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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: August 2019

3 - The Unplanned Economy


Chapter Three focuses on how the network of connections established by the sent-down youth movement provided rural leaders a way of bypassing state planning policies to obtain directly from Shanghai materials and equipment they desperately needed to establish small local industries. At a time when state planning policies favored large industrial centers such as Shanghai, most remote rural counties had almost no way to acquire resources, in spite of Mao’s advocacy of rural industry. Were it not for the sent-down youth movement, these county leaders would have had no connection to Shanghai, nor would agencies in Shanghai have had reasons to donate materials to places unfamiliar and irrelevant to them. Now, when rural local leaders issued requests for equipment, officials in Shanghai hustled to identify bureaus that could satisfy them, as the otherwise far more powerful Shanghai municipal government found itself dependent on small and peripheral local governments to take care of the city’s youth.