What were the achievements of GUNG HO—the movement of the Chinese Industrial Co‑operatives?
One story expresses the sense of something accomplished. ‘One winter day in his endless travels (Rewi) woke with the dawn to see a long string of camels threading the mountain pass laden with boxes of freight, and on the leading camel the bravely‑flaunting red triangle of Indusco.’
Undoubtedly, GUNG HO was an eminently successful movement. It expressed the people’s determination to fight the invaders of their country, by producing supplies for their own armies.
Thousands of people were able to make a living, even though they had fled from their own towns. It had been proven that industry in China need not be concentrated along coastal areas, but that small groups, working together, could produce quality goods throughout the country. The ordinary Chinese man and woman were shown to have the ability, intelligence and common sense to organise themselves into successful working units.
After his return to China from his overseas visit in 1938, Rewi became increasingly worried and depressed by the destruction of industry in Shanghai. The bombing had destroyed many factories, and in the occupied areas the Japanese had removed machinery and materials for their own use.
Shanghai had been the industrial capital of China, so by seizing Shanghai alone, ‘Japan immobilized nearly 70 percent of all modern industry in Shanghai’. ‘With precise data acquired through his position as Chief Factory Inspector, he was able to prove that of 8,000 Chinese factories operating in Greater Shanghai area prior to the Japanese occupation, only 1,800 had resumed work nine months later and of 600,000 workers only 130,000 were back at work, 90 percent of them in Japanese factories.’ The labour force was diminishing too. Refugees were streaming inland away from the Japanese on the coast, putting a strain on local food supplies.