Mao’s Push and Nature’s Shove:
The Four Pest Campaign Breaks Ecological Barriers

"Catching sparrows", 1956, August, Ah Xian (阿仙) 

In 1958, Mao Zedong initiated the Great Leap Forward striving to transform communist China into a global power. This set of reforms included the Four Pests Campaign which aimed to improve public health and bolster grain production by killing millions of supposed pests, breaking ecological barriers by defying the laws of nature.  Within one year, the eradication of pests transformed the Chinese ecosystem, leading to the Great Chinese Famine and setting the stage for Mao’s violent attempt to regain political power. This ecological chain reaction caused cultural, economic, and political repercussions still felt in China today.

"What Mao did to China's environment was unforgivable. It was ill thought-out and ultimately disastrous. We're still paying for his mistakes. "

-Former CCP member Shen Zhaoli, 2001