“The essential content of agrarian reform is the confiscation of the land of the landlord class for distribution as a class in society are abolished and the land ownership system of feudal exploitation is transformed into a system of peasant land ownership. This is indeed the greatest and most thorough reform in thousands of years of Chinese history.
Why should such a reform be made? In a nutshell, it is because the original land ownership system in China is extremely irrational. In general the land situation in old China is roughly as follows:
Landlords and rich peasants, who constitute less than 10 per cent of the rural population, possess approximately from 70 to 80 per cent of the land and brutally exploit the peasants by means of their land.
Poor peasants, farm laborers, middle peasants and others, however, who make up 90 per cent of the rural population, posses in all only 20 to 30 per cent of the land. They toil all the year round but can hardly have a full belly and warm back. This situation has undergone some changes in the past ten-odd years of the Anti-Japanese War and the People’s War of Liberation. Apart from the areas where agrarian reform has been carried out, land in some areas has been even further concentrated in the hands of the landlords. In Szechuan and other areas the landlords possess about 70 or 80 per cent of the land.
In other areas such as the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtse River, land ownership is somewhat dispersed. According to data obtained in our recent investigation of a number of villages in East China and Central-South China, the situation is roughly as follows:
Land owned by landlords and public land constitute 30 to 50 per cent; rich peasants possess 10 to 15 per cent of the land; middle peasants, poor peasants and farm laborers possess 30 to 40 per cent of the land and persons renting out small parcels of land possess 3 to 5 per cent of the land.
In other words 90 per cent of the rural land is cultivated by middle peasants, poor peasants and a section of the farm laborers, who own merely a part of the land, and the greater part does not belong to them. Such a situation is still very serious.
Herein lies the basic reason why our nation has become the object of aggression and oppression and has become impoverished and backward. This also constitutes the principle obstacle to our nation’s democratization, industrialization, independence, unification and prosperity. Unless we change this situation, the victory of the Chinese people’s revolution cannot be consolidated, the productive forces in the rural areas cannot be set free, the industrialization of New China cannot be realized and the people cannot enjoy the fundamental gains of the victory of the revolution.
But to change the situation, we must, as stipulated in Article 1 of the Draft Agrarian Reform law, ‘abolish the land ownership system of feudal exploitation by the landlord class and introduce the system of peasant land ownership in order to set free the productive forces in the rural areas, develop agricultural production and thus pave the way for New China’s industrialization.’ It is for this basic reason and with this basic aim that we must institute agrarian reform.
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen long ago put forward the slogan of ‘equalization of land ownership’ and, later, the slogan of ‘land to the tillers.’ The industrialization of China must rely on the vast rural markets at home. Without a thorough agrarian reform, it would be impossible to realize the industrialization of New China. This reason is too obvious to require much explanation.
However, it is still necessary at the present time to explain clearly the basic reason for and the aim of agrarian reform, because they expose the fallacy of the various reasons advanced for opposing agrarian reform, for expressing doubts about it and for justifying the landlord class. At present, in fact, opposition to and doubts about agrarian reform still remain.
We can see from the basic reason for and the aim of agrarian reform that the historical crimes committed by the landlord class in the past are rooted in the old social system. Landlords in general will only be deprived of their feudal landholdings and abolished as a social class, but they will not be physically eliminated. A small number of them on whom the people’s courts should pass sentences of death or imprisonment, comprises certain landlords guilty of heinous crimes-rural despots whose crimes are gross and whose iniquities are extreme, and those criminal elements who persistently resist agrarian reform. Therefore, it is stipulated in the Draft Agrarian Reform Law that after their land and other means of production have been confiscated, the landlords will still be given shares of land and other means of production so that they can also make a living through their own labour, and reform themselves through labor. After undergoing long-term reform through labour. After undergoing long-term reform through labour, it is possible for landlords to become new men.
This basic reason for and the aim of agrarian reform are different from the view that agrarian reform is only designed to relieve the poor people. The Communist Party has always been fighting for the interests of the laboring poor, but the viewpoints of the Communists have always been different from those of the philanthropists. The results of agrarian reform are beneficial to the impoverished laboring peasants, helping the peasants partly solve their problem of poverty. But the basic aim of agrarian reform is not purely one of relieving the poor peasants. It is designed to set free the rural productive forces from the shackles of the feudal land ownership system of the landlord class in order to develop agricultural production and thus pave the way for New China’s industrialization. The problem of poverty among the peasants can be finally solved only if agricultural production can be greatly developed, if the industrialization of New China can be realized, if the living standards of the people throughout the country can be raised and if China finally embark upon the road to Socialism. The mere carrying out of agrarian reform can only solve part, but not the whole, of the problem of the peasants poverty.
The basic reason for and the basic aim of agrarian reform are intended for production. Hence, every step in agrarian reform should in a practical way take into consideration and be closely coordinated with the development of rural production. Precisely because of this basic reason and aim, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China has proposed that rich peasant economy be preserved and protected from infringement in future agrarian reform. This is because the existence of a rich peasant economy and its development within certain limits is advantageous to the development of the people’s economy in our country. It is, therefore, also beneficial to the broad peasant masses.
This, in brief, is my explanation of why agrarian reform should be carried out.”