of the First Five-Year Plan has laid a sound basis for further progress. Now workers and peasants are working for a "leap forward" in production. Their efforts to boost output are developing into a vast new movement of friendly emulation inspired by the spirit of mutual help. "Learn from and catch up with the most advanced!" is the slogan of the day.

* * *

Shanghai Leads the Way

The standard greeting in Shanghai nowadays when workers meet is: "What are you going to do to overtake Britain?"

The workers' first reaction to this challenge was to revise production plans drastically - upwards. Four times within a fortnight workers at the No. 2 Steel Mill revised their counter-plan to increase production over and above the state plan. The target they finally arrived at was 58.7 per cent higher than the target of their first counter-plan. One rationalization idea put forward by a technician will result in an annual increase of 4,000 tons of steel; and there are many such proposals.

The No. 2 Oil and Fats Factory in Shanghai pledged itself to increase its output during the first quarter by 1,600 kilogrammes. But hardly had this been announced, than the workers in one of its workshops proposed to raise this target more than ten times to 16,250 kilogrammes, and this, for their workshop alone. They kept their promise. In 28 days, they increased output by 7,449 kilogrammes, nearly half of the revised plan for the quarter.

While ways and means were being sought to raise production, another slogan was put forward: "Learn from whoever is more advanced. Learn modestly and teach without reserve." The joint state-private Anta Cotton Mill planned to catch up with the No. 1 State-owned Cotton Mill within one year by learning from the latter. Now it has announced it will do it in six months.

The more advanced often find they themselves now need "to go back to school." The No. 2 State-owned Cotton Mill, which often took high honours in competitions, soon found other mills outstripping it while it marked time. The quality of its 21-count yarn dropped from first to fourth place and that of its 42-count yarn to eleventh, or last place among state-owned cotton mills. An uproar followed this disclosure. Technicians and administrative personnel are looking into the matter; workers are making many suggestions to improve quality and regain the plant's position of leadership.

* * *

Cities Compete

Shanghai, booming ahead, has been challenged by a dozen other cities to a friendly competition in quality, costs and safety in industrial production. Peking, Tientsin, Canton, Wuhan and Hangchow are among the challengers but they also include some of the smaller cities such as Nanhui (Kiangsu Province) and Luchow (Szechuan Province) which have only recently acquired modern factories.

Umpiring and helping the competition, the People's Government provides analyses of the various technical and economic norms of the factories concerned, and these are published in the national and local press. Soon after that, they are spot news on factory wall and blackboard newspapers. Shanghai, at the moment, is still in the lead in quality so far as the majority of industrial goods are concerned. But it can't afford to be complacent. It is already falling behind in a number of lines. Tientsin and Canton are proving themselves to be formidable competitors. The former has forged ahead in tanned leather, printing ink, bicycles, cotton yarn, and the latter, in sewing machines, knitwear, batteries and several other goods. Some smaller cities are coming on fast. Luchow produces better cellulose and Nanhui, better stockings than Shanghai, though a few years ago you couldn't find them on the industrial map of China. But these changes are not surprising when you know that in recent years, many cities have sent technicians to study Shanghai industrial methods and techniques. Among the most frequent visitors were men and women from Tientsin and Canton. Shanghai factories did their best to pass on all they knew to their visitors. Now it is their turn to learn from their pupils. Groups of technicians from Shanghai's textile and machine-building industries are preparing to visit the north-eastern provinces and Tientsin.

* * *

Accent on Advance

Fifty-four state-owned factories and mines in Peking are in competition to outstrip the most advanced norms in their line of work. The Changhsintien Locomotive and Wagon Repair Works is the pace setter of this movement. This year, it plans to repair 44 per cent more locomotives and 33 per cent more passenger carriages and cut costs at the same time. Technicians sent to other plants found that while the cost of overhauling a locomotive was 28,000 yuan at Changhsintien, it was only 21,000 yuan at the Mutanchiang Works in Heilungkiang Province; and that repairs on a locomotive that took 16.8 days at Changhsintien could be done at the Chishuyen Works in Kiangsu Province in only 14.8 days. The Changhsintien men studied the methods of these other works and adopted them to their own plant. The upshot was that within a single month, they cut the time needed to overhaul a locomotive to less than that at Chishuyen which had previously held the national lead in this work. Changhsintien also moved from third, sixth and fifth places respectively to first place in the time required for overhaul of passenger carriages, in achieving the lowest costs for overhauling wooden passenger carriages and repairing steel passenger carriages.

* * *

Worker-Peasant Alliance in Action

In order to help the peasants fulfil the National Programme for Agricultural Development ahead of schedule, 65 factories and handicraft co-operatives in Heilungkiang Province recently sent out a joint suggestion to all the industrial enterprises in the province to establish connections with one or more agricultural co-operatives and help them in at least one special undertaking; they could help them repair farm implements and machinery, train technicians and give a hand in transport and field work.

This type of relationship between urban enterprises and farm co-ops is not new. The Harbin Cement Works, for instance, has had similar ties with the nearby Minfu Farm Co-operative for some time. It helped the co-op install a small mill, electric lights and telephone and build a club house. During last year's flood the works sent boats to save vegetables from inundated fields. The works' clinic is always available to the co-op's members. In return, the Minfu Co-operative has supplied the cement works with fresh vegetables and helped cart raw materials. When straw, needed to protect the pump supplying water to the works, was not available on the market, the farm co-op immediately came to the rescue with 5,000 kilogrammes of straw out of its own stock. The common goal of socialist construction forges firm ties between workers and peasants.

Emulation in support of agriculture is rapidly becoming a nation-wide movement.

With a peasant delegation up for the occasion, the No. 201 Plant in Wuhan recently signed an undertaking to support the peasants of Hanchuan County in their efforts for a "leap forward" in agricultural production. It will set aside 10,000 work hours to repair farm implements. A five-man team of skilled workers will go to the villages for this purpose; more than 1,000 farm implements bought out of the plant's bonuses will be presented to the peasants.

Workers of the No. 201 Plant, challenging their peasant brothers to a friendly competition in socialist construction, have pledged themselves to increase the proportion of first rate jobs they do to 96.7 per cent, or 6.7 per cent in excess of the original plan, cut costs by one million yuan and pay into the slate treasury a profit 33 per cent bigger than planned.

* * *

In the Countryside

This winter has seen an unprecedented effort to dig ditches, build dams, dykes and other water conservancy works in the rural areas. The peasants are working as if they were determined to make an end of their old enemies flood and drought at one blow. Peasants in the Tinghsi Administrative Area, Kansu, put their declaration of intent in heroic terms: "Our will in this fight is harder than the rocks; we'll take the mountain-tops in our stride!"

The national target for newly irrigated land for the 12 months ending September 1958 was twice revised upward, but already in January, the last target set - 92,210,000 mou - was reached and left behind. By February 20, the total for newly irrigated land was already far beyond this - 165,568,000 mou. A few provinces reached their September targets by January 10, but Anhwei, one of the leaders in this field, completed its plan of 800 million cubic metres of earthwork by December last year, nine months ahead of schedule. The Anhwei peasants added another 800 million cubic metres to the plan and this too was promptly completed by January 23. So a third quota of 800 million cubic metres was added. This in turn was completed by February 25. Such enthusiasm is catching; those still "lagging" are putting on a spurt to catch up.

Every ten days the Peking Renmin Ribao (People's Daily) gives an eagerly studied round-up of the situation, with the plan of each province, the actual work done and other relevant data. This tells each province where it stands in relation to others.

By January 10, six of the 24 provinces on the list had already passed their original targets for expanding the irrigated area, but another six had completed less than one-third of their plans. Forty days later 19 had over-fulfilled their plans, and seven of them had surpassed their original targets by at least 100 per cent.

Practically every province has raised its original targets. Honan increased its plan from 20 million mou to 43 million mou. It is one of the leading provinces, a position it has held consistently since the start. Kiangsu and Shansi have new plans which are 3.5 and 4.8 times respectively as large as their original targets.

* * *

Liling, the first county in Hunan that raised 802 catties of grain per mou in 1957, sent messages to Hsiaokan and Hungan, two leading counties in Hupeh Province, proposing a socialist emulation to see who can raise a thousand catties from each mou this year. The challenge was accepted. Hungan undertook to reach the target though this meant reaping 29 per cent more grain than last year; Hsiaokan, on its part, said it planned to harvest an average of 1,200 catties in general and 2,000 catties on 70,000 mou of its land. The Hsiaokan peasants answered in the style that befits a doughty co-op county. "Liling wants to overtake us, we'll accept that challenge. But we warn you: If you run, we'll fly!"

Though the co-ops did pretty well with their last year's crops, they are planning to do even better this year. The 1967 grain target for areas north of the Yellow River, according to the 12-year agricultural programme, is 400 catties per mou. But many co-ops in these areas are planning to reach the target set for areas south of the Yellow River (500 catties per mou) or even for those south of the Yangtse (800 catties per mou).

The Gold Star Co-op in Shansi passed the 400 catty target in 1957. Now it plans to "cross the Yellow River this year, cross the Yangtse River in five years and gather 1,000 catties per mou in eight years." This may sound over-bold but members of the co-op are sure they can do it.

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