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The Four Pests Campaign

Auria Kirkendall FDINT205- Winter 2013
by

Auria Kirkendall

on 7 February 2013

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Transcript of The Four Pests Campaign

The Plan It was started by Mao Zedong in 1958 as part of "The Great Leap Forward." The Problem With the Plan According to environmental activist Dai Qing, "Mao knew nothing about animals. He didn't want to discuss his plan or listen to experts. He just decided that the 'four pests' should be killed." Sparrows The Results Around April of 1960, Chinese leaders began to realize that the sparrows did not only eat the farmers' grain; they ate insects. Insects, as Mao found out to his dismay, ate a lot more grain than the sparrows did. Mao Zedong The Four Pests Campaign Chinese leaders called for the mass extermination of mosquitoes, rats, flies, and sparrows. This campaign mobilized everyone to help exterminate these "pests" to make China a better country overall. In the 1950’s, China launched the “Patriotic Health Campaigns” in order to improve sanitation and public health. Mao observed that flies, rats, and mosquitoes were spreading diseases and that sparrows ate the seeds planted by farmers, which decreased the value of their work. These observations lead him to organize The Four Pests Campaign. The propaganda for the campaign was widespread and powerful. Chinese citizens across the entire country participated enthusiastically. This poster says, "Everybody must get to work to exterminate flies!" Most people understood Mao's desire to eliminate the rats, flies, and mosquitoes, but some questioned his decision about the sparrows. Sparrows were particularly easy to target because they were larger than mosquitoes and flies, and because they could not hide as easily as rats. Local governments hosted competitions, offering non-material prizes to whoever handed in the most dead flies, mosquitoes, rats, and sparrows. Red flags and scarecrows abounded in the cities, and it became somewhat of a game to kill these "pests." The locust swarms became so large and ate so much grain that Mao quickly called for a stop to the extermination of sparrows. They were replaced on the naughty pest list by bedbugs. The government began importing sparrows from the Soviet Union in an effort to control the growing locust population, but it was too late. As a result of the sparrow extermination, a huge famine swept China. It was called "The Great Chinese Famine" and it caused the deaths of an estimated 30 million people. All Chinese citizens were encouraged to kill all of these pests on sight. The Four Pests Campaign
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