Title

Dreams of Oil and Fertile Fields: The Rush to Qinghai in the 1950s

Document Type

Article

Publication Title

Modern China: An International Quarterly of History and Social Science

ISSN

0097-7004

Volume

29

Issue

4

DOI

10.1177/0097700403257134

First Page

455

Last Page

489

Publication Date

10-1-2003

Abstract

The author considers rural resettlement to Qinghai province during the 1950s as part of the broader state-building effort to support frontier construction, which in turn was part of China's geopolitical reengineering pursued by several generations of Party leaders. The Chaidam basin's oil and the vast pastures of highland areas both appeared to be ready for quick harvest. These natural resources caused the state to seek a gold rush-style migration, setting up many counties and towns in the space of several years. Analysis of the experiences of Youth League-sponsored agricultural resettlers reveals that the expensive program failed to achieve most of its goals and indeed destroyed land and exacerbated food shortages. The regional and gendered dimensions of this movement provide new perspectives from which to view the rapid state building of the 1950s.