December 18th, 1978 is a special day for all Chinese. It was on this day that the reform and opening-up policy was issued.
This is People's Daily on December 18th, 1978.
No advertisements, no entertainment, and no mention of the day's most important news.
But the message can be seen in the headlines.
Three-fourths of the front page deals with agriculture. The top story shares how Zhejiang province revived agricultural production. The next is the success of the collective system in Yantai's cotton harvest. And this article calls for setting up agricultural product bases across the country.
The focuses are different, but all share the same purpose. They show the country's main concern: how to boost agriculture to feed the world's largest population, after ten years of economic stagnation due to the Cultural Revolution.
Farmers have already lost interest in the People's commune system. Regardless of how much or how little they work, everyone gets an equal share.
Land reform is necessary.
Senior Party leaders address the issue at meeting on December 18th. And from this meeting comes the decision to establish a household responsibility contracting system.
The reform gives farmers freedom in land use rights, hoping to reinvigorate the rural economy.
The reform was controversial in 1978, but for farmers, it was the beginning of a new chapter.
(CCTV November 19, 2008)