Deng Xiaoping

Combat Economic Crime


Published: April 10, 1982
Translated by: Unknown
Source: Deng Xiaoping Works
Transcription for MIA: Joonas Laine


In my opinion, this is an important document. Although it deals with the struggle against criminal activities in the economic sphere, it should in fact be regarded as of greater significance.

What is the current situation? A number of cadres have been corrupted in the brief year or two since we adopted the policy of opening to the outside world and stimulating the economy. Quite a few are involved in economic crimes. Their misdeeds are more serious than the crimes exposed in the days of the movements against the “three evils” and the “five evils”. At that time, people who had embezzled 1,000 yuan or more were rated “small tigers” and those who had embezzled 10,000 or more, “big tigers”. Today, we have many cases of very big tigers. According to press reports, an offender who had embezzled 6,000 yuan was given lenient treatment, and another who had embezzled 50,000-60,000 yuan was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment. There are many appalling cases of embezzlement or other damage to the national interest running to sums far in excess of 10,000 yuan. Some involve individuals, some involve groups. According to data supplied by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, large amounts of silver and gold were smuggled into Hong Kong in the last couple of years, causing the country heavy losses in foreign exchange. A lot of money has gone to line the pockets of certain individuals and groups. The sum would be even larger if we counted theft of public property and the like. We must not underestimate the gravity of all this. It is an ill wind and a strong one. Indeed, unless we take it seriously and firmly stop it, the question of whether our Party will change its nature may arise. This is not just alarmist talk.

We should enhance our understanding of the struggle against economic crime. At present, we have not reached a consensus on this matter. Some comrades are soft and hesitate to take action against offenders. Why? Ideologically, because they have not realized the gravity of the problem and treat it as an ordinary one. It’s not as though the problem hadn’t been raised before. We have been talking about it for a couple of years at the very least, and yet some comrades are still irresolute. Now we must not only issue the document but take determined action. Within these two months, each province should deal with some major cases. This is a different struggle from that against the Right deviation [in 1959], when it was easy to become confused and make mistakes because it was often difficult to distinguish Right deviations from “Left” ones. The theft of state property, embezzlement and bribe-taking all involve materials and money. This is very clear and it shouldn’t be hard to avoid mistakes. If we want to break the force of this ill wind, we’re going to have to take prompt, strict and stern measures. At present we think that we should not be too severe. But the ultimate penalty must be meted out in accordance with the law to some persons whose crimes are particularly grave. I assure you that it is impossible to stop this ill wind without a show of strength. We must get a firm grip on this problem now and deal with it in earnest. All cases must be handled promptly and in general severely. We cannot afford to take them lightly and be too lenient.

Another thing: Although we have said that we will not launch a movement against economic crime, we must make it clear that this is going to be a constant and protracted struggle. In my opinion, it will last at least until the day the four modernizations are achieved. If that means the end of the century, the struggle will have to be waged daily for 18 years. I think the process of socialist modernization will be accompanied by toil and struggle in four areas. These four areas, which may be called the four essential guarantees of our keeping to the socialist road, are: first, introducing structural reform; second, building a socialist civilization with a high cultural and ideological level; third, combating economic crime; and fourth, rectifying the Party’s style of work and consolidating its organization, including upholding and improving leadership by the Party. The first three tasks have been placed on our agenda, but not as yet the fourth. Of course, the first three also have to do with the question of the Party’s style of work. One way of consolidating the Party is to expel those members who are guilty of serious misdeeds and to discharge them from public employment. Embezzlers of very large sums must be expelled from the Party, no matter how much leniency is shown them because they have confessed their crimes; and if they are in military service, they must be expelled from the army. We cannot be so lenient as to allow them to remain in the Party or the army, much less be promoted. There is no way to justify that degree of leniency. They should be expelled from the Party, from the army and from public employment. The struggle against economic crime is one way of ensuring that we keep to the socialist road and realize the four modernizations. It is an ongoing struggle, a regular item of work. If we don’t make it so, how can we talk about keeping to the socialist road? Without this struggle, the four modernizations and the policy of opening to the outside world and stimulating the economy will end in failure. So we must employ dual tactics. That is, we must unswervingly pursue the policy of opening to the outside world and stimulating the economy and, at the same time, wage a resolute struggle against economic crime. There is no question that without such a struggle the overall policy will fail. With it, the policy of opening to the outside world and stimulating the economy will have a correct orientation. Of course, other problems may arise and we may also make other mistakes, but they will not be very serious. The struggle against economic crime is just beginning, and it is not a task for this year alone. It should start with a show of strength so that at least some people, including those who give themselves up, can be turned back from the wrong path. If instead of starting with such a show of determination we hesitate and delay, many more people may go astray, including some veteran cadres.

Let me say a few words in passing about Party consolidation. We must pay particular attention to the recent event in Feixiang County. I would ask the Secretariat of the Central Committee to discuss it carefully and use it as a typical example of the kind of problems to be dealt with in the campaign to consolidate the Party. The present leading body of the county Party committee should be dissolved and a new one set up. Many other localities should pay attention to such matters.

(Speech at a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the CPC, which discussed the document, “Decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council on Combating Serious Economic Crime”.)