Maos obsession with killing sparrows.

I think I’d briefly heard of this before, Mao in his infinite absurdity targeted the humble Passer domesticus in an early campaign of the Great Leap Forward. My heart bleeds for the Chinese people and what they suffered. The Great Leap Forward is much less well known compared to the Cultural Revolution  of ten years later, yet it holds manifest ills and destruction and hardship for the Chinese people. I recall reading seventy million died during four years. Maos absurd desire to develop ‘backyard’ metal smelting, his obsession with ‘deep ploughing’ – so much destruction and disharmony. Its strange how the Chinese still have his picture around. I read wiki re his sparrow extermination from initially finding tan3 kung1 tui4 which means a slingshot unit (in the sparrow extermination campaign) in a chinese-english technical dictionary: isbn 0-520-02655-1 University of California Press.

The sparrow cannot fly for longer than a minute or two therefore when the poor were ordered to continuously bang pots and pans the humble spuggie soon expired from fatigue to probably have its neck wringed. And locusts thrived.

Heres wiki:

At the direction of Chairman Mao, sparrows were killed by the peasants, causing a major ecological imbalance in the environment

At the direction of Chairman Mao, sparrows were killed by the peasants, causing a major ecological imbalance in the environment

The campaign was initiated by Mao Zedong, the first President of the People’s Republic of China. Sparrows were included on the list because they ate grain seeds, causing disruption to agriculture. Additionally, Mao was annoyed one morning when a sparrow stole his toast as he was eating breakfast outside. It was decided that all the peasants in China should bang pots and pans and run around to make the sparrows fly away in fear. Sparrow nests were torn down, eggs were broken, their nestling were also killed.[1]

Initially, the campaign did improve the harvest. By April 1960 the National Academy of Science issued that sparrows ate insects more than seeds. Mao declared “forget it” (算啦, suan la), and ordered the end of the campaign against sparrows.[1] By this time, however, it was too late. With no sparrows to eat them, locust populations ballooned, swarming the country and compounding the problems already caused by the Great Leap Forward and adverse weather conditions leading to the famine. From 1959 to 1961, an estimated 38 million people died of starvation.[2]

[edit] Other factors

It should also be noted that there were many factors aside from the out of control locust swarms at the time. One of these was the collectivization of the farmland.[citation needed]

[edit] Revived campaign

In June 19, 1998, a poster was spotted at Southwest Agricultural University in Chongqing, “Get rid of the Four Pests”. 95% of households were ordered to get rid of the same pests. Except this time, cockroaches were substituted for sparrows.[1] A similar campaign was spotted in the spring of 1998 in Beijing. This time, people did not respond to either of these campaign style approaches.[1]

[edit] Popular culture

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ a b c d Shapiro, Judith Rae. Crosby, Worster, Alfred W. [2001] (2001). Mao’s War Against Nature: Politics and the Environment in Revolutionary China. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521786800.
  2. ^ Chang and Halliday, 2005

[edit] References

[edit] See also


Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: