Mao Tse Tung
Quotations from Mao Tse Tung

20. Building Our Country Through Diligence and Frugality


We must see to it that all our cadres and all our people constantly bear in mind that ours is a big socialist country but an economically backward and poor one, and that this is a very great contradiction. To make China rich and strong needs several decades of intense effort, which will include, among other things, the effort to practice strict economy and combat waste, i.e., the policy of building up our country through diligence and frugality.

On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People (February 27, 1957), 1st pocket ed., p. 71.

Diligence and frugality should be practiced in running factories and shops and all state-owned, co-operative and other enterprises. The principle of diligence and frugality should be observed in everything. This principle of economy is one of the basic principles of socialist economics. China is a big country, but she is still very poor. It will take several decades to make China prosperous. Even then we will still have to observe the principle of diligence and frugality. But it is in the coming few decades, during the present series of five-year plans, that we must particularly advocate diligence and frugality, that we must pay special attention to economy.

Introductory note to "Running a Co-operative Diligently and Frugally" (1955), The Socialist Upsurge in China's Countryside, Chinese ed., Vol. I.

Wherever we happen to be, we must treasure our manpower and material resources, and must not take a short view and indulge in wastefulness and extravagance. Wherever we are, from the very first year of our work we must bear in mind the many years to come, the protracted war that must be maintained, the counter-offensive, and the work of reconstruction after the enemy's expulsion. On the one hand, never be wasteful or extravagant; on the other, actively expand production. Previously, in some places people suffered a great deal because they did not take the long view and neglected economy in manpower and material resources and the expansion of production. The lesson is there and attention must be called to it.

"We Must Learn to Do Economic Work" (January 10, 1945), Selected Works, Vol. III, p. 244.

In order to speed up this restoration and development [of agricultural production and industrial production in small towns], we must do our utmost, in the course of our struggle for the abolition of the feudal system, to preserve all useful means of production and of livelihood, take resolute measures against anyone's destroying or wasting them, oppose extravagant eating and drinking and pay attention to thrift and economy.

"Speech at a Conference of Cadres in the Shansi-Suiyuan Liberated Area" (April 1, 1948), Selected Works, Vol. IV, p. 238.

Thrift should be the guiding principle in our government expenditure. It should be made clear to all government workers that corruption and waste are very great crimes. Our campaigns against corruption and waste have already achieved some results, but further efforts are required. Our system of accounting must be guided by the principle of saving every copper for the war effort, for the revolutionary cause and for our economic construction.

"Our Economic Policy" (January 23, 1934), Selected Works, Vol. I, p. 145.

A dangerous tendency has shown itself of late among many of our personnel - an unwillingness to share the joys and hardships of the masses, a concern for personal fame and gain. This is very bad. One way of overcoming it is to simplify our organizations in the course of our campaign to increase production and practice economy, and to transfer cadres to lower levels so that a considerable number will return to productive work.

On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People (February 27, 1957), 1st pocket ed., p 71.

Production by the army for its own support has not only improved the army's living conditions and lightened the burden on the people, thereby making it possible further to expand the army. In addition, it has had many immediate side effects. They are as follows: (1) Improved relations between officers and men. Officers and men work together in production and become like brothers. (2) Better attitude to labour.... since the army began to produce for its own support, the attitude to labour has improved and loafer ways have been overcome. (3) Strengthened discipline. Far from weakening discipline in battle and in army life, labour discipline in production actually strengthens it. (4) Improved relations between the army and the people. Once an armed force begins to "keep house" for itself, encroachments upon the property of the people seldom or never occur. As the army and the people exchange labour and help each other in production, the friendship between them is strengthened. (5) Less grumbling in the army about the government and improved relations between the two. (6) An impetus to the great production campaign of the people. Once the army engages in production, the need for government and other organizations to do likewise becomes more obvious, and they do so more energetically; also, the need for a universal campaign of the whole people to increase production naturally becomes more obvious, and this too is carried on more energetically.

"On Production by the Army for Its Own Support and on the Importance of the Great Movements for Rectification and for Production" (April 27, 1945), Selected Works, Vol. III, pp. 327-28. *

Some people say that if the army units go in for production, they will be unable to train or fight and that if the government and other organizations do so, they will be unable to do their own work. This is a false argument. In recent years our army units in the Border Region have undertaken production on a big scale to provide themselves with ample food and clothing and have simultaneously done their training and conducted their political studies and literacy and other courses much more successfully than before, and there is greater unity than ever within the army and between the army and the people. While there was a large-scale production campaign at the front last year, great successes were gained in the fighting and in addition an extensive training campaign was started. And thanks to production, the personnel of the government and other organizations live a better life and work with greater devotion and efficiency; this is the case both in the Border Region and at the front.

"We Must Learn to Do Economic Work" (January 10, 1945), Selected Works, Vol. III, pp. 243-44.


Chapter 21: Self-Reliance and Arduous Struggle