Infrastructure: Reappraisal and Reorientation
Shifting capital spending toward agriculture dramatically reduced the flow of infrastructure projects in the early 1960s, a slide intensified by the withdrawal of Soviet experts, and the cutoff of construction equipment and spare parts from the USSR. Still, the time had come for more systematic organization and management of all infrastructure systems, through drafting a comprehensive manual for freight and passenger train operations or with intensification of worker training through campaigns contrasting local work routines with best practices elsewhere in the PRC. By 1964, major dam and reservoir projects restarted, with “thousands of computations” replacing the mass urgency of their 1950s predecessors. Comparably, widespread efforts undertook to repair and renovate hastily built or pre-Liberation power stations, railways, and irrigation systems, with Chairman Mao’s Thought empowering veteran workers and cadres to convene discussion sessions that determined priorities and tabled plausible innovations. Formalized in the Design Reform Movement, “red” pressures mounted on construction “experts” to get out of their offices, go to sites to design “on the spot,” and learn how best to proceed from local cadres and workers.