Deng Xiaoping

The Whole Party Should Take the Overall Interest Into Account and Push the Economy Forward


Published: March 5, 1975
Translated by: Unknown
Source: Deng Xiaoping Works
Transcription for MIA: Joonas Laine


The whole Party must now give serious thought to our country’s overall interest. What is that interest? The Reports on the Work of the Government at the First Sessions of the Third and Fourth National People’s Congresses both envisaged a two-stage development of our economy: The first stage is to build an independent and relatively comprehensive industrial and economic system by 1980. The second will be to turn China into a powerful socialist country with modern agriculture, industry, national defence and science and technology by the end of this century, that is, within the next 25 years. The entire Party and nation must strive for the attainment of this great objective. This constitutes the overall national interest.

Chairman Mao has said that it is necessary to make revolution, promote production and other work and ensure preparedness in the event of war. I am told that some comrades nowadays only dare to make revolution but not to promote production. They say that the former is safe but the latter dangerous. This is utterly wrong. What is the actual situation in production? Agriculture appears to be doing comparatively well, but the per-capita grain yield is only 304.5 kilogrammes, grain reserves are small and the income of the peasants is pretty low. As for industry, it deserves our serious attention. Its existing capacity is not fully utilized, and its output last year was inadequate. This is the final year of the Fourth Five-Year Plan, and if production doesn’t increase, we are sure to have difficulties in carrying out the Fifth Five-Year Plan. We must foresee that possibility and earnestly address this problem.

How can we give a boost to the economy? Analysis shows that the weak link at the moment is the railways. If the problems in railway transport are not solved, our production schedules will be disrupted and the entire plan will be nullified. So the Central Committee is determined to solve this problem; today we shall issue a “Decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on Improving Railway Work”.

To solve the problems of the railways, it is essential to strengthen centralized and unified leadership. The Central Committee has always stressed the importance of such leadership in railway work, but in recent years it has been weakened. Although over these years there has been an increase in the number of railway personnel, and in rolling stock, track and other equipment, yet because centralized and unified leadership has been weakened, railway transport has consistently failed to improve. Only a little more than 40,000 freight cars are loaded per day. According to some comrades, however, given our actual loading capacity, we should be able to handle 55,000 cars per day. Therefore the Central Committee has decided to reaffirm centralized and unified leadership in accordance with the special characteristics of railway work. Of course, this will not reduce the responsibility of the localities. The central and regional railway departments cannot perform their task well without support from them. So both sides must try to co-ordinate their efforts more closely.

The decision of the Central Committee also covers the formulation of essential rules and regulations, and a strengthening of the sense of organization and discipline. The present number of railway accidents is alarming. There were 755 major ones last year, some of them extremely serious. This is many times greater than the figure of 88 accidents for 1964, the year with the lowest rate. Many of the accidents were caused by negligence, including negligence in maintaining rolling stock. This indicates that there are no proper rules and that discipline is poor. It is now time to reimpose some rules and regulations. One of the old rules was that engine drivers had to bring their lunch boxes to their locomotives and were not allowed to leave the train for meals. There were good reasons for this. But now engine drivers go off to eat whenever they like, and this means the trains frequently run behind schedule. The long-standing rule prohibiting the consumption of alcohol while on duty is not strictly observed now either. If someone gets drunk and pulls the wrong switch, he can cause a collision. For these reasons, essential rules and regulations must be restored and improved and the sense of organization and discipline enhanced. This problem concerns not only the railway departments, but the localities and other departments as well.

The decision of the Central Committee also includes instructions on combating factionalism. Factionalism now seriously jeopardizes our overall interest. This question must be brought before all personnel and explained to them clearly as a major issue of right and wrong. It is no use tackling specific problems unless we have first settled this general issue. Persons engaging in factional activities should be re-educated and their leaders opposed. Generally speaking, such leaders can be divided into two categories. One category consists of persons who are obsessed by factionalism, have engaged in factional activities for several years and have lost their sense of right and wrong. For them, Marxism, Mao Zedong Thought and the Communist Party have all disappeared. They should be educated. If they correct their mistakes, then we will let bygones be bygones, but if they refuse to mend their ways, they will be sternly dealt with. The second category consists of a few bad elements. They can be found in all lines of work in every province and city. They fish in troubled waters by capitalizing on factionalism and undermining socialist public order and economic construction. They take advantage of the resulting confusion to speculate and profiteer, grabbing power and money. Something must be done about such people. Take for instance that ringleader in Xuzhou who has been creating disturbances. He is so “capable” that he exercises a virtual dictatorship over the place. If we don’t take action against this sort of person now, how much longer are we going to wait? As I see it, we should only give him one month, that is, till the end of March, to mend his ways. If he fails to do so and stubbornly stands in opposition to the proletariat, then his misdeeds will be treated as crimes.

Factionalists in the railway departments have ties with those in the localities. We must cut these ties. Such people know how to seek out vital spots. They obstructed railway transport, and this soon came to the attention of Beijing. The trouble that occurred along the line under the jurisdiction of the Nanchang Railway Bureau was partly attributable to some of the Jiangxi provincial authorities. It is imperative to cut the internal and external connections of individuals who engage in factional activities in the railway departments. This meeting has decided that the transfer of personnel in these departments will be conducted under the unified administration of the Ministry of Railways. The power rests with the Ministry. Factional problems in the railways that the local governments are unable to handle will be dealt with by the Ministry. Active factionalists must be transferred to other posts. Of course, I am referring to the ringleaders. What if a new ringleader emerges following the transfer of the previous one? Transfer him too. Do it two or three times and the problem will ultimately be solved. And we won’t arrest anyone, except, of course, counter-revolutionaries. What if a factional ringleader refuses to be transferred? Stop paying his wages until he submits. Since his trade is factionalism, why should we keep him on our payroll? In short, we need to devise methods for solving this problem.

Which do you think there are more of, people who are in favour of the Central Committee’s decision or people who are against it? The decision will be carried out effectively if it enjoys the support of 80 per cent of the people concerned. I think the overwhelming majority supports this decision. The Chinese railway workers are among the most advanced and best organized sections of the Chinese working class. Will they favour centralized and unified leadership or not? Will they favour organization and discipline or not? Will they favour the essential rules and regulations or not? Will they oppose factionalism or not? Will they support the transfer of factional ringleaders or not? If the pros and cons are clearly explained to them, the overwhelming majority of railway personnel will naturally give their support. So the mobilization drive in March should be thorough, with the issues made clear to everyone, including the family members of railway personnel and the peasants living along the railway lines.

The experience gained in handling the problems in railway work will be useful to the other industrial units. Clear-cut policies should be worked out for tackling existing problems. We should bear the overall interest of the country in mind and solve these problems without delay. How much longer can this task be put off? How can we afford to delay in advancing the cause of socialism?

(Speech at a meeting of secretaries in charge of industrial affairs from the Party committees of provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions.)