HOW TO JUDGE THE SOUNDNESS OF
A COUNTRY’S POLITICAL SYSTEM
March 27, 1987
There are three important criteria for judging the soundness of a country’s political system or structure and of its policies. First, whether the country is politically stable; second, whether the system and policies help to strengthen unity among the people and to raise their living standards; and third, whether the productive forces keep developing. In the last eight years we have scored some achievements in these three respects. Still, ours is a country with a huge population, a vast territory and a poor economic foundation to start with, so we have many difficulties to overcome. Nevertheless, I think our future is bright.
We should not shout empty slogans about socialism, for socialism cannot be built on the basis of poverty. Since conditions differ from one country to another, their policies should also differ. In our effort to build socialism we stress that it must have specifically Chinese characteristics. We have profound faith in Marxism, but we must integrate it with Chinese realities. Only Marxism that is integrated with Chinese realities is the genuine Marxism we need. It is on this understanding that we have been striving to attain our development goals.
Peasants constitute 80 per cent of our population. So without the initiative of the peasants, China cannot develop. Eight years ago we introduced the open policy in the countryside, and it has proved successful. The initiative of the peasants has been aroused. The output of farm products has substantially increased and a great amount of surplus labour in the countryside has moved to new, rising small and medium-sized enterprises or to new, rising cities and towns. This may be the only solution for the surplus labour in the countryside. In any event, peasants should not be confined to small plots of land forever. If they were, how could they prosper?
(Excerpt from a talk with President Paul Biya of the Republic of Cameroon.)