Third Front (China)

Third Front (China)

Third Front (China)

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The Third Front is a massive Chinese development of industry in its south-western interior, where it would be strategically secure in the event of a war.


Begun in the 1960s, it was little mentioned at the time. It was loosely linked with the Three Gorges Dam. The basic idea was to have an industrial base that would be secure from foreign attack, unlike the coastal industries or Manchuria (Northeast China).

The 'Third Front' refers to a large-scale programme the country started in 1964 -- in response to the then volatile international situation -- to build a range of industrial bases in its remote yet strategically secured hinterland.

By 1980, the programme had created a railway grid linking previously isolated parts of south-western and western China, in addition to a galaxy of power, aviation and electronic plants, said Zhang Yunchuan, minister of the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence. (People's Daily Online)

Mao and his generals envisaged three line of defense (coastal, central, and western), and they decided in 1964 on a massive construction of military-industrial complexes in westen China, the third line of defense, popularly translated as the "third front"

To minimize the vulnerability of the third-front industries to air attack, Lin Biao, who was Defense Minister and Mao's designated successor, instructed that these projects be located "in mountains, in dispersion, and in...
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