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Deng Xiaoping


The "cultural revolution", initiated and led by Mao Zedong, took China down the wrong path. Taking advantage if the situation, a group of careerists and conspirators headed by Lin Biao and another by Jiang Qing attempted to usurp the Party and state leadership, bringing unprecedented disaster upon the Party and the people. During the ten years of turmoil Deng Xiaoping was twice discredited and removed from office and went through the most painful ordeal in his revolutionary career.

No sooner had the "cultural revolution" been launched than Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping became its chief targets. In August 1966, at the Eleventh Plenary Session of the Eighth Central Committee, when Mao Zedong issued his famous call to "bombard the headquarters", Liu and eng were wrongly criticized and repudiated. Deng was labeled the "No.2 Capitalist Roader in China" and his family members were implicated. His eldest son Deng Pufang, then a student of physics at Beijing University, was persecuted with such violence that he received permanent injuries which left him confined to a wheelchair.

In October 1969, when Lin Biao, in and attempt to seize party and state leadership, issued his "No.1 order" to prepare against war, Deng Xiaoping was sent under escort to Xinjian County, Jiangxi Province. Having already been dismissed from all his posts, he was taken to do manual labor at the county's tractor repairing plant every morning. He worked as a fitter, as he had learned to do in France in his youth, and found himself as proficient at the job as before. Living with him were his wife Zhuo Lin, who was often ill, and his aged stepmother Xia Bogen, the three of them having only one another to depend on. It was Deng Xiaoping who, at the age of 65, took care of cleaning the room, chopping the wood and breaking up the coal. When Deng Pufang became paralyzed and needed help, after repeated requests by his parents and grandmother he was sent to live with them; then his father took on the additional responsibility of nursing him. During this period Deng Xiaoping made the best use of his spare time, often reading late into the night. He read a great number of Marxist-Leninist works and many other books both Chinese and foreign, ancient and modern. The ordeal in Xinjian lasted for three years.

In September 1971 the collapse of Lin Biao's plot for a counter-revolutionary coup and his death in an air crash eventually led to the rehabilitation of Deng Xiaoping. In 1972 Mao Zedong began to consider letting Deng resume his work, and the following year, with the support of Zhou Enlai, he was restored to his post as Vice-Premier of the State Council. In 1974 he delivered a speech at the Sixth Special Session of the United nations General Assembly on behalf of the Chinese government, in which he systematically set forth Mao Zedong's thesis of the three worlds. In January 1975, when Premier Zhou Enlai became seriously ill and was hospitalized, Deng Xiaoping was reappointed Vice-Premier and appointed Vice-Chairman of the Central Committee, Vice-Chairman of the Central Military Commission and Chief of the General Staff of the PLA, thus replacing Zhou as the person in charge of all the routine work of the Party and the state.

Jiang Qing had tried to prevent Deng's reinstatement from the outset, but it was in 1975 that the struggle between Deng and the Gang of Four became acute. With all his energy Deng set about restoring order to the chaotic situation caused by the "cultural revolution". "At present," he said. " There are a great many problems which we cannot solve without indomitable will. We must be determined and daring." He called for efforts to bring about stability and unity and to develop the national economy. His conviction that this was that the country needed reflected the interests and aspirations of the whole nation, and to the people's great satisfaction, noticeable results were achieved within a short period of time. Nevertheless, while Mao Zedong supported Deng Xiaoping in his administration of the day-to-day work of the central organs, he could not tolerate Deng's systematic correction of the mistakes arising from the "cultural revolution". He therefore launched a movement to criticized Deng and to counter the "Right deviation of reversing correct verdicts", which plunged the country into turmoil again. Taking advantage of this situation, the Gang of Four stepped in and framed Deng Xiaoping. They accused him of having been the behind-the -scenes instigator of the Tiananmen Incident of April 5, 1976, in which the people had poured out their love for the late Premier Zhou Enlai and their hatred for the Gang of Four, Deng was thus once again dismissed from all his posts inside and outside the Party, and once again dark clouds hung over the entire nation.


Nineteen seventy-six is a year the Chinese people will never forget. Zhou Enlai, Zhu De and Mao Zedong died one after another, plunging the nation into mourning. Then in October, to general rejoicing, the Central Committee smashed the counter-revolutionary clique of the Gang of Four. The ten-year "cultural revolution" that had wreaked such have was finally brought to an end, and the country entered a new period of its history.

The situation, however, was dismaying. Hundreds of problems were crying for solution, the "Left' thinking which had completely dominated the country for so many years was now deeply rooted and the economy was on the brink of collapse. What road should China take from now? This was the question troubling millions upon millions of people.

The new period and the new tasks called for the emergence of a new leader. Since Deng had made valuable contributions during the long revolutionary years, had waged a resolute struggle against the Gang of Four and had already achieved notable success in his efforts to restore order, he had earned enormous prestige in the Party and among the people. With the strong backing of Ye Jianying and other veterans and in accordance with the People's wishes, in July 1977, at the Third Plenary Session of the Tenth Central Committee, Deng was reinstated as Vice-Chairman of the Central Committee, Vice-Premier of the State Council, Vice-Chairman of the Military Commission and Chief of the General Staff of the People's Liberation Army. In march 1978 he was elected Chairman of the Fifth national Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

The ten years of turmoil had made more and more people realize that it was high time to repudiate "Left" thinking and to set things to rights. Deng lived up to the people's expectations and displayed his far-sightedness as a strategist. Faced with a multitude of problems in every area, he soon came to understand that the key to them all was correct ideology. He explicitly understood as an integral whole. he emphasized that its essence was seeking truth from facts, and accordingly he strongly opposed the "two whatevers" (the view that whatever policy decisions Chairman Mao had made and whatever instructions he had given must be followed unswervingly). He encouraged discussion on the criterion of truth, with the result that the rigid bonds that had constricted people's thinking for so long were broken. People both inside and outside the Party began to seriously examine the current situation and to tackle the problems they discovered. This great movement to emancipate people's minds led to the convocation of the Third Plenary Session of the Party's Eleventh Central Committee.

This Session, convened in December 1978, marked a fundamental turning point in the history of the Chinese Communist Party. At a working conference of the Central Committee held before the Session, Deng delivered a speech which turned out to be the keynote of the Third Plenary. In this speech he explained in detail that people should emancipate their minds and seek truth from facts. Just as the Chinese people had followed this principle in the past in making revolution, so now, he said, they must rely on it in construction. In accordance with this principle, the Plenary Session discarded the notion that in a socialist society class struggle remained the "key link" and made the strategic decision to shift the focus of the Party's work to socialist modernization, so as to concentrate on development of the productive forces. Deng stressed that the Chinese people should be dedicated and steadfast in pursuit of socialist modernization and not let themselves be hindered by interference from any quarter. This was a fundamental rectification of the political line, and it ushered in a new era of reform and opening to the outside world. In March 1979 Deng made it clear that to maintain the correct orientation in the modernization drive it was essential to adhere to the Four Cardinal Principles: keeping to the socialist road and upholding the dictatorship of the proletariat (the people's democratic dictatorship), leadership by the Communist Party and Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought.

Deng insisted that to ensure the implementation of the ideological and political lines, a correct organizational line must be established. He was particularly concerned about ensuring the selection of successors to ageing cadres. At his urging, a series of measures were adopted to build yp a contingent of their generation. These cadres would replace some of their older comrades and work in cooperation with those who would remain. In this way the system of life tenure for leading cadres would gradually be abolished, and the age structure within the ranks o fleading cadres would become more and more appropriate.

These efforts to rationalize the ideological, political and organizational lines set China back on the path of normal development. This was the prerequisite for carrying out socialist modernization and the policies of reform and opening to the outside would.

In order to set things to rights and overcome "Left" mistakes it was necessary to clear up the confusion in people's minds about how to evaluate the historical role of Mao Zedong. For this reason the Sixth Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee adopted a resolution on the subject, entitled "Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party Since the Founding of the People's Republic of China". It was Deng who presided over the drafting of this landmark document. While completely condemning the "cultural revolution" and the wrong guidelines on which it was based, the resolution made a comprehensive evaluation of Mao's historical role, affirming that his contributions were primary and his mistakes secondary. It distinguished between Mao Zedong Thought--the crystallization of collective wisdom and the product of scientific theory confirmed by practice-and the mistakes Mao made in his later years, emphasizing the need to uphold and develop the former. This resolution helped greatly to unify the thinking of the whole Party and to ensure political unity and stability throughout the country.

In September 1982, following the initial successes in socialist modernization and in implementation of reform and the open policy, the Party held its Twelfth National Congress. At that Congress Deng summed up China's recent historical experience and drew a basic conclusion: the universal truth of Marxism must be integrated with the concrete realities of China, and China must blaze a trail of its own, building socialism with Chinese characteristics.

To do that it is essential to correctly understand China's historical stage. On this question the Communist Party has recently made a systematic, theoretical statement: China is now at the primary stage of socialism. Throughout this stage the basic line of the Party in building socialism with Chinese characteristics is as follows: to lead the people of all our nationalities in a united, self-reliant, intensive and pioneering effort to turn China into a prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and modern socialist country by making economic development the central task while adhering to the Four Cardinal Principles and persevering in reform and the open policy.

Deng said later, "Premier Zhao Ziyang has recently made a correct summation of our guidelines and policies. Socialist modernization is our basic line. To carry it out and make China prosperous we must, first, carry out the policies of reform and opening to the outside world, and we must, second, adhere to the Four Cardinal Principles, the most important of which are to uphold leadership by the party and to keep to the socialist road, opposing bourgeois liberalization and a turn to capitalism. These two points are interrelated."

Just as Deng Xiaoping was the first to articulate the Four Cardinal Principles, he was the first to propose and insist that China undertake reform, adopt an open policy and invigorate the economy. Ever since the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee, he has been actively promoting the reform. Because 80 per cent of China's population lives in the countryside, it was there that the reform was to begin. It was tried first in the provinces of Sichuan and Anhui, and on the basis of the successful experience in those two places, it was soon introduced throughout the country. The result was that when the initiative of 800 million peasants was aroused, the productive forces expanded greatly, a large number of enterprises run by villages and townships emerged and the peasants' standard of living rose. Three years later, these notable results having been achieved in the countryside, reform was begun in the cities. Because urban reform was more complicated than rural reform, Deng urged that possibility should be explored boldly but with great care and prudence. On his proposal, four special economic zones were established and 14 coastal cities were opened to the outside world. After making inspection tours of the zones, he affirmed the correctness of the policy. On the basis of equality and mutual benefit, he declared, China should vigorously expand its economic co-operation with foreign countries, absorb their capital and introduce their advanced technologies and managerial skills, so as to accelerate the development of its own economy. The private sector, he said, should be developed properly as a supplement to the socialist sector, which would remain dominant in China's economy. He also urged that some regions and some people be allowed to become prosperous first, through hard work, so that others would follow their example. If all these policies were applied, he believed, the whole economy would make rapid progress, eventually enabling all the Chinese people to prosper. Recently, on more than one occasion Deng has stressed the need to forge confidently ahead with the reform and the open policy and to move even faster in reform.

Deng has defined the ambitious goals of China's socialist construction as follows: first, to quadruple the 1980 gross national product by the end of this century, so that the people will enjoy a comparatively comfortable standard of living; and second, on the basis of that achievement, to again quadruple GNP over the following 30 to 50 years, so that China will reach the level of the moderately developed countries. When China has realized these goals, it will have pointed the way for all the people of the Third World, who represent Three-quarters of the world's population. More important, it will have demonstrated to mankind that socialism is the only solution and that it is superior to capitalism.

Deng has proposed that to adapt the political structure to the requirements of economic reform, it too will have to be reformed. As early as August 1980, at an enlarged meeting of the political Bureau, he made an important speech on the reform of the system of Party and state leadership, which was later issued as a document setting forth guidelines for the reform of the political structure. He stressed the need to expand socialist democracy and strengthen the socialist legal system. Since 1986 Deng has again pointed out the importance of political reform, whose objectives he has defined as follows: to revitalize the whole state apparatus, to increase efficiency and to stimulate the initiative of the people and of the grass-roots units. The Thirteenth National Congress, convened in October 1987, declared that it was high time to put reform of the political structure on the agenda for the whole Party. This reform would involve separating the functions of the Party and the government, delegating powers to lower levels, reforming government organs and the personnel system relating to cadres, establishing a system of consultation and dialogue, improving a number of systems relating to socialist democracy and strengthening the socialist legal system. Political restructuring, the Congress stated, was a difficult and complex task, so it was necessary to adopt resolute yet cautious policies and to implement them in a guided and orderly way, in order to advance the reform as steadily as possible. Deng stated early on that it was imperative to build a socialist society that was advanced culturally and ideologically as well as materially, so that the people would cherish lofty ideals and moral integrity, become better educated and observe discipline. He said that material advance would be hindered or go astray without cultural and ideological progress. He has attached great importance to the building of the Communist Party as a party in power, holding that rectification of Party conduct is the key to rectification of general social conduct. He therefore deemed it necessary to consolidate the Party in order to unify thinking, improve style of work, maintain strict discipline and perfect Party organization-all for the purpose of making the Party a staunch central force leading the people in their effort to build a materially, culturally and ideologically advanced socialist society.

Standing in the forefront of the times, Deng Xiaoping is the the man who is leading China's reform. Following the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee, he became Vice-Chairman of the Central Committee, member of the Standing Committee of its Political Bureau, Chairman of the Central Military Commission and chairman of the Central Advisory Commission. He has played a major role in important policy decisions by pointing out the correct orientation with regard to key questions that have arisen in the course of formulating the line since that Session. People regard him as the chief architect of China's reform. The reform is designed to improve the socialist system, bring its superiority into full play and push forward the drive for modernization. At this primary stage of socialism, to accelerate and deepen the reform is the main task on which all political, economic and social activities must be focused.

The reform and socialist modernization will inevitably encounter interference both from the "Left" and from the Right. For a time at the end of 1986, a trend towards bourgeois liberalization was widespread, and certain individuals tried to stir up unrest by calling for total westernization of China. They pretended to support the reform and the open policy, but in reality they were trying to lead China towards capitalism. Deng acted promptly and decisively to dispose of this matter, and the situation soon returned to normal. He pointed out that if China went capitalist, the society would be utterly impossible for it to modernize. Likewise, without political stability and unity it would be impossible for the country to engage in construction and to implement the reform and the open policy. He called upon leaders at every level to take a clear-cut stand in support of the Four Cardinal Principles and in opposition to bourgeois liberalization.

Having analyzed the lessons of the past, Deng holds that the struggle against erroneous trends must proceed from reality (in other words, when there are "Left" trends one fights "Left" trends and when there are Right trends one fights Right trends). But rigid "Left" thinking has been the more common mistake in the past and is the more dangerous one today, because it has taken deep root in society and for many people has become habitual. The ingrained habits of thought tend to reassert themselves unconsciously whenever these people formulate and carry out specific policies. Deng believes that to deepen the reform it is essential to overcome the influence of rigid thinking and that the struggle against it and against bourgeois liberalization will be a long one, lasting throughout the course of socialist modernization.

In order to resolve the questions of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao and to reunify China, Deng formulated the concept of "one country, two systems". The concept is an important part of building socialism with Chinese characteristics. Since 1984 the Hong Kong and Macao questions have been solved on this basis. Deng believes that the same approach can be used to resolve the Taiwan question and perhaps other similar international issues as well. The concept of "one country, two systems" has had considerable impact both in China and abroad. This is one example of Deng's application of the principle of seeking truth from facts to the solution of complicated practical problems.

Deng Xiaoping is a man of broad vision who thinks in terms of world issues and has devoted much energy over the years to foreign relations. He has visited many foreign countries and met with many foreign guests, always with a view to securing a peaceful international environment for China's socialist modernization. He was personally responsible for formulating China's independent foreign police, which in essence consists of standing firmly on the side of the people of the Third World countries, opposing hegeminism and trying to preserve world peace. Deng holds that peace and development are the two overriding issues in the world today. He believes that the danger of war still exists but that the forces that can deter war are growing. China, he is convinced, can make an important contribution both to world peace and to steady economic development.

His writings, Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping (1975-1982), Fundamental Issues in Present-day China (1982-1987) - the updated edition of Build Socialism with Chinese Characteristics (1982-1984) - and Comrade Deng Xiaoping's Important Speeches (February-July 1987), are widely read both at home and abroad. A revolutionary with more than sixty years' experience, Deng continues to stay at the helm and to give generously of his time and energy where major issues of the Party and the state are involved. At the same time he makes sure that younger comrades shoulder more responsibilities whenever possible and that he himself in concerned only with those things that require his personal attention. Although he is more than 80 years old, Chinese and foreign visitors are always impressed by his vigorous health and agile mind. Every summer he goes to beaches along the Bohai Gulf or the Yellow Sea to swim and several times a week he plays bridge. He says that he has done all his traveling abroad but that there is one more trip he would like to take: to Hong Kong in 1997, when China resumes its sovereignty over the territory.

Deng Xiaoping had stressed all along that it is of strategic importance to bring younger people into positions of leadership and that the destiny of the Party and the state hinges on this question. He has stood firmly for abolishing permanent tenure in leading posts and has taken the lead in this connection. When new leading bodies were elected at the Party's Thirteenth National Congress and the First Plenary Session of the Thirteenth Central Committee, he withdrew his candidacy for membership in the Central Committee and its Political Bureau, accepting only reappointment as Chairman of the Central Military Commission. However, with his high prestige and profound wisdom he will continue to play a great role in making major policy decisions of the Party and the state.

Through a lifetime of service to the people, Deng Xiaoping has earned the respect and affection of millions of his compatriots.

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