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Famine Politics in Maoist China and the Soviet Union$
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Felix Wemheuer

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780300195811

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300195811.001.0001

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Protecting the Cities, Fighting for Survival of the Regime

Protecting the Cities, Fighting for Survival of the Regime

(p.62) 2 Protecting the Cities, Fighting for Survival of the Regime
Famine Politics in Maoist China and the Soviet Union

Felix Wemheuer

Yale University Press

This chapter shows that the Soviet and Chinese governments protected the cities at the expense of the rural population during the famines. It first explains how and why the Chinese and Soviet governments protected the important industrial and administrative cities during the famines. Food in some cities was provided by the central government while other cities had to get grain from the countryside on their own. In both countries, internal passports were established to stop rural-urban migration, but enforcement of this policy was not effective during the famines, as the urban population continued to grow disproportionately and put greater pressure on the supply system. The supreme leaders considered the famines a challenge to the very survival of their regimes. It is shown that their experience during the civil wars, coupled with an external war threat, contributed to their decisions to save the urban population from mass starvation.

Keywords:   China, Soviet Union, famines, industrial cities, urban population

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