Deng Xiaoping

Measures For Overcoming Our Present Difficulties


Published: May 11, 1962
Translated by: Unknown
Source: Deng Xiaoping Works
Transcription for MIA: Joonas Laine


I do not have any differing opinions on the report of the Central Financial and Economic Group or Premier Zhou’s speech on the problems which have been discussed over the past few days. It seems to me that the decisions we have made at the current meeting are all that we can do for now. Although we lack a full understanding of all the problems in our work, some of which call for further study, it is highly necessary for us to make decisions on the problems we have already recognized. At this time I should like to make a few remarks on this subject.

First, from the problems related to the various fields of endeavour that have been laid out on the table, we can see there is much to be done, but I believe it boils down to two central tasks: one, to cut back the urban population by 20 million, and two, to help improve the work of production teams in the rural areas. These two matters are most pressing. Maybe we can afford to take more time with some other matters, but with regard to these two tasks, the more we delay taking them up, the more we stand to lose. For instance, if we do not start reducing the urban population right now, we shall not be able to cut back the amount of money to be put into circulation and the amount of grain to be supplied and, among other things, our effort to readjust production will be impeded. If we delay improving the work of production teams, agricultural production will be affected. We shall not be able to turn the situation around until we have enough grain, cotton and other products, for which we have to rely on the production teams to provide. The production teams are also involved in the reduction of the urban population; we have to rely on them to help make arrangements for people who are to move from the cities to the countryside. It follows that if the work of the production teams is not improved, agricultural production will suffer, and our effort to cut back the urban population will run into snags. For now we are formulating guiding principles before proceeding to carry them out systematically in our work.

Second, I should like to draw your attention to the document on the work of re-examination of cases and rehabilitation of cadres issued by the Central Committee recently. The work is most important for arousing the initiative of cadres, especially of those at and below the county level in rural areas, as well as of the masses. The work primarily involves cadres, but in reality it will exert an influence on a large number of people because every cadre is linked to the masses. The army is the first to start the job and become stable. Some local authorities have also been successful in this. Comrade Tan Zhenlin has noticed that cadres in Shandong are more enthusiastic about production and the people there are in higher spirits than those in Henan. After a careful study of the situation many reasons have been found for this. One reason is that only a small number of people had been unjustifiably criticized or punished at the final stage and, what is more, they were all re-examined and rehabilitated at one stroke, so that the authorities gained the initiative in their work. The same method has been used in Sichuan. Everyone is now in favour of this method of accomplishing re-examination and rehabilitation at one time in localities below the county level, starting with the rural areas. In other words, the political labels imposed on those who were criticized or punished unjustifiably or more or less unjustifiably should be removed once and for all. Because the cadres below the county level were all grass-roots cadres, they were not in a position to make serious mistakes or occasion serious Right deviation or “Left” deviation. Besides, they maintained direct links with the masses, and when their friends, relatives and others heard of their being criticized or punished, they could not but feel quite restless. It does us no good when people are restless. Are we not going to help improve the work of the production teams? The re-examination and rehabilitation are essential to arousing the initiative of the cadres at the grass-roots level and the masses and must not be taken lightly. Leading cadres at higher levels should go out to the localities to share in the responsibilities in order to speed up the process. We are now asking all the bureaus of the Central Committee to urge the Party committees of provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions to continue this work if they have begun or to begin immediately if they have not yet started. The results of the re-examination and rehabilitation must be made known directly to the masses. Actually, by so doing we are admitting we made a mistake, acknowledging that we have done something wrong.

Third, we must establish and strengthen the leading cores of the Party committees at the various levels, especially those of the Party committees at and below the county level and of enterprises. In order to do a good job in agriculture the Party committees at and below the county level must first of all establish and strengthen their leading cores. Of course, Party committees at and above the prefectural level should do the same. From today’s vantage point, it seems we are a bit too late in handling certain problems. The obstacles we may encounter stem mainly from the county authorities, and the problems with them are whether or not they aim high enough, display sufficient enthusiasm for work, assess the situation correctly, and show great determination and ample confidence. The present danger lies in our lack of confidence, reluctance to find ways of surmounting difficulties and failure to make quick decisions. One can hardly avoid being slow to see a problem when one does not recognize it as a problem. But, if one does not take prompt action once a problem has been identified, things will eventually become worse. It seems that most of the ideological problems exist at the county level. Naturally, the enterprises and institutions at the grass-roots level have their own problems, too.

At the enlarged working conference of the Central Committee, the issue of strengthening the leading cores of Party committees at all levels was set forth, which it seems that we have not been watching closely enough. In 1953 in order to meet the needs of the country’s industrial development, we took a number of cadres from local Party committees and assigned them to work in enterprises. That weakened the leadership of local Party committees to a considerable extent. It is thanks to the efforts made by those cadres that the enterprises have expanded over the years. Now veteran, backbone cadres can be found only in a few local Party committees, while such cadres serving as “squad leaders” or “deputy squad leaders” in the rest of local Party committees have been promoted to the posts since 1957. These cadres made rather serious mistakes in 1958 when the “five practices” prevailed. Our cadres did useful work most of the time, and during the past few years they did not really intend to make a mess of things. They are still good cadres, and we should trust them as usual, though we should see both their strong points and their weak points.

The principal measure for establishing the leading cores of Party committees at the various levels is to train those with a good style of work selected from among the cadres already on Party committees. By a good style of work we mean mainly integrating theory with practice, maintaining close ties with the masses and being tainted with less subjectivism than other people. There has been a great deal of subjectivism in recent years. How can we follow the mass line by just issuing many orders? How can we integrate theory with practice if we do not try to suit measures to local conditions? There is another way of resolving the issue of leading cores. We are presently reducing the staff of many enterprises, and many of the cadres in the staff of these enterprises originally came from the countryside and are of longer standing than the present cadres on local Party committees. It is entirely feasible for the Central Committee and the Party committees of provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions to take advantage of this opportunity by transferring a number of their cadres to lower levels to strengthen the local Party committees, including county and commune Party committees. Each county or commune Party committee should have at least two or three persons serving as “squad leader” and “deputy squad leaders”. Those who are transferred there would not necessarily become the first secretaries; they might serve just as secretaries or members of Party committees. Through this measure, we should be able to make agriculture a success and strengthen the leading cores of counties, communes, production brigades and production teams. A question of fundamental importance to the Party or the government is selection of the right people. Take the production brigade, for instance. Can you send people there to serve as cadres who do not engage in production? It might be all right, though, to send a few people to work for a limited period of time there, trying to strengthen the leading core and explore the situation. Basically, the proper way is to make use of local people, people who are native of a place or belong to the production brigade; practising democracy is fundamental. For the Party committees at the commune and county levels, however, there is the need of strengthening the leading cores. We should bring about a change in the county and commune Party committees by sending some new people there even if they already have leading cores of their own. Long-time colleagues become very familiar with each other, which has both advantages and disadvantages. As they work together every day, they are used to each other’s ways, so that they become slow in perceiving problems. With dulled senses, they remain indifferent to problems that should be brought up and mistakes that should be criticized. A shake-up of personnel will help to change their style of work and create a new atmosphere. The Organization Department of the Central Committee should begin working on this matter, and the organization departments of Party committees of provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions should do the same. Since a province has a limited number of counties, over a hundred at most, comrades on the provincial Party committee most probably know the leading cadres of every county well. With a general picture of the composition of each county Party committee in mind, they should make a change of the committee by adding a few new people to it. This will be conducive to the training of cadres and to work in general.

(Speech delivered at a working conference of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.)