Beijing unleashes crusade against local businesses
Back in 1957, China’s government launched the economic and social campaign entitled the Great Leap Forward. At the landmark assembly of the ruling Communist party, Chairman Mao Zedong overhauled the principles of the national economy. So, the supreme leader set the goal to transfer industries to the countryside and imposed the roadmap for improving domestic agriculture. One of the extravagant decisions was to destroy birds that would make China’s agriculture flourish.
Chinese villagers rushed to obey these guidelines and embarked on a crusade against country birds with the focus on sparrows as they fueled the deepest anger of the Communist leader. Indeed, tiny sparrows were mainly to blame for hurting agricultural produce. Rural people were involved in the fight against poor birds. Women, the older generation, and even schoolchildren who were released from lessons were equipped with slingshots. Fervently, they used to shoot down myriads of birds and ruin their nests. The nationwide zeal brought fruit. During the year of the crusade, villagers killed almost two billion sparrows. The Chinese were fiercely proud of their concerted efforts and celebrated a victory. TV presenters reported on remarkable achievements in the Great Leap. In 1959, farmers indeed grew humongous crops but at the same time were caught off-guard by a huge influx of caterpillars, locusts, greenflies, and other insects. Just a year later in 1960, crop pests multiplied to such an extent that they covered all field space around the country. Farmers could not recognize what kind of cereals insects were devouring.
Chinese officials were at a loss about the polar opposite effect. With the same patriotic fervor, schoolchildren and factory workers were again directed to help farmers but this time to gather caterpillars. However, all efforts were in vain. Due to rapid reproduction, insects ate up all agricultural produce and spread over to destroy forests. The Great Leap entailed severe famine which, according to cautious estimates, resulted in 30 million deaths. The Chinese authorities were forced to search for help in other countries. Beijing requested the Soviet Union and Canada to urgently provide Chinese farmers with birds.
At present, history repeats itself. The authorities have declared war against domestic businesses. Lots of local successful entrepreneurs have come under scrutiny and are now facing lawsuits. Meanwhile, it is hard to predict the outcome of this unreasonable standoff. Perhaps Beijing will have to apply to Russia and Canada again, requesting them to delegate their managers.