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Great Sparrow campaign 1957

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Uploaded on Jul 7, 2011

The Great Sparrow Campaign (打麻雀运动) was part of Mao Zedong's Four Pests Campaign (除四害运动). A part of the Great Leap Forward (大跃进) from 1958-1962, the goal of the Four Pests Campaign was to get rid of rats, flies, mosquitoes, and sparrows.The extermination of the latter upset the ecological balance, and enabled crop-eating insects to proliferate.

The masses of China were mobilized to eradicate the birds, and citizens took to banging pots and pans or beating drums to scare the birds from landing, forcing them to fly until they fell from the sky in exhaustion. Sparrow nests were torn down, eggs were broken, and nestlings were killed. Sparrows and other birds were shot down from the sky, resulting in the near-extinction of the birds in China. Non-material rewards and recognition were offered to schools, work units and government agencies in accordance with the volume of pests they had killed.

It has been reported that there is a lack of sparrows in China even today.

By April 1960, Chinese leaders realized that sparrows ate more insects than grains. Mao ordered the end of the campaign against sparrows, replacing them with bedbugs in the ongoing campaign against the Four Pests. By this time, however, it was too late. With no sparrows to eat them, locust populations ballooned, swarming the country and compounding the ecological problems already caused by the Great Leap Forward, including widespread deforestation and misuse of poisons and pesticides. Ecological imbalance is credited with exacerbating the Great Chinese Famine in which upwards of 30 million people died of starvation.

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