Deng Xiaoping

First Priority Should Always Be Given To National Sovereignty and Security


Published: December 1, 1989
Translated by: Unknown
Source: Deng Xiaoping Works
Transcription for MIA: Joonas Laine


Just as international monopoly capitalists are imposing sanctions on China, you come to visit us with a large delegation. That is an expression of true friendship. In China we have an old saying: A friend in need is a friend indeed. Although we cannot say that we are really in need, we appreciate your showing your friendship by visiting us at this time. We do not feel isolated, since the number of people who offer us sympathy and support far exceeds the number of those who impose sanctions on us.

The national leadership of our country has been shifted to members of a new generation, and it is now they who are dealing with state affairs. Reviewing the past five months when they have been exercising overall leadership, we can see that my retirement has brought no change in China’s strategy for development or in its principles and policies. The leaders of this Central Committee and of succeeding Central Committees will continue to uphold the line, principles and policies that have been formulated since the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee. Why is it that these principles and policies cannot be changed? Because the practice of the last ten years has proved them correct. If we gave up the policies of reform and opening to the outside world, that would be tantamount to abandoning our fundamental development strategy.

Although we had made some mistakes in our work, the international climate was also partly responsible for the recent incident. Western countries, particularly the United States, set all their propaganda machines in motion to fan the flames, to encourage and support the so-called democrats or opposition in China, who were in fact the scum of the Chinese nation. That is how the turmoil came about. In inciting unrest in many countries, they are actually playing power politics and seeking hegemony. They are trying to bring into their sphere of influence countries that heretofore they have not been able to control. Once this point is made clear, it will help us understand the nature of the problem and learn from experience.

This turmoil has been a lesson to us. We are more keenly aware that first priority should always be given to national sovereignty and security. Some Western countries, on the pretext that China has an unsatisfactory human rights record and an irrational and illegitimate socialist system, attempt to jeopardise our national sovereignty. Countries that play power politics are not qualified to talk about human rights. How many people’s human rights have they violated throughout the world! Since the Opium War, when they began to invade China, how many Chinese people’s human rights have they violated! The Group of Seven summit meeting held in Paris adopted a resolution imposing sanctions on China, which meant they thought they had supreme authority and could impose sanctions on any country and people not obedient to their wishes. They are not the United Nations. And even the resolutions of the United Nations have to be approved by a majority before they come into force. What grounds have they for interfering in the internal affairs of China? Who gave them power to do that? The Chinese people will never accept any action that violates the norms of international relations, and they will never yield to outside pressure.

This turmoil has also made us more aware of the importance of stability. When Nixon and Kissinger came to visit China not long ago, I told them that if China wanted to shake off poverty and modernize, stability was crucial. Actually I had said the same thing to other Americans before this incident. We can accomplish nothing without a stable environment. So we had to quell the turmoil by imposing martial law. If factors that might cause unrest emerge in future, we shall take tough measures to eliminate them as quickly as possible, so as to protect our country from any external interference and to secure our national sovereignty.

We have also drawn another lesson: that we must quickly correct the mistakes we made in certain areas. Ideological education should be strengthened. We still have to work hard. But in recent years we haven’t talked enough about the need to work hard, and we haven’t even done it ourselves. We haven’t said much either about the need to rely chiefly on ourselves. And we have to readjust the economic order to ensure more rapid development.

Although I have retired, I am still concerned about the development of Sino-Japanese relations. After all, our two countries are close neighbours, and I have always cherished a special feeling for the friendship between us. Even during the years when Japanese militarists were waging a war of aggression against China, many Japanese opposed the war. When we evaluate history, we should take all the elements into consideration. We should remember that Japan invaded China, but we should also remember that many Japanese people, including public figures, have worked hard to promote friendship between our two countries. Indeed, there have been a great many of them! Surely not everyone will be pleased that so large a delegation as yours has come to China. However, you have demonstrated by your courageous action that the Japanese people, like the Chinese people, hope that China and Japan will be friends from generation to generation. The only way to answer those few people who are unhappy to see China and Japan on good terms is to increasingly strengthen our friendship and expand our cooperation.

(Excerpt from a talk with Sakurauchi Yoshio and other leading members of a delegation from the Japanese Association for the Promotion of International Trade.)