Gung Ho trainer working with members of an orange
grower's co-operative in Sichuan
Formed in 1939, Gung Ho has championed member owned and controlled co-operatives in China for over 70 years and maintains the involvement of several of the original founders and supporters.The Gung Ho movement arose in the 1930s to fill the void left by the destruction of China's mostly urban industrial capacity during the Japanese occupation. At its zenith, the movement boasted some 3,000 co-operative enterprises.
The name gung ho ("work together" in Chinese) was adopted as a slogan by the US Marines in 1942, became the expression still widely used in English to convey a spirit of enthusiasm, and is the title of at least two Hollywood movies.
The importance of the Gung Ho co-operatives in the liberation of China was recognized initially by nationalists and communists alike - Madam Sun Yat-sen, Mei Ling Soong, Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, and many others. When economic priorities in China changed, the headquarters of ICCIC were disbanded in 1952, and the co-operatives were incorporated into communes and factory collectives in the restructured economy.
Co-operatives and Gung Ho experienced a revival in the 1980s with the opening up of China to world markets. A partnership with the Canadian Co-operative Association from 2000 to 2009 strengthened Gung Ho's capacity to promote co-operative growth in China. Co-operatives eventually received legal recognition in law in 2007 with the passing of legislation governing the registration and development of farmer co-operatives. Gung Ho helped expose drafters of the law to ICA style co-operatives, and CCA brought Canada's own co-operative sector to their attention in the lead up to the new law with tours of agricultural, consumer and financial co-ops in Saskatchewan and Ontario.
|The Gung Ho symbol|
Since the law took effect China has been home to the world's fastest growing co-op sector. By the end of 2011, some 509,000 farmer co-operatives with over 34 million households (over one-tenth of all Chinese households) had registered with the government.
The poll was sponsored by China Radio International (CRI), the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs as part of celebrations marking the 60th founding anniversary of the People's Republic of China.
Few netizens likely knew of these individual's co-operative achievements when casting their votes. Edgar Snow is widely known for his book "Red Star over China" which helped the Chinese Red Army and Chairman Mao Zedong gain international influence in the 1930s. Israel Epstein, who was born in Poland and later became a naturalized Chinese citizen, made China known to the world through his numerous books and articles about China's anti-aggression war and peace time reforms and development. Rewi Alley, a social activist and educator from New Zealand contributed greatly to China's national liberation and development.
Not surprisingly, Norman Bethune, a Canadian physician and household name among Chinese topped the list with more than 4.6 million votes.