THE OVERRIDING NEED IS FOR STABILITY
February 26, 1989
In China the overriding need is for stability. Without a stable environment, we can accomplish nothing and may even lose what we have gained.
China must adhere to the policies of reform and opening to the outside world: there lies our hope of solving our problems. But it is impossible to carry out reform without a stable political environment. The Chinese people, on the whole, support the policy of reform, and the overwhelming majority of students favour stability, because they know that without it reform and opening to the outside would be out of the question.
We have correctly evaluated historical events since the founding of the People’s Republic and in particular the mistakes of the “cultural revolution”. We have also evaluated Comrade Mao Zedong’s place in history and Mao Zedong Thought. We must not be too critical of the mistakes Mao made in his later years. To negate the contributions of such a great historical figure would mean to deny all our achievements during an important period of the country’s history. That would lead to ideological confusion and political instability.
China is now in a period when it must concentrate on economic development. If we seek the forms of democracy, we won’t achieve the substance, and we won’t develop the economy either, but will only throw the country into turmoil and undermine the people’s unity. We have had profound experience of this, because we went through the “cultural revolution” and witnessed the disasters it brought upon the country. China has a huge population; if some people demonstrated today and others tomorrow, there would be a demonstration 365 days a year. In that case, we would have no time to develop our economy. We shall develop socialist democracy, but it would be no good for us to act in haste. And it would be even worse for us to adopt Western-style democracy. If we conducted multiparty elections among one billion people, the country would be thrown into the chaos of an all-out civil war as during the “cultural revolution”. Civil war does not necessarily require rifles and artillery; people can wage fierce battles just with fist and clubs. Democracy is our goal, but we must keep the country stable.
(Excerpt from a talk with President George Bush of the United States.)