The China that Chairman Mao Zedong ruled was primarily agrarian. Mao’s party, consistent with the ideas of Lenin on which it was partially based, pursued planned industrialization by promoting state-owned manufacturing. This endeavor involved all sectors of society in the push to catch up with the West – even to the point of imploring rural residents to smelt steel in backyard furnaces. These efforts showed some success – by 1978 manufacturing’s share of GDP had risen from the 28 percent it held in 1949. Yet even after three decades, manufacturing still represented less than half of GDP, while the country’s population remained more than 80 percent rural. Moreover, China’s future prospects were not augmented, but instead bogged down, by state-managed industries that were almost universally outdated and woefully inefficient. If China were to succeed at urbanization and industrialization, fundamental changes would be needed. One of these necessary systemic changes was a redesign of the administrative hierarchy that had, up to that point, channeled power from Beijing to the provinces through prefectural dispatch offices, to rural counties and townships, and down to every rural corner of China.