China cannot advance without science
October 18, 1986
I am a layman in science, but I am enthusiastic about promoting its development. China cannot advance without science. We still lag behind in this respect. You have established an international centre of science and culture -- the World Laboratory. This is an important pioneering undertaking and one that will benefit Third World countries in particular. China belongs to the Third World, so our scientists and engineers should take an active part in the work of the Laboratory.
We have only just begun the modernization drive. We shall probably have made considerable progress by the end of the century and even more notable progress 30 or 50 years after that. It is difficult for us to get things done, because China is a big and backward country. We are very grateful for your help, but of course we have to depend on our own hard work. Judging from what we have accomplished so far, we are optimistic.
We should make joint efforts to develop science and technology. Without science the hopes of mankind will not be fulfilled. Without science the people of the Third World countries cannot cast off poverty. Without science world peace cannot be maintained.
To develop advanced science and technology we have to spend a certain amount of money. We should spend it where it is needed. A few years ago some foreign scientists asked me why we were building an accelerator when our country was not very rich. I told them we were doing it in our long-term interest. Looking back today, I think it was a correct decision. At least we have come a few years closer to catching up. Now is the time for us to promote the development of advanced science and technology; otherwise, we'll be lagging far behind and will have to spend much more money to close the gap.
(A talk with the Chinese-American physicist and Nobel Prize winner Tsung-Dao Lee and the Italian physicist Antonino Zichichi and their wives.)
(From Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping, Volume III <1982-1992>)