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Deng Xiaoping
Updated: 2007-07-10 09:59

Jiang Qing had tried to prevent Deng's reinstatement from the outset, but it was in 1975 that the struggle between Deng and the Gang of Four became acute. With all his energy Deng set about restoring order to the chaotic situation caused by the "cultural revolution". "At present," he said. " There are a great many problems which we cannot solve without indomitable will. We must be determined and daring." He called for efforts to bring about stability and unity and to develop the national economy. His conviction that this was that the country needed reflected the interests and aspirations of the whole nation, and to the people's great satisfaction, noticeable results were achieved within a short period of time. Nevertheless, while Mao Zedong supported Deng Xiaoping in his administration of the day-to-day work of the central organs, he could not tolerate Deng's systematic correction of the mistakes arising from the "cultural revolution". He therefore launched a movement to criticized Deng and to counter the "Right deviation of reversing correct verdicts", which plunged the country into turmoil again. Taking advantage of this situation, the Gang of Four stepped in and framed Deng Xiaoping. They accused him of having been the behind-the -scenes instigator of the Tiananmen Incident of April 5, 1976, in which the people had poured out their love for the late Premier Zhou Enlai and their hatred for the Gang of Four, Deng was thus once again dismissed from all his posts inside and outside the Party, and once again dark clouds hung over the entire nation.


Nineteen seventy-six is a year the Chinese people will never forget. Zhou Enlai, Zhu De and Mao Zedong died one after another, plunging the nation into mourning. Then in October, to general rejoicing, the Central Committee smashed the counter-revolutionary clique of the Gang of Four. The ten-year "cultural revolution" that had wreaked such have was finally brought to an end, and the country entered a new period of its history.

The situation, however, was dismaying. Hundreds of problems were crying for solution, the "Left' thinking which had completely dominated the country for so many years was now deeply rooted and the economy was on the brink of collapse. What road should China take from now? This was the question troubling millions upon millions of people.

The new period and the new tasks called for the emergence of a new leader. Since Deng had made valuable contributions during the long revolutionary years, had waged a resolute struggle against the Gang of Four and had already achieved notable success in his efforts to restore order, he had earned enormous prestige in the Party and among the people. With the strong backing of Ye Jianying and other veterans and in accordance with the People's wishes, in July 1977, at the Third Plenary Session of the Tenth Central Committee, Deng was reinstated as Vice-Chairman of the Central Committee, Vice-Premier of the State Council, Vice-Chairman of the Military Commission and Chief of the General Staff of the People's Liberation Army. In march 1978 he was elected Chairman of the Fifth national Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

The ten years of turmoil had made more and more people realize that it was high time to repudiate "Left" thinking and to set things to rights. Deng lived up to the people's expectations and displayed his far-sightedness as a strategist. Faced with a multitude of problems in every area, he soon came to understand that the key to them all was correct ideology. He explicitly understood as an integral whole. he emphasized that its essence was seeking truth from facts, and accordingly he strongly opposed the "two whatevers" (the view that whatever policy decisions Chairman Mao had made and whatever instructions he had given must be followed unswervingly). He encouraged discussion on the criterion of truth, with the result that the rigid bonds that had constricted people's thinking for so long were broken. People both inside and outside the Party began to seriously examine the current situation and to tackle the problems they discovered. This great movement to emancipate people's minds led to the convocation of the Third Plenary Session of the Party's Eleventh Central Committee.

This Session, convened in December 1978, marked a fundamental turning point in the history of the Chinese Communist Party. At a working conference of the Central Committee held before the Session, Deng delivered a speech which turned out to be the keynote of the Third Plenary. In this speech he explained in detail that people should emancipate their minds and seek truth from facts. Just as the Chinese people had followed this principle in the past in making revolution, so now, he said, they must rely on it in construction. In accordance with this principle, the Plenary Session discarded the notion that in a socialist society class struggle remained the "key link" and made the strategic decision to shift the focus of the Party's work to socialist modernization, so as to concentrate on development of the productive forces. Deng stressed that the Chinese people should be dedicated and steadfast in pursuit of socialist modernization and not let themselves be hindered by interference from any quarter. This was a fundamental rectification of the political line, and it ushered in a new era of reform and opening to the outside world. In March 1979 Deng made it clear that to maintain the correct orientation in the modernization drive it was essential to adhere to the Four Cardinal Principles: keeping to the socialist road and upholding the dictatorship of the proletariat (the people's democratic dictatorship), leadership by the Communist Party and Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought.

Deng insisted that to ensure the implementation of the ideological and political lines, a correct organizational line must be established. He was particularly concerned about ensuring the selection of successors to ageing cadres. At his urging, a series of measures were adopted to build yp a contingent of their generation. These cadres would replace some of their older comrades and work in cooperation with those who would remain. In this way the system of life tenure for leading cadres would gradually be abolished, and the age structure within the ranks o fleading cadres would become more and more appropriate.

These efforts to rationalize the ideological, political and organizational lines set China back on the path of normal development. This was the prerequisite for carrying out socialist modernization and the policies of reform and opening to the outside would.

In order to set things to rights and overcome "Left" mistakes it was necessary to clear up the confusion in people's minds about how to evaluate the historical role of Mao Zedong. For this reason the Sixth Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee adopted a resolution on the subject, entitled "Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party Since the Founding of the People's Republic of China". It was Deng who presided over the drafting of this landmark document. While completely condemning the "cultural revolution" and the wrong guidelines on which it was based, the resolution made a comprehensive evaluation of Mao's historical role, affirming that his contributions were primary and his mistakes secondary. It distinguished between Mao Zedong Thought--the crystallization of collective wisdom and the product of scientific theory confirmed by practice-and the mistakes Mao made in his later years, emphasizing the need to uphold and develop the former. This resolution helped greatly to unify the thinking of the whole Party and to ensure political unity and stability throughout the country.

In September 1982, following the initial successes in socialist modernization and in implementation of reform and the open policy, the Party held its Twelfth National Congress. At that Congress Deng summed up China's recent historical experience and drew a basic conclusion: the universal truth of Marxism must be integrated with the concrete realities of China, and China must blaze a trail of its own, building socialism with Chinese characteristics.

To do that it is essential to correctly understand China's historical stage. On this question the Communist Party has recently made a systematic, theoretical statement: China is now at the primary stage of socialism. Throughout this stage the basic line of the Party in building socialism with Chinese characteristics is as follows: to lead the people of all our nationalities in a united, self-reliant, intensive and pioneering effort to turn China into a prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and modern socialist country by making economic development the central task while adhering to the Four Cardinal Principles and persevering in reform and the open policy.

Deng said later, "Premier Zhao Ziyang has recently made a correct summation of our guidelines and policies. Socialist modernization is our basic line. To carry it out and make China prosperous we must, first, carry out the policies of reform and opening to the outside world, and we must, second, adhere to the Four Cardinal Principles, the most important of which are to uphold leadership by the party and to keep to the socialist road, opposing bourgeois liberalization and a turn to capitalism. These two points are interrelated."

Just as Deng Xiaoping was the first to articulate the Four Cardinal Principles, he was the first to propose and insist that China undertake reform, adopt an open policy and invigorate the economy. Ever since the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee, he has been actively promoting the reform. Because 80 per cent of China's population lives in the countryside, it was there that the reform was to begin. It was tried first in the provinces of Sichuan and Anhui, and on the basis of the successful experience in those two places, it was soon introduced throughout the country. The result was that when the initiative of 800 million peasants was aroused, the productive forces expanded greatly, a large number of enterprises run by villages and townships emerged and the peasants' standard of living rose. Three years later, these notable results having been achieved in the countryside, reform was begun in the cities. Because urban reform was more complicated than rural reform, Deng urged that possibility should be explored boldly but with great care and prudence. On his proposal, four special economic zones were established and 14 coastal cities were opened to the outside world. After making inspection tours of the zones, he affirmed the correctness of the policy. On the basis of equality and mutual benefit, he declared, China should vigorously expand its economic co-operation with foreign countries, absorb their capital and introduce their advanced technologies and managerial skills, so as to accelerate the development of its own economy. The private sector, he said, should be developed properly as a supplement to the socialist sector, which would remain dominant in China's economy. He also urged that some regions and some people be allowed to become prosperous first, through hard work, so that others would follow their example. If all these policies were applied, he believed, the whole economy would make rapid progress, eventually enabling all the Chinese people to prosper. Recently, on more than one occasion Deng has stressed the need to forge confidently ahead with the reform and the open policy and to move even faster in reform.

Deng has defined the ambitious goals of China's socialist construction as follows: first, to quadruple the 1980 gross national product by the end of this century, so that the people will enjoy a comparatively comfortable standard of living; and second, on the basis of that achievement, to again quadruple GNP over the following 30 to 50 years, so that China will reach the level of the moderately developed countries. When China has realized these goals, it will have pointed the way for all the people of the Third World, who represent Three-quarters of the world's population. More important, it will have demonstrated to mankind that socialism is the only solution and that it is superior to capitalism.