Deng Xiaoping

Circumstances Oblige Us To Deepen the Reform and Open Wider To the Outside World


Published: June 22, 1988
Translated by: Unknown
Source: Deng Xiaoping Works
Transcription for MIA: Joonas Laine


China suffered greatly from the ten-year disaster, the “cultural revolution”. In fact, not just from that: as early as the second half of 1957 we began to make “Left” mistakes. To put it briefly, we pursued a closed-door policy in foreign affairs and took class struggle as the central task at home. No attempt was made to expand the productive forces, and the policies we formulated were too ambitious for the primary stage of socialism.

In 1978, at the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh CPC Central Committee, we made a systematic review of our past work and put forth a series of new principles and policies. The main points were that we should shift the focus of our work from class struggle to expansion of the productive forces, that we should replace the closed-door policy with an open policy and that we should abandon old conventions and carry out reform in every field.

The development of China has an important bearing on the development of the rest of the world, because one fifth of the total population lives in China. To be frank, for a long time after 1840 China did not make its due contribution to the world. That was mainly because of a century of imperialist aggression and of corrupt reactionary governments. In 1949 China put an end to its history of humiliation, and the Chinese nation stood up. In the first eight years after the founding of the People’s Republic we made great progress. In 1978 we embarked on a brand new undertaking: since then we have been building a socialism adapted to our own conditions. Pressing circumstances oblige us to deepen the reform and open wider to the outside world. We are confronted with several formidable tasks; right now the hardest one is to effect an all-round reform of the price and wage systems. Although the road ahead is rough, we believe that the favourable situation of the last decade will continue. This is what we are hoping.

Ethiopia is an important country in Africa. For a long time the Ethiopian people have waged a glorious struggle for independence. When I was young, I already knew about your country. At that time it was called Abyssinia, and its people were courageously waging a just war against the Italian Fascist aggressors. Now this nation is confronted with economic difficulties, which I believe you will overcome. I sincerely hope that you will concentrate on expanding the productive forces and arousing the initiative of your people. It seems that the international environment will remain peaceful for a relatively long time — that is, there will be no third world war. Both of our countries belong to the Third World, and we should always take economic development as the central task and miss no opportunity to pursue it.

(Excerpt from a talk with President Mengistu Haile Mariam of Ethiopia.)