IN THE FIRST DECADE, PREPARE FOR
October 14, 1982
The objective for the two decades from 1981 and the end of this century has been set: on the basis of steadily improved economic performance, we shall try to quadruple the gross annual value of industrial and agricultural output by the year 2000. Can it be done? The Twelfth National Congress of the Party says it can. And I also believe it can. But whether it really will be done depends on the success of our work in the years to come.
Two years of the Sixth Five-Year Plan period [1981-1985] have already passed, and careful arrangements should be made for the next three. Right now we should concentrate on working out a long-term programme. The key is to use the first decade to prepare for the second.
In preparing for the second decade we are in a race against time. We must be very careful about this. Instead of undertaking projects all at once, we must determine priorities. We should concentrate our funds on those projects that can be launched sooner than others. If we start some a year earlier, we shall derive the benefits a year earlier. Things must not be allowed to drag on into the next century. If we really want to promote economic development, we shall have to carry out some key projects, and we must be determined to do so, whatever the difficulties. If we don’t have enough money and materials for them, we must cut back local projects, especially those for ordinary processing industries. For no matter how many of these minor projects we complete, they won’t amount to much.
One way in which socialism is superior to capitalism is that under socialism the people of the whole country can work as one and concentrate their strength on key projects. A shortcoming of socialism is that the market is not put to best use and the economy is too rigid. How should we handle the relation between planning and the market? If we handle it properly, it will help greatly to promote economic development; if we don’t, things will go badly.
You have proposed a number of major prospecting and design projects to prepare for construction, and you plan to complete them ahead of schedule. This work has to be done carefully. There must be a timetable for prospecting and design, and there must be people in charge of monitoring each undertaking. No time should be lost in doing the preparatory work for energy projects, such as coal, power and oil projects, and for those in communications. These must not be delayed. We are going to have an energy shortage not only during the period of the Sixth Five-Year Plan but for a fairly long time thereafter. As we cannot produce enough thermoelectricity, we should try to generate more hydroelectricity. If a major hydroelectric project can be completed, it will be a great help.
Our strategy for developing the economy as a whole gives priority to energy, communications and agriculture. Agricultural development depends first on policy and second on science. There are no limits to the development of science and technology or to the effect they can have.
You propose to do good work in science and technology and in the training and employment of talented people. I think this will be the most difficult task. How can we put the several million key intellectuals to use if we haven’t worked out a set of measures to be taken? My guess is that we have several million intellectuals who before the “cultural revolution” graduated from colleges or universities or reached the equivalent educational level through independent study. They will help a great deal if they are put to proper use. We do have trained people, but the problem is how to organize them, arouse their enthusiasm and give full play to their special skills. On the one hand, we have an acute shortage of scientists and technicians. On the other hand, highly trained people are often wasted because of poor organization. They are not assigned enough work, or they can’t apply what they have learned or put their special skills to best use. This method of management doesn’t work. It is imperative to find ways to break down the barriers between the military and the civilian, between departments and between local areas and to make proper use of the talents of the scientists and technicians throughout the country. Comrade Nie Rongzhen used to be in charge of these matters, and he did a good job. At the time, personnel could be transferred according to need and employed in large numbers for key projects.
In implementing the policy towards intellectuals, the first priority is to ensure better administration of the work of scientists and technicians. Trained personnel will mature only if we give them free rein. People of genuine ability should be promoted without hesitation and given pay raises of more than one step at a time. It is also a good idea to invite people to apply for jobs. We should stop placing restrictions on talented people and provide them with opportunities for rapid growth. With increasing numbers of skilled personnel, we can have high hopes for our cause. We have to find ways to provide such opportunities. People in all fields of endeavour, including those in enterprises, should try to solve this problem. This is crucial if we are going to fulfil the programme for the next two decades.
(Main points of a talk with leading members of the State Planning Commission. The editors have included some remarks made to the same persons on July 26.)