China and Inner Asia
The Third Front Construction, the main body of the Third Five-Year Plan (1966−1970), was not disclosed until the 1980s. It is commonly believed that it was prepared for the upcoming war against the United States, as the Third Front Construction was heavily military oriented. However, after reviewing all available documents, regarding the implementation of the Third Front Construction from 1964 to 1966, a gap was revealed between the purpose of the Third Front Construction and the supportive plan made by provincial governments. The finding is contradictory to the classic Mao's totalitarianism, in which ideological and organizational control left no autonomy to local officials, but compliance. This study aims to elucidate how and why the provincial governments deviated from the policy of central government in this period.
I performed a analysis to demonstrate how the institutional factors changed during the period from 1964 to 1966.I further present a comparative case study on Guangdong, Liaoning, and Shanghai provinces, examining economic conditions, personal relationships, and how the regional bureaus of the party Central Committee command influenced the performance of provincial governments in terms of its consistency with the policies emanating from central government.
These findings demonstrate that even in Mao’s era, the process to consolidate a policy was not dominated by central government alone. Even after central government decided the general policy, it still had to go through an incremental process which could be modified by local governments as in the post-Mao’s era. These findings provide new insights into our understanding of centra-local relations.