Shoulder poles and bombs : grain market controls in Greater Chongqing (1949-1953)

Li, Wankun and Cathcart, Adam (2021) Shoulder poles and bombs : grain market controls in Greater Chongqing (1949-1953). The Chinese Historical Review, 28 (1). pp. 1-26. ISSN 2048-7827 (

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In the early years of the People’s Republic, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had difficulty in establishing control over grain markets. The implementation of the Unified Purchase and Sale of Grain Policy was a significant step toward this end, and part of the broader move toward collectivization that would lead to the Great Leap Forward, making it a sensitive topic for research. By focusing on the grain market and grain policies in rural Chongqing, this research shows the role of state prices management and state-owned grain companies before the grain monopoly in 1953. This paper uses material from county archives with a focus on Jiangjin County, a rural area of southern Chongqing, to show that in the early 1950s, CCP state-building policy featured not only violent mass campaigns but also utilized gradualist strategies to compete with the merchants, achieve influence, and finally control the market.