The Great Leap Forward of the People's Republic of China (PRC) was an economic and social campaign of the Communist Party of China (CPC), reflected in planning decisions from 1958 to 1961
The years of the Great Leap Forward in fact saw economic regression,
In October 1949 after the defeat of the Kuomintang, the Chinese Communist Party proclaimed the establishment of the People's Republic of China. Immediately, landlords and wealthier peasants had their land holdings forcibly redistributed to poorer peasants. In the agricultural sectors,
By 1958, however, private ownership was entirely abolished and households all over China were forced into state-operated communes. Mao insisted that the communes must produce more grain for the cities
Besides these economic changes, the Party implemented major social changes in the countryside including the banishing of all religious and mystic institutions and ceremonies and replacing them with political meetings and propaganda sessions.
The ban on private holdings ruined peasant life at its most basic level, according to Mirsky. Villagers were unable to secure enough food to go on living, because the traditional means of being able to rent, sell, or use their land as collateral for loans was deprived of them by the commune system. In one village, once the commune was operational the Party boss and his colleagues "swung into manic action, herding villagers into the fields to sleep and to work intolerable hours, and forcing them to walk, starving, to distant additional projects.
Sichuan, one of China's most populous provinces, known in China as "Heaven's Granary" because of its fertility, is thought to have suffered the greatest absolute numbers of deaths from starvation due to the vigor with which provincial leader Li Jinquan undertook Mao's reforms. During the Great Leap Forward, cases of cannibalism also occurred in the parts of China that were severely affected by famine.
Yang uncovered that some 22 million tons of grain was held in public granaries at the height of the famine,
The Revolution was launched in May 1966. Mao alleged that bourgeois elements were infiltrating the government and society at large, aiming to restore capitalism. He insisted that these "revisionists" be removed through violent class struggle. China's youth responded to Mao's appeal by forming Red Guard groups around the country. The movement spread into the military, urban workers, and the Communist Party leadership itself. It resulted in widespread factional struggles in all walks of life. In the top leadership, it led to a mass purge of senior officials who were accused of taking a "capitalist road",
A large segment of the population was forcibly displaced, most notably the transfer of urban youth to rural regions during the Down to the Countryside Movement.
The Down to the Countryside Movement was a policy instituted in the People's Republic of China in the late 1960s and early 1970s. As a result of the anti-bourgeois thinking prevalent during the Cultural Revolution, Mao Zedong declared certain privileged urban youth would be sent to mountainous areas or farming villages in order to learn from the workers and farmers there.
The Rusticated Youth of China is a term used in the People's Republic of China to refer to a young person who had received a high level of education, especially those who, beginning in the 1950s until the end of the Cultural Revolution, willingly or under coercion, left the urban areas and were rusticated to rural areas to assume peasant lives.
The Great Leap ended in catastrophe, resulting in tens of millions of excess deaths. Estimates of the death toll range from 18 million to 45 million, with estimates by demographic specialists ranging from 18 million to 32.5 million. Historian Frank Dikötter asserts that "coercion, terror, and systematic violence were the very foundation of the Great Leap Forward" and it "motivated one of the most deadly mass killings of human history."