Great Leap Forward

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Great Leap Forward, 1957–60, Chinese economic plan aimed at revitalizing all sectors of the economy. Initiated by Mao Zedong, the plan emphasized decentralized, labor-intensive industrialization, typified by the construction of thousands of backyard steel furnaces in place of large steel mills. Wildly unrealistic planning, poorly planned communization of agriculture, and a poor harvest in 1959 caused mass starvation. Mao was forced to turn government administration over to Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping.

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Great Leap Forward Five-year economic plan begun by Mao Zedong in China in 1958. It aimed to double industrial production and boost agricultural output in record time. The plan mobilized tens of millions of workers to smelt steel in primitive pig-iron furnaces, but most of the steel was poor quality and useless. Collective farms merged into communes, but a succession of poor harvests dashed progress. After four years, the government admitted the failure of the plan.