‘Buy twenty years’: Li Kangnian, class identity and the controversy over the socialization of private business in 1957

Xiao-Planes, Xiaohong. « ‘Buy twenty years’: Li Kangnian, class identity and the controversy over the socialization of private business in 1957 ». European Journal of East Asian Studies, Special issue: The Great Spoliation: The Socialist Transformation of Industry in 1950s China, 2014, 13:2, p. 214 –239.

In 1956 the Chinese authorities accomplished the socialization of private industry and commerce and handicrafts through the implementation of peaceful redemption and taking charge of the original private management personnel. In January 1957, Shanghai industrialist Li Kangnian criticized the form of the redemption. He suggested to extend from seven to twenty years the payment term of the fixed interest (dingxi) and to change the mode of payment into bank deposit receipts. His proposal provoked a lively debate in commercial and industrial circles in spring 1957. They hoped to establish their relationship with the State on a contractual basis and they rejected the pressure exerted on them in the name of class conflict and asked to obtain equal citizenship. However, these legitimate demands were severely suppressed during the Anti-rightist campaign. The CCP’s propensity to instrumentalize policies made it impossible to achieve the original intention of using precious human resources, while it led to discrimination based on class and shaped a hierarchical status society. In fact, the controversy about Li Kangnian’s proposals demonstrated a real confrontation between the patriarchal authoritarian culture of the Chinese communist party and the modern contractual culture of industrialists and merchants.

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Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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