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

Deng has proposed that to adapt the political structure to the requirements of economic reform, it too will have to be reformed. As early as August 1980, at an enlarged meeting of the political Bureau, he made an important speech on the reform of the system of Party and state leadership, which was later issued as a document setting forth guidelines for the reform of the political structure. He stressed the need to expand socialist democracy and strengthen the socialist legal system. Since 1986 Deng has again pointed out the importance of political reform, whose objectives he has defined as follows: to revitalize the whole state apparatus, to increase efficiency and to stimulate the initiative of the people and of the grass-roots units. The Thirteenth National Congress, convened in October 1987, declared that it was high time to put reform of the political structure on the agenda for the whole Party. This reform would involve separating the functions of the Party and the government, delegating powers to lower levels, reforming government organs and the personnel system relating to cadres, establishing a system of consultation and dialogue, improving a number of systems relating to socialist democracy and strengthening the socialist legal system. Political restructuring, the Congress stated, was a difficult and complex task, so it was necessary to adopt resolute yet cautious policies and to implement them in a guided and orderly way, in order to advance the reform as steadily as possible. Deng stated early on that it was imperative to build a socialist society that was advanced culturally and ideologically as well as materially, so that the people would cherish lofty ideals and moral integrity, become better educated and observe discipline. He said that material advance would be hindered or go astray without cultural and ideological progress. He has attached great importance to the building of the Communist Party as a party in power, holding that rectification of Party conduct is the key to rectification of general social conduct. He therefore deemed it necessary to consolidate the Party in order to unify thinking, improve style of work, maintain strict discipline and perfect Party organization-all for the purpose of making the Party a staunch central force leading the people in their effort to build a materially, culturally and ideologically advanced socialist society.

Standing in the forefront of the times, Deng Xiaoping is the the man who is leading China's reform. Following the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee, he became Vice-Chairman of the Central Committee, member of the Standing Committee of its Political Bureau, Chairman of the Central Military Commission and chairman of the Central Advisory Commission. He has played a major role in important policy decisions by pointing out the correct orientation with regard to key questions that have arisen in the course of formulating the line since that Session. People regard him as the chief architect of China's reform. The reform is designed to improve the socialist system, bring its superiority into full play and push forward the drive for modernization. At this primary stage of socialism, to accelerate and deepen the reform is the main task on which all political, economic and social activities must be focused.

The reform and socialist modernization will inevitably encounter interference both from the "Left" and from the Right. For a time at the end of 1986, a trend towards bourgeois liberalization was widespread, and certain individuals tried to stir up unrest by calling for total westernization of China. They pretended to support the reform and the open policy, but in reality they were trying to lead China towards capitalism. Deng acted promptly and decisively to dispose of this matter, and the situation soon returned to normal. He pointed out that if China went capitalist, the society would be utterly impossible for it to modernize. Likewise, without political stability and unity it would be impossible for the country to engage in construction and to implement the reform and the open policy. He called upon leaders at every level to take a clear-cut stand in support of the Four Cardinal Principles and in opposition to bourgeois liberalization.

Having analyzed the lessons of the past, Deng holds that the struggle against erroneous trends must proceed from reality (in other words, when there are "Left" trends one fights "Left" trends and when there are Right trends one fights Right trends). But rigid "Left" thinking has been the more common mistake in the past and is the more dangerous one today, because it has taken deep root in society and for many people has become habitual. The ingrained habits of thought tend to reassert themselves unconsciously whenever these people formulate and carry out specific policies. Deng believes that to deepen the reform it is essential to overcome the influence of rigid thinking and that the struggle against it and against bourgeois liberalization will be a long one, lasting throughout the course of socialist modernization.

In order to resolve the questions of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao and to reunify China, Deng formulated the concept of "one country, two systems". The concept is an important part of building socialism with Chinese characteristics. Since 1984 the Hong Kong and Macao questions have been solved on this basis. Deng believes that the same approach can be used to resolve the Taiwan question and perhaps other similar international issues as well. The concept of "one country, two systems" has had considerable impact both in China and abroad. This is one example of Deng's application of the principle of seeking truth from facts to the solution of complicated practical problems.

Deng Xiaoping is a man of broad vision who thinks in terms of world issues and has devoted much energy over the years to foreign relations. He has visited many foreign countries and met with many foreign guests, always with a view to securing a peaceful international environment for China's socialist modernization. He was personally responsible for formulating China's independent foreign police, which in essence consists of standing firmly on the side of the people of the Third World countries, opposing hegeminism and trying to preserve world peace. Deng holds that peace and development are the two overriding issues in the world today. He believes that the danger of war still exists but that the forces that can deter war are growing. China, he is convinced, can make an important contribution both to world peace and to steady economic development.

His writings, Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping (1975-1982), Fundamental Issues in Present-day China (1982-1987) - the updated edition of Build Socialism with Chinese Characteristics (1982-1984) - and Comrade Deng Xiaoping's Important Speeches (February-July 1987), are widely read both at home and abroad. A revolutionary with more than sixty years' experience, Deng continues to stay at the helm and to give generously of his time and energy where major issues of the Party and the state are involved. At the same time he makes sure that younger comrades shoulder more responsibilities whenever possible and that he himself in concerned only with those things that require his personal attention. Although he is more than 80 years old, Chinese and foreign visitors are always impressed by his vigorous health and agile mind. Every summer he goes to beaches along the Bohai Gulf or the Yellow Sea to swim and several times a week he plays bridge. He says that he has done all his traveling abroad but that there is one more trip he would like to take: to Hong Kong in 1997, when China resumes its sovereignty over the territory.

Deng Xiaoping had stressed all along that it is of strategic importance to bring younger people into positions of leadership and that the destiny of the Party and the state hinges on this question. He has stood firmly for abolishing permanent tenure in leading posts and has taken the lead in this connection. When new leading bodies were elected at the Party's Thirteenth National Congress and the First Plenary Session of the Thirteenth Central Committee, he withdrew his candidacy for membership in the Central Committee and its Political Bureau, accepting only reappointment as Chairman of the Central Military Commission. However, with his high prestige and profound wisdom he will continue to play a great role in making major policy decisions of the Party and the state.

Through a lifetime of service to the people, Deng Xiaoping has earned the respect and affection of millions of his compatriots.