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The Third Front: Defence Industrialization in the Chinese Interior*

  • Barry Naughton


Between 1964 and 1971 China carried out a massive programme of investment in the remote regions of south-western and western China. This development programme – called “the Third Front” – envisaged the creation of a huge self-sufficient industrial base area to serve as a strategic reserve in the event of China being drawn into war. Reflecting its primarily military orientation, the programme was considered top secret for many years; recent Chinese articles have discussed the huge costs and legacy of problems associated with the programme, but these discussions have been oblique and anecdotal, and no systematic appraisal has ever been published.2 Since Chinese analysts have avoided discussion of the Third Front, western accounts of China's development have also given it inadequate emphasis, and it has not been incorporated into our understanding of China during the 1960s and 1970s. It is common to assume that the “Cultural Revolution decade” was dominated by domestic political conflict, and characterized by an economic system made dysfunctional by excessive politicization, fragmented control, and an emphasis on small-scale locally self-sufficient development. The Third Front, however, was a purposive, large-scale, centrally-directed programme of development carried out in response to a perceived external threat with the broad support of China's national leaders. Moreover, this programme was immensely costly, having a negative impact on China's economic development that was certainly more far-reaching than the disruption of the Cultural Revolution.



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1. “Instructions given upon hearing Gu Mu and Yu Qiuli report on planning work,” Mao Zedong sixiang wansui, p. 606.

2. For example, Zhipei, Huang, “Discussing some problems in the construction of industry in inland areas,” Jingji guanli (Economic Management), No. 5 (1979), pp. 1415, 24, and Donghsheng, Chen, “An exploration of the theories and methods of industrial location,” Jingji wenti tansuo (Exploration of Economic Problems), No. 2 (1980), pp. 717. The term “third front” (sanxian) is often translated as “third line” or “third rank,” but, as this article will make clear, the term has a military connotation that should be retained in the translation.

3. Hu Hua (vice-chairman, Department of Party History, People's University), “The Chinese Communist Party in the early 1960s,” public lecture, Centre for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, 21 May 1987. Lin's speech has never been published. Professor Hu stated that, in his opinion, Lin was merely conveying Mao's strategic views, and was not presenting an independent point of view.

4. Weizhong, Fang (chief ed.) Zhonghua renmin gongheguo jingji dashiji 1949–1980 (Economic Chronology of the People's Republic of China) (Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue, 1984), p. 374. According to Xu Yi, in the original Third Five Year Plan, 70% of investment was to go into coastal areas, 20% to inland regions, and 10% to “intermediate” areas. “On the relation between system and production structure,” reprinted in Renmin daxue fuyin baokan ziliao: guomin jingji yu jihua (People's University Reprints: National Economy and Plan), No. 4 (1981), p. 57.

5. Weizhong, Fang, Economic Chronology, p. 378; Party History Research Room, Chinese Communist Party, Zhonggong dangshi dashi nianbiao (Chronology of Major Events in Chinese Communist Party History) (Beijing: Renmin, 1987), p. 333.

6. See Kahin, George McT., Intervention: How America Became Involved in Vietnam (New York: Knopf, 1986), pp. 219–25 and passim, for discussion of this incident.

7. Weizhong, Fang, Economic Chronology, p. 379.

8. Ibid. p. 408.

9. Chongqing military industry was explicitly given priority in the 1965 and 1966 plans. ibid. p. 385 and passim.

10. Weigang, Qiu and Hui, Yi, “Third Front enterprises should be brought into full play,” Jingji yanjiu cankao ziliao (Economic Research Reference Materials), No. 51 (1982), pp. 3645; Guizhou nianjian 1985 (Guizhou Yearbook) (Guiyang: Guizhou renmin, 1985), pp. 162, 488–89, 492, 520; Zhongguo qiye guanti baike quanshu (Encyclopedia of Chinese Enterprise Management) (Beijing: Jingji guanli, 1985), p. 98; Guizhou sheng renkou (chugao) (Guizhou Population (Draft)) (Guiyang: n.p., 1986), pp. 196–99.

11. Over 500 million yuan had been invested in this plant by 1983, Xiandai zhongguo de yibaixiang jianshe (100 Construction Projects of Contemporary China) (Beijing: Hongqi, 1985), pp. 230–35.

12. Zhongguo dabaike quanshu: kuangye (Encylopedia Sinica: Mining and Metallurgy), pp. 500, 591; Xinheng, Cui et al. (eds), Sichuan chengshi jingji (Urban Economies of Sichuan) (Chengdu: Sichuan kexue jishu, 1985), pp. 145–46.

13. Xinhua reports, Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS), 30 11 1978, p. J3; 16 April 1979, p. Q1–2; Ministry of Metallurgy, “Development of the steel industry,” Guanghui de chengjiu (Glorious Accomplishment) (Beijing: Renmin, 1984), Vol. I, pp. 252–53; Taihe, Zhou (chief ed.), Dangdai zhongguo de jingji tizhi gaige (Economic System Reform in Modern China) (Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue, 1984), pp. 346–47.

14. Taihe, Zhou, Economic System Reform, p. 591; Guizhou jingji shouce (Guizhou Economic Handbook) (Guiyang: Guizhou renmin, 1984), pp. 202203, 212; Guizhou nianjian 1985, p. 542.

15. Guizhou nianjian 1985, pp. 162, 542; 100 Projects, pp. 119–22.

16. Taihe, Zhou, Economic System Reform, p. 346; 100 Projects, p. 121; Guizhou jingji shouce, p. 500, which gives the value of fixed assets at the coal mines in the 1980s as 1·028 billion yuan. Usually it takes about 1·5 yuan of investment to create 1 yuan of fixed assets.

17. Huiqin, Chen, “A preliminary analysis of the economic efficiency of imported technology over 30 Years,” Gongye jingji guanli congkan (Industrial Economic Management Digest), No. 5 (1981), pp. 4454; According to the Zhongguo gangtie gongye nianjian (Steel Industry Yearbook), 1986, p. 537, cumulative investment in this plant amounted to 627 million yuan.

18. The Deyang No. 2 Heavy Machinery Plant and Dongfang Electric Generator Plant (also in Deyang) were given priority in the 1966 plan. Weizhong, Fang, Economic Chronology, p. 399; Xinheng, Cui et al. , Urban Economics of Sichuan, p. 177. The Dongfang Turbine Factory in Deyang, and the Dongfang Boiler Factory in Zigong make up the rest of the complex: Weigang, Qiu and Hui, Yi “Third Front enterprises”; Renmin ribao (People's Daily) (overseas edit.), 15 05 1986.

19. Jingzhi, Sun (ed.), Zhongguo jingji dili gailun (Outline of China's Economic Geography) (Beijing: Shangwu yinshuguan, 1983), p. 94.

20. The Luoyang-Yangtze line (called the Jiaozuo-Zhicheng line after its actual endpoints) was subsequently extended to Nanning in Guangxi, . Xianggang jingji nianjian (Hong Kong Economic Yearbook), 1976, p. 31; Mengbo, Li and Senmu, Lin, “How to interpret the idea of concentrating forces to fight a battle of annihilation in capital construction,” Jingji guanti, No. 2 (1981), p. 35; Guizhou nianjian 1985, p. 542; 100 Projects, pp. 125–26.

21. Hubei Electric Power Industry Office, “Rapid growth of the power industry,” in Hubei 35 Nian (Hubei Over 35 Years) (Wuhan: Hubei Renmin, 1984), pp. 6162; Lieberthal, K. and Oksenberg, M., Bureaucratic Politics and Chinese Energy Development (Washington, D.C.: Department of Commerce, 1986), pp. 267, 285–86; “Draw on the successful reconstruction of Sanmenxia in future construction of water conservancy projects,” Renmin ribao (overseas edit.), 5 07 1986.

22. Lieberthal, and Oksenberg, , Bureaucratic Politics, pp. 290–92; Weizhong, Fang, Economic Chronology, p. 472.

23. The No. 2 Automobile Factory, “A new automotive production base,” in Hubei Over 35 Years, pp. 178–84.

24. Hubei Petrochemical Industry Office, “Rapid development of the chemical industry,” Hubei Over 35 Years, p. 109; The Hanjiang Tool Factory and the Hanjiang Machine Tool Factory (moved from Shanghai) are both located in the mountains outside Hanzhong in southern Shaanxi. Weigang, Qiu and Hui, Yi, “Third Front enterprises.” 100 Projects, p. 375. In Hubei, the Red Flag Electric Cable Factory and the Xiangyang Bearing Factory (one of the biggest in the country) were constructed at this time. Hubei Machinery Industry Office, “Big accomplishments of the machinery industry,” Hubei Over 35 Years, pp. 8990; Henan Machinery and Electronics Office, “Henan electronic industry advancing,” in Zhongzhou yicai (The Heartland's New Appearance) (n.p.: Henan renmin, 1984), p. 62.

25. According to the Ministry of Nuclear Industry, “The creation and development of a nuclear industry in our country,” in Guanghui de chengjiu, Vol. I, p. 287, “In order to ameliorate the strategic distribution of the nuclear industry, we began in 1966 to construct a nuclear industry rear base area, which was progressively put into production around 1970.” This may refer to the western Hunan/south-west Hubei region, but that project may have been abandoned due to the remoteness of the location. No official confirmation exists.

26. Jencks, Harlan, From Muskets to Missiles: Politics and Professionalism in the Chinese Army, 1945–1981 (Boulder: Westview, 1982), p. 196.

27. Gansu renkou (The Population of Gansu) (Lanzhou: n.p., 1986), pp. 191–93; Weizhong, FangEconomic Chronology, pp. 385, 391.

28. Qinghai 35 Nian (Qinghai Over 35 Years) (Xining: Qinghai renmin, 1985), pp. 4546; Weigang, Qiu and Hui, Yi “Third Front enterprises”; 100 Projects, pp. 38. The dam cost a total of 638 million yuan; Gansu renkou, pp. 194–95.

29. Aluminum smelting in particular demands ample and stable supplies of electricity and has obvious military applications in aircraft and aerospace production. There are currently three major aluminum smelters in Gansu and Ningxia, presumably built in tandem with the Liujiaxia dam. Jingzhi, Sun, China's Economic Geography, p. 166.

30. Gansu renkou, p. 195; The Hailin Bearing Factory was situated 80 km. from Tianshui, in a place where the water turned out to be contaminated, and drinking water has had to be transported by lorry ever since. Weigang, Qiu and Hui, Yi, “Third Front enterprises,” 35 Years of Qinghai, pp. 4546.

31. Gansu renkou, pp. 195–96; Guizhou jingji shouce, pp. 203, 212–13; Guizhou nianjian 1985, pp. 500501. Production of heavy industrial goods declined sharply in Guizhou between 1971 and 1973, with steel output declining especially rapidly. See Guizhou jingji shouce, pp. 180, 190.

32. For a discussion of the broader economic context of the Third Front period, see Naughton, Barry, “The economy of the Cultural Revolution: military preparation, decentralization, and leaps forward,” presented to Conference on New Perspectives on the Cultural Revolution, Fairbank Centre, Harvard University, 16 May 1987. Conference papers are forthcoming from Harvard University Press in a volume edited by William Joseph, Christine Wong and David Zweig.

33. A good account of this episode is in Suinian, Liu and Qungan, Wu, Zhongguo shehuizhuyi jingji jianshi (An Outline History of China's Socialist Economy) (Harbin: Heilongjiang renmin, 1985), pp. 383–93.

34. See e.g., Ziyang, Zhao (then Party head in Sichuan), “Raise ourselves to an all out effort to speed up the construction of Sichuan,” Hongqi (Red Flag), No. 1 (1978), transl. in Shambaugh, David (ed.), “Zhao Ziyang's Sichuan experience: blueprint for a nation,” Chinese Law and Government, Vol. 15, No. 1 (Spring 1982), pp. 15, 2023. Zhao makes repeated references to Sichuan's importance as a strategic rear base area.

35. Huiqin, Chen, “A preliminary analysis,” pp. 5054.

36. 100 Projects, pp. 10, 1520.

37. Huiqin, Chen, “A preliminary analysis,” pp. 5054.

38. Shirong, Xie, “Military industries must be brought fully into play,” Jingji yanjiu cankao ziliao, No. 59 (1981), p. 33.

39. Dunjin, Chen, “A few opinions on bank loans or allocations for capital construction,” in Jingji yanjiu editorial board (ed.), Guanyu woguo jingji guanti tizhi gaige de tantao (An Exploration of Economic System Reform in Our Country) (Jinan: Shandong renmin, 1980), p. 151.

40. Zhengduo, Lu et al. , “The economic disruption of the 10 years of chaos,” Jingji yanjiu ziliao, No. 3 (1981), pp. 1113; Weigang, Qiu and Hui, Yi “Third Front enterprises.”

41. Changqing, Zhou, “Bring into play the function of Third Front enterprises, adjust and reform the geographic distribution well,” Jingji ribao (Economics Daily), 28 10 1985, p. 2; “Enterprises in the deep mountains and old forests are starting to move out,” Shijie Jingji daobao (World Economic Herald), 18 11 1985, p. 3.

42. Changqing, Zhou, “Function of Third Front enterprises,” p. 2.

43. 1985 Hubei tongji nianjian, p. 246; interview with responsible person at Wuhan Municipal Planning Commission conducted by Dorothy Solinger, November 1984. I am indebted to Professor Solinger for sharing the data on investment in Wuhan with me.

44. Jingzhi, Sun (ed.), China's Economic Geography, p. 94. In Sichuan, we have figures for industrial investment by Five-Year Plan periods. Sichuan made up the following percentages of national total (industrial) investment: 1963–65: 7·5% (9·1%); Third Plan: 13·3% (14·6%); Fourth Plan: 7·9% (9·8%), Sichuan tongji nianjian 1983, pp. 188–89.

45. Weizhong, Fang, Economic Chronology, p. 389; Dehuai, Peng, Memoirs of a Chinese Marshal (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1984), p. 523; Guizhou jingji shouce, p. 212; Party History Research Room, p. 338.

46. Ling, Lin and Chongzhang, Gu, “The course of economic restructuring in Sichuan province,” Social Sciences in China, Spring 1985, pp. 187–89. (This is a translation of the chapter on Sichuan in Taihe, Zhou, Economic System Reform; Guizhou jingji shouce, p. 212.)

47. Ling, Lin and Chongzhang, Gu, “The course of economic restructuring,” p. 185.

48. Jian, Zhao and Kexun, Liu, “The twisted path of development of the steel industry,” Jingji yanjiu ziliao, No. 7 (1981), pp. 34; Weizhong, FangEconomic Chronology, pp. 385, 433, 442; “Anhui and Shanghai remake ‘small Third Front’ enterprises,” Renmin ribao, 10 03 1987, p. 2. Southern Anhui was the initial Third Front region designated for Shanghai by Lin Biao in 1961.

49. Including military production capacity. See Blaker, James, “The production of conventional weapons,” in Whitson, William (ed.), The Military and Political Power in China in the 1970s (New York: Praeger, 1973), pp. 219–25.

50. It will be recalled that the Third Front strategy was originally advanced by Lin Biao as a response to a threat to Shanghai. Moreover, the division of the country into “first” and “second” fronts, with these urban areas in the first front, clearly shows the direction from which attack was most feared. This interpretation was confirmed by Hu Hua, loc. cit.

51. On the United States, see Oksenberg, Michel, “The dynamics of the Sino-American relationship,” in Solomon, Richard (ed.), The China Factor (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1981), p. 63; on the Soviet Union, see Segal, Gerald, Defending China (London: Oxford University Press, 1985), pp. 176–96; Kissinger, Henry, White House Years (Boston: Little, Brown, 1979), pp. 183–85.

52. Suinian, Liu and Qungan, Wu, “An outline history,” pp. 316–17.

53. Wich, Richard, “Chinese allies and adversaries,” in Whitson, (ed.), Military and Political Power in China, pp. 297–99; Zagoria, Donald S., Vietnam Triangle: Moscow, Peking, Hanoi (New York: Pegasus, 1967), pp. 42–25.

54. Luo is seen as “more sensitive to American actions in Vietnam,” and demanding a “crash program of defense preparations,” which was resisted by Mao and Lin, in Harding, Harry, “The making of Chinese military policy,” in Whitson, (ed.), Military and Political Power in China, pp. 371, 373; or as “calling for greater defence expenditure” by Segal, Gerald, Defending China, p. 169. A similar view is presented in the chapter by Harding and Gurtov in Gurtov, Melvin and Hwang, Byong-Moo, China Under Threat (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1980), pp. 181–82. In some versions, Luo also advocated renewed co-operation with the Soviet Union. Donald Zagoria sees Luo as a “hawk” who opposed both a group of “doves” advocating all-around reduction of tensions, and an intermediate group represented by Mao, and Biao, Lin, Zagoria, , Vietnam Triangle, pp. 7083. See also Ahn, Byung-joon, Chinese Politics and the Cultural Revolution (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1976), pp. 186–90, 203204.

55. Throughout 1965 and early 1966, Chineses spokesmen – such as Chen Yi and Zhou Enlai – repeatedly alluded to the American threat, and repeatedly stated that they were ready to meet it. Hong Kong, Wen hui bao of 27 01, 1966, said, “an early war, and a large-scale war between China and the United States seems to be inevitable.” See the classic analysis of this entire period in Whiting, Allen S., The Chinese Calculus of Deterrance (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1975), pp. 175–94. The evidence of the Third Front is entirely consistent with Whiting's careful discussion of Chinese behaviour. On the importance of Chinese material aid to Vietnam, see also Jencks, , Muskets to Missiles, pp. 62, 146.

56. Renmin ribao, 10 12 1980, transl, in FBIS, 14 12, 1978, pp. E25.

57. Hu Hua, loc. cit.

58. The “low tech” image of people's war is reinforced by colourful statements by Mao about the importance of the human factor and the impotence of modern nuclear weapons. In one such statement, Mao also displayed his personal commitment to the Third Front strategy: “If there are difficulties, we must try to overcome them; if funds are insufficient, use my salary; if there is no road, we can ride a donkey to get there.” Cited by Zhao Ziyang, “Raise ourselves to an all out effort,” transl, in Shambaugh, (ed.), “Zhao Ziyang's Sichuan experience,” p. 15. Lin Biao has also been quoted as calling for the “donkey-ization” (luomahua) of China's defence capabilities. But China's atomic bomb long ago showed the attention Mao paid to high technology armaments.

59. This estimate is drawn from the following pieces of information. Between 1969 and 1971 (the high point), 11% of total state investment went for armaments production. Weizhong, Fang, Economic Chronology, p. 507. 22·8% of Sichun industrial investment 1950–81 went to military industry. Sichuan shengqing, p. 251. Over one-fifth of Guizhou's industrial capital stock was in military industries in the 1980s. Guizhou nianjian 1985, p. 492.

60. For example, the crucial Magnitogorsk steel combine in the Urals were built in an area that had produced iron and shipped it to Moscow for centuries, and in the 1950s, Magnitogorsk remained the low-cost producer for the Moscow region, even after transport costs were taken into account. Cole, J. P. and German, F. C., A Geography of the USSR (London: Butterworths, 1961), pp. 2627; 123–29; 199–210. About 80% of military industry capacity (but only one-third of total industrial capacity) was in the western part of the country, and more than a third of this capacity was evacuated eastward in 1941–42. Harrison, Mark, Soviet Planning in Peace and War, 1938–1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), pp. 4862, 78; Linz, Susan J., “World War II and Soviet economic growth, 1940–1953,” and Hunter, Holland, “Successful spatial management,” both in Linz, Susan (ed.), The Impact of World War II on the Soviet Union (Totowa, N.J.: Rowman and Allanheld, 1985), pp. 13, 5354.

61. Chi, Ch'aoting, Wartime Economic Development of China (New York: Garland, [1941] 1980), Chs 1 and 2 (This edition is unpaginated.); Qishan, Wu, “Views on the conditions of Sichuan's local industry development and future directions of development,” Caijing kexue (Financial Science), No. 2 (1957), pp. 2123; Fusun, Wang, “An industrial production index for North China during the war,” Jingji pinglun (Economic Review), Vol. 2, No. 14 (01 1948), pp. 911. Sichuan's industrial output was less than 10% producers goods in 1936, and it had only 2·9% of the nation's industrial workers, and less than 1% of industrial capital. Producers goods accounted for 40% of output by 1943. After the war, most of the immigrant workers and many of the factories returned to the coast and industrial production declined substantially. A positive legacy for later Third Front development was provided, however, by extensive surveying and development planning (including the discovery of the ore deposit that is the basis for the Panzhihua complex) and a few important enterprises, such as the Chongqing steel mill.

62. Cf. Lardy, Nicholas, Economic Growth and Distribution in China (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1978); and Roll, C. and Yeh, K. C., “Balance in coastal and inland industrial development,” in U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (ed.), China: A Reassessment of the Economy (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1975), pp. 8193.

63. Dongsheng, Chen, “An exploration of our nation's industrial distribution,” Gongye jingji guanti congkan. No. 6 (1981), pp. 516; Hua, Ding and Xingguo, Wu, “Rectify the orientation of capital construction, raise the efficiency of investment,” Jingji yanjiu (Economic Research), No. 1 (1982), p. 49.

64. Weigang, Qiu and Hui, Yi “Third Front enterprises.”

65. State Construction Commission First Period Cadre Study Group, “Work according to objective laws, reform the capital construction management,” Gongye jingji guanli congkan, No. 4 (1980), p. 5.

66. 100 Projects, p. 14; “Chinese hydropower projects with over 100,000 kilowatt capacity,” Dili zhishi, No. 4 (1987), p. 12.

67. Sichuan shengqing, p. 454; 100 Projects, pp. 125–26.

68. Jian, Zhao and Kexun, Liu, “The twisted path of development,” pp. 35; Steel Industry Yearbook, pp. 537, 540 and colour plate 7. Jiuquan produced 620,000 tons of pig iron and 5,900 tons of steel in 1985; Shuicheng produced 500,000 tons of pig iron and 35,000 tons of steel.

69. Encyclopedia Sinica: Mining and Metallurgy, pp. 856, 848, and colour plate 34; Jian, Zhao and Kexun, Liu, “The twisted path of development,” p. 5; Steel Industry Yearbook 1986, p. 536.

70. Zhuoxin, Gu et al. , “Comrade Li Fuchun's enormous contribution to economic planning work,” Renmin ribao, 22 05, 1980, p. 2; Xinheng, Cui et al. , Urban Economies of Sichuan, pp. 145–46. In December 1964 the Planning Commission under Li Fuchun was replaced by a “small planning commission” under the direction of Yu Qiuli.

71. Encylopedia Sinica: Mining and Metallurgy, p. 500; Sichuan shengqing, pp. 383–84; Xinhua reports transl, in FBIS, 18 10 1983 and British Broadcasting Corporation, Summary of World Broadcasts (SWB), Part III: The Far East (FE), 7350/BII/S.

72. Dongsheng, Chen, “An exploration of the theory and methods of industrial location,” Jingji wenti tansuo, No. 2 (1980), p. 9.

73. Zhengduo, Lu et al. , “The Economic disruption of the ten years of chaos,” Jingji yanjiu ziliao, No. 3 (1981), pp. 1113.

74. State Economic Commission, Comprehensive Transport Research Institute, “How transport became a weak link in national economic development,” Gongye jingji guanti congkan, No. 4 (1981), pp. 13.

75. There are other reasons for the excess dispersion of investment resources, but the succession of uncompleted investment strategies is one important cause. Cf. Naughton, “The economy of the Cultural Revolution.”

76. Rawski, Thomas, China's Transition to Industrialism (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1980), contains an excellent discussion of these issues.

77. Zhiqiang, Hu, “We must define a strategy for developing the great south-west,” Jingjixue zhoubao (Economics Weekly), 11 08 1985, p. 2.

78. Binwen, Xu, “The east-west gap and a ‘one and a half priority’ strategy,” Jingjixue zhoubao, 21 07 1985, p. 1.

79. Fuxiang, Ge and Chunming, Wang, “A few words about technical reform at No. 2 Auto,” Zhongguo jiben jianshe (China's Capital Construction), No. 3 (1987), p. 33.

80. “New truck centre to open in Hubei,” China Daily, 3 12 1985.

81. Steel Industry Yearbook 1986, p. 547 and passim.

82. Guizhou nianjian 1985, pp. 494–95; Minxue, Liu, “Decentralizing enterprises and managing the industry,” Jingji cankao, 16 10 1985, p. 1; “Third Front enterprises set up many windows' in coastal areas,” Renmin ribao, 21 06 1987, p. 1.

83. Changqing, Zhou, “Bring into play Third Front enterprises,” p. 2; “Enterprises in the deep mountains and old forests are starting to move out,” Shijie jingji daobao, 18 11 1985, p. 3.“Adjustment and reform of our Third Front enterprises is effective,” Renmin ribao, 22 04 1987, p. 1. The manager of a brick factory in Zhejiang wrote to the newspaper to suggest that one of the Third Front factories move to the site of his factory. He had extra room, and besides could supply bricks for reconstruction: “A response to third front enterprises moving out of the deep mountains and old forests,” Shijie jingji daobao, 16 12 1985, p. 2.

84. “Anhui and Shanghai remake ‘small Third Front’ enterprises,” Renmin ribao, 10 03 1987, p. 2.

85. This point is made forcefully by Qiu Weigang and Yi Hui “Third Front enterprises.”

86. County-level industrial systems are also notoriously unprofitable. See Yue, Li and Shengchang, Chen, “The scale structure of industrial enterprises,”Social Sciences in China, No. 2 (1981), p. 55; “State moves to reduce big deficits,” China Daily, 26 10 1985, p. 2. The discussion in the text could equally well be applied to countyrun plants.

87. Sichuan ribao, 30 10 1985, p. 1; “Companies poach graduates,” China Daily, 10 09 1985, p. 3.

* This article was written while the author was a Research Fellow at the Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan. The author wishes to acknowledge financial support from the Mellon Foundation.

The Third Front: Defence Industrialization in the Chinese Interior*

  • Barry Naughton


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