Deng Xiaoping

Seize the Opportunity To Develop the Economy


Published: December 24, 1990
Translated by: Unknown
Source: Deng Xiaoping Works
Transcription for MIA: Joonas Laine


There are many unpredictable factors affecting the international situation, and the contradictions are becoming increasingly evident. The current situation is more complex and chaotic than in the past, when the two hegemonist powers were contending for world domination. No one knows how to clear up the mess. Some developing countries would like China to become the leader of the Third World. But we absolutely cannot do that — this is one of our basic state policies. We can’t afford to do it and besides, we aren’t strong enough. There is nothing to be gained by playing that role; we would only lose most of our initiative. China will always side with the Third World countries, but we shall never seek hegemony over them or serve as their leader. Nevertheless, we cannot simply do nothing in international affairs; we have to make our contribution. In what respect? I think we should help promote the establishment of a new international political and economic order. We do not fear anyone, but we should not give offence to anyone either. We should act in accordance with the¬†Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence¬†and never deviate from them.

I am satisfied with the work of the Central Committee over the last year and a half. I am completely in favour of the effort made at the Seventh Plenary Session of the Thirteenth Central Committee to seek unity of thinking within the Party, and I fully agree with the new five-year plan and the ten-year programme. It seems to me that agriculture has great potential for development, and we should never relax our efforts in this regard. As for steel, to meet our needs we have to produce 100 to 120 million tons a year. That is a goal of strategic importance. We should build more nuclear power stations. It’s also very important to develop oil and gas fields, to build railways and highways and to protect the natural environment. To reach the goal of quadrupling GNP by the end of the century we shall have to do solid work. But if we can reach it, in another 30 to 50 years our country will rank among the first in the world in overall strength. That will really demonstrate the superiority of socialism.

We must understand theoretically that the difference between capitalism and socialism is not a market economy as opposed to a planned economy. Socialism has regulation by market forces, and capitalism has control through planning. Do you think capitalism has absolute freedom without any control? The most-favoured-nation status is also a form of control. You must not think that if we have some market economy we shall be taking the capitalist road. That’s simply not true. Both a planned economy and a market economy are necessary. If we did not have a market economy, we would have no access to information from other countries and would have to reconcile ourselves to lagging behind.

Don’t be afraid of taking a few risks. By now we have developed the ability to take risks. Why were we able to control inflation so quickly without having much effect on the market and the currency? Because we have been carrying out the reform and opening for eleven or twelve years. As we go further with the reform and open wider to the outside world, we shall be better able to cope with problems if they arise. Don’t be afraid of risks: we can’t do anything without taking some risks.

It is a big problem to find ways for the coastal areas to assist the inland areas. We can have one coastal province help one or two inland provinces. Nevertheless, we should not lay too heavy a burden on the coastal areas all at once. During the initial period they can just transfer certain technologies to the interior. Since the very beginning of the reform we have been emphasizing the need for seeking common prosperity; that will surely be the central issue some day. Socialism does not mean allowing a few people to grow rich while the overwhelming majority live in poverty. No, that’s not socialism. The greatest superiority of socialism is that it enables all the people to prosper, and common prosperity is the essence of socialism. If polarization occurred, things would be different. The contradictions between various ethnic groups, regions and classes would become sharper and, accordingly, the contradictions between the central and local authorities would also be intensified. That would lead to disturbances.

I have said more than once that stability is of overriding importance and that we cannot abandon the people’s democratic dictatorship. If some people practise bourgeois liberalization and create turmoil by demanding bourgeois human rights and democracy, we have to stop them. Marx once said that the theory of class struggle was not his discovery. The heart of his theories was the dictatorship of the proletariat. For a fairly long period of time the proletariat, as a new, rising class, is necessarily weaker than the bourgeoisie. If it is to seize political power and build socialism, it must therefore impose a dictatorship to resist capitalist attack. To keep to the socialist road, we must uphold the dictatorship of the proletariat, which we call the people’s democratic dictatorship. This principle is just as important as the other three cardinal principles. So it is necessary for us to explain theoretically the necessity of upholding the people’s democratic dictatorship.

The crucial thing for China is for the Communist Party to have a good Political Bureau, particularly a good Standing Committee of the Political Bureau. So long as no problems arise in those two bodies, China will be as stable as Mount Tai. Internationally, no one will look down upon us, and more and more people will invest in China. We should seize every opportunity to develop the economy. The year after next, at the Party’s Congress, younger people who are full of energy should be elected to the Political Bureau and especially to its Standing Committee. We should not underestimate the achievements we have scored during the last year and a half. The domestic and international situation has been better than we had anticipated. Now the most important thing is to have a united core of leadership. If we can go on in this way for 50 or 60 years, socialist China will be invincible.

(Excerpt from a talk with leading members of the CPC Central Committee.)