The Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping

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The Reform of the System For Managing Science and Technology Is Designed To Liberate the Productive Forces




March 7, 1985


I have come here today to congratulate you on the success of your conference and to show my respect for science and technology and for knowledge.

Seven years ago, also in the month of March, we held another conference on science at which I spoke. I talked mainly about two points that can be summarized in two sentences. One was that science and technology constituted part of the productive forces. The other was that China’s intellectuals had become part of the working class. The reason I talked about those two points was that at the time they were controversial. Seven years have passed, and the controversy has been settled. How was it settled? Through practice and by the masses.

I am very pleased that nowadays even the peasants in mountainous areas know that science and technology are part of the productive forces. They may not have read my speech, but through their own practice they have come to realize that scientific and technological advances can help them expand production and become prosperous. Peasants regard scientists and engineers as brothers who help them shake off poverty; they refer to them as the “gods of wealth”. That term was invented not by me but by the peasants. But it means the same thing I was trying to say in my speech at the conference on science.

I am also happy that comrades in scientific and technological circles have done so much work over the past few years. Our country’s economic development is sound, and the prospects are getting better year by year. The people are pleased about that, and the whole world has recognized it. This includes your contribution. The Central Committee of the Party has called for the work in science and technology to be geared to the needs of economic development. You comrades have worked hard and scored many achievements. In addition, regarding yourselves as the masters of the country, you have put forward many good ideas for it. Whenever our scientists, professors and engineers visit a factory or a local area, they are warmly received and invited to offer advice on the country’s strategies, prospects and programmes. In our thousands of years of history it is unprecedented for scientists and engineers to take part in making decisions on economic and social policy. This shows that they enjoy much higher political and social status than ever before. The better you do your work and the more achievements you have to your credit, the better the people throughout the country will understand the value of knowledge and the more they will be encouraged to respect and acquire it. It is by your work that people judge the role of science and technology in the modernization programme and the importance of scientists and engineers.

We should go a step further to integrate science and technology with economic development. By this I mean that having established the principle of integrating them and come to a correct understanding of the importance of doing so, we should now tackle the system for managing science and technology. Last year the Central Committee adopted a decision on reform of the economic structure. The whole world is now commenting on that decision and thinks that is a bold invention by the Chinese Communist Party. Now the Central Committee will also adopt a decision on reform of the system for managing science and technology. Your conference has been a preparation for that decision. I think that the draft decision is a good document and that it has the same goal as the reform of the economic structure as a whole. The reform of the system for managing science and technology, like the reform of the economic structure, is designed to liberate the productive forces. The new economic structure should promote technological progress, and the new science and technology management system should promote economic development. When both reforms are carried out, we shall perhaps be able to solve the longstanding problem of the separation between science and technology and the economy.

In reforming the economic structure, what matters most is capable people, and that’s what I am most concerned about. The same is true in reforming the system for managing science and technology. In this connection I want to make just two points. First, every year we must solve some of the intellectuals’ problems, producing practical results. Second, we must create an environment that enables the brightest people to come to the fore. That is precisely the objective of our reform. We have no lack of talented people. We should not stifle their talents merely because they don’t know everything yet or are not Party members, or because they don’t have much education or a long record of service. The ability to identify capable people, unite with them and put their talents to best use is one of the chief signs of an experienced leader. I hope all units represented here will discuss these two points.

The purpose of our struggle over the last few decades has been to eliminate poverty. Our first objective is for our people to lead a fairly comfortable life by the end of this century, that is, to reach a level that is neither rich nor poor. Our second objective is to approach the economic level of the developed countries in another three to five decades, so that our people become relatively well-off. This is in the overall interest of the country. We should strive for a peaceful international environment and overcome all domestic obstacles. What people like us can do is to create favourable conditions for you. When you meet an obstacle, we should remove it. If anything is hobbling you in your work, we should find a way of freeing you from it. We rely on you to do the work. I hope that you will boldly push the economy ahead and expand the productive forces.

(Speech at a National Conference on Work in Science and Technology.)



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