Created: 2/3/1950

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the food outlook for communist china



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droughts and floods9 will cause severe famine in Chinaerious food shortages In the rural areas of poor harvestsoregone conclusion.famineommon historicalIn China, the new Communist regime will be putisadvantageous light by9 harvests with the moreharvests of recent years under theFood shortages furthermore will delay the fulfillment of Communist promises to the rural population. Peasant rebellions, although not well organized and notInspired, already have been reported In several areas. Such uprisings may be further encouraged by the [amine. Rural unrest may Impede the establishment of political andstability In China, but It cannot bea serious threat to the power of the Communist regime. Continued peasanthowever, may force the Communists to maintain larger armed forces than they had anticipated.

Despite Communist efforts to assurefood supply to key urban areas, theof shortages has tended to defeatattempts at urban price control.wage payments are geared to food prices, the famine will result Inrices of manufactured goods.

The Communists will not wish to utilize their meager foreign exchange ri sources for the purchase of food from the westIt Is also unlikely that the Communists will seriously approach the US or. other non-Communist countries for aid in meeting their current food deficits.

The Sovict-Manchurian trade pactIn9 requires the export of Manchurian foodstuffs to the USSR. In an effort to counter unfavorable Chinesehowever, the USSR might rel.ix thesefor food exports or, rnore likely, might make highly publicized token relief shipments to China.

Note. Tlie Inieillnenec organisations ol uie Departments ot state. Army, Navy ar-.fi ti ic Air Force have concurred in this report.on Urns in lor mn Don available M> CIA a* ol

esult of widespread droughts and Goodshe0 should bring an exceptionally severe famine to China. While some areas haveood harvest, others will suffer from serious food shortages, and many will face famine conditions.*

North Chinaarticularly poor crop yearut droughts and floods also cut Into harvests In many areas of Manchuria, Central China, and South China and drove millions of families from their homes. North China's production of food crops9 was aboutercent below the level of theyear, with the lower Yellow River valley and eastern Hope! hard hit by drought In early summer and floods later in the year. Other areas in China which suffered poor harvests Include the lake areas of the Central Yangtze Valley, northern Kiangsu, northern Anhwel, parts of Honan, Shansi, and Chahar. northern Manchuria and the lowsr Llao River valley of Manchuria. Because of their comparativeand Insufficient modern transportmany distressed localities will beto countufficient quantity ofor relief shipments from food surplus areas.ore detailed discussion of the areas affected, see Appendix.)

The Chinese Communists arc thus likely to be faced with peasant unresteasant rebellions, although notrganized and not ideologically Inspired, have already been reported In several areas and may be encour-

* Some light is Uirown on Die extent andof the famine threat hy recent broadcasts over the Communist radio AccordingeipingIn October, about ID million peasants In Norlh China alone had been altccled by drought, storms, Roods, and Insect posts Calamities in Manchuria and in several areas ol Central China are aOecting many millions more To meet the [amine threat, the Communists arc reportedly mobilising women and children tw the COttccUOii Ol grass under the stimulus ol such slogans as. "Mix brnn and grass to tide over (hend "Bat leaves and grass this year, then grain may be eaten nextged further by the disappointments andon living standards resulting from poor harvests. In some areas, peasant hoetlllty will take the form of passive resistance and non-ccoperaUon.ew localities resistance to increased tax burdens may take such overt forms as the murder of tax collectors and open insurrection. The Communists will have to postpone complete pacification in traditionally bandlt-rldden areas because of the high cost of policing them.

Despite such patterns of unrest It is not likely that Chinese Communist politicalwill be seriously threatened. Famineommon occurrence tn China, anddisorders are trsuiitionally focalized In character. The Communists must necessarily suffer, however, from any comparison ofharvests with those In recent years under the Nationalists; and Chinese peasants, prone to regard omens and auguries seriously, will Inevitably make the comparison. Foodwill delay both the fulfillment ofpromises to the peasantry and the agricultural programs. In order to cope with peasant unrest In and out of the bandit areas, the ComiTiumM government must keep, at somearge armed force In being which it will employ against any resistance that may develop, in their concern about feeding the urban populations, as well as theirmilitary forces, the Communists may be forced to make Increased levies on the peasantry.

8 Ibc difficulties besetting theIn bringing food to the cities wereby CRM and ECA which supplied nearly three-fourths of China's rice and the bulk of its wheal (lour imports. Wilh this assistance now cut off. the Communists must mobilize and transport supplies from thea task, however, tnat they are performing with more efficiency lhan did tho Nationalists. It il probable lhat the most serious foodIn IfifiQ will occur, not In the cities, but

In tons* rural areas which suffered poorand are relatively Isolated by tbe lack of modem transport facilities.

Some of the hardships arising from the food shortages could be alleviated throughfood Imports. Because of their meager resources in foreign exchange, however, and their determination to use this foreignas far as possible to import industrial goods, the Communists will keep food Importsinimum The Nationalist blockade. If It continues with moderate effectivenessill alsoeterrent to food Imports. It is highly improbable that the Communists willerious approach to the US or other non-Communist countries for aid In meeting their current food deficits.

Probably the most serious problems for the Communists tn the cities will be thoseprice control. Food shortage In China has tended to defeat all Communist measures to control prices. Upward pressure In the early fan9 was disguised bi part by the fact that crops currently being harvested were moving Into the cities. In part by Communist skill in collecting supplies and dumping them on the market whenever prices threat tened to rise rapidly. With supplies becoming scarcer, however, dumping has alreadyeans of controllingise In food prices is especially significant Ln China because wage payments are linked closely to the price of food; poor harvests will thus tend to increase the costs of manufacture and undermine the competitive position of such Chinese exports as textiles.

Poor harvests, furthermore, will impedeof Communist plans forWith agricultural exports necessarily reduced, Chinese ability to earn foreignwill be impaired, and foreign purchases will have to be deferred. If the reducedare directed In substantial part to the USSR at terms less favorable than offered on world markets. Chinas exchange earnings will be even further reduced

The famine0 may have some effect on Chinese relations with the USSR Under the terms of the Sovict-Manchurian trade pact concluded inanchuria Is required to ship food to the Soviet Union. Although this treaty has been publicized In the Chinese press as an example of mutually beneficial Chinese-Soviet trade, there Isof suspicion among many Chinese that the treaty actually favors the USSR at theof China. Should the USSR Insist on continuation of food shipments fromsuch suspicions would grow, and the whole Soviet policy toward China wouldsuspect among more and more Chinese. In an effort to counter unfavorable Chinese reaction, however, the USSR might relax these requirements for food exports, or, more likely, might make highly publicized token reliefto China.


crop estimates for major regions of china


Boundary revisions recently made by the Communists do not affect comparability of9 statistics for Manchuria with those for. earlier years. The majortransfer of part of Western Manchuria to the "Inner' Mongolian Autonomousnot reduce the agricultural area of the region. The provinces of Jchol, Llaohsl, Uaotung, RJrln, Sungklang, and Hellungklang are covered in the statistics for Manchuria presented below.


The following table presents estimates of crop production in Manchuria4he statistics for the period45 were published by theauthorities In Manchukuo. Currentare derived from Communist reports of unproved reliability, but independent reports from US consular officials in China on weather and crop conditions tend to corroboratecrop reporting: conditions reduced the expected yields per acre by possiblyercent. Total foodwas someercent below thepeak.

c. Factors9 Crops.

Drought In the north and floods tn the south damaged Manchurian cropsain did notirin until late July and not until early August in HeUungklang andIn the more densely populated south, where kaoliang Is the major crop, tho Uao River basin was flooded by excessive rains In late June and July. Damage to nearly aacres In Llaohsl province has been

The continued absence of normal marketing outlets has forced the Manchurian farmer to strive for self-sufficiency and forego theof specialization. The shortage of fertilizerremium on the more reliable crops such as maize and millet. In the north where farm holdings are larger, the reduced number of draft animals has added todifficulties. The end of the civil war and

acreage and yields have declined since vj.Day. Although9 acreage waswell above the previous year's, adverse improved transportation are virtually the only favorable elements in the agricultural picture


2. Norm Chlno.

Hopei, Shansl, Shensl. Kansu, Honan, and Shantung provinces are here considered as in the agricultural area of North China. Thekt dry, rainfall Is extremely variable, and crop failures with consequent famines sre


Estimates of agricultural production In North China8 are based onGovernment crop reports.9 estimates are based on Communist reports with some corroboration in the observations of US Foreign Service officers. Postwar data for

During July, August, and September, the North China plain was deluged by torrential rains, the most severe in decades. Byfloods covered one-fourth of Hopci province and much of the lower Yellow River valley. Besides damaging the current harvest and forcing millions of farmers from their land, standing water hindered sowing during the fall for next year's crop. The total darn-age was offset to some extent by such factors as Increased yields on higher land and the planting of rapidly maturing "catch" crops in drained land. The winter crops harvested In June, chiefly wheat and barley, fared only slightly better than the summer crops. Drought, hall, and Insects reduced expected yields nearlyercent.

China have been less reliable than for other regions of China proper because of the lack ol information about Communist-held territory.

A tentative estimate of9 crop In North China falls aboutercent below the previous year's total and about the samebelowverage. Most of the drop occurred In Shantung and Hopei provinces, where over half of North China's food Is grown.

c. Factors9 Crops. Most of North China was affected by drought In lhe early part of the rummer.

3. Cenlrof China, a. Area.

Central China, covering the area drained by the Yangtze River. Includes the sevenof Szechwan, Hupei, Hunan. Klangsi, Anhwel, Kiangsu, and Cheklang.

b Crop Estimates.

The crop estimates inre based on Nationalist Government reports,9 by Independent observations on weather and crop conditions.

9 production of food cropsercent below8 production.



of metric tons)

Crop Rice Wheat Barley Other groins

sweetegumesOH crops


Sweet potato tonnage Is multiplied byo obtain the approximate grain equivalent. Note: Totals eery silently from sum of figures because of rounding.

principal declines occurred in the Hooded middle Yangtze Valley provinces of Hupel, Hunan. Anhwel. and Klangsi. However, over half the crops ln the Central China region are produced In Stechwan at the westernand ln Kiangsu on the eastern.

c. Factors9 Crops.

9 summer floods were primarilyfor Ihe drop ln crop production. The complicated system of dikes (which are used extensively below the Yangtze gorges to hold the river in its course during tha summer high waters) has been deteriorating for many years, leaving Central China vulnerable to excessive spring and summer rainfall. The July floods9 covered approximately the same area Inundated In the great floodhis area included the Tungting and Poyang lakelands, the Han River plain, southern Anhwel and northern Kiangsu. Good yields, however, were obtained on higher lands. The typhoon which crossed Kiangsu In earlycaused some damage. Conditions In Szechwan were average. The politicalof Central China9 may have had some depressing effect on spring planting,there was In fact little violent

4. South Chlno.

South China Is here considered to bewangtung, Kwongsi, Kweichow. and



The crop estimates for the years8 are based on Nationalist GovernmentEstimateshich wereto make because of the lateness of the fall harvests (November) and paucity offrom the area, were derived on the basis cf tentative adjustment8 production figures on the basis of known9

rop output probably equals thetn prewar years, although It Isercent below the amount producedeature of the crop pattern in this region hashift away from rice to sweetvegetables, and vegetable oil seeds.

c Factors9 Crops.

Kwangtung and Kwangs! suffered fromfloods early in the summernd the rice crops were probablyercentesult There Is no informationon the second rice harvest ln9 Foochow In FUkien was also flooded. Upland harvests, however, were favorable, and Yunnan especially Is reported to have had a

Neither Taiwan nor the agriculturallyprovinces of Sinkiang, Tibet, and Si-kang are Included in the estimates.

b. Crop sTsflntafas.

Prewar estimates for China and Manchuria were compiled by the Chinese Nationalist and tho Japanese authoritiesst-war estimates8 were made by the NaUorialist Government for China9 crops were based on Communistof unproved reliability, weatherand other factors affecting cropand the observations In some areas of US Foreign Service officers. Communist

China excluding Manchuria: Rice Wheat Other grains Potatoes s,il crops

Total for China excludin Manchuria



PotatoulUplied byo obtain the approximate grainTbe sum of the totals prc.cnled inails short of the totals shown in Taw- * las. Includes the four border pWnees of Ti

^mhith urumportanL second, some minor

crop year. The political and military insecurity which plagued the area9 probably did not affect crop production greatly, since it was unaccompanied by much violence beyond the guerrilla and banditusual to the area.

b Estimates (or Chinahole, a. Area.

The estimates inover China proper. Manchuria, and the four border provinces of Tsinghal, Nlnghsla, Chahar, and Sulyuan.

sources were used for postwar Manchurian

estimates, c. Paefors9 Crops. Every important agricultural area except Siechwan was badly iVioded in the summerxcess water was the single moatcalamity in China. North China and Manchuria earlier In the growing season suffered severe drought and several lessersuch as hall, high winds, insect pests, and crop diseases. Military operations and Communist land reform policies had littleon spring and summer planting, although


in tbe Yangtze Valley would probably hare been less damaging if there had been no military Interference with flood control and maintenance of dikes. On the other hand, in

North China and Manchuria, the Communists have reportedly made strenuous efforts tofood production and combat natural calamities.

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