The theory was that plants of the same species would not compete with each other. } As Yang puts it, “I felt a responsibility to restore historical truth for others who had been deceived.” On a mission now, he traveled throughout China in the decades that followed, conducting his official business while surreptitiously consulting archives, conducting interviews, and collecting files, thousands of which he has stored with an anonymous friend in the countryside for safekeeping. In reality, they were standing on a bench concealed beneath the plants, and the "field" was again entirely composed of individually transplanted stalks. DiKotter favors a high estimate of the death toll during 4 years,between 1958-1962, some 45 million people. With this campaign, the CCP intended to outproduce Great Britain—the mother of the Industrial Revolution—while simultaneously overtaking the Soviet Union to become leader of the emerging communist world. After taking power in 1949, the Chinese Communist Party achieved success with modest centralizing reforms and programs, but as Mao’s vision for China became ever more ambitious, his goals outstripped reality. However, in shallow soil, useless rocks, soil, and sand were driven up instead, burying the fertile topsoil and severely stunting seedling growth. In addition to claiming more than 45 million lives, it also led to the destruction of agriculture, industry, trade, and every aspect of human life, leaving large parts of the Chinese countryside scarred forever by human-created environmental disasters. During the "Boluan Fanzheng" period in June 1981, the Communist Party of China (CPC) officially changed the name to "Three Years of Difficulty", and stated that the famine was mainly due to the mistakes of the Great Leap Forward as well as the Anti-Rightist Campaign, in addition to some natural disasters and the Sino-Soviet split.  On the other hand, historian Frank Dikötter has argued that most floods during the famine were not due to unusual weather, but to massive, poorly planned and poorly executed irrigation works which were part of the Great Leap Forward. In the years between 1961 and 1964, 20 million state workers and 17 million urban high school students were sent to the countryside for �re-education� by participating in agricultural production. Once the exaggerations of crop yields from the Mass Line were reported, "no one dared to 'dash cold water'" on further reports. During the famine, however, most urban residents were protected from starvation at the expense of possibly 30 million deaths in the rural areas. AAS Secretariat staff are working remotely due to CDC guidelines regarding COVID-19.  In 1961, the weather improved slightly.. Taking away all means of private food production (in some places even cooking utensils), forcing peasants into mismanaged communes, and continuing food exports were the worst acts of commission. The famine had overwhelmingly ideological causes, rating alongside the two world wars as a prime example of what Richard Rhodes labelled public manmade death, perhaps the most overlooked cause of 20th century mortality. Along with collectivization, the central government decreed several changes in agricultural techniques that would be based on the ideas of later-discredited Russian agronomist Trofim Lysenko. In general, the story Yang relates is not new to those familiar with modern Chinese history. Peng Xizhe, "Demographic Consequences of the Great Leap Forward in China's Provinces".  Some of the works such as the Red Flag Canal made positive contributions to irrigation, but researchers have pointed out that the massive hydraulic construction project led to many deaths due to starvation, epidemics and drowning, for instances, which contributed to the famine. From this experience comes the title of his book and the resolve that drives him to uncover why it happened, both for his father and the other millions of his countrymen with similarly tragic stories to tell.  Yang claimed that he investigated other sources including a non-government archive of meteorological data from 350 weather stations across China, and the droughts, floods, and temperatures during 1958–1961 were within the typical patterns for China. DiKotter shows very well that the famine and its accompanying events go well beyond simple criminal negligence. , Jiangxi encountered a situation almost opposite to that of Anhui. In 1984, Liang Heng shared his story as a youth growing up in Mao’s China in Son of the Revolution, and in the following decade, Jung Chang did the same in Wild Swans, as did well-known dissident and human rights advocate Wei Jingsheng in his translated autobiography.  Liu was persecuted to death in 1969. At that time, many rightists were removed from their posts and sent to the countryside for re-education.
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