The Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping

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Reform Is China’s Second Revolution



March 28, 1985


The reform we are now carrying out is very daring. But if we do not carry it out, it will be hard for us to make progress. Reform is China’s second revolution. It is something very important that we have to undertake even though it involves risks. The “Report on the Work of the Government” made at the Third Session of the Sixth National People’s Congress [held from March 27 to April 10, 1985] points out that we have already encountered some problems. When we decided to carry out reform, we anticipated that possibility. Our principle is to be bold, take a confident step and then look around carefully before taking another. Our policy is firm, and we are not going to change it. What is important is that we should review our experience at regular intervals, because reform involves the vital interests of the people, and every step we take will affect hundreds of millions of them. We shall see in a few years whether the reform is successful. It took three years for the rural reform to show results. As the overall reform involving both urban and rural areas is more complex, we think it will take five years to show results. In the process, we are bound to make mistakes, and problems are bound to arise. The crucial thing is to review what we have done and correct every wrong step promptly.

The problems that have appeared recently are nothing serious. Although some foreigners think they are, we are optimistic. The policy of opening up domestically and internationally will not change. The reform we are undertaking is the continuation and extension of that policy. To reform we need to continue to open up. At a national conference on scientific and technological work not long ago, when I was speaking about the implementation of the open policy, I stressed the need for ideals and discipline. Some people think that since China is emphasizing the importance of ideals, that means it is going to close its doors again. That is not true. We are soberly aware of the possible negative effects of the open policy and will not ignore them. Nevertheless, our principle is not to close but to continue to open. We may open even wider in the future. Some commentators abroad say that China’s current policy is irreversible. I think they are right.

(Excerpt from a talk with Susumu Nikaido, Vice-President of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan.)



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