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China must take its place in the field of high technology

October 24, 1988

Some countries are drawing up plans for the development of high technology. China has done so too. The next century will see rapid development.

As for the electron-positron collider, first I want to tell you a story. A European friend who is a scientist once asked me why we were undertaking this project when our economy was still underdeveloped. I answered that we had our eyes on long-term development, not just immediate needs.

It has always been, and will always be, necessary for China to develop its own high technology so that it can take its place in this field. If it were not for the atomic bomb, the hydrogen bomb and the satellites we have launched since the 1960s, China would not have its present international standing as a great, influential country. These achievements demonstrate a nation's abilities and are a sign of its level of prosperity and development.

The world is developing; in particular, high technology is advancing at a tremendous pace. China must not be content to remain backward. It should participate in the development of high technology from the very beginning. That is the purpose of this project. As for other major projects, although China is poor, it has no choice but to undertake them. Because if we don't, the gap between China and other countries will grow wider. We are backward in some respects but not in all -- this project itself is proof of that. It is true that with the help of Tsung-Dao Lee and other international friends, we were able to avoid detours. But this project was not merely copied from a foreign country: some of the equipment and technologies involved in it were developed by Chinese engineers.

In short, we must waste no time in launching high technology projects like this one and we must carry them through to completion. Otherwise, it will be very difficult for us to keep up with advances in the rest of the world.

(Remarks made while inspecting the electron-positron collider in Beijing.)

(From Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping, Volume III <1982-1992>)