Diaocha yanjiu: a legacy and firm guide for policymakers

By Jiao Jie and Nathan Williams | China Daily | Updated: 2023-08-14 08:51
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"No investigation, no right to speak," Mao Zedong's famous maxim is immortalized in the yard of the Xunwu Research Memorial Hall. XU JINXING/FOR CHINA DAILY

Informed decisions

"A leader needs to make informed decisions," said Cao Shuqiang, a researcher of CPC history in Jiangxi's Huichang county. "Without the proper knowledge, their decisions would be detached from reality. That's why it's crucial to conduct detailed investigations and research, and gain a clear understanding of the circumstances before making decisions — to ensure that the decisions are targeted and accurate."

China Daily reporter Nathan Williams said that one of China's decisive moves at a crucial juncture in its transformative era — reform and opening-up — was also made with the same ideology. He recapped this watershed moment in the history of the CPC, based on his reporting experiences in South China's Guangdong province.

"In 1980, a groundbreaking development unfolded on China's southern coast with the establishment of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone. This marked a significant milestone in the country's economic transformation, propelled by visionary leadership, bold experimentation and a commitment to market-oriented reforms," Williams said.

Deng Xiaoping, the architect of the reform and opening-up policy, granted the zone unprecedented autonomy to implement market-oriented practices and pilot economic experiments.

"Later, reform and opening-up shifted toward the mature practice of evidence-based decision-making based on local experiments that were measured in every sense of the word, metrically and gradually," China Daily reporter Erik Nilsson said. "This gave rise to the saying 'Crossing the river by feeling for stones'."

After spending 18 years exploring China and witnessing the development of this vast country, Nilsson has become a seasoned observer of CPC policies."If a trial implemented following research and investigation worked in one place, it would, after tweaking, be moderately and incrementally adopted on a greater scale in more places, sometimes nationally. This also recalibrated ideas about practical results in relation to ideology," Nilsson said.

Having shared their own journeys into this topic, the journalists found that this solid and practical problem-solving ideology is a common thread in Chinese political philosophy and a cornerstone of the CPC's DNA.

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