Do solid work, work hard, work skillfully to achieve a bigger, better and more complete Leap Forward
Artist: Wang Zhongqing
Publisher: Shanghai People's Fine Art Publishing House
Size (mm): 530x766
Condition: Very good, some light creasing, very small loss to lower left-hand corner
The Great Leap Forward campaign was commenced in 1958 with the aim of developing labour-intensive methods of industrialisation. It was hoped that China could bypass the standard, slower method of industrialisation of gradual accumulation of wealth, by using its large population. The Soviet model of industrialisation, which utilised the surplus in agricultural production to provide capital to purchase industrial machinery, had been unsuccessful in China largely because with the size of China's population there was no real agricultural surplus.
After much debate it was concluded that China could develop its agricultural and industrial sectors at the same time by changing working methods and relying on large-scale labour. Farming communes were established throughout the country, with peasants organised into brigade teams. Backyard steel furnaces were set up in every village and urban area, where any available metal object was smelted. In most cases the resulting metal was of poor quality and cracked easily, the produced result being high-carbon pig iron rather than steel.
The vast amount of irrigation projects launched during the Great Leap Forward required replacing traditional agricultural tools such as shoulder poles with carts and wheelbarrows. These needed ball bearings to operate most efficiently, which the worker in this poster can be seen producing. The hard alloy balls have to be machined extremely precisely, and their manufacture is beyond the skills of an average workshop. Workers throughout the country were encouraged through various channels to participate in the 'bearingification' drive, although the results of their labours would often have been unusable.