THE PRESENT SITUATION AND THE TASKS BEFORE US
January 16, 1980
On New Year’s Day I spoke for about 15 minutes at a meeting of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. Later, Comrade Hu Yaobang and others asked me to speak to more comrades about our expectations for their work in the coming year. At present there are some problems within the Party and among the people which call for solution. Of course, it is impossible for me to cover them all in my speech today, and the comments I am going to make on some of them may not be adequate. But since you want me to speak, I will do so.
I would like to discuss the following three topics: first, the three major tasks for us in the 1980s and the situation — mainly the domestic one — as we enter the new decade; second, the four essential problems to be solved, or the four prerequisites for achieving the four modernizations; and third, upholding and improving leadership by the Communist Party.
The first topic, then, is the three major tasks we have to perform in the 1980s and the domestic situation as we enter this decade.
Let me begin by defining our tasks. The three major ones are as follows:
First, in international affairs we must continue to oppose hegemonism and strive to preserve world peace. There is a consensus throughout the world that the 1980s will be a dangerous decade. So the task of opposing hegemonism will be on our daily agenda. The 1980s are off to a bad start, what with the Afghanistan affair and the Iranian affair, not to mention the Vietnamese and Middle Eastern questions which came up earlier. There may be many similar problems in the future. In a word, the struggle against hegemonism is a grave task constantly confronting our country.
Second, we must work for the return of Taiwan to the motherland, for China’s reunification. We will endeavour to attain this goal in the 1980s; it will be an ever-present and important issue on our agenda, though there may be twists and turns in the course of its development.
Third, we must step up economic construction; that is, we will step up the drive for China’s four modernizations. To put the matter in a nutshell, the four modernizations mean economic construction. Without sound economic foundations, it will be impossible to modernize our national defence, and science and technology should primarily serve economic construction.
Modernization is at the core of all these three major tasks, because it is the essential condition for solving both our domestic and our external problems. Everything depends on our doing the work in our own country well. The role we play in international affairs is determined by the extent of our economic growth. If our country becomes more developed and prosperous, we will be in a position to play a greater role in international affairs. Already our international role is not insignificant. With a stronger material base, we will be able to enhance it. In the final analysis, the return of Taiwan to motherland — the reunification of the country — also depends on our running our affairs at home well. We are superior to Taiwan politically and in terms of economic system, but we must surpass Taiwan, at least to a certain extent, in economic development as well. Nothing less will do. With the success of the four modernizations and more economic growth, we will be in a better position to accomplish reunification. Therefore, in the final analysis, the two tasks of opposing hegemonism and reunifying the country by achieving the return of Taiwan to the motherland both require that we do well in our economic development. Of course, we have to handle our many other affairs well too, but economic development is primary.
Today is January 16, 1980, the 16th day of the new decade. The 1980s will be a very important decade both for China and for the world as a whole. It is hard to predict what may happen internationally, but the 1980s are likely to be a decade of great turbulence and crises. We believe, of course, that world war can be put off and peace maintained for a longer time if the struggle against hegemonism is carried on effectively. This is possible, and it is precisely what we are working for. Like the people of the rest of the world, we really need a peaceful environment, and thus, for the interest of our own country the goal of our foreign policy is a peaceful environment for achieving the four modernizations. These are sincere words, not just empty rhetoric. This is a vital matter which conforms to the interests not only of the Chinese people but also of the people in the rest of the world.
We want to achieve the four modernizations by the end of this century, which means that counting from this New Year’s Day, there are only 20 years left — the 1980s and the 1990s. Failure to achieve decisive successes in our four modernizations during the 1980s would be tantamount to a setback. Therefore, this is a decade of great importance — indeed, a crucial decade — to China’s development. So long as we lay solid foundations during this decade and continue our efforts to build on them in the next, we can count on achieving modernization of a Chinese type within the next 20 years. There is real hope. Although a period of 20 years sounds quite long, the time will slip by very quickly. From the very first year of the 1980s, we must devote our full attention to achieving the four modernizations and not waste a single day; since this general task is now before us nothing should be allowed to divert our energies.
What is our domestic situation as we enter the 1980s? With our goal and tasks now set, we should take stock of the context in which we have to work. Some of the masses and some Party members — even some of our cadres — are not quite clear about what we have accomplished since we smashed the Gang of Four [in 1976]. They are not satisfied with the progress, thinking it much too slow. Because of their dissatisfaction, they are uncertain whether our political line and the four modernizations can be carried through. Of course, there are still some people hostile towards our current ideological, political and organizational lines, but I am not talking about them. I just want to make a few comments with regard to those comrades who are not very optimistic or who are not sufficiently convinced that our future is bright.
It should be pointed out that the situation is very favourable. First of all, in the three years and three months since the overthrow of the Gang of Four, and especially in the year since the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee, events have moved very rapidly nationwide — even faster than the Party expected. A lot of work was done in the first two years. Without the preparations during those years, it would have been impossible to lay down the Party’s ideological and political lines so explicitly at the Third Plenary Session; so it should be clearly stated that the work done in those two years paved the way for the Third Plenary Session. That session solved not only problems of the 10-year Cultural Revolution, but also, to a great extent, problems accumulated over the whole period since 1957. We should all think back; has there or has there not been a fundamental change in the Party thanks to the efforts of the last three years? Has there or has there not been a fundamental change in the leading bodies and in the ideological line? I don’t mean to suggest that all problems have been solved. But a fundamental change has indeed taken place, and that is what counts most. Of course there are still a great many problems to be solved. In point of fact, we are solving them step by step and will continue to do so. But all in all, there cannot be the slightest doubt about this fundamental change, because in the last three years much work has been done to set things to rights, and our achievements have been enormous. It is wrong to underestimate them.
Let us review here the major work we’ve done in the political, economic and diplomatic spheres.
On what grounds can we say that a fundamental change has taken place in the political situation? First of all, we have settled accounts with the Gang of Four and launched a nationwide campaign to uncover their factional set-up and to expose and criticize their crimes; basically we have consolidated our leading bodies at all levels. That was the political prerequisite for all our other achievements in the last three years. Second, the democratic life of the Party and the country has begun to get back on the track. The democratic system has been strengthened and extended year by year. Although a good number of important problems still call for deeper study and continued efforts should be made to promote what is beneficial and get rid of what is harmful, we must recognize what is really predominant and essential. For the 29 years since the founding of New China we have had no criminal law. Though we tried repeatedly to draw up such a code and it went through more than 30 drafts, nothing ever came of the project. Now a code of criminal law and a code of criminal procedure have been adopted and promulgated and are being implemented. The whole nation sees in them the hope for a strictly enforced socialist legal system. This is no small achievement. Third, in these three years, and particularly in the past year, a great number of individual cases in which the charges were false or which were unjustly or incorrectly dealt with have been re-examined at the central level and in different localities and the verdicts reversed. According to incomplete statistics, 2.9 million people have been rehabilitated, as have an even greater number whose cases were not included among those needing special inquiries. We have reversed the judgement on the Tiananmen Incident and remedies have been made for the cases of a large number of comrades, including Peng Dehuai, Zhang Wentian, Tao Zhu, Bo Yibo, Peng Zhen, Xi Zhongxun, Wang Renzhong, Huang Kecheng, Yang Shangkun, Lu Dingyi and Zhou Yang, in which the charges were false or which were unjustly or incorrectly dealt with. And very soon we will clear the name of Comrade Liu Shaoqi. Moreover, we have nullified the wrong designation, dating from 1957, of large numbers of people as bourgeois Rightists. Here I would like to mention in passing that the anti-Rightist struggle of 1957 100 was necessary and correct. Our comrades can well recall the situation in 1957. In eight years, between 1949 and 1957, we had basically completed the socialist transformation of agriculture, handicrafts and capitalist industry and commerce, and thus entered the stage of socialism. At that point an ideological current appeared, the essence of which was opposition to socialism and to leadership by the Communist Party. And some people were making vicious attacks. It would not have been right for us to refrain from striking back. What, then, was wrong with the anti-Rightist struggle? The problem was that, as it developed, the scope and targets of the attack were unduly broadened, and the blows were much too heavy. Large numbers of people were punished inappropriately or too severely. Wronged for many years, they were unable to apply their intelligence and talents for the benefit of the people, and this was a loss not only to them personally but to the country as a whole. Therefore, it is a very necessary and important political measure to remove the label “bourgeois Rightist” from all of them, to nullify the wrong designation of the great majority of them and to assign appropriate jobs to all concerned. Nevertheless, it does not follow that the anti-socialist ideological current did not exist in 1957 or that the counter-blow against it was unwarranted. To sum up, the anti-Rightist struggle was not wrong in itself; the problem was that its scope was unduly broadened. Fourth, we have removed the label “stinking Number Nine” from the intellectuals as well as the labels “landlord”, “rich peasant” and “capitalist” from the overwhelming majority of persons formerly in those categories. Isn’t this a major political event involving the whole nation? Fifth, we have by and large summed up the experience and lessons of the past 30 years, including the lessons of the Cultural Revolution, and have cleared the name and restored the traditions of the Party’s Eighth National Congress. The 1979 National Day speech made by Comrade Ye Jianying on behalf of the Central Committee not only summed up in a sense the Cultural Revolution but in fact summarized the experience and lessons of the 30 years since the founding of the People’s Republic. The history of our Party probably ought to be written in the same vein; it may not be appropriate to dig into minute details. Haven’t we been saying that we should tackle historical issues in broad outline and not
go into too much detail? The same approach should be followed in future. In evaluating public figures and history, we hold that one should look at things scientifically from all sides and guard against being one-sided or swayed by emotions. This is the only attitude that conforms to Marxism and to the interests and wishes of the nation. We will probably work out a formal resolution on certain historical questions this year. Sixth, in the last three years we have correctly interpreted Mao Zedong Thought and restored its original features. This is known to all. Through the discussions of the thesis that practice is the sole criterion for testing truth, we have established the Party’s ideological line, or rather we have restored the ideological line of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought. As a result, we are properly implementing the policy of correctly differentiating and handling the two different types of contradictions [those among the people and those between the people and the enemy], the policy of “letting a hundred flowers bloom, a hundred schools of thought contend”, and the principle of the “three don’ts” — all advocated by Comrade Mao Zedong over the years. Seventh, our work in education, science and culture has begun to return to normal. Eighth, the work of our public security, procuratorial and judicial departments, the work among our nationalities, the united front work, the work of our trade unions, Youth League and women’s federations, and in other areas are all being brought back onto the right track. I have cited just a few examples, which are by no means exhaustive. It was not easy to solve so many problems in such a short time; three years ago it would have been inconceivable. The solution of these problems has brought about a change in the outlook of the Party and of the Party and of the country and has brought stability, unity and liveliness to the political situation. These changes have made it possible for us to shift the focus of our work and, with our minds at ease, concentrate our efforts on socialist modernization. Without such changes, this would have been absolutely impossible. The facts confirm that we have done much hard work and achieved tremendous successes in the political sphere in the last three years.
In the economic sphere also the last three years have witnessed significant achievements. We often say that our economic work suffered from 10 years of interference and sabotage by Lin Biao and the Gang of Four, and it was already quite chaotic before then. That these three years of effort have restored our economy to the present level is in itself a major accomplishment. In the 20-odd years since 1957, the focus of our work was never really shifted to economic development, so there are many accumulated problems. Some people are now critical of our past economic work. In fact we were inexperienced in many areas, and what good experience we gained was never systematized and institutionalized. Many problems have not been satisfactorily solved. Especially during the decade-long Cultural Revolution when Lin Biao and the Gang of Four were running amuck, everything was thrown into chaos. It is therefore fair to say that the economic departments should not be the first to be blamed for the past failures in our economic work, and that apart from the sabotage by Lin Biao and the Gang of Four, the primary responsibility rests with the Central Committee of the Party. The economic departments of course also had their shortcomings and should sum up their experience. But now we should all look ahead, make positive suggestions and not get bogged down in complaining or assessing blame. It must be noted that the leading comrades of our economic departments at all levels have done a lot of work in the last three years. On the other hand, a good number of comrades who were shunted aside for many years and haven’t been back in their original posts very long, have lost touch with the situation; even those who stayed at their posts all through are confronted with new problems they find hard to grasp immediately. Inevitably there are shortcomings in their work because they don’t have a very good understanding of either domestic or international developments. So long as they study the new situation and new problems with an open mind, their performance will improve.
After more than two years of effort, we have formulated the general policy of readjusting, restructuring, consolidating and improving China’s economy. This policy was not arrived at haphazardly but was based on a summing-up of past experience and an analysis of the present situation, and it was formulated with a view to doing our work better and with quicker results. It has become increasingly clear that it is absolutely necessary and correct to establish this general policy.
As regards work in rural areas, the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee of the Party took two decisions, drew up a series of policies and measures concerning work in rural areas and decided to raise the government purchase price of grains and other farm products. Since the session we have increased the wages and salaries of workers and other employees. Great strides have been made in providing job opportunities through various channels; last year alone more than seven million people were provided with employment, and the effort will be continued this year. The textile and other light industries have been strengthened and capital construction has been scaled down. We are experimenting with the granting of greater decision-making power to enterprises. While the financial structure is being reformed step by step, experimental measures have been decided on for the gradual introduction of other reforms in the economic structure. We have many more problems to solve and must continue our efforts to readjust and restructure the economy. However, we should recognize that we have scored great achievements in the economic field in the last three year, and especially in 1979. Let us consider the situation in the rural areas. One characteristic of China is that 80 per cent of its population still lives in the countryside. The overwhelming majority of China’s villages have taken on a new look, and the peasants’ minds are quite at ease. Doesn’t this show that the policies of our Party and state are effective? Things are fairly complicated in the urban areas and, in particular, some confusion has arisen in the matter of commodity prices. But production in most factories and other enterprises is now much more orderly, and the people’s standard of living has begun to improve gradually as a result of the increases in wages, employment and housing. All these accomplishments are attributable to our recent exertions.
In economic development, we are searching for a road that both conforms to China’s actual conditions and enables us to proceed more quickly and economically. We are experimenting with such things as expanding democratic management and the decision-making power of enterprises, increasing specialization and co-operation, combining planned regulation with market regulation, integrating advanced technologies with existing intermediate technologies, using foreign funds and expertise in a rational way, and so on. While learning from all this, we have “paid tuition fees” and suffered some losses, but the important thing is that we are accumulating experience, which is beginning to show results. What is necessary now is to sum up this experience so as to do things faster and better, and to formulate both the guiding principles for the economic structural reform and a long-term programme for the development of the economy as a whole. These tasks are vital and we cannot afford either to approach them too hastily or to postpone them. The Central Committee hopes that comrades engaged in practical and theoretical work on the economic front will unite, co-operate closely and learn from each other. We hope they will not just indulge in empty talk but conduct investigations and studies and repeated discussions so that within the year they can submit to the Central Committee several feasible plans for the reform and a long-term programme for economic development.
In foreign affairs, in the past three years we have established diplomatic relations with the United States, concluded a treaty of peace and friendship with Japan and made state visits to them. Comrade Hua Guofeng has visited Korea, Romania, Yugoslavia and four other European countries. Comrade Li Xiannian and I have visited a number of Asian and African countries. Many other delegations at various levels have been sent to scores of countries throughout the world. Almost all the vice-premiers and most vice-chairmen of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress have made trips abroad. In the past three years, and particularly last year, we organized an unprecedented number of visits to different parts of the world, and we received leaders of some foreign countries almost every month. These activities have initiated a new diplomatic pattern for our country, provided us with rather favourable international conditions for our four modernizations and expanded the ranks of the international forces ranged against hegemonism. Our co-operation with the third-world countries has continued to grow. Our self-defensive counter-attack on Viet Nam has brought us victories both military and political, and has been a major, long-term factor both in stabilizing the situation in Southeast Asia and in carrying on the worldwide struggle against hegemonism.
I have described in broad outline what we have done in the political, economic and diplomatic spheres in the past three years, focusing on the year following the Third Plenary Session. We must not lose sight of our achievements. We must recognize that our efforts in these years have built a sound foundation for the 1980s in the political, economic and other spheres at home and in our foreign relations.
In short, the situation as we begin the 1980s is excellent. We have paved the way for victorious advance in all spheres and so are entering the new decade full of confidence. It is groundless and utterly wrong to be sceptical about the domestic situation and the future of the four modernizations. Of course, it is understandable that for a time some of the masses may be somewhat disappointed in the Party and socialism: their minds were poisoned during the decade when Lin Biao and the Gang of Four were riding high, and they don’t understand many things because we haven’t conducted enough education among them. With patience and confidence, we should be able gradually to change their state of mind. But our cadres, particularly the higher ones, must have a high political consciousness and remain absolutely firm on the fundamental issues. Only in this way can we unite and educate our whole Party and people so that all can enter the 1980s with full confidence.
My second topic is the four essential problems to be solved or, to put it another way, the four prerequisites for achieving the four modernizations.
These four prerequisites, which were first put forth at the meeting of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and were generally well received, are as follows: (1) a firm and consistent political line; (2) political stability and unity; (3) hard struggle and a pioneering spirit; and (4) a contingent of cadres with an unswerving socialist orientation and with professional knowledge and competence. These four points do not, of course, cover everything, but they sum up the main things we should do and indicate the proper direction for our current endeavours.
First, it is essential to follow a firm and consistent political line.
We now have such a line. In his speech at the meeting in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic, Comrade Ye Jianying formulated the general task — or, if you will, the general line — as follows: Unite the people of all our nationalities and bring all positive forces into play so that we can work with one heart and one mind, go all out, aim high and achieve greater, faster, better and more economical results in building a modern, powerful socialist country. That was the first fairly comprehensive statement of our present general line. This general line is of immense political importance today — how can it be otherwise? It represents our long-term task. If a massive war breaks out and we have to fight, we will have to suspend our efforts to fulfil this task, but otherwise, we must keep at it consistently and devotedly. Having experienced many twists and turns in our work during the past 30 years, we have never really been able to shift its focus to socialist construction. Consequently, the superiority of socialism has not been displayed fully, the productive forces have not developed in a rapid, steady, balanced way, and the people’s standard of living has not improved much. The decade of the “cultural revolution” brought catastrophe upon us and caused profound suffering. Except in the event of a massive war, we must steel ourselves to carry out this task with constancy and devotion; we must make it our central task and allow nothing to interfere with its fulfilment. Even if there is a large-scale war, afterwards we will either pick up where we left off or start over. The whole Party and people should form this high resolve and keep to it without faltering. Had it not been for the “Left” interference, the reversals of 1958 and especially of the “cultural revolution”, significant progress would certainly have been achieved in our industrial and agricultural production and in science and education, and the people’s standard of living would certainly have improved to a fair extent. We could have accomplished these things simply by working conscientiously and methodically, even without applying the experience of the advanced countries and having the high resolve we have today. Take steel for instance. If there had been steady development, by now we could have been producing at least 50 to 60 million tons of usable steel a year. Today we enjoy very favourable international conditions and we can be fully confident that our future will be bright as long as the whole Party and people, with one heart and mind, resolutely follow the political line formulated by the Central Committee.
The tasks to be performed in building a modern, powerful socialist country are numerous. They are also interdependent: economic development cannot be separated from educational and scientific undertakings or from political and legal work, and none of them should be emphasized to the neglect of the others. For many years, one serious shortcoming in our planning has been the failure to balance development in the various fields. There have been imbalances between agriculture and industry; among farming, forestry, animal husbandry, side occupations and fishery; between light and heavy industry; between the coal, power, petroleum and transportation industries on the one hand and other industries on the other; between the “bones” and the “flesh” (that is, between industry on the one hand and housing, transportation and other urban development, commerce and service trades on the other); and between accumulation and consumption. This year’s planning is a little better, but it takes a tremendous effort to bring about a fundamental change. There is one additional important imbalance: the one between economic development and the development of education, science, culture and public health services. State expenditures for the latter are too limited and out of proportion to those for the former. Even some of the other third-world countries pay far greater attention to these areas than we do. India, for example, spends more money on education. Egypt has a population of only 40 million, but its educational spending per capita is several times ours. In short, we must be determined to substantially increase state expenditures for education, science, culture and public health services. Owing to financial difficulties this year, we can only take care of key projects in these areas, but beginning next year, or at the latest the year after, state expenditures must be increased annually without fail; otherwise, our efforts to modernize will get nowhere. Since our modernization programme covers many fields, it calls for an overall balance and we cannot stress one to the neglect of the others. But when all is said and done, economic development is the pivot. Any deviation from this pivotal task endangers our material base. All other tasks must revolve around the pivot and must absolutely not interfere with or upset it. In the 20-odd years since 1957 we have learned bitter lessons in this respect.
At present some people, especially young people, are sceptical about the socialist system, alleging that socialism is not as good as capitalism. Such ideas must be firmly corrected. The socialist system is one thing, and the specific way of building socialism another. Counting from the October Revolution of 1917, the Soviet Union has been engaged in building socialism for 63 years, but it is still in no position to boast about how to do it. It is true that we don’t have enough experience either, and perhaps it is only now that we have begun in earnest to search for a better road. Nevertheless, the superiority of the socialist system has already been proved, even though it still needs to be displayed in more, better and more convincing ways. In the future, we must — and certainly will — have abundant facts with which to demonstrate that the socialist system is superior to the capitalist system. This superiority should manifest itself in many ways, but first and foremost it must be revealed in the rate of economic growth and in economic efficiency. Otherwise, there will be no point in our trying to blow our own horn. And to achieve a high rate of growth and high efficiency, it is essential to carry out our political line consistently and unfalteringly.
Second, it is essential to maintain political stability and unity.
Without political stability and unity, it would be impossible for us to settle down to construction. This has been borne out by our experience in the more than 20 years since 1957, and especially by last year’s. Now we have achieved — or basically achieved — political stability and unity. This situation has not been easy to bring about, and with destabilizing factors still existing in different quarters, it is far from consolidated. Comrades at various posts must jointly take responsibility for preserving and developing it.
In addition to stability and unity, we must maintain liveliness. Liveliness has not come easily either, but it has grown along with stability and unity. Under the socialist system both aspects form a unified whole and are not — ought not to be — fundamentally contradictory. But what if, at a certain time and with regard to certain questions, liveliness comes into conflict with stability and unity? Then what should we do? We should try to achieve liveliness on condition that stability and unity are not adversely affected. Some comrades today are a bit confused on this question; it seems they have forgotten all the grief we have been through. After our success in socialist transformation, we launched one political movement after another, each time delaying our progress in many things and dealing unjustly with many people. In the final analysis, to take advantage of the superiority of socialism means to substantially develop the productive forces and gradually improve the people’s material and cultural life. Without political stability and unity none of that will be possible — and there will be no liveliness either.
There are now certain ideological trends in our society, particularly among some young people, which merit serious attention. For instance, could some of the posters that appeared on the “Xidan Wall” last year be considered a contribution to liveliness? What would have happened if we had continued to allow such posters to be put up without restraint? There have been many similar cases in China and elsewhere in the world. One must not take such things lightly, thinking that they won’t cause disturbances. Even a handful of persons could undermine our great undertaking. Therefore, if we are to make progress in an orderly way, when liveliness clashes with stability and unity, we can never pursue the former at the expense of the latter. The experience of the “cultural revolution” has already proved that chaos leads only to retrogression, not to progress, and that there must be good order if we are to move forward. Under China’s present circumstances it is clear that without stability and unity we have nothing. In their absence, democracy and the policy of “letting a hundred flowers bloom, a hundred schools of thought contend” — among other things — are out of the question. Since our people have just been through a decade of suffering, they cannot afford further chaos and will not permit it to recur. Conversely, with socialist stability and unity, we will be able to accomplish step by step and in a planned fashion everything that can possibly be accomplished and to meet the people’s demands to the fullest possible extent.
As I said earlier, destabilizing factors still exist. The residual influence of the Gang of Four is still being felt in the organizational and ideological fields, and we must not underestimate its harmfulness or we are likely to make mistakes. There are still factionalists around as well as newly emerging elements who engage in beating, smashing and looting. There are also hooligan gangs, criminals and counter-revolutionaries who carry on underground activities in collusion with foreign forces and the kuomintang secret service. Nor can we take too lightly the so-called democrats and other persons with ulterior motives who flagrantly oppose the socialist system and Communist Party leadership. Their position is clear. Although they sometimes claim to support Chairman Mao and the Party, they are essentially opposed to Party leadership and socialism. In reality, these people think that capitalism is better than socialism and that Taiwan is better than the mainland. Of course, they don’t really know what capitalism means or what the realities on Taiwan are. Many of them have simply been led astray and should be educated and brought back to the right path. But we must fully recognize the general tendency and the real aim of these “democrats” and not be too naive about them. In addition, there are anarchists, ultra-individualists and so on, who disrupt public order. All these constitute destabilizing factors. Although each is different in nature, it is entirely possible under certain circumstances for these people to coalesce into a destructive force which can cause us considerable trouble and losses. That is just what happened last year, and it could happen again. Some people ask, “Since the exploiting classes have been abolished, how can there still be class struggle?” We can see that both these things are objective facts. Our present struggles against the various kinds of counter-revolutionaries and saboteurs, criminals and criminal gangs guilty of serious offences do not all constitute class struggle, but they contain elements of class struggle. Naturally we must make a clear distinction between the two different types of contradictions. We should educate the overwhelming majority of persons who disrupt public order — all those who can be educated — and take stern legal steps against those who are beyond education or who prove incorrigible. Towards the latter, we must not be tender-hearted. A small number of comrades, including leaders in some localities, are still soft on such persons. In some places, the measures taken against them are far from effective or stern. The people will resent it if we tolerate these remnants of the Gang of Four, counter-revolutionaries and other criminals. We have recently taken measures to crack down on them, with only preliminary results. We must continue to strike resolutely at various kinds of criminals, so as to ensure and consolidate a sound, secure public order. We must learn to wield the weapon of law effectively. Being soft on criminals only endangers the interests of the vast majority of the people and the overall interests of our modernization drive.
In this struggle against crime all Party members and cadres, and the higher ones in particular, must take a firm, clear-cut stand. It is absolutely impermissible to propagate freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly and of association in ways implying that counter-revolutionaries may also enjoy them, and it is absolutely impermissible to make contacts with counter-revolutionaries and other criminals unbeknownst to the Party organization. I am referring to sympathetic contacts and naturally do not include those made for the purpose of dissuading these persons from evil-doing. There really are some comrades whose contacts with such people are sympathetic. For instance, some clandestine publications are beautifully produced. Well, where did the paper come from? And which printing house did the job for them? It’s not likely that they have their own presses. Aren’t there Party members in the printing houses that turn these things out? Among their supporters there must be some Party members or even cadres holding fairly high posts. We must make it clear to these Party members that their stand is very mistaken, very dangerous, and that unless they correct their mistakes immediately and thoroughly, they will be subjected to Party disciplinary measures. To sum up, Party organizations at all levels down to the branches must be firm and show no hesitation or ambiguity about fighting counter-revolutionaries, saboteurs and all other kinds of criminals.
Some people may ask whether we are following a “tightening up” policy again. But since we have never pursued a “loosening up” policy on such matters, naturally there is no question of “tightening up” now. When did we ever say that we would tolerate the activities of counter-revolutionaries and saboteurs? When did we ever say that the dictatorship of the proletariat was to be abolished? There is no question that those activities should now be dealt with severely, because they are becoming outrageous. The state simply cannot afford to sit back and do nothing. Only by taking stern legal measures against these criminals can we bring a number of misguided young people around to the right road. We must publicize the legal system and make everyone really understand the law, so that more and more people will not only refrain from breaking it but actively uphold it. By dealing sternly with these criminals now, we will be giving some kind of education not only to the overwhelming majority of offenders, but to the whole Party and people. Throughout the country we must resolutely implement the following principles: the law must be observed; law enforcement must be strict; law-breakers must be dealt with accordingly; and all persons are equal before the law.
If we are really going to consolidate stability and unity, we must of course rely primarily on measures that are positive and fundamental, on economic growth and the development of education and, at the same time, on the perfecting of the legal system. When our economic and educational work is proceeding satisfactorily and our legal system and judicial work are improved, the orderly progress of society as a whole can largely be guaranteed. But the legal system will be improved only gradually in the course of practice, and we can’t wait for that. When we fail to mete out stern punishment to so many criminals, can we even speak of having a legal system? All those who undermine stability and unity in any way must be dealt with sternly, according to the merits of each case.
In order to maintain stability and unity, comrades working in the fields of propaganda, education, theoretical studies and literature and art must join in a common effort. There is not the slightest doubt that successful work in all these fields can play a significant role in ensuring, maintaining and extending political stability and unity, but by the same token a serious deviation from the policies set for them can foster the growth of destabilizing factors. We hope newspapers and magazines will carry more ideological and theoretical explanations of the need for stability and unity, and that they will publicize the superiority of socialism, the correctness of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought, the strength of Party leadership and the unity between Party and people, the tremendous achievements and bright future of socialist China, and the idea that to work hard for that future is the highest mission and honour for the youth of our time. In short, we must turn the Party’s newspapers and magazines into ideological centres for promoting nationwide stability and unity. Newspapers and periodicals and the radio and television services should all consider it their regular, fundamental task to promote stability and unity and raise the socialist consciousness of young people. Comrades working in the media have achieved significant successes in the past three years, and are doing well on the whole, but their work also has shortcomings. They must listen to differing opinions from various quarters and analyse and improve their work. The literary and art circles have just convened their national congress. We have stated that there should be no arbitrary intervention concerning what to write about and how to write it. This actually places heavier responsibility and higher demands on the writers and artists themselves. We will adhere to the policy of “letting a hundred flowers bloom, a hundred schools of thought contend” and the “three don’ts”, and we will drop the slogan that literature and art are subordinate to politics, because it is too easily used as a theoretical pretext for arbitrary intervention in literary and art work. Long practice has proved that this slogan has done more harm than good to the development of literature and art. Of course this doesn’t mean that they can be divorced from politics. That is impossible. Every progressive and revolutionary writer or artist has to take into account the social effects of his works and the interests of the people, the state and the Party. The fostering of a new socialist man means politics. The new socialist man will of course work hard for the interests of the people, defend the honour of the socialist motherland and dedicate himself to her future. Literature and art can have an enormous impact on ideological trends among the people, particularly among young people, as well as on social stability and unity. We sincerely hope that all comrades in literary and art circles and those engaged in education, journalism, theoretical and other ideological work will constantly bear in mind the country’s overall interests and try to raise the socialist consciousness of the people and in particular of the youth.
Will the maintenance of stability and unity hinder the policy of “letting a hundred flowers bloom”? Not in the least. We will always persist in the policy of “letting a hundred flowers bloom, a hundred schools of thought contend”. But this doesn’t mean the policy can be implemented in ways detrimental to the overall interests of stability and unity. If anyone thinks it can be implemented in disregard of stability and unity, he is misinterpreting and abusing it. We are practising socialist, not capitalist, democracy. So the upholding of stability and unity and of the four cardinal principles is entirely in line with our adherence to that policy. Some people claim that the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee adopted a “loosening up” policy whereas the four cardinal principles represent a “tightening up” policy. This is sheer distortion that a Party member not only must not tolerate, but must firmly oppose. The four cardinal principles require us first and foremost to uphold socialism. Can we ever stop upholding socialism? How can there be any stability, unity, or socialist modernization if we don’t uphold socialism? The Third Plenary Session has called for the achievement of stability and unity — for carrying out a programme of socialist modernization on the basis of stability and unity. That represents the highest interest of the whole people. The policy of “letting a hundred flowers bloom, a hundred schools of thought contend” must, of course, serve this interest; it absolutely must not run counter to it.
It is the firm policy of our Party to persistently expand democracy and develop the legal system. But as with China’s modernization, democracy and the legal system cannot be put into practice by the method of the Great Leap Forward or the method of “speaking out freely and airing one’s views fully”. That is to say, we must do things methodically and under proper leadership. Otherwise, we will only foster turmoil, hold back the four modernizations and impair democracy and the legal system. The si da — that is, speaking out freely, airing one’s views fully, writing big-character posters and holding great debates — have been written into the Constitution. But when we sum up our historical experience, we have to recognize that, taken as a whole, these practices have never played a positive role. The masses should have the full right and opportunity to express responsible criticisms to their leaders and to make constructive suggestions, but “speaking out freely and airing one’s views fully” is evidently not the proper way to do that. Therefore, in the light of long practice and in accordance with the opinion of the great majority of the cadres and masses, the Central Committee is going to submit to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress and the coming session of the NPC a proposal that the si da provision be deleted from the Constitution.
Third, we must work hard and with a pioneering spirit.
This spirit is essential if we are to achieve the four modernizations. The fact that China is poor, has weak economic foundations and is backward in education, science and culture means that we have to go through a hard struggle. A few small low-wage countries and regions have found it relatively easy, for a limited time, to penetrate the world market with cheap products, because certain large developed countries, acting in their own interests, have assisted them with funds and technology. In these situations the capitalists have released a small part of their huge profits to the workers in these places, whose standard of living has apparently improved quite rapidly. For a large socialist country like China, however, no such short cut is possible. We want to make use of foreign funds and technology and to actively expand our foreign trade, but we must rely primarily on our own efforts. We are opposed to those absurd, reactionary concepts of “impoverished socialism”, “transition in poverty to a higher stage”, and “making revolution in poverty” touted by Lin Biao and the Gang of Four. But we are also opposed to the idea of turning China into a so-called welfare state right now because that’s impossible. We can only improve our standard of living gradually, on the basis of expanded production. It is wrong to expand production without raising the people’s standard of living; but it is likewise wrong — in fact impossible — to raise the people’s standard of living without expanding production.
We stand for the principle, “to each according to his work”, and we favour public citations and material rewards for those individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions. We are also in favour of allowing a part of the population or certain localities to become well-off first through hard work which earns them greater income. This is our firm position. But we should also note the tendency of some individuals and organizations to pay attention only to earning more for themselves without taking into account the interests of others. Some have gone so far as to ignore the interests of the country as a whole and to flout discipline. For example, because we were somewhat negligent in our work last year, bonuses were issued indiscriminately to the tune of over five billion yuan. While many such bonuses were distributed legitimately, a considerable proportion of the total, amounting to a sizable sum, was not. Bonuses were issued even by some units which failed to fulfil their quotas of production and profit. Indiscriminate price rises for some commodities were often directly related to the pursuit of bonuses by certain enterprises. In many places, workers’ real income was doubled as a result of excessive bonuses. On the other hand, many people, particularly those in educational and scientific research institutions, government departments and the army, received no bonus at all. This unreasonable disparity in remuneration gave rise to new social problems. If two billion of the yuan paid out in bonuses last year had been held in reserve, everyone would have fared better this year and it would have been unnecessary to discontinue many capital construction projects. While the issuing of excessive bonuses may have served to improve the standard of living of a minority, it has also created many difficulties for the nation as a whole. In passing, I would like to say that the decision to raise the state purchase prices for farm products was entirely correct and has played a tremendous role in stimulating agricultural production. However, a summing-up of our latest experience in this regard may show that if we had raised the purchase prices in two steps, it would have had a less adverse effect on finances and prices. Similar problems may crop up in our future work. Therefore, we must once again bring home to the cadres and the rank and file the idea that because ours is a poor, big country, we must work hard with a pioneering spirit. The gradual raising of the people’s income and standard of living must be tied to the expansion of production. While we will follow the principle of “more work, more pay”, every comrade must take into account the interests of the whole country and of other people. In handling such matters, we must act judiciously and give good guidance to the masses; under no circumstances should we irresponsibly try to arouse their enthusiasm by making loose promises. For instance, a recent report describes how a certain plant in Beijing, which manufactured 20,000 9-inch black-and-white TV sets last year — that is, an average of over 50 sets a day — recently introduced a Japanese production line for the 12-inch type with a designed capacity of 600 sets per day and is now turning out some 400 a day. So some of the personnel began to talk about getting more bonuses. However, we cannot afford to issue bonuses in exact proportion to the growth of labour productivity. As masters of the country, the working people should create more profits for it and thus increase state revenues, so that the state may in turn use these revenues for other purposes, such as expanded reproduction and capital construction to speed up our economic development. Those who work harder should indeed earn more, but one must take society as a whole into account. Look at that TV plant for example. Although only one production line is involved, the interests of the other workshops must also be considered. We are now confronted with a constantly increasing number of such practical problems to which everyone must give some thought.
We must have a clear understanding of the need to work hard and develop a pioneering spirit. Because China has such weak economic foundations, such a huge population and so little arable land, we cannot greatly increase our labour productivity, revenues and expenditures and volume of exports and imports overnight; nor can our national income grow very rapidly. Therefore, in some of my talks with foreigners, I have said that our four modernizations are of a Chinese type. Not long ago, during a discussion with a foreign guest I was asked: “What do those four modernizations of yours really mean?” I told him they mean that we will try to reach a per-capita GNP of US$1,000 by the end of this century, and that we can then say our society is fairly well-off. That answer was not precise, of course, but neither was it given casually. At present, our per-capita GNP only comes to a little more than US$200; to reach $1,000 the present figure has to be quadrupled. In Singapore and Hong Kong, per-capita GNP is more than $3,000. It is not easy for us to reach that level, because conditions in our country, with its vast expanse of land and huge population, are quite different. But it should be said that if our per-capita GNP really reaches $1,000, life in China will be far more comfortable than it is in places where the per-capita GNP is $2,000. Why? Because in China there is no exploiting class or system of exploitation, and so the national income is entirely used for the good of society as a whole, a large portion of it being directly distributed among the people. In those other places, however, there is a great disparity between rich and poor, and the larger part of the wealth is concentrated in the hands of the capitalists.
We must always bear in mind that ours is a big country with a huge population and weak economic foundations. Only through long, hard struggle can we catch up with the developed countries. Take coal output for example. In 1978 the total amount of marketable coal mined in the United States was in excess of 599 million tons, and the output of raw coal in the Soviet Union was 724 million tons. Our raw coal output last year was more than 630 million tons, which seems not bad by comparison. If reckoned per capita, however, ours is lower by far. Take steel for another example. In Japan the figure is almost one ton per person while in the United States and the Soviet Union, it is one ton to every two persons. In many European countries, such as France, Great Britain and West Germany, it is also roughly one ton to every two persons. If we wanted to reach the level of one ton of steel to every two Chinese by the end of this century, it would take 600 million tons — assuming that our population reaches only 1.2 to 1.3 billion. That is neither possible nor necessary. If our steel production reaches 100 million or 200 million tons, it will be one ton to every twelve or six persons. To sum up, because of various favourable conditions that we enjoy, there is no doubt that we will be able to catch up with the advanced countries. But we should also be aware that in order to narrow and eventually eliminate the gap created over two or three centuries, or at least over one century, we must be determined to work hard with a pioneering spirit for a long period of time. We have no alternative.
In this arduous task we must first of all call on our Communist Party members and cadres, and particularly senior cadres, to take the lead. Aren’t we opposed to the pursuit of personal privilege? To put a stop to it will take a serious struggle. It is not only a number of senior cadres who seek personal privileges but also some at all levels and in all departments. In short, some of our cadres have become overlords. Our Party members, cadres, and particularly senior cadres must try to revive the glorious Yan’an tradition and to learn from Comrade Zhou Enlai and others to set examples of hard work and the pioneering spirit. The Central Committee has already worked out some relevant regulations and will follow with more and stricter ones. We must make an earnest effort to educate Party members and cadres who have violated these regulations, and we should take organizational measures or even disciplinary sanctions against those who fail to respond.
The problem of combating the pursuit of personal privilege is only one of many we face in promoting hard work and a pioneering spirit. The biggest problems are to put a stop to the various forms of waste, to raise labour productivity, to reduce the proportion of goods unwanted by society and the number of factory rejects, lower production costs, and increase the utilization rate of our funds. We must make everyone realize that neither money nor products grow on trees and that waste in any form is a crime. As production grows, we must ensure further expansion, carry out capital construction, achieve an overall balance in the economy and undertake long-overdue projects. For instance, urban development projects — construction of sewage systems, housing, transportation and the setting up of schools. Our teachers and scientists are faced with many difficulties in their living conditions, which urgently need to be overcome. Many intellectuals who are very capable earn well under 100 yuan a month. Given slightly better working and living conditions, they would be able to solve many more problems for the state and the people and create immense additional wealth. I could cite many other examples. Thus, even the slightest degree of extravagance, whether before, during or after production and construction, is impermissible. It is gratifying that significant progress was made last year in increasing production and practising economy, but there is still a lot of waste. The responsibility for this waste, including the issuing of excessive bonuses mentioned earlier, rests primarily with the cadres. The relevant departments under the State Council have recently worked out new regulations on bonuses, which will be formally passed down to the units at lower levels and should be strictly implemented. The four modernizations will get nowhere if each unit insists on going its own way, as so often happens now.
Fourth, there must be a contingent of cadres who have an unswerving socialist orientation together with professional knowledge and competence.
In order to achieve the four modernizations under China’s socialist system, our cadres must of course keep to the socialist road, master the basic principles of Marxism-Leninism and abide by Party and state discipline. I should point out that some infiltration of bourgeois ideology is inevitable because of the non-socialist ideas that already exist in our Party and country, the 10-year rampage of Lin Biao and the Gang of Four, and the fact that we maintain and are developing diplomatic and trade relations with capitalist countries, among other factors. That is why it is necessary to stress repeatedly that our cadres must keep to the socialist road. It is particularly important to reaffirm this point today. When we study the technology and management experience of capitalist society, we must never allow ourselves to worship capitalist countries, to succumb to corrosive capitalist influences or to lose the national pride and self-confidence of socialist China. A foreign scholar of Chinese descent recently stated that he hopes that China will under no circumstances take the road followed by Taiwan or go about modernization the way Taiwan has, because Taiwan’s economy is virtually dominated by the United States. In selecting and promoting cadres, we must make sure they keep to the socialist road, and we must strengthen education among those who don’t meet this requirement, or when necessary transfer them to other, less important posts. With proper leadership and planning, we must vigor”iously promote — throughout the Party and country — socialist morality, love for the socialist motherland and a sense of national dignity. Moreover, we should inculcate the revolutionary qualities that inspire people to keep to the socialist road and combat corrosive capitalist influences. There is a tendency now among some young people to neglect politics. The whole Party must be aware of the seriousness of this problem, analyse its causes and apply itself earnestly to solving it.
However, the four modernizations cannot be achieved merely by keeping to the socialist road; we must also master professional knowledge and skills. No matter what job a person has, he must acquire the specialized knowledge it entails and become professionally competent; those who fall short of this standard must study.
Some should continue their studies, but others, who are really unable or unwilling to learn, should be transferred to other posts. We must reorganize the leading bodies at all levels according to professional standards, take full advantage of the ability of specialized personnel and encourage the masses to study and work in accordance with the demands of their jobs.
Here I would like to say a few words on the relationship between the terms “red” and “expert”. Being “expert” does not necessarily mean one is “red”, but being “red” means one must strive to be “expert”. No matter what one’s line of work, if he does not possess expertise, if he does not know his own job but issues arbitrary orders, harming the interests of the people and holding up production and construction, he cannot be considered “red”. Unless this problem is solved, we cannot possibly achieve the four modernizations. There is a widespread feeling, both at home and abroad, that overstaffing, bureaucracy and a dilatory style of work have become prevalent among us. Quite a few people just muddle along, sitting through meetings and checking off their names on documents, while many problems that could be solved by a single telephone call remain unsolved for half a year or longer. How can we possibly achieve the four modernizations this way? Many foreigners say that the four modernizations will get nowhere if China goes about them in this fashion. Our own people at home sometimes say the same thing. They are right. Then what is the solution? It is to change this situation in which cadres lack professional knowledge and competence. Are there too many cadres in China? In a vast country like ours, 18 million cadres are not too many in terms of absolute numbers to run the various trades and professions. The problem is that the composition of our cadre force is irrational: there are too many people who are not professionally competent and too few who are. For example, we now need at least one million additional cadres for the administration of justice, including judges, lawyers, procurators and specialized police. There are very few cadres who have studied law or are familiar with the law, who would be fair in enforcing it, who have the required political and moral integrity, and who are qualified in all these ways to be lawyers and judges. Or take the case of teachers. Even if we had two or three million more college and primary and secondary school teachers who were really qualified for their jobs, there would still not be enough. There are large numbers of children in primary and secondary schools, but very few college and university students; on-campus college students number only one million. In the United States, 10 million out of its population of 220 million are college students, averaging one for every 22 persons. If our on-campus college students were to reach even two or three million, we would have a good number of trained, specialized personnel. But this would require an increase in the number of both college faculty members and professional college administrators. We do not have enough primary and secondary school teachers either, and many of those we do have are overburdened, so that educational standards are lowered. In addition, we need a great many school administrators, who should also be trained professionals. Should the leader of a school Party committee, for instance, be a professional? Yes, he should. Although he may not be on the teaching staff, he should at least know something about education, have training as an administrator and know how to manage his particular type of school. The current problem, in a nutshell, is not that we have too many cadres but that their training does not match their work, and that too few of them have specialized training in their particular field of endeavour. The solution lies in education. One way is to open schools and training courses for cadres, another is self-education. It is essential for everyone to devote serious effort to study. Whatever one’s age, one should try to master the knowledge in one’s own field. As for those who are unable or unwilling to learn, the only alternative is to have them transferred; otherwise they will hold up the advance of our cause. In selecting cadres in future, we should attach particular importance to the mastery of professional knowledge. For a long time we have failed to pay proper attention to this qualification, and if we continue to neglect it we shall find it impossible to carry out our modernization programme. A person may have ardour for socialist construction, but if he doesn’t master professional skills and study conscientiously, he will not be able to make the contribution he should to that construction or play his proper part in it; on the contrary, he may even play a negative role. Times have changed. For a long time we copied the experience of the army in the war years. In fact, if we really made a careful study of the army’s experience during those years, we might find that it too shows the primary importance of being both “red” and “expert”. A good many comrades who are present here joined the revolution during the war years. Is there any one of you who was not specialized to one degree or another in military affairs? Unless you were, you couldn’t have done anything useful. Of course, in fighting a war we need a variety of skills, including those related to logistics. Logistics is an essential part of warfare. At that time the two qualities “red” and “expert” were inseparable, and it was not too hard to be both. Now things are different. Economic construction involves a large number of trades and fields of expertise, each one requiring specialized knowledge and the constant accumulation of new knowledge. Even the armed forces are different today. Our armed forces used to rely on “millet plus rifles”; so long as you know how to shoot, use a bayonet and throw a hand-grenade, you could go to the front. Today our navy has sophisticated technical knowledge to master and so does our air force. The work of staff officers has also changed; they must have a much wider range of knowledge today. So the armed forces can no longer rely solely on past experience either — and this is precisely the problem we have to solve. Whether it’s a question of economic construction, education, science, public security and legal work or anything else, we suffer from an acute shortage of specialized personnel. Therefore, we need to build up a huge contingent of cadres who combine an unswerving socialist orientation with professional knowledge and competence.
Does our need for an increasing number of specialized personnel mean that we now have none? No. The problem is that our Party committees at different levels, and especially some veteran comrades, haven’t paid enough attention to the matter and have failed to make a conscious effort to look for, select and train specialized personnel and help them in their work. A few days ago, a symposium on particle physics held in Guangzhou came out with some very gratifying news: so far as theoretical work in this field is concerned, we are quite close to the level of the most advanced countries — in other words, our level is pretty high. Moreover, some of our young people educated here have achieved success in this field, though far fewer than in the advanced countries. This shows that we are not devoid of talented scientists. The problem is that many of them go undiscovered, and that they cannot do what they are capable of because their working conditions are too poor and their incomes too low. We veteran comrades should not look down on young people or think they are invariably less competent than we are. In fact, at what age did we ourselves begin our careers? Didn’t we start doing significant work in our early twenties? Are young people nowadays less intelligent than we were then? I think we ought to be more open-minded and consider the overall interests and the future of our cause. We should make a real effort to discover capable persons and, having found them, give them earnest help. We should make sure that the leadership of professional organizations at different levels, including the leadership of their Party committees, is gradually taken over by people with professional skills. At present, particular attention should be paid to promoting cadres from among persons who are about 40 years old. What’s the significance of this age group? In general, they are comrades who entered university during the 1950s. It is now 30 years since the founding of the People’s Republic. If these people graduated from university between 1961 and 1966 at the age of about 25, they are now some 40 to 45 years old. Of course, the cadres we select should also include those who are around 50. People in these age groups are an important asset for us. I am afraid few of the comrades present here belong to them and that’s too bad. If the day comes when comrades around 40 predominate at meetings like this, it will be a sign that our cause is vigorous and flourishing. We should not console ourselves with the thought that we ourselves can still muddle along all right but should keep in mind the future of our cause. China has only a limited number of competent personnel to begin with, so we simply cannot continue to waste talent: we can’t afford it. The primary task — that of first importance — now facing our veteran comrades is to promote younger cadres. Even if it means we have to skimp on some of our other work, so long as we do this job well, we’ll have something to say for ourselves when we go to meet Marx. Otherwise, we’ll have nothing to say.
The third topic I want to talk about is upholding and improving Party leadership.
To accomplish the three major tasks I have outlined for the 1980s and to ensure the four prerequisites for modernization will take strenuous effort. But I believe it can be done, provided we uphold and improve Party leadership and make that leadership the driving force behind all work. Upholding the Four Cardinal Principles means upholding socialism, the dictatorship of the proletariat, Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought, and Party leadership. The crucial thing is to uphold Party leadership. Ours is a party rooted in Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought; it is the core force which leads in the struggle for the cause of socialism and in the exercise of the dictatorship of the proletariat; it is the advanced contingent of the proletariat, possessing socialist and communist consciousness and revolutionary discipline. Our Party’s ties with the masses and its leadership in the struggle for the cause of socialism in China have been established over a period of 60 years. The Party cannot do without the people and the people cannot do without the Party — and no force on earth can alter this fact. It is true that there is some ideological confusion on this question at present. Some young people have developed a blind faith in the so-called democracy of capitalist society. In 1957 there was a demand for “rotating the leadership”. Now the “democrats” and some people who put up big-character posters on “Xidan Wall” are harping on the same theme. So we have to clarify this issue. In the final analysis, without Party leadership, it would be impossible to achieve anything in contemporary China, and naturally it would be out of the question to accomplish the three major tasks or to ensure the four prerequisites I have specified. Without Party leadership, there would be no correct political line, no political stability and unity, no hard struggle or pioneering spirit, and no way of forming a contingent of truly “red” and “expert” personnel, personnel who have in particular professional knowledge and competence. Thus, there would be no force in China capable of leading our drive for socialist modernization, our effort to reunify the motherland or our struggle against hegemonism. This is an objective fact no one can deny. Those naive young people who for the moment doubt this fact will eventually come to recognize it.
Let us glance back at the road we have travelled. Without the Communist Party of China, would the Chinese revolution have been victorious? Never. One should not belittle our Party. I read an article recently which said that at its Fourth National Congress our Party had only between 900 and 1,000 members. Yet it succeeded in bringing about co-operation between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party and in pushing forward the Northern Expedition [1924-27]. Later when the revolution suffered defeats, only a party such as ours was able to survive 10 years of bloody terror, the “encirclement and suppression” campaigns by armies a million strong, and the 25,000-li Long March. Thanks to the Party’s leadership and their own bitter struggles, the Chinese people finally succeeded in founding the People’s Republic of China. Our Party has also made serious mistakes, but they have been corrected by the Party itself not by any extraneous force. Even the overthrow of the Gang of Four was brought about by the Party, representing the interests and demands of the people. China always used to be described as “a heap of loose sand”. But when our Party came to power and rallied the whole country around it, the disunity resulting from the partitioning of the country by various forces was brought to an end. So long as the Party exercises correct leadership, it can rally not only its whole membership but also the whole nation to accomplish any mighty undertaking. After all, what is the good of the multi-party system in capitalist countries? That system came into being as a result of strife and competition among different sections of the bourgeoisie, and none of the parties represents the interests of the masses of working people. The people in capitalist countries do not, and cannot possibly, share any common ideal; many of them simply don’t have any ideals at all. This state of affairs is not the strong point of these countries but their weakness: it prevents them from concentrating all their forces, many of which hamstring and work against each other. While there are also many parties in our country, our non-Communist parties serve the cause of socialism on the basis of their recognition of leadership by the Communist Party. The whole Chinese nation shares common basic interests and a common lofty ideal, namely, to build and develop socialism and ultimately realize communism. Therefore, we can unite as one under the leadership of the Communist Party. While the principle of long-term coexistence and mutual supervision between our Party and all other parties must be upheld, China and China’s drive for socialist modernization must be led by the Communist Party. This is an unshakable principle. In its absence China would retrogress into division and chaos, and modernization would become impossible.
At the same time, it should be recognized that in order to uphold Party leadership, we must strive to improve it. Lin Biao and the Gang of Four inflicted great damage on our Party, and we should realize that its prestige among the people has therefore fallen. In the past when we were faced with a difficulty, any call by the Party or any directive from the Central Committee would draw an immediate response and the whole nation would rise to meet the challenge. The difficulty would then be overcome. Under the Party’s unified leadership, the serious difficulties we encountered in 1959, 1960 and 1961 were rapidly surmounted. These are things worth remembering. When more than 20 million workers and office staff were transferred to the countryside in those years, they didn’t even grumble, because we followed the mass line and clearly explained to them the reasons why the move was necessary. It would not be so easy to do such a thing now. Why? Because when Lin Biao and the Gang of Four were in power, they ruled as a clique, kicking aside Party committees to “make revolution” and throwing the Party into disorder. The urgent problem now confronting us is to restore the Party’s fighting capacity. As the vanguard of the proletariat, the Party should be a united fighting force with a high level of political consciousness and discipline. Only when the Party is restored to that state will it possess fighting capacity.
Several questions are involved here. First, a number of our Party members do not measure up to standards. Some of the new members who joined the Party during the “cultural revolution” are not qualified because, never having received Party education, they cannot set an example to the masses. Some veteran members who used to be qualified over many years in the past don’t quite measure up any more either, because they no longer set an example. We advocate Party spirit and oppose factionalism. Some people still obdurately cling to their factions, and a fair number of Party members, including some veterans, hold factionalism higher than Party spirit. How can we consider them still qualified? Why was our Party so powerful in the past? In the war years we often said that if Party members made up 30 per cent of an army company, that company must be very good and have a strong fighting capacity. Why? Because Party members were invariably the first to charge and the last to withdraw on the battlefield, the first to bear hardships and the last to enjoy comforts in daily life. Therefore, they became models for the masses and the core of their units. That is a simple truth. And it was not easy to be a Party member then. If you were a Party cadre, a company commander or a platoon leader, you often had to carry two or three rifles on the march [one for yourself, the others for comrades]. Now some Party members are different. They join the Party in order to be the first to enjoy comforts and the last to bear hardships. When we talk about opposing privilege-seeking, in fact we have in mind the conduct of some Party members and cadres. That’s why we say that as we go about restoring our Party’s fine traditions and style of work, we face a problem about the qualifications of Party members. The question of whether a Communist meets the requirements for Party membership applies not only to new Party members but also to a number of veterans. So our Party really does need consolidation. At present we have a total of 38 million members. If each and every one of us measured up to the standard, what a mighty force we would have! The problem now is that a number of Party members don’t measure up, so we must consolidate the Party through education. The Central Committee is considering revising the Party Constitution. The Constitutions adopted at the Ninth and Tenth National Party Congresses were actually inadequate documents. They didn’t properly set forth the rights and duties of Party members or specify the requirements for membership of state what should be done with those who fail to meet them. So they need to be revised. The requirements for Party membership must be strict. We should educate all members by discussing the draft of the revised Constitution before it is formally adopted at the Twelfth National Party Congress.
To improve Party leadership, it is necessary to improve its present state and the system under which it functions, in addition to making changes in the Party’s organization. This is a complicated question. As we all know, shortly after we took over the cities, Chairman Mao said that we would soon put aside some of the things we knew well and be confronted with things with which we were unfamiliar. This problem has now become all the more pressing and serious because we have failed to really come to grips with it for so long. Leading the work in a region, department, factory, school or army unit has now become much more complicated and difficult than ever before. Take our economic work for example. It is true that we have quite a number of accomplishments to our credit, but have we really learned systematically how to develop a planned socialist economy? Developing a planned socialist economy on a nationwide scale is quite different from planning the economic work of the former Liberated Areas. Moreover, economic work today is much more complex than it was in the 1950s. The conditions are different and the tasks before us are different too. Now that there are new developments in science and technology and in international exchanges of personnel and information, our economy should be measured by world standards and must become competitive internationally. Faced with the new problems that are constantly emerging, our Party — we Communists — and the rest of the Chinese people should always be learning. We cannot reconcile ourselves to lagging behind others; if we do, we will not survive. But how many of our Party members, and particularly our leading cadres, have mastered professional knowledge? Can we go on in this way? Of course, even when Party members have mastered professional knowledge, the Party must not substitute itself for all other organizations and monopolize everything; still less can it afford to do so now. The Party should assume leadership, but these problems must be conscientiously studied and solved. I think the Party must make preparations now to discuss the problems I have been talking about, and they should figure prominently on the agenda of our next national congress. We should solve them earnestly and systematically.
Many problems concerning the improvement of Party leadership remain to be solved. For instance, we have said all along that in a factory the director should assume overall responsibility under the leadership of the Party committee, in an army unit the senior officers should do so, and in a school the principal. If these systems are to be continued in future, is it necessary for the committees of general Party branches to lead work in the workshops and for Party branches or groups to lead the work teams and groups in factories? Likewise, is it necessary for the committees of general Party branches to lead the individual university departments? Is this form of leadership beneficial to the functioning of factories and universities? Can it give substance to the Party’s role of leadership? If these questions are not properly settled, Party leadership will not be strengthened; on the contrary, it may be harmed or weakened. How should the Communist Party exercise leadership? Should it do so through the organizational forms I have just described? Or through other means, such as having Party members set the example by, for instance, studying assiduously to acquire professional knowledge and become experts in particular spheres, bearing hardships first and enjoying comforts last, and carrying heavier work loads than others do? The Party committee of a factory should always see to it that the production plans are met in terms of quantity, quality and production costs, that their factory is technologically advanced and scientifically and democratically managed, that the managerial personnel have authority commensurate with their posts and can function efficiently and methodically, that the workers and office staff enjoy democratic rights and suitable working and living conditions and facilities for study, that talented persons are trained and promoted through election or otherwise, and that all capable persons — whether Party members or not — have the opportunity to put their skills to the best use. When all these things are ensured, Party leadership can be judged effective and competent. With this way of working, which is far better than having a finger in every pie, the Party’s prestige will naturally grow.
To sum up, we are now confronted with the important problem of how to improve Party leadership. If we don’t study and solve it, Party leadership cannot be upheld and the Party’s prestige cannot be enhanced.
In order to uphold and improve Party leadership, Party discipline must be strengthened. During the “cultural revolution”, Party discipline was lax, and even now it has not yet been fully restored. This is one important reason why the Party is unable to play its proper role. Because of lax discipline, many Party members simply do as they please, without implementing — or fully implementing — the Party’s line, principles, policies and decisions or performing their assigned tasks. If a party allowed each member to speak and act freely according to his own will, naturally it would have no unity of will and no power to fulfil its tasks. Thus, in order to uphold and improve Party leadership, it is essential to strictly uphold and greatly strengthen Party discipline. Individual Party members must be subordinate to the Party organization, the minority to the majority, the lower Party organizations to the higher, and all Party constituent organizations and members must be subordinate to the Central Committee. These principles must be strictly observed. Otherwise, the Party will not form a fighting collective and will not be qualified to serve as the vanguard of the proletariat.
Here I would say that of all these principles the most important is that all Party constituent organizations and members must be subordinate to the Central Committee. Though it has made mistakes, the Central Committee has itself corrected them. It is impermissible for anyone to use these mistakes as an excuse for resisting the leadership of the Central Committee. Only when all the constituent organizations and members are strictly subordinate to the Central Committee can the Party lead the entire membership and the whole nation in accomplishing the great task of modernization. Party organizations and the commissions for discipline inspection at different levels must take stern disciplinary measures against anyone who seriously violates this principle, because it embodies the highest interests of the Party and of the nation. We must take pains to ensure and develop Party democracy. When a Party member disagrees with a Party decision, he may express his views and reservations through organizational channels or even to the Central Committee directly. Party organizations at all levels up to and including the Central Committee should give such views serious consideration. Until such time as any changes are made by the Party, however, the member concerned must obey the original decisions of the Central Committee and other Party organizations. His public statements must be in accordance with Party decisions, and he must not wilfully spread misgivings, discontent or opposition concerning the line, principles and policies of the Central Committee. Party newspapers and journals must in all circumstances publicize the Party’s views. Of course Party members are entitled to criticize shortcomings and mistakes in Party work, but the criticism should be constructive and should include suggestions for improvement. Isn’t it often said nowadays that this or that question is open to discussion? Yes, certainly there can be discussion, but it should be conducted within the scope and in the forms allowed by Party principles and decisions. If this were not the case, that is, if everyone went his own way without acting on the Central Committee’s principles, policies and decisions, the Party would be sapped of its strength and could never achieve unity or have fighting capacity. Therefore, we must resolutely eradicate the trend towards anarchism that was introduced into the Party by the Gang of Four as well as the trend towards various kinds of bourgeois liberalism that is emerging within the Party. Only when the Party’s unity and fighting capacity are fully guaranteed can the tasks we have outlined today be accomplished.
In the final analysis, the major tasks and the essential principles I have mentioned all relate to the necessity of building a Party worthy to lead. We have always said that the Communist Party of China is a great, glorious and correct party. While there have been gaps in our work because of our historical setbacks, they have basically been filled in through our efforts over the past three years or are being filled in now. In the future, we will try to do our work correctly, in other words, to make fewer mistakes and avoid major mistakes and reversals. When mistakes are made, we will rectify them as soon as possible. We are fully confident that the Party and the Central Committee can achieve their objectives. China needs our Party to accomplish modernization. Similarly, China’s prominent position in the international struggle against hegemonism and for human progress presupposes the existence of our Party. We must uphold and improve Party leadership and strengthen the Party’s discipline and fighting capacity so as to measure up to our responsibility, the enormous responsibility of leading our country and the people of all its nationalities.
(Speech at a meeting of cadres called by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.)