| November/December 1983

Gasoline Engine

Mainland China is placing strong reliance on the gasoline engine as a source of power, and even though many of the engines now in use are ancient and tired, more new ones are on the way.

We found that on a two-week visit this spring. The visit was not long enough for an in-depth study, but we learned enough to pass on information to readers of GEM.

First, let me say that the new technology is exciting to the Chinese. In a land where major reliance is still placed on hand labor-with both men and women providing that labor- anything that multiplies the effect of effort, such as the internal combustion engine, is an object of wonderment.

Some fields are still being tilled by oxen pulling wooden plows. In farm communes, we saw scores of men and women in the fields, with only the most rudimentary tools for working the earth. In some areas, we saw no tractors or even animals such as horses or mules. Yet agriculture proceeds, and millions of tons of crops are produced each year.

There seem to be four types of tractors. The oldest seems to be hand-operated, with a seat and handlebars, which can be attached to a cart or wagon or a simple farm implement. It has a small engine mounted behind the handlebars.

Newer than this is a walking tractor, which is now 'selling like hot cakes' to farm workers who are able to earn some money for themselves. It has a pushing handle at the rear, with an engine mounted forward.