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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Ruins of "Great Leap Forward" Discovered

Backyard furnaces in Sunan, Gansu
Photo from Danwei.org

Read from Danwei that 159 backyard iron furnaces from the Great Leap Forward were recently discovered in Sunan County. Some were in ruins, about 50 were still intact. The smelters stand 8 meters high and upto 14 meters around.

The county government has named the ruins a protected cultural site.

In 1958 a law called on the Party and the People to strive to produce 10.7 million tons of steel. Wu Zuolai, a cultural critic and president of the journal "Theory and Criticism of Art and Literature," noted that this mass movement to produce steel also had some serious effects on the environment and culture. Whole forests were torn down to accommodate furnaces. Historical sites, such as the 2 towers of Hangu Pass that had 2000 year old inscriptions were torn down. Areas that couldn't produce sufficient steel had its people melting their own cooking pots. The result was a huge amount of unusable iron.

Ah, sacrifices "for the sake of progress."

Wu Zuolai asks readers to learn from history. It was stressed that the ruins be preserved, and not repeat the mistakes done (that is, tearing down historical artifacts) when these furnaces were constructed. Most importantly, it is recommended that the recollections of the people involved with the Great Leap Forward then be recorded, so that the current generation may learn from history.



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