II. The Great Historical Course of Reform and Opening Up
We will soon be celebrating the 30th anniversary of the start of reform and opening up. In 1978, the Party held the historic Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee, which ushered in the new historical period of reform and opening up. Since then, the Chinese Communists and the Chinese people have, in an indomitable enterprising spirit and with their spectacular practice of innovation, composed a new epic recounting the Chinese nation's ceaseless efforts to make progress and become stronger, and historic changes have taken place in the visages of the Chinese people, socialist China and the CPC.
Reform and opening up represent a great new revolution carried on by the people under the Party's leadership in a new era to release and develop the productive forces, modernize the country, bring prosperity to the Chinese people and achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation; to promote the self-improvement and development of China's socialist system, inject new vitality into socialism, and build and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics; and to improve the building of the Party as it leads contemporary China in development and progress, preserve and enhance its vanguard nature, and ensure that it is always in the forefront of the times.
We must never forget that the great cause of reform and opening up was conducted on a foundation laid by the Party's first generation of central collective leadership with Comrade Mao Zedong at its core, which founded Mao Zedong Thought, led the whole Party and the people of all ethnic groups in establishing the People's Republic and scoring great achievements in our socialist revolution and construction, and gained invaluable experience in its painstaking exploration for laws governing socialist construction. The victory in the new-democratic revolution and the establishment of the basic system of socialism provided the fundamental political prerequisite and institutional basis for every inch of development and progress in contemporary China.
We must never forget that the great cause of reform and opening up was initiated by the Party's second generation of central collective leadership with Comrade Deng Xiaoping at its core leading the whole Party and the people of all ethnic groups in the endeavor. In a precarious situation left by the "cultural revolution" (1966-76), the second generation of central collective leadership, persisting in emancipating the mind and seeking truth from facts and displaying immense political and theoretical courage, made a scientific appraisal of Comrade Mao Zedong and Mao Zedong Thought, thoroughly repudiated the erroneous theory and practice of "taking class struggle as the key link," and made the historic policy decision to shift the focus of the work of the Party and the state onto economic development and introduce reform and opening up. It established the basic line for the primary stage of socialism, sounded the clarion call of the times for taking our own road and building socialism with Chinese characteristics, founded Deng Xiaoping Theory, and led the whole Party and the people of all ethnic groups in striding forward on the great journey of reform and opening up.
We must never forget that the great cause of reform and opening up was carried on, developed and successfully carried into the 21st century by the Party's third generation of central collective leadership with Comrade Jiang Zemin at its core leading the whole Party and the people of all ethnic groups on this mission. From the Fourth Plenary Session of the Thirteenth Central Committee through the Sixteenth Congress, the third generation of central collective leadership, which took over the helm at a critical historical juncture, held high the great banner of Deng Xiaoping Theory, pressed ahead with reform and opening up and kept up with the times. Relying on the Party and the people, it stood the severe tests of political turbulences and economic risks at home and abroad, safeguarded socialism with Chinese characteristics, initiated the new, socialist market economy and ushered in a new phase of all-round opening up; and it advanced the great new undertaking to build the Party, founded the important thought of Three Represents, and steered the ship of reform and opening up forward on the right course.
Since the Sixteenth Congress, we have followed the guidance of Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of Three Represents, kept up with new developments and changes in and outside China, grasped the strategic opportunities in this important period, promoted the truth-seeking, pragmatic and pioneering spirit and persisted in innovation in both theory and practice. We have worked hard to promote scientific development and social harmony, improved the socialist market economy, and resolutely carried forward the great cause of reform and opening up in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.
Reform and opening up constitute the most salient feature of the new period. From the countryside to the cities and from the economic to other areas, the process of sweeping reform has unfolded with irresistible momentum. From the coastal areas to areas along the Yangtze River and the borders, and from the eastern to the central and western regions, the door has been resolutely opened to the outside world. This great undertaking of reform and opening up, never seen before in history, has greatly stimulated the enthusiasm of hundreds of millions of Chinese people and brought about China's historic transformation from a highly centralized planned economy to a robust socialist market economy, and from a closed or semi-closed state to all-round opening up. Today socialist China is standing rock-firm in the East, oriented toward modernization, the world and the future.
Rapid development represents the most remarkable achievement in the new period. The Party has been implementing the three-step strategy for modernization, leading the people in working hard to promote China's sustained rapid development at a rate rarely seen in the world. China's economy, once on the verge of collapse, has grown to rank as the fourth largest in the world, and its import and export volume, the third biggest. The Chinese people, once inadequately fed and clad, are leading a fairly comfortable life on the whole. The impoverished population in rural areas has dropped from more than 250 million to just over 20 million. The country's achievements in political, cultural and social development have captured world attention. China's development has not only enabled its people to move steadily toward prosperity and happiness, but also contributed substantially to the growth of the world economy and the progress of human civilization.
Keeping up with the times is the most prominent hallmark of the new period. Adhering to the Marxist ideological line, the Party has been constantly seeking answers to major theoretical and practical questions such as what socialism is and how to build it, what kind of party we must build and how to build it, and what kind of development China should achieve and how to achieve it. The Party has been constantly adapting Marxism to conditions in China, and adhering to and enriching its own basic theory, line, program and experience. Socialism and Marxism have shown great vitality on Chinese soil, brought more benefits to the people, and enabled the Chinese nation to catch up with the trend of the times in great strides and see the bright future of national rejuvenation.
Facts have incontrovertibly proved that the decision to begin reform and opening up is vital to the destiny of contemporary China, that reform and opening up are the only way of developing socialism with Chinese characteristics and rejuvenating the Chinese nation, that only socialism can save China and that only reform and opening up can develop China, socialism and Marxism.
As a great new revolution, reform and opening up are not to be plain sailing or be accomplished overnight. Essentially they accord with the aspirations of the Party membership and the people and keep up with the trend of the times. The orientation and path of reform and opening up are entirely correct, and their merits and achievements can never be negated. To stop or reverse reform and opening up would only lead to a blind alley.
In the historical course of reform and opening up, the Party has combined adhering to the basic tenets of Marxism with adapting it to Chinese conditions, upholding the Four Cardinal Principles with adhering to the reform and opening up policy, respecting the people's pioneering initiative with strengthening the Party's leadership, adhering to the basic system of socialism with developing the market economy, effecting changes in the economic base with promoting reform of the superstructure, developing the productive forces with improving the cultural and ethical quality of the whole nation, raising efficiency with promoting social equity, pursuing independent development with taking part in economic globalization, promoting reform and development with maintaining social stability, and advancing the great cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics with making progress in the great new undertaking to build the Party. In this course the Party has gained invaluable experience in eliminating poverty, accelerating modernization, and consolidating and developing socialism in a large developing country of over one billion people.
To sum up, the fundamental reason behind all our achievements and progress since the reform and opening up policy was introduced is that we have blazed a path of socialism with Chinese characteristics and established a system of theories of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Essentially, to hold high the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics means to keep to this path and uphold this system.
Taking the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics means we will, under the leadership of the CPC and in light of China's basic conditions, take economic development as the central task, adhere to the Four Cardinal Principles and persevere in reform and opening up, release and develop the productive forces, consolidate and improve the socialist system, develop the socialist market economy, socialist democracy, an advanced socialist culture and a harmonious socialist society, and make China a prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious modern socialist country. The main reason this path is completely correct and can lead China to development and progress is that we have adhered to the basic tenets of scientific socialism and in the meantime added to them distinct Chinese characteristics in light of China's conditions and the features of the times. In contemporary China, to stay true to socialism means to keep to the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
Theories of socialism with Chinese characteristics constitute a system of scientific theories including Deng Xiaoping Theory, the important thought of Three Represents, and the Scientific Outlook on Development and other major strategic thoughts. This system represents the Party's adherence to and development of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought and embodies the wisdom and hard work of several generations of Chinese Communists leading the people in carrying out tireless explorations and practices. It is the latest achievement in adapting Marxism to Chinese conditions, the Party's invaluable political and intellectual asset, and the common ideological foundation for the concerted endeavor of the people of all ethnic groups. It is an open system that keeps developing. Practices since the publication of the Communist Manifesto nearly 160 years ago have proved that only when Marxism is integrated with the conditions of a specific country, advances in step with the times and is tied to the destiny of the people can it demonstrate its strong vitality, creativity and appeal. In contemporary China, to stay true to Marxism means to adhere to the system of theories of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
There is no end to practice or innovation. All Party members must cherish the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics and the system of theories of socialism with Chinese characteristics, which the Party explored and created after going through all the hardships, keep to the path and uphold the system for a long time to come and constantly develop them. We must continue to emancipate our minds, seek truth from facts, keep up with the times, make bold changes and innovations, stay away from rigidity or stagnation, fear no risks, never be confused by any interference, broaden our path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and ensure that the truth of Marxism of contemporary China shines even more brightly.