WE MUST FORM A PROMISING COLLECTIVE
LEADERSHIP THAT WILL CARRY
May 31, 1989
The policies of reform and opening to the outside world should remain unchanged for dozens of years, and we have to keep driving this point home. People both in China and abroad are concerned about this question. We should continue to implement the lines, principles and policies that have been formulated since the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee, without even altering their wording. The political report to the Thirteenth National Party Congress was approved by the congress, and not a single word of it can be changed. I have consulted Comrades Li Xiannian and Chen Yun on this matter, and they agree with me.
After the disturbances are put down, we shall have to make a few things clear to the people. There are two things in particular we have to do for this purpose.
First, we should change the leadership. The new central leading bodies should take on an entirely new look, so that people will feel that there is a promising new lineup of leaders who will carry out reform. This is the most important thing to do. You have to appear before the people! The people will judge you on the basis of the impression you make. If they feel that the leadership is hidebound, conservative or mediocre and that it does not represent the future of China, there will be many more disturbances and never any peace. The current disturbances are not over. The students have not yet returned to classes. And even after they do, they may well turn out in the streets again.
One thing is certain: the workers, peasants, intellectuals and students all hope for reform. This time there are all kinds of slogans but none voicing opposition to reform. However, the “reform” advocated by certain people should be renamed liberalization — that is, going capitalist. The essence of their “reform” is to go capitalist. The reform we are carrying out is different from theirs. There will be more debate on this subject. In short, in deciding on members of the new leading bodies, the most important consideration is that they should be perceived as reformers. This is not ninety-nine per cent important, but one hundred per cent important. We have to recognize this.
Second, we should accomplish some practical things to prove that we are fighting corruption genuinely, not hypocritically. Actually, we have been determined to fight it all along. I too am outraged by corruption. Over the last few years I have always stressed the importance of combating it; you have heard my remarks on the subject time and again. And I often try to find out whether there is any violation of law or discipline in my own family. We can always uncover major cases of corruption if we want to. The problem is that we are usually hesitant about handling such cases. So we end up losing the support of the people, who come to believe that we are protecting the wrongdoers. We must pass this test and keep our promise. If we really want to win the trust of the people, we have to call a spade a spade and deal with cases as they should be dealt with. We should take up 10 or 20 cases of corruption, graft or bribery at the provincial or national level. We must uncover such cases speedily, make them known to the public and handle them according to law. Penalties should be imposed on all guilty parties, no matter who they are.
A good leading group, a group that carries out the policies of reform and opening to the outside world, will achieve visible successes. Whenever an opportunity arises, they will not let it go but seize it to advance the reform and to open the country wider. I have said we should build more Hong Kongs. That means that we should open to the outside world instead of closing our doors — open wider than before. If we don’t, it will be impossible to develop the country. We have only a small amount of capital, but with our doors open we can create more jobs, levy taxes and earn some money by leasing land, all of which will promote economic development and increase our revenue. For example, Hong Kong is of benefit to us. Without Hong Kong, we would not be well informed, to say the least. In short, we should be more daring in the reform and opening to the outside world.
Today you have been invited to come here and think over whether you agree with the following views. The first thing we have to do to reassure the people and win their trust is to form a central group of leaders who have the image of promoters of reform and the open policy. The second thing is to achieve some visible results. We must punish corruption, and at the same time we must make it clear that we are resolved not to change the current policies but, on the contrary, to deepen the reform and open still wider to the outside world. We must convince the people through our actions; that’s the only way to calm them down. Otherwise, some people will take to the streets today and others will follow suit tomorrow. If we don’t give deeper thought to this matter, we won’t have even a month’s peace. We have to recognize that it is of overall importance.
Our comrades on the Political Bureau, on the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau and in the Secretariat are all in charge of important affairs. In approaching any problem, they should therefore keep their eyes on long-term interests and the situation as a whole. Minor matters should be subordinated to major ones. This is of prime importance.
Everybody has shortcomings. All of us present here have shortcomings, and other people have theirs too. Everybody has his weaknesses. Naturally there are differences. Some people have major shortcomings, others have minor ones; some have more, others fewer. There is nobody who has no shortcomings. No doubt the members of our leading group have had only limited experience in politics and struggle. That’s true. The first stable and mature collective of leaders of the CPC was formed by Mao Zedong, Liu Shaoqi, Zhou Enlai and Zhu De. All previous ones had been unstable and immature. From Chen Duxiu to the Zunyi Meeting, not a single leading group was truly mature. For one period of time, a worker was dragged into the post of General Secretary because, it was argued, it was necessary to stress the leadership of the working class. In the history of the Party, Mao, Liu, Zhou and Zhu formed the first generation of truly mature leadership. During the early period of their tenure of office, that generation of leaders was good, but during the later period the “cultural revolution” caused a catastrophe. Hua Guofeng was merely an interim leader and cannot be counted as representing a generation. He had no ideas of his own but the “two whatevers”. We are of the second generation, now being replaced by the third.
We should establish a new third generation of leaders worthy of the name. These leaders should win the trust of the people and the Party members. People don’t necessarily have to be pleased with each and every member of the leading group, but they have to be pleased with the group as a collective. They may have complaints of one sort or another about each member of the leading group, but if they are pleased with the group as a collective, that will be all right. For the second generation of leaders, I can be considered as the group leader, but the group is still a collective. By and large, the people are pleased with our collective, because we have carried out the policies of reform and opening to the outside world, put forward the line of concentrating on modernization and brought about tangible results. The third generation of leaders must likewise win the trust of the people and bring about tangible results. We must never close our doors. China can never go back to the days of isolationism. Isolationism brought about disasters like the “cultural revolution”. Under those circumstances it was impossible to develop the economy, improve the people’s lives or increase the strength of the country. The world today is progressing by leaps and bounds; changes are taking place from one day to the next, especially in the realm of science and technology. It will be difficult for us to catch up.
The third generation of leaders of the Central Committee should win the trust of the people, so that they will rally around it. We should unswervingly combat bourgeois liberalization and adhere to the Four Cardinal Principles. On this point I have never made any concessions. Can China reject the Four Cardinal Principles? Can we refrain from exercising the people’s democratic dictatorship? It is a matter of fundamental importance whether we uphold the people’s democratic dictatorship, Marxism, socialism and leadership by the Communist Party.
The new leading bodies we are about to form should be farsighted and broad-minded. This is the most fundamental requirement to be met by our third generation of leaders. Our first generation of leaders were broad-minded during their early period in office, and on the whole, the second generation has been so too. The same requirement should be met by leaders of the third and subsequent generations. Candidates for members of the new Political Bureau, the Secretariat and especially the new Standing Committee of the Political Bureau should be selected on the basis of their position on reform and opening to the outside world. The members of the new leading bodies should constantly take action to prove that they are truly carrying out the policies of reform and opening up that have been formulated since the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee. Thus the people will have confidence in them.
When it comes to promoting people, you must abandon all your personal prejudices and try to find those who the people believe will keep to the line of reform. When selecting the right person for the right job, you should forget about settling old scores and choose from among people who were once against you. For a long time Chairman Mao dared to make use of people who had once opposed him. When considering candidates, you should be more broad-minded. This too is a kind of reform, an ideological reform, an emancipation of the mind. I sincerely hope that when you select people for jobs, you will pay attention to public opinion and not let yourselves be swayed by your own sentiments. You should deal with this matter in a statesmanlike way. You should choose precisely those who, as acknowledged by the people, keep to the policies of reform and opening to the outside world and who have achieved something in this connection. You should not hesitate to include them in the new leading bodies, so as to convince the people that you are sincere in carrying out those policies. Everyone has shortcomings. They can continue to remedy their shortcomings after they have been admitted to the leading bodies.
First, we should use reformers who are recognized as such by the public, and second, the new leading bodies should take action to promote reform and opening up so as to reassure the people. A good image can be established in three to six months. The students are only demanding that we continue the reform, and that is precisely what we are doing. So we and the students are marching in step, and the misunderstanding will disappear of itself. But it cannot be removed by writing articles and holding debates. One of the causes for the recent turmoil is the growth of corruption, which has made some people lose confidence in the Party and the government. Therefore, we should first of all rectify our own mistakes and show understanding for some of the actions taken by the masses. We should deal with such actions in an appropriate way, without involving too many people.
A member of the top leadership should no longer be content to be his old self with his old outlook, because he has undertaken different responsibilities. He should work to make changes in himself, including changes in his style of work. It is not easy to lead a country like ours. A leader’s responsibilities are different. The most important thing is to be broad-minded. And when you examine a question, you have to bear in mind the overall interests, keeping in view the world, the future, the present and all other factors.
Another problem is that small factions or cliques must never be allowed to take shape in the Party. Strictly speaking, no factions of any sort have ever taken shape in our Party. While in Jiangxi in the 1930s, I was regarded as a member of the Mao faction, but it was not true. There simply was no Mao faction. It is of key importance to be tolerant of all kinds of people and unite with them. As for myself, I am not a perfect man who makes no mistakes; I have made many. But I have a clear conscience, partly because I have never tried to form a clique. When I was transferred to a new post, I used to go there alone, without taking even my orderly. A clique is a terrible thing that leads to many failures and mistakes. I have tried to make this point clear today because you have to work in the front lines, bearing the brunt of all difficulties.
Once the new leading group has established its prestige, I am resolved to withdraw and not interfere in your affairs. I hope all the members will unite closely around Comrade Jiang Zemin. So long as the collective leadership is united and adheres to the policies of reform and opening to the outside world, fundamental changes will take place in China even if our country develops only at a measured pace for dozens of years. The core leader will play the key role. I should like you to convey my words to every comrade who will be working in the new leading bodies. This can be considered my political testament
(Excerpt from a talk with two leading members of the CPC Central Committee.)