Maoist Village Embraces GMOs

The Chinese village of Nanjie is a half-socialist holdout where "villagers still lead a collective life as they did decades ago, sing revolutionary songs and chant Mao slogans every day." It appears to be much more prosperous than its market-oriented neighbors; this 1999 New York Times article notes the "spacious, well-equipped schools" and free vacations for model workers. Alas:

While the rest of the country abandoned the commune, pursued personal fortunes and dismantled state industries, the village of Nanjie in central China renationalised its land, set up factories and paid all residents £20 a month. Advertising was banned and instead, propaganda banners hung in streets which led to a 30ft statue of Mao built in 1993.

Unfortunately, few of the visitors were accountants. In the past two months, newspapers in Hong Kong and Guangzhou have unravelled a tale of Enron-style woe.

The village's triumphs were built on £120 million of secret loans from the Agricultural Bank of China, which is now calling in its loans as it prepares to list its shares on the Hong Kong stock exchange. According to one report, the bank had been instructed to support Nanjie at all costs by a conservative in the Communist Party leadership after the crackdown on the Tiananmen Square prοtests in 1989.

According to the Asia Times, the bureaucrat forcing the bank to make the loans has retired, and the new boss is less excited about funding a Maoist amusement park. The bank wants the loans repaid, and Nanjie seems, at least, to be trying:

To reduce its debts, companies run by the village have in recent years turned to marketing a soybean seed in the name of Spaceflight II. They claimed that after the seeds were sent out into space their genes underwent a mutation that would increase their harvest by 30%.

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  • jtuf||

    Gee, when my grandparents were in school, biologists mutated crop seeds to old fashion way, with radiation.

  • ||

    So, there's still a Potemkin village in China today?

    -jcr

  • NP||

    JCR,

    Hope I'm not pointing out the obvious, but the whole China is a Potemkin village, supported by governmental tinkering to keep the yuan artificially cheap.

  • ||

    Hope I'm not pointing out the obvious, but the whole China is a Potemkin village, supported by governmental tinkering to keep the yuan artificially cheap.

    I think the skyscrapers, the automobile traffiic, the cheap trinkets coming out of the factories, are all real. How sustainable is the growth rate? We shall see. But China's huge leaps in GDP does not consist of false fronts.

  • ||

    Show of hands: how many people didn't immediately think "under-the-table subsidy" when they read this:

    The Chinese village of Nanjie is a half-socialist holdout where "villagers still lead a collective life as they did decades ago, sing revolutionary songs and chant Mao slogans every day." It appears to be much more prosperous than its market-oriented neighbors; this 1999 New York Times article notes the "spacious, well-equipped schools" and free vacations for model workers.

  • ||

    "free vacations for model workers" and little red flags for others.

  • NP||

    J sub D, of course they are. I was just pulling a little Twain here. Still, I'm not worried about China overtaking us (or US, as in the U.S. of A.) anytime soon.

  • ||

    NP,

    Nor am I. I do, perhaps over optimistically, hope that the economic gains might possibly lead to gains in freedom. See S. Korea, Taiwan.

  • ||

    China might eventually overtake us in GDP, due to the sheer number of citizens, but their current form of government limits their productivity. The explosive growth is due to the liberalization of government compared to the wretched lack of freedom they used to have, but unless they keep liberalizing their government the growth is bound to stall out.

  • Travis||

    "I'm not worried about China overtaking us (or US, as in the U.S. of A.) anytime soon."

    How about 60 years from now after Social Security, Medicaid, & Medicare have all gone bankrupt.

  • NP||

    J sub D,

    I hope so too, but I'm a tad skeptical that China's economic gains will lead to similar gains in the civil/social sphere. That's what James Mann, author of the book The China Fantasy, calls the "Starbucks fallacy": the more choices people have of coffee, the more choices they'll have of political leaders. I'm actually with Will Hutton of The Guardian when he argues in his own book The Writing on the Wall that without the necessary concomitant gains in civil and democratic liberties, China's economic growth is unsustainable. (I see that Prolefeed has already made a similar argument.)

    This is one reason why I'm not very enthusiastic about the current drive for liberalizing our trade relations with Cuba. Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for lifting the embargo on moral grounds. But let's consider these facts: America is currently Cuba's biggest food supplier and fourth biggest trading partner. IOW--and I'd really like to emphasize this--we currently have no practical embargo against Cuba. So yes, let's do away with the embargo, but no, let's not pretend that this will be an important step towards Cuban democracy.

  • NP||

    Travis,

    I seriously doubt that 60 years will have passed without any reforms regarding those entitlement programs, so I gotta say your pessimism is unwarranted.

  • ||

    If you really believe that China is just foolin', you need to Google images for Shanghai and look at all those frickin' shiny new skyscrapers. I'm telling you, it makes New York City look kind of shabby.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Still sing revolutionary songs? Are they still revolutionary after 60 years?

  • Kolohe||

    Naga-
    We still sing a song celebrating a victory over the British almost 200 years ago. Just sayin'

  • ||

    But let's consider these facts: America is currently Cuba's biggest food supplier and fourth biggest trading partner.

    That calls for a link, my friend.

  • NP||

    R C Dean,

    Looks like we're the sixth (not fourth) largest trading partner with Cuba, but still that statement is pretty accurate. Here are the links:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUSN1557515120080216?sp=true
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaVerdad/message/36022
    http://www.fas.usda.gov/itp/cuba/CubaSituation0308.pdf (PDF)

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