Da Zhai: Living Propaganda

During the failures of the Great Leap Forward, Mao famously said to the nation that they should all learn from the little village of Da Zhai. Under Mao, Da Zhai rose under the leadership of Guo Fenglian, nicknamed ‘the Iron Lady’ and as many of 900million rural population falter through the reform period, Guo has returned to oversee Da Zhai’s second rise: a quick tour around town and picture perfect rural China looks like it’s thriving – a new cement factory, a coal mine, new houses are rising, even a new Buddhist monastery where religion is tolerated, even supported, and onto the hills outside of town, where trees are being planted to demonstrate their environmental responsibility. Once again Da Zhai has returned to the forefront – this is the China that the Chinese Communist Party want you to see – a model village, a piece of living, working propaganda – everything is owned collectively by the commune and all tax and profits are reinvested into the village – here capitalist growth is underpinned by social responsibility where the old are looked after, and everyone receives free education and health care. Without a cohesive ideology, social or even environmental conscience to underpin the new capitalist growth, rural society especially, is beginning to fragment… and if the Communist Party begins to practice what they preach, perhaps Da Zhai may once again provide the solution.


Production Details
Locations: China,
Role: Writer, Series Producer
TX: 1 X 11minutes: Al Jazeera English, People & Power May 2008
Distribution: Contact Oliver Steeds