Deng Xiaoping

Implement the Policy of Readjustment, Ensure Stability and Unity


Published: December 25, 1980
Translated by: Unknown
Source: Deng Xiaoping Works
Transcription for MIA: Joonas Laine



I fully agree with Comrade Chen Yun’s speech. He correctly summed up our experience in handling a series of problems in economic work over the past 31 years and the lessons we have drawn from it. His statement will serve as our guide in this field for a long time.

I also fully endorse the arrangements with regard to the plan for 1981 approved by the Group for Financial and Economic Affairs under the Central Committee of the Party.

After the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee in December 1978, Comrade Chen Yun took charge of financial and economic work and proposed the policy of readjustment, which was adopted by the Central Working Conference in April last year. The policy was not effectively implemented, however, because Party members did not have a profound or unanimous understanding of the issues involved. A change in this situation took place only very recently and the current readjustment is in conformity with that policy.

As Comrade Chen Yun said, this readjustment is a sound and sober one. In carrying it out, we will curtail some of our construction projects, making adequate cutbacks in certain areas while striving for continued growth in others. This latter category will include agriculture, light industry and the production of daily necessities, along with development of energy resources and transportation and undertakings in science, education, public health and culture. In all of these areas conscientious efforts should be made for consolidation through improving management, upgrading the professional and technical skills of production workers and office staff, increasing productivity and efficiency, encouraging initiative and inventiveness and reducing waste.

Why should we carry out the necessary readjustment and curtailment in some fields during the four modernizations? Because if we don’t, we will be unable to ensure the steady growth of the economy. Our economy has all along been plagued with serious disproportions stemming from the historical conditions before Liberation and our protracted over-ambitious drive for success after the First Five-Year Plan [1953-57]. In addition, there was the damage wrought over 10 years by the “cultural revolution” and, then, our failure in the first two years after the smashing of the Gang of Four to assess the situation realistically. By the time of the Third Plenary Session of the Central Committee, all this had created imbalances in finance, credit and material supplies as well as between foreign exchange receipts and payments. Changing this situation conforms fully to the general policy, set by the Third Plenary Session, of correcting “Left” errors and proceeding from reality in all things. It is also a necessary condition for the success of our modernization programme. However, because the readjustment was not carried out efficiently in the last two years, large financial deficits have accrued, too much currency has been issued and prices have steadily risen. Unless we now make a genuine effort at readjustment, we shall be unable to carry out the modernization programme smoothly. Only by making sufficient cuts in some fields will we be able to gain the initiative and achieve overall stability and thus ensure the healthy growth of the economy.

By sufficient cuts in certain fields we mean mainly that capital construction must be appropriately cut back and enterprises without adequate production conditions should either cut production, switch to other products, be amalgamated with others, suspend operations or simply close down. Administrative expenses (including those of the defence establishment and of all enterprises and institutions) should be cut back to achieve balance between financial revenues and expenditures, and between credit receipts and payments. Production and construction, the building of administrative facilities and the raising of the people’s living standard should all be kept within the limits of financial capability so that expenditures remain equal to revenues. This is a realistic approach. Our resolve to proceed this way shows that we have really emancipated our minds and shaken off the fetters of erroneous “Left” policies that have hampered our work over the years.

Since in the past two years it has been difficult to reach a consensus on this issue even within the Party, it is obvious that a lot of work has to be done before the people in the whole country can achieve unity of understanding. We must make clear to them why further readjustment is imperative, what problems may arise in the process and what we hope to achieve by it. This way, the people will understand the necessity of further readjustment, believe that the Party and government really have their fundamental interests in mind and come to realize that the purpose of the readjustment is to ensure the success of the modernization drive. Then they will give us their support. It is therefore very important that we do a good job in this respect. We must never expect to get things done simply by issuing curt orders.

Our economic readjustment is of far-reaching importance. It necessitates some changes in the plan and budget for 1981 adopted by this year’s session of the National People’s Congress and will affect the work and life of the whole people. We suggest, therefore, that the State Council consider making a report to the NPC Standing Committee at an early date. Once this report is made public, it can serve as a basis for publicizing the economic readjustment and explaining it to the people.

The readjustment we are now undertaking is designed to lay a firm base for steady progress so that we can be surer of realizing the four modernizations and be in a more favourable position to attain their specific goals. As for the road to be followed and the measures to be taken, we should continue trying to break away from stereotypes, whether old or new, and gain a clear and accurate understanding of China’s actual conditions as well as the interrelation among various factors in our economic activity. On this basis, we should work out the guiding principles for a long-term programme and then draw up a realistic Sixth Five-Year Plan [1981-85]. Provided the country is united from top to bottom and our advance is orderly and steady, we can be confident of building a moderately developed modern economy in two decades and then going on to a higher level of modernization.

It is true that in the 31 years since the founding of the People’s Republic we have made quite a few mistakes, including some serious ones, and suffered repeated setbacks that adversely affected the life of the people and retarded the progress of socialist construction. Nevertheless, through our endeavours over these years the number of industrial and transport enterprises has grown to nearly 400,000, and the value of the fixed assets of state enterprises has increased nearly 21 times compared with the early post-Liberation days. We have trained large numbers of skilled workers and nearly 10 million specialists and established a fairly comprehensive industrial system and economic system. The life of the whole people is far better than it was before Liberation. Compared with some major developing countries, China has achieved greater progress and a faster rate of growth. Over the past few years and at this conference in particular, we have reviewed our previous shortcomings and mistakes and correctly summed up our experiences both positive and negative, so that we could work out an overall programme of construction on a sound and realistic basis. We are sure to make steady progress towards our modernization goals provided we do the following: take advantage of the material conditions I have mentioned, heed the principles laid down for economic work, continue to strengthen and improve the Party’s leadership, bring into play the superiority of the socialist system and the people’s initiative and creativity, utilize our abundant natural resources more rationally, make our work conform increasingly to actual conditions, constantly sum up new experience, avoid new shortcomings and errors and, if any should occur, correct them in good time. Our future is bright. In this sense, the readjustment we are carrying out means a step forward, not backward.


The Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee called on all Party members to emancipate their minds, use their heads, seek truth from facts, unite in looking ahead, study new situations and solve new problems. With this as our guideline over the past two years, we have worked out a series of policies and carried out many reforms with marked success. In April last year we laid down the policy of readjusting the economy, while at the same time calling for its restructuring, consolidation and improvement. The masses and cadres sincerely support these correct Party policies, but they are also afraid that they will change some day. Their fear of reversals and upheavals is fully understandable.

So, does this readjustment mean changes in the principles and policies formulated since the Third Plenary Session? Absolutely not. As I have said, the current readjustment means the continuation and development of these correct principles and policies, and the further implementation of the Third Plenary Session’s guideline, that is, seeking truth from facts and correcting “Left” errors. If there are to be any changes, they can only consist of overcoming remaining defects in our work that are incompatible with the spirit of the Third Plenary Session, and of resolutely casting away unrealistic ideas and subjectively fixed over-ambitious targets. This is exactly what the Third Plenary Session line requires of us.

To ensure the smooth progress of this readjustment, we must continue to firmly carry out all the principles, policies and measures that have proved effective since the Third Plenary Session.

We must firmly maintain the Four Cardinal Principles — namely, keeping to the socialist road, upholding the people’s democratic dictatorship (that is, the dictatorship of the proletariat), upholding leadership by the Communist Party and upholding Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought. No one should be allowed to undermine these principles, and they should be codified in an appropriate form.

The core of these four cardinal principles is upholding leadership by the Communist Party. We have said many times that without leadership by the Party a big country like China would be torn by strife and incapable of accomplishing anything. Whether inside or outside the Party, all tendencies towards weakening, breaking away from, opposing or liquidating leadership by the Party must be criticized. The individuals involved should be educated or, if necessary, struggles should be waged against them. Leadership by the Party is the key to the success of the four modernizations and of the current readjustment.

To uphold the Party’s leadership, it is imperative to improve that leadership and to refine the Party’s style of work. The Party’s work among the masses is now weaker than before the “cultural revolution” and some of the methods are cruder. This has impaired the ties between the Party and the masses. Only if these ties are greatly strengthened and deep-going political and ideological work is done among the masses will it be easy for us to overcome the many difficulties involved in economic readjustment. The unhealthy tendencies encountered among a handful of Party members and cadres are most harmful to our effort to restore the Party’s prestige among the people. I share Comrade Chen Yun’s view that the work style of a political party in power has a direct bearing upon its very survival. We must strictly implement the “Guiding Principles for Inner-Party Political Life” and strive unremittingly to correct all bad trends. In particular, we must consistently oppose the erroneous, two-faced attitude of those who feign compliance with the line, principles and policies of the Central Committee while actually opposing them.

Reform of the system of Party and state leadership must be carried out prudently and in an orderly way. In short, we must see to it that those comrades who are still able to work for the Party can continue to do so. As for reforms in the system of leadership in the grass-roots units, experiments should be carried out first at a few chosen points. Pending the drafting and promulgation of relevant rules and regulations, the current ones should continue to apply to all other units. This is the general policy previously set by the Central Committee. During the economic readjustment enterprises and other units at the grass-roots level will have to do hard ideological, political, economic and organizational work. In order to gradually harmonize the proportions between the different sectors of the economy and subordinate the interests of the part to those of the whole, certain construction projects must be discontinued, and some enterprises should either cut production, switch to other products, be amalgamated with others, suspend operations or simply close down. People in such units should be given systematic training and arrangements should be made for their well-being. To do all this well will not be at all easy. We hope that comrades at all levels, and at the grass-roots level in particular, will carry forward our glorious traditions, unite as one, work hard and uncomplainingly, share the burdens of the Party, the state and the people, and never slacken their efforts. The difficulties we are facing are one more test for Party members and cadres at all levels, especially the veteran comrades, who are faithful to the Party, stand fast at their posts and are devoted to their work. The Central Committee is confident that they will prove worthy of the great trust placed in them by the Party and the people.

We should continue to develop socialist democracy and improve the socialist legal system. This is a basic, consistent policy that has been carried out by the Central Committee ever since its Third Plenary Session, and there must be no wavering in its enforcement in future. There are still inadequacies in our democratic system, so it is necessary to draw up a whole series of laws, decrees and regulations to institutionalize democracy and give it legal sanction. Socialist democracy and socialist legality are inseparable. Democracy without socialist legality, without the Party’s leadership and without discipline and order is definitely not socialist democracy. On the contrary, that sort of democracy would only plunge our country once again into anarchy and make it harder to truly democratize the life of the country, develop the economy and raise the people’s standard of living.

Democratic centralism and collective leadership should be genuinely practised in inner-Party life as well as in the country’s political life. Determined efforts should be made to rectify such bad practices as decision-making by a single person who alone has the final say in all things, or the refusal of a minority of cadres to implement collective decisions. Under present circumstances, it is particularly necessary to reaffirm the principle that individual Party members are subordinate to the Party organization, the minority to the majority, the lower Party organizations to the higher and all constituent organizations and Party members to the Central Committee. It is also essential to take firm action against all violations of discipline in the Party, army and government organizations.

Education in discipline and legality must be intensified in Party and government organizations, in the army, in enterprises and schools as well as among the people as a whole. Immediate steps should be taken to work out rules of discipline where none exist and to improve existing ones where they are imperfect or irrational. Students in colleges and in secondary and primary schools, workers in offices and factories and soldiers should learn and observe the disciplinary rules of their respective units from the day they are registered or enrolled. Anarchism and violations of law and discipline must be resolutely opposed and checked. Otherwise it will be impossible for us to build socialism and modernize the country. Rational discipline does not conflict with socialist democracy. On the contrary, the two are dependent on each other.

Further efforts should be made to correct the over-concentration of power. Systematic measures should be adopted to institute a retirement system for cadres and abolish what is virtually a system of life tenure for leading cadres. Appropriate arrangements should be made for the political status of retired cadres, for their material benefits and so on.

In the past year the Central Committee has repeatedly emphasized that veteran cadres should make the selection and training of middle-aged and young cadres their first and most solemn duty. If we fail to do other work well, naturally we ought to make self-criticisms; but if we fail to do this work well, we will have made a mistake of historic magnitude. Our success in this area will ensure the smooth progress of our cause, and once again our veteran cadres will have made a great contribution to the Party and the people. I hope that they will all be most conscientious in this regard.

While making sure that we select cadres who will keep to the socialist road, we must reduce their average age and raise the level of their education and professional competence. The cadre system should be gradually improved to ensure this. Of course, cadres must be revolutionary. This requirement takes precedence over considerations of age, education and professional competence. That is why we say adherence to the socialist road is the primary qualification for a cadre. This doesn’t mean, however, that comrades who have political integrity and the ability to work, who know how to study and are in good health but who do not meet all three requirements concerning age, education and professional competence, should leave their posts. The age requirement should not be too rigid, if only because without our present contingent of cadres we could fulfil none of our tasks — including the task of reducing the average age of cadres. But we should recognize that these three requirements are of strategic importance. We should, after all, have cadres who are younger, better educated and professionally more competent. For historical and practical reasons, some of our comrades do not yet fully understand how important this is. Extensive publicity should be given to this need, and it should be explained accurately, patiently and meticulously. Meanwhile, appropriate measures should be taken to reduce the average age of our cadres and raise the level of their education and professional competence.

At present many units are overstaffed. And during the current economic readjustment some enterprises may cease operation partly or wholly. The localities and units concerned should arrange for cadres and workers in such organizations to engage on a rotating basis in some kind of productive labour — tree planting, road repair, water conservancy and urban development projects or the building of sanitation facilities. What is more important, however, is to be serious about giving them planned and regular training so as to raise their political awareness and professional competence and, by examinations, to discover and select from among them persons of outstanding ability. Economic readjustment is a positive step in achieving modernization, and training programmes are one of its important aspects. We often talk about increasing our investment in intellectual resources. If we take this opportunity to give planned and regular training to large numbers of cadres and workers in order to raise their political, cultural, technical and managerial levels, we will be making a fruitful investment. We should get all cadres and workers to understand fully the great importance of these training programmes, which should gradually be developed into a regular system applicable to all.

Good progress has been made in the reform of our economic structure and mechanisms. We should consolidate the gains already made, sum up our experience and analyse and solve new problems that have emerged in the process of reform. I fully agree with Comrades Chen Yun that for a time we should make readjustment our main job, with reform subordinate to readjustment so as to serve it and not impede it. The pace of reform should be slowed a little, but that doesn’t mean a change in direction.

The Third Plenary Session’s decisions on agriculture and the instructions issued this year by the Central Committee concerning the further strengthening and improving of the responsibility system in agricultural production have produced good effects and should continue to be implemented in earnest. We should pay attention to solving problems that may arise in the process. In modernizing China’s agriculture we should not copy the Western countries or countries like the Soviet Union but should proceed along our own path, in keeping with the specific conditions in socialist China.

This year the number of industrial enterprises experimenting with extended decision-making powers has risen to more than 6,000, with an aggregate output value representing some 60 per cent of the national total. We have begun to find better ways of integrating the interests of the state, the enterprises and the production and office workers, stimulating the initiative of all. We shall not increase the number of enterprises engaged in such experiments next year, but rather concentrate on summing up their experience and consolidating and improving the results gained.

It is absolutely necessary to have a high degree of centralism and unification during the readjustment. But we should continue to enforce those reform measures that have proved effective and should not backtrack. We should continue to stimulate the economy and to mobilize the initiative of the localities and enterprises, and of production and office workers as well. Meanwhile, we should guard against unthinking action, and particularly against the spontaneous and destructive tendency to seek gains for oneself or one’s unit at the expense of the state and the people. In this connection, detailed laws and decrees should be drafted to prevent misinterpretation or abuse of decision-making power.

We should continue to open new avenues of employment for as many jobless persons as possible, mainly through the different forms of collective and individual economy. And we should fully protect the legitimate interests of workers in collectively-owned enterprises and of those who are self-employed, improve management of industry and trade and prevent unlawful activities.

We should continue to implement the decision to establish several special economic zones in Guangdong and Fujian provinces, but the steps taken and methods used should be subordinated to the current readjustment and the pace should perhaps be slowed somewhat.

We should continue to carry out — on the premise of national independence and self-reliance — the series of economic policies for opening to the outside world that have already been adopted, and we should sum up our experience in order to improve them. We have paid dearly in this connection, because for many years we kept our door closed to the outside world and so we lacked experience. The main responsibility for that lies with the Central Committee, and I am also responsible personally.

We should continue to carry out our foreign policy of opposing hegemonism and working to safeguard world peace. Its successful application will enable us to secure a peaceful environment in which to carry on our construction for a relatively long period.

Fairly favourable conditions have been created for the present economic readjustment, thanks to the principles and policies implemented since the Third Plenary Session. So long as we persist in following these correct principles and policies, we are sure to achieve the readjustment goals.


Comrade Chen Yun has said that our economic work and our propaganda have an important bearing on whether our economic and political situation can steadily improve. He mentioned propaganda because he wants us to make a sober appraisal of our achievements and shortcomings in that work and to ensure that in future it is adapted to the requirements of the economic and political situation so that it helps rather than hinders the readjustment.

In fact, our propaganda includes all the Party’s ideological and political work. Economic readjustment is a very difficult and complex task. We have already discovered quite a few attendant problems and will certainly encounter others we cannot now foresee. To fulfil our task and ensure unity of thought and action among all Party members, we must try to strengthen and improve the ideological and political work of the Party.

The discussion of the criterion for testing truth has done much to facilitate the successive political, economic and organizational reforms of recent years and has helped us to achieve notable successes on various fronts. Together with Party cadres at all levels, people working in the fields of theory, propaganda, journalism, education, literature and art have all achieved much in recent years and made great contributions to our cause. This should be fully recognized. For the most part our ideological work has been successful. That is the main thing to be said about it.

Emancipating our minds means making our thinking conform to reality — making the subjective conform to the objective — and that means seeking truth from facts. If we want to be practical and realistic in all our work, we must continue to emancipate our minds. It is obviously wrong to believe that we have done all we should in this regard, let alone that we have gone too far.

We must point out that there are still serious shortcomings in our propaganda work. Chief among these is our failure to propagate the four cardinal principles actively, confidently and with good results, and to combat effectively the fallacious ideas opposed to them. Indeed, there is ideological confusion among some of our comrades. For example, some hold that adherence to the four cardinal principles hampers the emancipation of the mind, that the strengthening of the socialist legal system hinders socialist democracy, and that well-founded criticism of wrong ideas is at variance with the policy of “letting a hundred flowers bloom, a hundred schools of thought contend”.

Of course, there are definite social and historical reasons for this ideological confusion, and it cannot be dealt with in a crude way. But that doesn’t mean that it should be allowed to continue. It should be cleared up practically and effectively. There is no denying that such confusion has provided favourable conditions for those who are always looking for a chance to stir up trouble. What is more serious is that, in our newspapers and magazines and inside the Party, very few people are bold enough to wage firm struggle against the erroneous views and ideological trends I have referred to, even when these are clearly in flagrant opposition to Party leadership and to socialism. Recently, people associated with illegal organizations have been especially active. They have seized on all kinds of pretexts to make unrestrained anti-Party and anti-socialist statements. These are danger signals that should put the whole Party, all our youth and the entire people on the alert.

It has become extremely important for the whole Party to strengthen ideological and political work and improve propaganda, because this will ensure that the current readjustment is carried out smoothly and that political stability and unity are consolidated.

Improving leadership by the Party means, primarily, strengthening our ideological and political work. The Central Committee holds that in principle Party organizations at all levels should leave as much as possible of the vast amount of routine administrative and professional work to government and professional units. Comrades in leading Party organs, in addition to seeing that the Party’s general and specific policies are carried out and deciding on the assignment of important cadres, should devote most of their time and energy to ideological and political work, to mass work and to helping solve problems directly related to people. If all this cannot be fully realized at the present time, we must at least give ideological and political work an important place. Otherwise, the Party’s leadership cannot be improved or strengthened.

In order to enhance this work, it is important to give proper attention to the following:

In our appraisal of the Party’s record since the founding of the People’s Republic, the tremendous achievements of the past 31 years must be fully affirmed. Shortcomings and mistakes should be seriously criticized, but we must never paint a picture that is all black. Even when it comes to such serious mistakes as the “Cultural Revolution”, which was exploited by counter-revolutionary cliques, the historical episode as a whole should not be summarily dismissed as “counter-revolutionary”. We must unswervingly adhere to this position of seeking truth from facts.

Similarly, in our appraisal of Comrade Mao Zedong we should regard his contributions as primary and his mistakes as secondary. This is in accord with the facts, and it cannot be doubted or denied. And his mistakes absolutely cannot be attributed to his personal character. To do that is non-Marxist and at variance with historical materialism. Obviously, to exaggerate under the sway of emotion Comrade Mao’s mistakes can only mar the image of our Party and country, impair the prestige of the Party and the socialist system and undermine the unity of the Party, the army and our people of all nationalities.

Mao Zedong Thought, which has been proved correct through practice, remains our guiding ideology. We must adhere to it and develop it in the light of specific conditions, and we must disseminate it with full confidence, permitting no slackening of effort. Mao Zedong Thought should be differentiated from Comrade Mao’s mistakes in his later years so that there is no confusion. Of course, this does not mean that in the evening of his life Comrade Mao never put forth any correct ideas.

Unhealthy tendencies do exist within the Party and a small number of leading cadres have exploited their positions to gain personal privileges. The Central Committee is determined to act on problems such as these and has started to solve them step by step. We should affirm that newspapers can play a useful role by publishing valid criticisms, but we must take care not to regard certain isolated phenomena as universal or to exaggerate limited problems and make them appear to be general ones. It is definitely untrue that all or the majority of our Party members have succumbed to unhealthy tendencies or that all or the majority of our leading cadres seek personal privilege. There is absolutely no “class of bureaucrats”. It is impossible for such a class to exist in our country. In our propaganda, we should avoid creating any false impressions.

The sense of organization and discipline of all Party members should be strengthened through ideological and political work. As required by the Party Constitution, the Party’s organizations at all levels and all members should act in conformity with decisions taken by higher organizations and, in particular, identify themselves politically with the Central Committee. This is of special importance now. The Party should take disciplinary measures against anyone violating this principle, and this should be the focus of its discipline inspection work at present.

We should educate all Party members so that they will act selflessly, put overall interests first, work hard, perform their official duties honestly and uphold communist ideas and morality. The socialist China we are building should have a civilization with a high cultural and ideological level as well as a high material level. When I speak of a civilization with a high cultural and ideological level, I refer not only to education, science and culture (which are of course indispensable) but also to communist thinking, ideals, beliefs, morality and discipline, as well as a revolutionary stand and revolutionary principles, comradely relations among people, and so on. Acquiring and cultivating a revolutionary spirit does not necessarily require a high level of development materially or a very high level of education. Haven’t we always worked for the revolution by employing the scientific theory of Marxism and maintaining a revolutionary spirit? From the Yan’an days to the founding of New China, was it not this precious revolutionary spirit — in addition to a correct political orientation — that enabled us to win the support of the entire Chinese people and of foreign friends? How can we build socialism without a high cultural and ideological level, without communist thinking and morality? The more firmly the Party and government carry out the policies of reforming the economy and opening to the outside world, the more must the Party members, and senior leading cadres in particular, cherish communist ideology and morality and act according to them. How can we educate the younger generation and lead our country and people in building socialism if we ourselves are unarmed ideologically? As far back as the period of the new-democratic revolution, we took communist ideology as a guide in all our work, calling on Party members and other progressive people to act and speak within the bounds of communist morality, commending and trying to spread the spirit of such slogans as “Serve the people whole-heartedly”, “The individual is subordinate to the organization”, “Be selfless”, “Utter devotion to others without any thought of self”, and “Fear neither hardship nor death”. We have now entered the socialist period, yet some people have had the audacity to criticize these high-minded revolutionary slogans. What is worse, this preposterous criticism, which should have been rejected, has found sympathy and support among some people in our own ranks. How can a Communist imbued with Party and revolutionary spirit tolerate such things?

Comrade Mao Zedong said that a man needs to have some revolutionary spirit. During the long years of revolutionary war our political orientation was correct and we based our actions on analyses of the actual situation. We promoted the revolutionary spirit, which inspires people to work tirelessly, observe strict discipline, make sacrifices, act selflessly and put the interests of others first, the spirit that gives people revolutionary optimism and the determination to overwhelm all enemies and surmount all difficulties in order to win victory. And we did win great victories. In our effort to build socialism and achieve the four modernizations under the correct leadership of the Central Committee, we need to encourage this same revolutionary spirit. A Party member who lacks this spirit is not fit to be a Communist. But that is not all: we must call on members of the Party to foster this spirit among all our people, particularly our young people, through exemplary deeds, so that it becomes the main pillar of a culturally and ideologically advanced civilization in the People’s Republic of China. Our country will then be looked up to by all revolutionary- and progressive-minded people in the world and admired by all who feel frustrated and suffer from spiritual emptiness for lack of purpose in their lives.

We must work hard to strengthen ties between the Party’s organizations and its members on the one hand and the masses on the other. We should regularly and truthfully inform the people about our country’s situation, including the difficulties we face and the policies and activities of the Party. We must strongly criticize and correct errors such as being divorced from the masses and being indifferent to their welfare. The masses are the source of our strength and the mass viewpoint and the mass line are our cherished traditions. The Party’s organizations, its rank-and-file members and cadres must identify with the masses and never stand against them. Any Party organization that deplorably loses touch with the masses and doesn’t mend its ways is forfeiting the source of its strength and will invariably fail and be rejected by the people. Party comrades, cadres at different levels and particularly leading cadres must always bear this in mind and measure all their words and deeds against this criterion.

We must do what we can to help the masses overcome every solvable problem. When difficulties cannot be resolved for the time being, we should explain the reasons patiently and honestly.

We must continue to criticize and oppose surviving feudal influences on ideology and politics both inside and outside the Party, and we must continue to formulate and improve laws and regulations based on socialist principles in order to eliminate those influences. At the same time, we should criticize and oppose the tendency to worship capitalism and to advocate bourgeois liberalization. We should criticize and oppose the decadent bourgeois ideas of doing everything solely for profit, seeking advantage at the expense of others and always putting money first. We should criticize and oppose anarchism and ultra-individualism. We shall continue to promote exchanges with friendly Western countries and to learn whatever is useful to us from capitalist countries. But we must carry this struggle in the ideological and political spheres through to the end. We must encourage patriotism and a sense of national dignity and self-confidence. Otherwise we will not be able to build socialism but instead will ourselves be corrupted by capitalist influences.

Education in politics, current affairs and ideology, including moral values and world outlook, should be strengthened in schools at all levels.

We must endeavour to strengthen the work of the trade unions, the women’s federations, the Youth League, the Young Pioneers and the student associations. We must see to it that our teenagers and other young people are imbued with high ideals and moral integrity, that they are armed with knowledge, are physically fit and determined to make contributions to our people, to our country and mankind. We must make sure that from childhood on they cultivate good habits such as respecting discipline, observing good manners and safeguarding the public interest.

We should increase the confidence of all Party comrades in our ability to make China a powerful modern socialist country. Through the exemplary deeds of Party members at different posts we should influence the masses and draw them still nearer to us so that we can close ranks, inspire revolutionary enthusiasm, labour with single-minded devotion, and advance steadily towards our great goal. We must revive, enrich and propagate the spirit of Yan’an, the spirit of the early post-Liberation days, the spirit that enabled us to overcome our difficulties in the early 1960s. But we ourselves must be fully confident before we can educate the masses, unite with them and raise their confidence.


The consolidation of political stability and unity is crucial to the success of the current economic readjustment. If stability and unity are disrupted, readjustment will be out of the question.

It has come to our attention that in some places a handful of trouble-makers are using methods employed during the “Cultural Revolution” to carry on agitation and create disturbances; some are even clamouring for a second “Cultural Revolution”. A few young people in the frontier regions have been influenced by bad elements and have made trouble. A few ringleaders who control illegal organizations and publications are working hand in glove with each other. Anti-Party and anti-socialist statements have been published, reactionary leaflets have been distributed and political rumours have been spread. Remnants of the Gang of Four are still active. Serious crimes such as homicide, arson, dynamiting, robbery, burglary and rape (including gang rape) are being committed. Other criminal activities — smuggling, tax evasion, speculation and profiteering, the offering and taking of bribes, embezzlement and circumvention of law — have increased. There have also been other serious violations of law and discipline, such as divulging and trading in state secrets, wilfully giving out excessive bonuses in defiance of regulations, and illegally raising prices and disrupting the market. We must never cease to be on the alert against all such practices. Some are the acts of counter-revolutionaries, others are counter-attacks by remnants of the Lin Biao clique and the Gang of Four, some are sabotage by people who want chaos in the country, others are carried out by surviving elements of the exploiting classes, and still others stem from serious corrosion by feudal or capitalist ideas and corresponding life-styles. Depending on their nature, some may be categorized as contradictions between ourselves and the enemy, while others are a form of class struggle reflected, in varying degrees, among the people. This shows us that although class struggle is no longer the principal contradiction in our society, it still exists and cannot be neglected. If these problems — which differ in nature — are not handled promptly and unhesitatingly as required in each individual case but instead are allowed to spread and then converge, our stability and unity will be seriously undermined. Some of our comrades do not yet understand the gravity of these problems and fail to deal with them resolutely. Sometimes they even ignore them.

Therefore, we must strengthen the state apparatus of the people’s democratic dictatorship. We must attack and split up those forces which are inimical to political stability and unity, and especially the remnants of the Lin Biao and Jiang Qing counter-revolutionary cliques. We must take strong action to curb or prevent every kind of criminal activity.

It is the universal desire of our people to consolidate and develop political stability and unity. Sound ideological and political work is needed to mobilize and organize the masses to carry out, energetically and voluntarily, an effective struggle against all forces hostile to political stability and unity. We should not mount a political movement to accomplish this, as we have done in the past. We should abide by the principles of socialist legality. To this end, I suggest that in addition to the relevant inner-Party instructions, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress and the State Council should formulate and promulgate appropriate regulations and decrees. If accompanied by Party-wide ideological and political work, propaganda through the mass media and education in the schools, these regulations and decrees can form a common code of conduct for the whole Party, the army and the people. This will bring about a gradual lessening of the disorder now obtaining in some places.

To ensure stability and unity, I suggest that state organizations adopt appropriate laws and decrees calling for mediation in order to avoid strikes by workers or students. These documents should also rule out marches and demonstrations unless they are held by permission and at a designated time and place, forbid different units and localities from clubbing together for harmful purposes, and proscribe the activities of illegal organizations and the printing and distribution of illegal publications.

This is a political struggle, but it must be carried out within the framework of the law. It should be conducted actively but there must be sufficient preparation, and the measures adopted must be well-considered and within proper limits. Strong action should be taken — and repeated where necessary — against serious sabotage. In fighting anti-Party and anti-socialist forces and miscellaneous criminals all Party members and cadres should act according to the Constitution and within the bounds of laws and decrees. They should learn to use legal means (including economic penalties such as fines and heavy taxation). This is a new method that we must learn as quickly as possible in order to develop socialist democracy and improve the socialist legal system.

Great effort should be made to strengthen the public security, procuratorial and judicial departments, improve their work and enhance the political quality and professional competence of their personnel.

A number of good workers and cadres in the field of capital construction and a number of ex-servicemen should be trained to reinforce the public security, procuratorial and judicial departments.

After careful consideration and arrangements and with approval through specific procedures, martial law can be proclaimed if really necessary in certain places where serious disturbances have occurred. Specially trained troops may then be called in to restore and maintain public order and order in production and other work. The necessary legal training should be given to all officers and men.

All Party committees should strengthen their leadership and organize the units concerned to work out a comprehensive plan for ensuring political stability and unity and take resolute but appropriate measures to implement it, mobilizing people in all sectors.

Some may argue that by doing this we are trying to “tighten up” instead of continuing to “loosen up”, that we will be exercising dictatorship without democracy, and that the policies laid down by the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee are no longer operable. These views are altogether wrong. The Central Committee stated long ago that we will never “loosen up” with regard to the activities of counter-revolutionaries, anti-Party and anti-socialist elements and criminals, that we will always be against letting them act with impunity. Ever since the founding of the People’s Republic — with the exception of the “Cultural Revolution” which was a decade of domestic turmoil — we have persisted in exercising dictatorship over all kinds of hostile forces, counter-revolutionaries, and criminals who seriously jeopardize public order. We have never shown them any mercy.

This brings us to the question of how to understand and exercise the people’s democratic dictatorship. Comrade Mao Zedong once said that people’s democratic dictatorship means the combination of democracy among the people with dictatorship over the reactionaries. This, in essence, is the dictatorship of the proletariat. But in our country the term “people’s democratic dictatorship” is more suited to the reality. The democratic rights of the people were trampled upon when Lin Biao and the Gang of Four were in power. Since the downfall of the Gang of Four, and especially since the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee, we have been endeavouring to promote democracy. But much remains to be done and we should continue our efforts. As I mentioned earlier, we should be firm in systematically pushing forward the reform of our various political and economic systems. The general objective of these reforms is to ensure democracy and develop it both inside the Party and among the people.

While persisting in our effort to develop socialist democracy, we call on all our Party members and all our people to maintain strict vigilance against anti-Party, anti-socialist and criminal activities and to take firm action against them. Otherwise, not only will it be well-nigh impossible to carry out the economic readjustment, but the people’s democratic rights — even their right to survival — will be endangered. If in some places criminals are allowed to make trouble with impunity, the democratic rights of the great majority there will be violated once again, just as they were during the “Cultural Revolution”. If that happened, it would be impossible to maintain, much less to consolidate and develop, nationwide stability, unity and liveliness. The excellent political and economic situation we have already created — a situation rarely equalled since the founding of the People’s Republic — would be jeopardized. Whatever improvements we have achieved in the people’s standard of living would be forfeited. The sufferings inflicted upon the great majority of the people, Party members and cadres during the “Cultural Revolution” are still fresh in our memory. How can we allow those “rebels” who so closely followed Lin Biao and the Gang of Four, or the handful of ringleaders who have persisted in following their evil course, to launch a second “Cultural Revolution”? We must never let them have their way in a single locality, department or unit, let alone in the country as a whole. The fact is, however, that they are already making trouble in a few units and localities, and people there are very indignant. This being so, how can we sit back and decline to take strong action to protect the people’s interests?

Marxist theory and objective reality have taught us again and again that only when the people, who form the overwhelming majority, enjoy a high degree of democracy can dictatorship be effectively exercised over the tiny minority who are our enemies. We have also learned that only when dictatorship is exercised over this tiny hostile minority can the democratic rights of the overwhelming majority — of all the people — be fully guaranteed. Under the present circumstances, therefore, it is in complete conformity with the desire of the people and the needs of socialist modernization to use the repressive power of the state apparatus to attack the counter-revolutionary saboteurs, anti-Party and anti-socialist elements and criminals guilty of serious offences and to split their ranks in the interests of social stability.

To sum up, our purpose in further readjusting the economy and in achieving greater political stability is to implement the consistent policies laid down since the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee. By carrying out these policies we will surely achieve victory for our cause.

(Speech at a Central Working Conference.)