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East Wind / Dong Feng fighters

In remarks to Chinese students in Moscow, 17 November 1957, Chairman Mao said that "the direction of the wind in the world had changed. In the struggle between the socialist and capitalist camps, it was no longer the west wind that prevailed over the East wind, but the East wind that prevailed over the West wind." The expression is first seen in Lin Daiyu's words in the 18th-century Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber [Story of the Stone]. The name 'East Wind' was thought to be an appropriate name for many things, including a shopping market in Beijing, Chinese missiles, and for a time, Chinese fighter aircraft.

In the 19th century individual Chinese students had no great difficulty mastering Western science, but the growth in their numbers and potential influence posed a challenge to the Confucian scholar-officials who dominated the imperial government and Chinese society. Such officials were reluctant to grant foreign-trained scientists and engineers a status equal to that of Confucian scholars, and they were suspicious of foreign ideas about politics and social organization, such as professional autonomy, freedom of speech and assembly, and experiments rather than written texts as validation of propositions.

This tension between ideology and expertise and between foreign and Chinese ideas persisted after the establishment of the People's Republic in 1949. The central problem confronting Communist China has been that of discovering a method of building socialism suited to China's specific conditions - in the middle of the 20th Century, a backward, underdeveloped economy, and a largely illiterate and untrained society. Ultimately this became, in Deng Xiao-ping's phrase "Socialism with Chinese characteristics". The process of discovery began in late 1955 and early 1956, when the rudiments of China's own "general line of socialist construction" first appeared. The terminology of the period distinguished between "red" and "expert". Although party leaders spoke of the need to combine "redness" with expertise, they more often acted as if political rectitude and professional skill were mutually exclusive qualities.

In January 1956, the Central Committee of the Party called a conference on the question of the intellectuals. Zhou Enlai delivered a report to the CCP Central Committee, "On the Question of Intellectuals," in which he argued that "the fundamental question of intellectuals was no longer a question of their political and ideological reliability" and recommended improving "the manner of employing and placing them," giving them "due confidence and support," and providing them with "the necessary working conditions and appropriate treatment.

After this national science program meeting, the country's aircraft industry resolved to develop China's own aircraft design strengths, rather than copying the Soviet aircraft according to the Soviet blueprint. The aviation industry bureau resolved to establish the first aircraft design office, the initially at the Shenyang Aircraft plant, and initially assigned four people from the air bureau. The people faced the development the enterprise, to fulfill the very ambitious undertaking at that time. The new aircraft design cannot "follow the model" in imitation of overseas aircraft, or make some "minor repair slightly modify" work. Rather, they must start from aircraft's mission requirements, choose the appropriate methods from the world's main aeronautics technical storehouse, make "the project comprehensive" to form their own design. This was the design path for new designs which the first Chinese aircraft is established, and is also the main design path which world aviation development follows.

On May 2, 1956, Mao Zedong enunciated the slogan "let a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend" was advanced. These measures spelled out the policy regarding intellectuals and the work in education, science and culture and thus brought about a significant advance in these fields. But Mao also hoped that hidden troublemakers would come out into the open and instigate incidents in work units across the country, which could then be crushed one by one. In May 1956 the Central Committee of the Party put forward the principle of opposing both conservatism and rash advance in economic construction, that is, of making steady progress by striking an overall balance.

The Eighth National Congress of the Party held in September 1956 declared that the socialist system had been basically established in China;that while the country must strive to liberate Taiwan, thoroughly complete socialist transformation, ultimately eliminate the system of exploitation and continue to wipe out the remnant forces of counter-revolution, the principal contradiction within the country was no longer the contradiction between the working class and the bourgeoisie but between the demand of the people for rapid economic and cultural development and the existing state of the economy and culture which fell short of the needs of the people; that the chief task confronting the whole nation was to concentrate all efforts on developing the productive forces, industrializing the country and gradually meeting the people's incessantly growing material and cultural needs; and that although class struggle still existed and the people's democratic dictatorship had to be further strengthened, the basic task of the dictatorship was now to protect and develop the productive forces in the context of the new relations of production.

By 1957 Mao Zedong was switching his political strategy from inner-party rectification to an "anti-rightist" purge of great numbers of prominent people from the worlds of politics, culture, education, industry and commerce, and the sentencing of countless intellectuals, young students and ordinary people who had no interest in politics to "supervised labor," "Reeducation-Through-Labor" and even prison terms. More than 500,000 people were forced to "wear a (political) cap" (dai maozi) and millions of their relatives were dragged down with them. The government called this campaign, which it hailed as a great success, a "socialist revolution on the political and ideological fronts." The Chinese Communists intended to exploit the ideal of a future Communist society in China by directing the fervor aroused by this goal into an immediate program of socialist construction conducted at top speed and demanding maximum sacrifice.

Mao Zedong's poorly conceived Great Leap Forward was officially launched in May 1958 shortly after the conclusion of the Anti-Rightist campaign. The Great Leap Forward was a movement that forced millions of farmers to neglect their crops to makeiron and steel in backyard furnaces and organized them into "people's communes." Efficiency was thrust upon the people by organizing them into self-sufficient communities of 20-30,000 people who supported their own farms, industry, and markets. Everyone worked together in around-the-clock shifts, ate together in communal kitchens, and raised children together in communal schools.

In March, 1958, the aviation industry bureau established the aircraft industry 15 year development plan, stressing that Chinese aircraft industry production and scientific research were very backward, and that China must make haste to catch up, and make the utmost effort over the coming 15 years to close the gap with international advanced aircraft. On March 25, 1958, the leading cadre of the aircraft industry met in convention. Air force Commander Liu Yalou published an important speech that the the air force would support the aircraft industry at the meeting to do the scientific research design with all one's strength. On May 7, 1958, the aviation industry bureau reported to the Central Committee of the CCP that the current aircraft industry's principal contradiction was the product design and the scientific research fell far behind production.

The bold "ultra level" DF-113 project started officially from March 1958. On July 26, 1958, China independently designed and manufactured the first jet trainer aircraft, the JJ-1, and the initial test flight was successful. On 6 to 15 August 1958, the aircraft industry technical meeting convened in Shenyang. This is after the JJ-1 test flight success. They planned the ideological mobilization and the population disposition which provide broad technical aeronautics capability for the development of independent designs.

In August 1958, the Shenyang aircraft design office started to design the supersonic fighter plane officially known as the DF-107. On 13 October 1958 the central official authorized research on the supersonic fighter plane which the Harbin Military engineering Institute proposed DF-113. Hence, China's Great Leap Forward had the aircraft industry's best quality goods. The project plan allocated funds 60,000,000 Yuan, from start to first flight, in only 10 months time.

But the "Great Leap Forward" was a complete failure. Poor harvests contributed to the starvation of an estimated 20 million people. In early 1959, amid signs of rising popular restiveness, the CCP admitted that the favorable production report for 1958 had been exaggerated. In April 1959 Mao, who bore the chief responsibility for the Great Leap Forward fiasco, stepped down from his position as chairman of the People's Republic.

Mao's Great Leap Forward policy came under open criticism at a July 1959 Politburo meeting at Lushan, Jiangxi Province. The attack was led by Minister of National Defense Peng Dehuai, who had become troubled by the potentially adverse effect Mao's policies would have on the modernization of the armed forces. Peng argued that "putting politics in command" was no substitute for economic laws and realistic economic policy; unnamed party leaders were also admonished for trying to "jump into communism in one step." After the Lushan showdown, Peng Dehuai, who allegedly had been encouraged by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to oppose Mao, was deposed. Peng was replaced by Lin Biao. The Soviet agreement in late 1957 to help China produce its own nuclear weapons and missiles was terminated by mid-1959.

In August 1959, by authorization, DF-107 experimental work stopped. In September 1959 the office designed DF-107Z tactic reconnaissance aircraft according to the factory party committee's resolution, simultaneously with the DF-107A testing machine. Later there were designed transition plans, so the DF-107J ground attack trainer aircraft was not put into trial production. By October 1959 the aircraft's expected use of the Red Flag 2 engines faced difficulty according to the plan. The DF-107 made a full size wooden model, and then stopped the development. The plan was postponed repeatedly, the most basic reason being the design's requirements were a very great distance from China's aircraft industry's existing technology and craft production.

After the East Wind 107 was discontinued in late 1959, the experimental work was continued with the East Wind 113, although it met some technical questions and material problems. By April 1960 the air bureau reported that the DF-113 the plan had been postponed repeatedly, the most basic reason being design requirements that exceeded by a very great distance the existing technology and the craft production level of Chinese aircraft industry. This inevitably created a series of contradictions, contradictions which were not something that could be solved in the short-term.

In May 1960 all the theoretical layout design on the DF-106 / Q-5 was finished, and the experimental work launched. But around this time the domestic situation was turbulent, the current economic condition worsened, and to guarantee that the "two bombs and one satellite" programs were successful, the Q-5 development work was put aside, and scientific researchers were reassigned. Although the prototype program was cancelled 1961, it was kept alive by a small team [and resumed officially 1963].

The first evidence of the abandonment of the Great Leap Forward came from the Ninth Plenum of the CCP Central Committee in January 1961. Deng Xiaoping loosened communal restrictions, dropped unrealistic production quotas, and suspended the propaganda campaigns.

In April 1961, the Third Mechanical Industry Department clarified the concentration of efforts on the Mig-19, and the DF-113 trial production suspension. Although later Lin Biao directly meddled in this design many times, and exerted pressure from time to time to let it continue to carry on, the plan stopped and was still unable to make the substantive progress.

During the Great Leap Forward [as well as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution], China researched many aircraft types, recklessly, blindly. China did not have a thorough understanding of the Soviet Union's technology, and was in a hurry to carries on Chinese designs, subjectively anxious to occupy the main status in the world, surpasses the UK to catch up with the US rapidly. On the other hand, the blind internal competition, carried on like some "the martial arts contest" without doubt created the internal friction which wasted originally the very scarce scientific research resource. This caused China to pay a heavy price, creating reasons the work does not lead to to actual advances. After the Great Cultural Revolution ended, economic development reasons led to discontinuation of some individual aircraft types, but only experiences of this kind can China aircraft industry advance. Without experiencing the wind and rain, it is not possible to see the rainbow.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 02:37:47 ZULU