EXCERPTS FROM TALKS GIVEN IN WUCHANG,
SHENZHEN, ZHUHAI AND SHANGHAI
January 18 – February 21, 1992
I was here in Guangdong in 1984. At that time rural reform had been under way for several years, and we were just beginning to introduce urban reform and to establish special economic zones. Eight years have passed since then. This time, during my trip here, I have found that the rapid growth in the Shenzhen and Zhuhai special economic zones and some other areas has exceeded my expectations. After what I have seen, I am even more confident.
Revolution means the emancipation of the productive forces, and so does reform. The overthrow of the reactionary rule of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat-capitalism helped release the productive forces of the Chinese people. This was revolution, so revolution means the emancipation of the productive forces. After the basic socialist system has been established, it is necessary to fundamentally change the economic structure that has hampered the development of the productive forces and to establish a vigorous socialist economic structure that will promote their development. This is reform, so reform also means the emancipation of the productive forces. In the past, we only stressed expansion of the productive forces under socialism, without mentioning the need to liberate them through reform. That conception was incomplete. Both the liberation and the expansion of the productive forces are essential.
In upholding the line, principles and policies formulated since the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee of the CPC, it is essential to adhere to the principle of “one central task and two basic points”. If we did not adhere to socialism, implement the policies of reform and opening to the outside world, develop the economy and raise living standards, we would find ourselves in a blind alley. We should adhere to the basic line for a hundred years, with no vacillation. That is the only way to win the trust and support of the people. Any one who attempted to change the line, principles and policies adopted since the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee would not be countenanced by the people; he would be toppled. I have said this several times. Had it not been for the achievements of the reform and the open policy, we could not have weathered June 4th. And if we had failed that test, there would have been chaos and civil war. The “cultural revolution” was a civil war. Why was it that our country could remain stable after the June 4th Incident? It was precisely because we had carried out the reform and the open policy, which have promoted economic growth and raised living standards. The army and the government should therefore safeguard the socialist system and these policies.
In the short span of the last dozen years, the rapid development of our country has delighted the people and attracted world attention. This suffices to prove the correctness of the line, principles and policies adopted since the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee. No one could change them, even if he wanted to. After all that’s been said, I can sum up our position in one sentence: we shall keep to this line and these principles and policies. Since we introduced the reform and the open policy, we have drawn up many rules and regulations covering all fields of endeavour. Clear-cut guidelines and policies concerning economic and political affairs, science and technology, education, culture and military and foreign affairs have been worked out and expressed in precise terms. The recent Eighth Plenary Session of the Thirteenth Central Committee was a success. It declared that the rural household contract responsibility system with remuneration linked to output should remain unchanged. Any change in that system would cause concern among the people, who would say that the Central Committee had altered its policy.
In the initial stage of the rural reform, there emerged in Anhui Province the issue of the “Fool’s Sunflower Seeds”. Many people felt uncomfortable with this man who had made a profit of 1 million yuan. They called for action to be taken against him. I said that no action should be taken, because that would make people think we had changed our policies, and the loss would outweigh the gain. There are many problems like this one, and if we don’t handle them properly, our policies could easily be undermined and overall reform affected. The basic policies for urban and rural reform must be kept stable for a long time to come.
Of course, as the reform progresses, some of these policies should be improved or amended as necessary. But we should keep firmly to our general direction. It doesn’t matter much whether we can come up with new ideas. What matters is that we should not change our policies and should not make people feel that we are changing them. Then, the prospects for China will be excellent.
We should be bolder than before in conducting reform and opening to the outside and have the courage to experiment. We must not act like women with bound feet. Once we are sure that something should be done, we should dare to experiment and break a new path. That is the important lesson to be learned from Shenzhen. If we don’t have the pioneering spirit, if we’re afraid to take risks, if we have no energy and drive, we cannot break a new path, a good path, or accomplish anything new. Who dares claim that he is 100 per cent sure of success and that he is taking no risks? No one can ever be 100 per cent sure at the outset that what he is doing is correct. I’ve never been that sure. Every year leaders should review what they have done, continuing those measures that have proved correct, acting promptly to change those that have proved wrong and tackling new problems as soon as they are identified.
It will probably take another thirty years for us to develop a more mature and well-defined system in every field. The principles and policies to be applied under each system will also be more firmly established. We are constantly accumulating more experience in building a Chinese-style socialism. Judging from the local press, the provinces have gained considerable experience, each proceeding in light of its own particular features. That’s good. Creativity is just what we want.
The reason some people hesitate to carry out the reform and the open policy and dare not break new ground is, in essence, that they’re afraid it would mean introducing too many elements of capitalism and, indeed, taking the capitalist road. The crux of the matter is whether the road is capitalist or socialist. The chief criterion for making that judgement should be whether it promotes the growth of the productive forces in a socialist society, increases the overall strength of the socialist state and raises living standards. As for building special economic zones, some people disagreed with the idea right from the start, wondering whether it would not mean introducing capitalism. The achievements in the construction of Shenzhen have given these people a definite answer: special economic zones are socialist, not capitalist. In the case of Shenzhen, the publicly owned sector is the mainstay of the economy, while the foreign-invested sector accounts for only a quarter. And even in that sector, we benefit from taxes and employment opportunities. We should have more of the three kinds of foreign-invested ventures [joint, cooperative and foreign-owned]. There is no reason to be afraid of them. So long as we keep level-headed, there is no cause for alarm. We have our advantages: we have the large and medium-sized state-owned enterprises and the rural enterprises. More important, political power is in our hands.
Some people argue that the more foreign investment flows in and the more ventures of the three kinds are established, the more elements of capitalism will be introduced and the more capitalism will expand in China. These people lack basic knowledge. At the current stage, foreign-funded enterprises in China are allowed to make some money in accordance with existing laws and policies. But the government levies taxes on those enterprises, workers get wages from them, and we learn technology and managerial skills. In addition, we can get information from them that will help us open more markets. Therefore, subject to the constraints of China’s overall political and economic conditions, foreign-funded enterprises are useful supplements to the socialist economy, and in the final analysis they are good for socialism.
The proportion of planning to market forces is not the essential difference between socialism and capitalism. A planned economy is not equivalent to socialism, because there is planning under capitalism too; a market economy is not capitalism, because there are markets under socialism too. Planning and market forces are both means of controlling economic activity. The essence of socialism is liberation and development of the productive forces, elimination of exploitation and polarization, and the ultimate achievement of prosperity for all. This concept must be made clear to the people. Are securities and the stock market good or bad? Do they entail any dangers? Are they peculiar to capitalism? Can socialism make use of them? We allow people to reserve their judgement, but we must try these things out. If, after one or two years of experimentation, they prove feasible, we can expand them. Otherwise, we can put a stop to them and be done with it. We can stop them all at once or gradually, totally or partially. What is there to be afraid of? So long as we keep this attitude, everything will be all right, and we shall not make any major mistakes. In short, if we want socialism to achieve superiority over capitalism, we should not hesitate to draw on the achievements of all cultures and to learn from other countries, including the developed capitalist countries, all advanced methods of operation and techniques of management that reflect the laws governing modern socialized production.
To take the road to socialism is to realize common prosperity step by step. Our plan is as follows: where conditions permit, some areas may develop faster than others; those that develop faster can help promote the progress of those that lag behind, until all become prosperous. If the rich keep getting richer and the poor poorer, polarization will emerge. The socialist system must and can avoid polarization. One way is for the areas that become prosperous first to support the poor ones by paying more taxes or turning in more profits to the state. Of course, this should not be done too soon. At present, we don’t want to dampen the vitality of the developed areas or encourage the practice of having everyone “eat from the same big pot”. We should study when to raise this question and how to settle it. I can imagine that the right time might be the end of this century, when our people are living a fairly comfortable life. At that time, while developed areas continue to grow, they should also give strong support to less developed areas by paying more taxes, turning in more profits and transferring technology. Most of the less developed areas are rich in resources and have great potential for development. In short, taking the country as whole, I am confident that we can gradually bridge the gap between coastal and inland areas.
In the beginning opinions were divided about the reform and the open policy. That was normal. The difference was not only over the special economic zones but also over the bigger issues, such as the rural reform that introduced the household contract responsibility system with remuneration linked to output and abolished the system of people’s communes. Initially, in the country as a whole, only one third of the provinces launched the reform. By the second year, however, more than two thirds of them had done so, and the third year almost all the rest joined in. At first, people were not enthusiastic about rural reform, and many waited to see how it would work. It was our policy to permit people to do that, which was much better than coercing them. In carrying out the line, principles and policies adopted since the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee, we did not resort to compulsion or mass movements. People were allowed to follow the line on a voluntary basis, doing as much or as little as they wished. In this way, others gradually followed suit. It was my idea to discourage contention, so as to have more time for action. Once disputes begin, they complicate matters and waste a lot of time. As a result, nothing is accomplished. Don’t argue; try bold experiments and blaze new trails. That’s the way it was with rural reform, and that’s the way it should be with urban reform.
At present, we are being affected by both Right and “Left” tendencies. But it is the “Left” tendencies that have the deepest roots. Some theorists and politicians try to intimidate people by pinning political labels on them. That is not a Right tactic but a “Left” one. “Left” tendencies have a revolutionary connotation, giving the impression that the more “Left” one is, the more revolutionary one is. In the history of the Party, those tendencies have led to dire consequences. Some fine things were destroyed overnight. Right tendencies can destroy socialism, but so can “Left” ones. China should maintain vigilance against the Right but primarily against the “Left”. The Right still exists, as can be seen from disturbances. But the “Left” is there too. Regarding reform and the open policy as means of introducing capitalism, and seeing the danger of peaceful evolution towards capitalism as coming chiefly from the economic sphere are “Left” tendencies. If we keep clear heads, we shall not commit gross errors, and when problems emerge, they can be easily put right.
If we are to seize opportunities to promote China’s all-round development, it is crucial to expand the economy. The economies of some of our neighbouring countries and regions are growing faster than ours. If our economy stagnates or develops only slowly, the people will make comparisons and ask why. Therefore, those areas that are in a position to develop should not be obstructed. Where local conditions permit, development should proceed as fast as possible. There is nothing to worry about so long as we stress efficiency and quality and develop an export-oriented economy. Slow growth equals stagnation and even retrogression. We must grasp opportunities; the present offers an excellent one. The only thing I worry about is that we may lose opportunities. If we don’t seize them, they will slip through our fingers as time speeds by.
In developing the economy, we should strive to reach a higher level every few years. Of course, this should not be interpreted as encouraging unrealistic speed. We should do solid work, stressing efficiency, so as to realize steady, coordinated progress. Guangdong, for example, should try to mount several steps and catch up with the “four little dragons” of Asia in twenty years. In relatively developed areas such as Jiangsu Province, growth should be faster than the national average. Shanghai is another example. It has all the necessary conditions for faster progress. It enjoys obvious advantages in skilled people, technology and management and can have an impact over a wide area. In retrospect, one of my biggest mistakes was leaving out Shanghai when we launched the four special economic zones. If Shanghai had been included, the situation with regard to reform and opening in the Yangtze Delta, the entire Yangtze River valley and, indeed, the whole country would be quite different.
Judging from what we have accomplished in recent years, it should be possible for our economy to reach a new stage every few years. We actually started the reform in 1980. In 1981, 1982 and 1983 it was carried out primarily in the countryside. In 1984 the focus shifted to urban areas. The years from 1984 to 1988 witnessed comparatively rapid economic growth. During those five years rural reform brought about many changes: grain output increased substantially, as did the peasants’ income, and rural enterprises emerged as a new force. The purchasing power of peasants increased and many new houses were built. The “four big items” — bicycles, sewing machines, radios and wristwatches — entered ordinary peasant households, along with some more expensive consumer goods. The increase of farm and sideline products, the expansion of rural markets and the shift of surplus farm labour to rural enterprises stimulated industrial development.
In those five years the gross industrial output value amounted to more than 6 trillion yuan, with an average annual growth rate of 21.7 per cent. Production of processed food, clothing, housing, transportation and commodities for daily use, including major appliances such as colour TV sets, refrigerators and washing machines, increased by a wide margin. There was also substantial growth in the production of capital goods such as rolled steel and cement. Thus, agriculture and industry, rural areas and urban areas had a reciprocal impact, progress in one sector promoting progress in the other. This is a vivid, convincing model of the development process. It can be said that during this period China’s wealth expanded considerably, and the economy as a whole was raised to a new level. In 1989 we began the drive to improve the economic environment and rectify the economic order, which I endorsed because it was plainly necessary. The overheated economy had resulted in a number of problems. For instance, the issuance of too much currency had led to major price rises, and there was much wasteful duplicate construction.
Nevertheless, what should be our overall assessment of the accelerated development in those five years? We might call it a leap, but unlike the Great Leap Forward of 1958, it did not damage the structure and mechanisms of economic development as a whole. In my opinion, the accelerated development of that period was no small contribution. Our three-year effort to improve the economic environment and rectify the economic order was a success. But in assessing that effort, we can say it was an achievement only in the sense that we stabilized the economy. Should not the accelerated development of the preceding five years be considered an achievement too? An achievement in one respect at least? Had it not been for the leap in those years when the economy rose to a new level, the readjustment of the following three years could not have been carried out so smoothly.
It seems to me that, as a rule, at certain stages we should seize the opportunity to accelerate development for a few years, deal with problems as soon as they are recognized, and then move on. Basically, when we have enough material wealth, we shall have the initiative in handling contradictions and problems. For a big developing nation like China, it is impossible to attain faster economic growth steadily and smoothly at all times. Attention must be paid to stable and proportionate development, but stable and proportionate are relative terms, not absolute. Development is the absolute principle. We must be clear about this question. If we fail to analyse it properly and to understand it correctly, we shall become overcautious, not daring to emancipate our minds and act freely. Consequently, we shall lose opportunities. Like a boat sailing against the current, we must forge ahead or be swept downstream.
The experience of other countries shows that some of them — Japan, South Korea and parts of Southeast Asia, for example — have gone through one or more periods of rapid development. Since we have the necessary domestic conditions and a favourable international environment, and since under the socialist system we have the advantage of being able to concentrate our forces on a major task, it is now both possible and necessary for us to bring about, in the prolonged process of modernization, several periods of rapid growth with good economic returns. We must have this ambition.
Rapid development of the economy can only be based on science, technology and education. I have said that science and technology are a primary productive force. How fast they have progressed over the past 10 or 20 years! One breakthrough in the field of high technology promotes the growth of several industries. Could we have developed so rapidly in recent years without science and technology? We must promote science, for that is where our hope lies. Over the past decade China has made substantial progress in science and technology; I hope still greater progress can be made in the 1990s. People in every field of endeavour should set a clear-cut strategic goal and reach it. China should take its place in the world in the field of high technology too. I am no professional, but I want to thank the scientists and engineers for their contributions to China and the honours they have won for our country. We should remember the days when scientists of the older generation, such as Qian Xuesen, Li Siguang and Qian Sanqiang, developed the atomic and hydrogen bombs, satellites and many other high technologies under extremely difficult conditions. It should be said that scientists are luckier today, so we can demand more of them.
I have said that intellectuals are part of the working class. Veteran and middle-aged scientists are important, and so are young ones. We hope all those who are studying abroad will come back. All overseas students may return and enjoy proper arrangements for their life and work, regardless of their previous political attitudes. This policy will not change. They should be told that if they want to make their contributions, it would be better for them to come home. I hope that concerted efforts will be made to accelerate progress in China’s scientific, technological and educational undertakings. We should develop science and technology, and the higher and newer the technologies are, the better, and the more delighted we shall be — and not just we, but the entire people and the state. We should all love our country and help to develop it.
There are two tasks we have to keep working at: on the one hand, the reform and opening process, and on the other, the crackdown on crime. We must be steadfast with regard to both. In combating crime and eliminating social evils, we must not be soft. Guangdong is trying to catch up with Asia’s “four little dragons” in 20 years, not only in terms of economic growth, but also in terms of improved public order and general social conduct — that is, we should surpass them in both material and ethical progress. Only that can be considered building socialism with Chinese characteristics. Thanks to a strict administration, Singapore has good public order. We should learn from its experience and surpass it in this respect.
Since China opened its doors to the outside world, decadent things have come in along with the others, and evils such as drug abuse, prostitution and economic crimes have emerged in some areas. Special attention must be paid to these evils, and resolute measures must be taken to stamp them out and prevent them from spreading. After the founding of New China, it took only three years to wipe these things out. Who in this world has ever been able to eliminate the abuse of opium and heroin? Neither the Kuomintang nor the capitalist countries. But facts have shown that the Communist Party was able to do it.
Throughout the process of reform and opening, we must combat corruption. Cadres and Party members should consider it of prime importance to build a clean government. But we still have to rely on the law, which provides a firm guarantee. In short, so long as we develop our productive forces, maintain a reasonable economic growth rate, promote reform and opening and, at the same time, crack down on crime, we shall be able to build a socialist society with advanced ethical standards.
Throughout the process of reform and opening, we must also adhere to the Four Cardinal Principles. At the Sixth Plenary Session of the Twelfth Central Committee I said that the struggle against bourgeois liberalization must be conducted for twenty years. Now it seems it will take longer. The rampant spread of bourgeois liberalization may have grave consequences. It has taken the special economic zones more than ten years to reach the present stage. They can collapse overnight. Collapse is easy, but construction is difficult. If we don’t nip bourgeois liberalization in the bud, we may find ourselves in trouble.
One of the basic concepts of Marxism is that the socialist system must be defended by the dictatorship of the proletariat. Marx once said the theory of class struggle was not his discovery. His real discovery was the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat. History has proved that a new, rising class that has just taken power is, generally speaking, weaker than the opposing classes. It must therefore resort to dictatorship to consolidate its power. Democracy is practised within the ranks of the people and dictatorship over the enemy. This is the people’s democratic dictatorship. It is right to consolidate the people’s power by employing the force of the people’s democratic dictatorship. There is nothing wrong in that. We have been building socialism for only a few decades and are still in the primary stage. It will take a very long historical period to consolidate and develop the socialist system, and it will require persistent struggle by many generations, a dozen or even several dozens. We can never rest on our oars.
The implementation of the correct political line must be ensured by a correct organizational line. In a sense, whether we can manage our domestic affairs well, whether we can keep to the socialist road and adhere to reform and the open policy, whether we can develop the economy more rapidly and whether we can maintain long-term peace and stability will all be determined by people.
The imperialists are pushing for peaceful evolution towards capitalism in China, placing their hopes on the generations that will come after us. Comrade Jiang Zemin and his peers can be regarded as the third generation, and there will be a fourth and a fifth. Hostile forces realize that so long as we of the older generation are still alive and carry weight, no change is possible. But after we are dead and gone, who will ensure that there is no peaceful evolution? So we must educate the army, persons working in the organs of dictatorship, the Communist Party members and the people, including the youth. If any problem arises in China, it will arise from inside the Communist Party. We must keep clear heads. We must pay attention to training people, selecting and promoting to positions of leadership persons who have both ability and political integrity, in accordance with the principle that they should be revolutionary, young, well educated and professionally competent. This is of vital importance to ensure that the Party’s basic line is followed for a hundred years and to maintain long-term peace and stability. It is crucial for the future of China.
This is a pressing problem that has not yet been solved satisfactorily, and I hope it will be. I began to think about it when I resumed work after the “cultural revolution”. When we found that it was impossible for our generation to ensure long-term peace and stability, we tried hard to find a third generation to succeed us and recommended a few persons. But that didn’t solve the problem. Two persons who were chosen failed, and not with regard to economic issues; they stumbled over the question of opposing bourgeois liberalization. That was something we could not tolerate. In late May 1989 I said that we should boldly choose for the new leadership persons who were generally recognized as adhering to the line of reform and opening up and who had some achievements in that respect to their credit. This would convince the people that we were wholeheartedly committed to that line. The masses judge from practice. When they come to the conclusion that socialism is good and that reform and the open policy are good, our cause will flourish forever.
More young people should be promoted to positions of leadership. The present central leaders are rather advanced in years. Those who are a little over 60 are counted as young. They may be able to work for another 10 years, but 20 years from now they will be in their 80s, like me. They may be able to chat with people, as I’m doing today, but they won’t have the energy to do much work. The current central leaders have been doing a good job. Of course, there are still quite a few problems in their work, but there are always problems in one’s work. It is essential for old people like us to stand aside, give newcomers a free hand and watch them mature. Old people should voluntarily offer younger ones their places and give them help from the sidelines, but never stand in their way. Out of goodwill, they should help them when things are not being handled properly. They must pay attention to training successors of the next generation. The reason I insisted on retiring was that I didn’t want to make mistakes in my old age. Old people have strengths but also great weaknesses — they tend to be stubborn, for example — and they should be aware of that. The older they are, the more modest they should be and the more careful not to make mistakes in their later years. We should go on selecting younger comrades for promotion and helping train them. Don’t put your trust only in old age. I was already in a high position when I was in my 20s. I didn’t know as much as you do now, but I managed. More young people must be chosen, helped, trained and allowed to grow. When they reach maturity, we shall rest easy. Right now we are still worried. In the final analysis, we must manage Party affairs in such a way as to prevent trouble. Then we can sleep soundly. Whether the line for China’s development that was laid down at the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee will continue to be followed depends on the efforts of everyone, and especially on the education of future generations.
One of our problems today is formalism. Every time you turn on the television, you see a meeting being held. We hold countless meetings, and our articles and speeches are too long and too repetitious, in both content and language. Of course, some words have to be repeated, but we should try to be concise. Formalism is a kind of bureaucratism. We should spend more time on practical matters. That means saying less and doing more. Chairman Mao never held long meetings, his essays were short and concise and his speeches succinct. When he asked me to draft the work report to be delivered by Premier Zhou Enlai at the Fourth National People’s Congress, he said it should be no more than 5,000 Chinese characters. I kept to 5,000 characters, and they were enough. I suggest you do something about this problem.
In studying Marxism-Leninism we must grasp the essence and learn what we need to know. Weighty tomes are for a small number of specialists; how can the masses read them? It is formalistic and impracticable to require that everyone read such works. It was from the Communist Manifesto and The ABC o Communism that I learned the rudiments of Marxism. Recently, some foreigners said that Marxism cannot be defeated. That is so not because there are so many big books, but because Marxism is the irrefutable truth. The essence of Marxism is seeking truth from facts. That’s what we should advocate, not book worship. The reform and the open policy have been successful not because we relied on books, but because we relied on practice and sought truth from facts. It was the peasants who invented the household contract responsibility system with remuneration linked to output. Many of the good ideas in rural reform came from people at the grass roots. We processed them and raised them to the level of guidelines for the whole country. Practice is the sole criterion for testing truth. I haven’t read too many books, but there is one thing I believe in: Chairman Mao’s principle of seeking truth from facts. That is the principle we relied on when we were fighting wars, and we continue to rely on it in construction and reform. We have advocated Marxism all our lives. Actually, Marxism is not abstruse. It is a plain thing, a very plain truth.
I am convinced that more and more people will come to believe in Marxism, because it is a science. Using historical materialism, it has uncovered the laws governing the development of human society. Feudal society replaced slave society, capitalism supplanted feudalism, and, after a long time, socialism will necessarily supersede capitalism. This is an irreversible general trend of historical development, but the road has many twists and turns. Over the several centuries that it took for capitalism to replace feudalism, how many times were monarchies restored! So, in a sense, temporary restorations are usual and can hardly be avoided. Some countries have suffered major setbacks, and socialism appears to have been weakened. But the people have been tempered by the setbacks and have drawn lessons from them, and that will make socialism develop in a healthier direction. So don’t panic, don’t think that Marxism has disappeared, that it’s not useful any more and that it has been defeated. Nothing of the sort!
Peace and development are the two major issues in the world, and neither one has been resolved. Socialist China should show the world through its actions that it is opposed to hegemonism and power politics and will never seek hegemony. China is a steadfast force for safeguarding world peace.
We shall push ahead along the road to Chinese-style socialism. Capitalism has been developing for several hundred years. How long have we been building socialism? Besides, we wasted twenty years. If we can make China a moderately developed country within a hundred years from the founding of the People’s Republic, that will be an extraordinary achievement. The period from now to the middle of the next century will be crucial. We must immerse ourselves in hard work: we have difficult tasks to accomplish and bear a heavy responsibility.
REVIEW YOUR EXPERIENCE AND USE
PROFESSIONALLY TRAINED PEOPLE
August 20, 1991
The situation in China is now stable. That is because, for one thing, we resolutely adhered to socialism when we quelled the unrest in 1989 and because, for another, we have persisted in the policies of reform and opening to the outside world. If we hadn’t taken action to prove that we were still adhering to those policies, the situation would not be stable. The future of China hinges on our adhering to those policies, and we should explain that fully to the people.
In reviewing the experience we have gained in economic work during this period, what should we emphasize? I think we should emphasize our experience in reform and opening up. Without the leap that we have made in economic development over the past ten years by carrying out those policies, it would have been impossible for us to improve the economic environment and rectify the economic order. It is right to stress stability, but if we overdo it, we may let opportunities slip by. Right now we have double-digit industrial growth, and things are going well in agriculture too. It seems that our economy tends to develop in waves, moving rapidly ahead for a few years, reaching a higher stage, after which we pause to solve the problems that have arisen, and then moving on again.
Our experience shows that we must have stability but that stability alone cannot solve all problems. Then should we emphasize it in future? Yes, but we should analyse the specific conditions to decide when and how to do so. In any event, stability is not the only thing we should emphasize. It is particularly important not to abandon the fundamental policies of reform and opening up. That is the only way to seize opportunities to push the economy to a higher stage.
In this connection, we can follow the example of other countries. Many countries have progressed in this manner and lifted themselves out of poverty in only 10 years. Great changes are taking place in the world, and this gives us an opportunity. People are talking about the “Asia-Pacific century”. Where do we stand? In the past China lagged behind the developed countries but was more advanced than the poor ones. This last is no longer always the case. Some countries in Southeast Asia are full of enthusiasm for development and may move ahead of us. China is developing too, but compared with them we have a huge population, and the world market is already dominated by other countries. So we find ourselves under pressure — we can consider it friendly pressure. But if we don’t seize this opportunity to raise the economy to a higher level, other countries will leap ahead of us, leaving us far behind. Somehow I feel this is a problem, and I hope you will study it. We don’t often have an opportunity like this.
We must continue to stress the need to combat bourgeois liberalization. In carrying out the reform and the open policy and in shifting the focus of our work to economic development, we are not abandoning Marx, Lenin and Mao Zedong. We cannot forget our forefathers! The problem is to get a clear understanding of what socialism is and how we can build and expand it.
Another problem is how to find and use professionally trained people. They are really hard to come by. You come from grass-roots units. When you worked there you knew or came into contact with all kinds of people, both at your own level and at other levels. If you think some of them are talented, even if they have certain weaknesses, you should not hesitate to employ them. Trained people can be very useful; indeed, we can do nothing without them. In 1975, when I was responsible for straightening things out in all fields of endeavour, I used a few capable people, and with their help I succeeded in restoring order in certain areas and making great changes. The problem is that there aren’t many truly competent people, we don’t try hard enough to identify them, and when we do, we hesitate to employ them. People may have different opinions about someone; complete agreement is not possible. But if a person has some weaknesses, we can point them out to him and meantime let him work. On the whole, we have not paid much attention to using capable people. I suggest that you leading comrades review your experience in this regard, respect professionally trained people and recruit them in large numbers.
In short, I am formally suggesting that you review your experience and employ professionally trained people.
(Excerpt from a talk with leading members of the CPC Central Committee.)
REMARKS MADE DURING AN INSPECTION TOUR
January 28 – February 18, 1991
It is late for us to be developing Shanghai, so we have to work hard.
When we decided to establish the four special economic zones in 1979, we chose them mainly on the basis of their geographical advantages. Shenzhen is adjacent to Hong Kong, and Zhuhai is close to Macao. We chose Shantou because there are many natives of nearby Chaozhou living in Southeast Asian countries. Xiamen became a special economic zone because many natives of southern Fujian have emigrated to other countries and gone into trade. However, we did not take the intellectual advantages of Shanghai into account. Since the people of Shanghai are clever and well educated, if we had decided to establish a special economic zone here, the city would look very different now.
The 14 open coastal cities include Shanghai, but these have no special status. It would have been better to develop the Pudong District a few years ago, like the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone. Development of the Pudong District will have a great impact not just on the district itself but on all of Shanghai, which in turn will serve as a base for the development of the Yangtze delta and the whole Yangtze basin. So we should lose no time in developing the Pudong District and persevere until construction is completed. So long as we keep our word and act in accordance with international practice, foreign entrepreneurs will choose to invest in Shanghai. That is the right way to compete.
Finance is very important, because it is the core of the modern economy. Handling financial affairs well is the key to success in this sphere. Shanghai used to be a financial centre where different currencies were freely exchanged, and it should become so again. If China is to acquire international status in finance, we should depend primarily on Shanghai. It will take many years, but we should act now.
Our Party should adhere to the policies of reform and opening to the outside world for decades to come. Some people may have different views about this, but they are still well-intentioned. One reason people may differ is that they are not adapting to the new policies; another is that they are afraid problems will arise. If I am the only one to speak in favour of reform and opening up, it won’t be enough. The entire Party membership should do so too, and for decades. Of course, we should not be too impatient; we have to use facts to demonstrate that our policies are correct. When we proposed instituting the household contract responsibility system with remuneration linked to output, many people disagreed and doubted that the system was socialist. They didn’t say anything, but in their hearts they were not convinced, and they dragged their feet about applying it. Some people refused to apply it for two years, and we just waited.
Don’t think that any planned economy is socialist and any market economy is capitalist. That’s not the way things are. In fact, planning and regulation by the market are both means of controlling economic activity, and the market can also serve socialism.
We cannot keep the door closed to the outside world. During the “cultural revolution” there was the Fengqing incident; I quarreled about it with the Gang of Four. Since it was only a 10,000-ton ship, it was nothing to boast about. In 1920 when I went to study in France, I took a foreign packet of 50,000 tons. Now that China is opening to the outside world, we can make ships of 100,000 and 200,000 tons. If we hadn’t opened up, we would still be hammering out automobile parts the way we did in the past. Now things are vastly different; there has been a qualitative change that can be seen in every field, not just in the automobile industry. We have to be determined about opening to the outside, because there are many obstacles in the way. Some people say that the three forms of ventures involving foreign investment [joint, cooperative and foreign-owned] are not part of the national economy, and they are afraid to see them develop. This is not good. It is hard to develop the economy without opening up. Countries all over the world have to open up for economic development, and the Western countries encourage the flow of funds and technology.
Defence-related enterprises have long since begun to manufacture both military and civilian products. That is the right thing to do. In some countries this has not been done, and they have therefore run into difficulties.
We should overcome our fears. Everything has to be tried first by someone — that’s the only way new trails are blazed. That first person must be prepared to fail, but if he does, it doesn’t matter. So I hope the people of Shanghai will further emancipate their minds, be more daring and move ahead faster.
(Addressed to leading cadres of Shanghai.)
SEIZE THE OPPORTUNITY TO DEVELOP
December 24, 1990
There are many unpredictable factors affecting the international situation, and the contradictions are becoming increasingly evident. The current situation is more complex and chaotic than in the past, when the two hegemonist powers were contending for world domination. No one knows how to clear up the mess. Some developing countries would like China to become the leader of the Third World. But we absolutely cannot do that — this is one of our basic state policies. We can’t afford to do it and besides, we aren’t strong enough. There is nothing to be gained by playing that role; we would only lose most of our initiative. China will always side with the Third World countries, but we shall never seek hegemony over them or serve as their leader. Nevertheless, we cannot simply do nothing in international affairs; we have to make our contribution. In what respect? I think we should help promote the establishment of a new international political and economic order. We do not fear anyone, but we should not give offence to anyone either. We should act in accordance with the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and never deviate from them.
I am satisfied with the work of the Central Committee over the last year and a half. I am completely in favour of the effort made at the Seventh Plenary Session of the Thirteenth Central Committee to seek unity of thinking within the Party, and I fully agree with the new five-year plan and the ten-year programme. It seems to me that agriculture has great potential for development, and we should never relax our efforts in this regard. As for steel, to meet our needs we have to produce 100 to 120 million tons a year. That is a goal of strategic importance. We should build more nuclear power stations. It’s also very important to develop oil and gas fields, to build railways and highways and to protect the natural environment. To reach the goal of quadrupling GNP by the end of the century we shall have to do solid work. But if we can reach it, in another 30 to 50 years our country will rank among the first in the world in overall strength. That will really demonstrate the superiority of socialism.
We must understand theoretically that the difference between capitalism and socialism is not a market economy as opposed to a planned economy. Socialism has regulation by market forces, and capitalism has control through planning. Do you think capitalism has absolute freedom without any control? The most-favoured-nation status is also a form of control. You must not think that if we have some market economy we shall be taking the capitalist road. That’s simply not true. Both a planned economy and a market economy are necessary. If we did not have a market economy, we would have no access to information from other countries and would have to reconcile ourselves to lagging behind.
Don’t be afraid of taking a few risks. By now we have developed the ability to take risks. Why were we able to control inflation so quickly without having much effect on the market and the currency? Because we have been carrying out the reform and opening for eleven or twelve years. As we go further with the reform and open wider to the outside world, we shall be better able to cope with problems if they arise. Don’t be afraid of risks: we can’t do anything without taking some risks.
It is a big problem to find ways for the coastal areas to assist the inland areas. We can have one coastal province help one or two inland provinces. Nevertheless, we should not lay too heavy a burden on the coastal areas all at once. During the initial period they can just transfer certain technologies to the interior. Since the very beginning of the reform we have been emphasizing the need for seeking common prosperity; that will surely be the central issue some day. Socialism does not mean allowing a few people to grow rich while the overwhelming majority live in poverty. No, that’s not socialism. The greatest superiority of socialism is that it enables all the people to prosper, and common prosperity is the essence of socialism. If polarization occurred, things would be different. The contradictions between various ethnic groups, regions and classes would become sharper and, accordingly, the contradictions between the central and local authorities would also be intensified. That would lead to disturbances.
I have said more than once that stability is of overriding importance and that we cannot abandon the people’s democratic dictatorship. If some people practise bourgeois liberalization and create turmoil by demanding bourgeois human rights and democracy, we have to stop them. Marx once said that the theory of class struggle was not his discovery. The heart of his theories was the dictatorship of the proletariat. For a fairly long period of time the proletariat, as a new, rising class, is necessarily weaker than the bourgeoisie. If it is to seize political power and build socialism, it must therefore impose a dictatorship to resist capitalist attack. To keep to the socialist road, we must uphold the dictatorship of the proletariat, which we call the people’s democratic dictatorship. This principle is just as important as the other three cardinal principles. So it is necessary for us to explain theoretically the necessity of upholding the people’s democratic dictatorship.
The crucial thing for China is for the Communist Party to have a good Political Bureau, particularly a good Standing Committee of the Political Bureau. So long as no problems arise in those two bodies, China will be as stable as Mount Tai. Internationally, no one will look down upon us, and more and more people will invest in China. We should seize every opportunity to develop the economy. The year after next, at the Party’s Congress, younger people who are full of energy should be elected to the Political Bureau and especially to its Standing Committee. We should not underestimate the achievements we have scored during the last year and a half. The domestic and international situation has been better than we had anticipated. Now the most important thing is to have a united core of leadership. If we can go on in this way for 50 or 60 years, socialist China will be invincible.
(Excerpt from a talk with leading members of the CPC Central Committee.)
WE SHOULD ALL STRIVE TO REUNIFY
September 15, 1990
Recently the Taiwan side has shown a little more flexibility. Nevertheless, some people in Taiwan want to create “one country, two governments” and even to change the composition of the United Nations. In reality, they are still trying to create “two Chinas”. At present, the United Nations recognizes the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China, and Taiwan as a part of China. How can the authorities in Taiwan be called the Chinese Government? They can’t. Nothing could be more reasonable than the “one country, two systems” arrangement. What would Taiwan stand to lose by it? This is an opportunity for Taiwan and the entire nation. All of us should work hard to push Taiwan towards reunification.
The mainland, with a population of 1.1 billion, 92 per cent of which is of the Han nationality and 8 per cent of other nationalities, is the largest part of China. Our policies towards all ethnic groups are correct and guarantee genuine equality among them. We always pay close attention to the interests of the minorities — one important feature of China is precisely that there are no major disputes between ethnic groups.
Our compatriots on the mainland, those in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao and the overseas Chinese are all descendants of the Chinese people. We should all strive to reunify our motherland and revitalize our nation.
(Excerpt from a talk with Kuok Hock Nien, Chairman of the Board of Kuok Brothers, Sdn. Bhd. (Pvt., Ltd.) in Malaysia.)
CHINA WILL NEVER ALLOW OTHER COUNTRIES
IN ITS INTERNAL AFFAIRS
July 11, 1990
Ever since last year some countries have imposed sanctions on China. I think, first, they have no right to do so; second, experience has proved that China has the ability to withstand these sanctions. Our economic development has been affected to some extent, but not very seriously. In fact, the sanctions are gradually abating. One special feature of China’s development is that it has proceeded under international sanctions for most of the forty years since the founding of the People’s Republic. If there is nothing else we’re good at, we’re good at withstanding sanctions. So we are not worried or pessimistic about them; we take them calmly. Despite the trouble that has arisen in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, and despite the sanctions imposed by seven Western countries, we adhere to one principle: to maintain contacts and build good relations with the Soviet Union, with the United States, and also with Japan and the European countries. We have never wavered in this principle. China is magnanimous and is not upset by trifles like that.
China will never accept interference by other countries in its internal affairs. It was on the basis of our own conditions that we decided upon our social system, a system that our people endorse. Why should we accept foreign interference designed to change that decision? The key principle governing the new international order should be noninterference in other countries’ internal affairs and social systems. It won’t work to require all the countries in the world to copy the patterns set by the United States, Britain and France. There are many Islamic countries, making up one fifth of the world’s population. In these countries it is absolutely impossible to introduce a so-called democratic system of the American type. The People’s Republic of China, with another fifth of the world’s population, will not adopt America’s capitalist system either. The African countries too, through the Organization of African Unity, demand with one voice that no other country interfere in their internal affairs. This is the general trend throughout the world.
Given this background, if the Western developed countries insisted on interfering in other countries’ internal affairs and social systems, it would lead to international turmoil, especially in the developing countries of the Third World, which need a stable political environment to lift themselves out of poverty. If there is political instability, how can they concentrate on solving the problem of food? Not to mention the problem of development. We must therefore take the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence as the norms for the new international political and economic order. Hegemonism and power politics, which have emerged in new form, cannot last long. Allowing a few countries to monopolize everything, as they have done for years, has never solved any problems, and it never will.
The conditions necessary for China to reach its development goal are a stable domestic environment and a peaceful international environment. We don’t care what people say about us; what we do care about is to have a good environment in which to develop our country. We shall be satisfied if history proves the superiority of the Chinese socialist system. Whether the social systems of other countries are good or bad is not our business. After the events in Eastern Europe, I told some Americans not to rejoice too soon. The situation was complicated enough, the problems of Eastern Europe had not been solved, and it would be better for people not to provoke more trouble.
If China were in turmoil, can you imagine what it would be like? I don’t think it would simply be the same as the “cultural revolution”, when the older generation of Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai and other prestigious leaders were around. Although the “cultural revolution” has been described as a full-scale civil war, there was no fierce fighting, no actual civil war. But now things have changed. If the situation deteriorated to the point where our Party and the state power couldn’t function, with each faction controlling a part of the army, a civil war would indeed erupt. As soon as they seized power, the so-called fighters for democracy would start fighting each other. And if a civil war broke out, with blood flowing like a river, what “human rights” would there be? If civil war broke out in China, with each faction dominating a region, production declining, transportation disrupted and not millions or tens of millions but hundreds of millions of refugees fleeing the country, it is the Asia-Pacific region, which is at present the most promising in the world, that would be the first to be affected. And that would lead to disaster on a world scale.
So China must not allow itself to descend into turmoil; we have that responsibility to ourselves and to all mankind. Even responsible foreign statesmen would acknowledge that China must remain stable. Human rights and democratic rights are not related to this question. The only solution is peaceful coexistence and cooperation of all countries with different social systems on the basis of the Five Principles, not interference in other countries’ internal affairs and provoking disorders. China has raised this question to alert everyone, to remind all countries to be careful when they decide on their policies towards China.
(Excerpt from a talk with Pierre Elliott Trudeau, former Prime Minister of Canada.)
WE ARE WORKING TO REVITALIZE
THE CHINESE NATION
April 7, 1990
Forty years have passed since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, and we have laid a good foundation for economic development. Since the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh CPC Central Committee, we have been concentrating on modernizing the country so as to revitalize the Chinese nation. Unless we modernize, China will never attain its rightful position in the international community. But the modernization we are working for is socialist modernization. Only socialism can bind the people together, help them overcome their difficulties, prevent polarization of wealth and bring about common prosperity.
Last year there was some unrest in China. As was necessary, we brought the situation under control. I asked others to tell President Bush that if the political situation in China became unstable, the trouble would spread to the rest of the world, with consequences that would be hard to imagine. Stability is essential to economic development, and only under the leadership of the Communist Party can there be a stable socialist China.
Some Western countries have imposed sanctions on China, but to no avail. It was after twenty-two years of fighting that the People’s Republic was founded, and the experience of blockades, sanctions and isolation by certain countries has only served to mature it. Our development over the past forty years, and especially over the last decade, has increased our strength. China will never collapse; on the contrary, it will grow stronger. This is what the nation, the people and the times demand.
I am a Chinese, and I am familiar with the history of foreign aggression against China. When I heard that the seven Western countries, at their summit meeting, had decided to impose sanctions on China, my immediate association was to 1900, when the allied forces of the eight powers invaded China. Six of these same seven countries, excluding Canada, together with czarist Russia and Austria, constituted the eight powers that formed the allied forces in those days. Our people should study Chinese history; it will inspire us to develop the country.
Some people abroad are talking about the “Asia-Pacific century”. Asia has a population of 3 billion people, and 1.1 billion of them live on the mainland of China. The so-called Asia-Pacific century will make no sense unless China develops. Of course, it will make no sense unless India develops too. The image of China depends on the mainland, and the prospects for China’s development also depend on the mainland. Taiwan is contending with the mainland for authority over China. It really overestimates its strength. It would be better for both sides to be broad-minded. For our part, we have already shown our broad-mindedness by proposing the formula of “one country, two systems”. We believe that eventually our motherland will be reunified on the basis of that principle.
It will not be long before the People’s Republic of China, which is already a political power, becomes an economic power as well. China’s seat in the United Nations belongs to the People’s Republic. Although the average per capita income is quite low on the mainland, we are not backward in every field. For instance, our annual output of iron and steel has reached 60 million tons. Space technology and high technology in other areas have developed rapidly in China, and we have had a high rate of success in launching satellites. The Chinese are very intelligent. Chinese scientists have scored great achievements despite poor research conditions and poor living conditions. When the Chinese people are disunited, they are weak, but when they join together, they have enormous strength.
We Chinese should bestir ourselves. The mainland has developed a solid economic foundation. Besides, we have tens of millions of overseas compatriots, and they want to see China grow strong and prosperous. We are unique in that respect. We shall seize every opportunity to develop. We do not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, nor do we fear their sanctions. China opposes hegemonism, and we shall never seek hegemony ourselves. China’s prospects for the next century are excellent.
(Excerpt from a talk with Dhanin Chearavanont, Chairman of the Board of the Chia Tai Group in Thailand.)