Deng Xiaoping

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Deng Xiaoping

Deng Xiaoping (listen (help·info)  Pronounced approximately "dehng shyau-ping" [tə̂ŋ ɕjàupʰǐŋ]; August 22, 1904February 19, 1997) was a prominent Chinese politician and reformer, and the late leader of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Deng never held office as the head of state or the head of government, but served as the de facto leader of the People's Republic of China from 1978 to the early 1990s. He developed "Socialism with Chinese characteristics" and Chinese economic reform, also known as the "socialist market economy", and opened China to the global market. During his paramount leadership, his official state positions were Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference from 1978–1983 and Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the People's Republic of China from 1983–1990, while his official party positions were Vice Chairman of the Communist Party of China from 1977–1982 and Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Communist Party of China from 1981–1989.

Quotes[edit]

  • It doesn't matter whether the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice.
    • Quoted in Hung Li China's Political Situation and the Power Struggle in Peking (1977), p. 107
    • According to Chambers Dictionary of Quotations (1993), p. 315, this quote is from a speech at the Communist Youth League conference in July 1962.
  • The United States brags about its political system, but the [American] President says one thing during the election, something else when he takes office, something else at midterm and something else when he leaves.
    • When asked about China's political stability by a group of American professors in 1983, as quoted in The Pacific Rim and the Western World: Strategic, Economic, and Cultural Perspectives (1987), p. 105
  • A basic contradiction between socialism and the market economy does not exist.
    • As quoted in Daily report: People's Republic of China, Editions 240-249 (1993), p. 30
    • Variant: There are no fundamental contradictions between a socialist system and a market economy.
      • Interview, Time, 4 November 1985.
  • When our thousands of Chinese students abroad return home, you will see how China will transform itself.
    • As quoted in Forbes, Vol. 176, Editions 7-13 (2005), p. 79
  • We mustn't fear to adopt the advanced management methods applied in capitalist countries (...) The very essence of socialism is the liberation and development of the productive systems (...) Socialism and market economy are not incompatible (...) We should be concerned about right-wing deviations, but most of all, we must be concerned about left-wing deviations.
    • Cited by António Caeiro in Pela China Dentro (translated), Dom Quixote, Lisboa, 2004. ISBN 972-20-2696-8
  • "If you open a window for fresh air, you have to expect some flies to blow in."

Speech at the Special Session of the U.N. General Assembly (1974) (excerpts)[edit]

Speech By Chairman of the Delegation of the People’s Republic of China, Deng Xiaoping, At the Special Session of the U.N. General Assembly

  • The Chinese Government extends its warm congratulations on the convocation of this session and hopes that it will make a positive contribution to strengthening the unity of the developing countries, safeguarding their national economic rights and interests and promoting the struggle of all peoples against imperialism, and particularly against hegemonism.
  • At present, the international situation is most favourable to the developing countries and the peoples of the world. More and more, the old order based on colonialism, imperialism and hegemonism is being undermined and shaken to its foundations. International relations are changing drastically. The whole world is in turbulence and unrest. The situation is one of “great disorder under heaven,” as we Chinese put it. This “disorder” is a manifestation of the sharpening of all the basic contradictions in the contemporary world. It is accelerating the disintegration and decline of the decadent reactionary forces and stimulating the awakening and growth of the new emerging forces of the people.
  • A large number of Asian, African and Latin American countries have achieved independence one after another and they are playing an ever greater role in international affairs. As a result of the emergence of social-imperialism, the socialist camp which existed for a time after World War II is no longer in existence. Owing to the law of the uneven development of capitalism, the Western imperialist bloc, too, is disintegrating. Judging from the changes in international relations, the world today actually consists of three parts, or three worlds, that are both interconnected and in contradiction to one another.
  • The two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, are vainly seeking world hegemony. Each in its own way attempts to bring the developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America under its control and, at the same time, to bully the developed countries that are not their match in strength.
  • The two superpowers are the biggest international exploiters and oppressors of today. They are the source of a new world war. They both possess large numbers of nuclear weapons. They carry on a keenly contested arms race, station massive forces abroad and set up military bases everywhere, threatening the independence and security of all nations. They both keep subjecting other countries to their control, subversion, interference or aggression. They both exploit other countries economically, plundering their wealth and grabbing their resources.
  • The numerous developing countries have long suffered from colonialist and imperialist oppression and exploitation. They have won political independence, yet all of them still face the historic task of clearing out the remnant forces of colonialism, developing the national economy and consolidating national independence. These countries cover vast territories, encompass a large population and abound in natural resources. Having suffered the heaviest oppression, they have the strongest desire to oppose oppression and seek liberation and development. In the struggle for national liberation and independence, they have demonstrated immense power and continually won splendid victories. They constitute a revolutionary motive force propelling the wheel of world history and are the main force combating colonialism, imperialism, and particularly the superpowers.
  • The two superpowers have created their own antithesis. Acting in the way of the big bullying the small, the strong domineering over the weak and the rich oppressing the poor, they have aroused strong resistance among the Third World and the people of the whole world. The people of Asia, Africa and Latin America have been winning new victories in their struggles against colonialism, imperialism, and particularly hegemonism. The Indochinese peoples are continuing to press forward in their struggles against U.S. imperialist aggression and for national liberation.
  • The hegemonism and power politics of the two superpowers have also aroused strong dissatisfaction among the developed countries of the Second World. The struggles of these countries against superpower control, interference, intimidation, exploitation and shifting of economic crises are growing day by day. Their struggles also have a significant impact on the development of the international situation.
  • As we all know, in the last few centuries colonialism and imperialism unscrupulously enslaved and plundered the people of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Exploiting the cheap labour power of the local people and their rich natural resources and imposing a lopsided and single-product economy, they extorted superprofits by grabbing low-priced farm and mineral products, dumping their industrial goods, strangling national industries and carrying on an exchange of unequal values. The richness of the developed countries and the poverty of the developing countries are the result of the colonialist and imperialist policy of plunder.
  • In many Asian, African and Latin American countries that have won political independence, the economic lifelines are still controlled by colonialism and imperialism in varying degrees, and the old economic structure has not changed fundamentally. The imperialists, and particularly the superpowers, have adopted neo-colonialist methods to continue and intensify their exploitation and plunder of the developing countries. They export capital to the developing countries and build there a “state within a state” by means of such international monopoly organizations as “trans-national corporations” to carry out economic plunder and political interference. Taking advantage of their monopoly position in international markets, they reap fabulous profits by raising the export prices of their own products and forcing down those of raw materials from the developing countries. Moreover, with the deepening of the political and economic crises of capitalism and the sharpening of their mutual competition, they are further intensifying their plunder of the developing countries by shifting the economic and monetary crises on to the latter.
  • Plunder and exploitation by colonialism, imperialism, and particularly by the superpowers, are making the poor countries poorer and the rich countries richer, further widening the gap between the two. Imperialism is the greatest obstacle to the liberation of the developing countries and to their progress. It is entirely right and proper for the developing countries to terminate imperialist economic monopoly and plunder, sweep away these obstacles and take all necessary measures to protect their economic resources and other rights and interests.
  • The doings of imperialism, and particularly the superpowers, can in no way check the triumphant advance of the developing countries along the road of economic liberation.
  • We maintain that the safeguarding of political independence is the first prerequisite for a Third World country to develop its economy. In achieving political independence, the people of a country have only taken the first step, and they must proceed to consolidate this independence, for there still exist remnant forces of colonialism at home and there is still the danger of subversion and aggression by imperialism and hegemonism. The consolidation of political independence is necessarily a process of repeated struggles. In the final analysis, political independence and economic independence are inseparable. Without political independence, it is impossible to achieve economic independence; without economic independence, a country’s independence is incomplete and insecure.
  • The developing countries have great potentials for developing their economy independently. As long as a country makes unremitting efforts in the light of its own specific features and conditions and advances along the road of independence and self-reliance, it is fully possible for it to attain gradually a high level of development never reached by previous generations in the modernization of its industry and agriculture. The ideas of pessimism and helplessness spread by imperialism in connection with the question of the development of developing countries are all unfounded and are being disseminated with ulterior motives.
  • By self-reliance we mean that a country should mainly rely on the strength and wisdom of its own people, control its own economic lifelines, make full use of its own resources, strive hard to increase food production and develop its national economy step by step and in a planned way. The policy of independence and self-reliance in no way means that it should be divorced from the actual conditions of a country; instead, it requires that distinction must be made between different circumstances, and that each country should work out its own way of practising self-reliance in the light of its specific conditions. At the present stage, a developing country that wants to develop its national economy must first of all keep its natural resources in its own hands and gradually shake off the control of foreign capital. In many developing countries, the production of raw materials accounts for a considerable proportion of the national economy.
  • Self-reliance in no way means “self-seclusion” and rejection of foreign aid. We have always considered it beneficial and necessary for the development of the national economy that countries should carry on economic and technical exchanges on the basis of respect for state sovereignty, equality and mutual benefit, and the exchange of needed goods to make up for each other’s deficiencies.
  • We hold that in both political and economic relations, countries should base themselves on the Five Principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence. We are opposed to the establishment of hegemony and spheres of influence by any country in any part of the world in violation of these principles.
  • We hold that all countries, big or small, rich or poor, should be equal, and that international economic affairs should be jointly managed by all the countries of the world instead of being monopolized by the one or two superpowers. We support the full right of the developing countries, which comprise the great majority of the world’s population, to take part in all decision-making on international trade, monetary, shipping and other matters.
  • We hold that international trade should be based on the principles of equality, mutual benefit and the exchange of needed goods. We support the urgent demand of the developing countries to improve trade terms for their raw materials, primary products and semi-manufactured and manufactured goods, to expand their market and to fix equitable and favourable prices. We support the developing countries in establishing various organizations of raw material exporting countries for a united struggle against colonialism, imperialism and hegemonism.
  • We hold that economic aid to the developing countries must strictly respect the sovereignty of the recipient countries and must not be accompanied by any political or military conditions and the extortion of any special privileges or excessive profits. Loans to the developing countries should be interest-free or low-interest and allow for delayed repayment of capital and interest, or even reduction and cancellation of debts in case of necessity. We are opposed to the exploitation of developing countries by usury or blackmail in the name of aid.
  • We hold that technology transferred to the developing countries must be practical, efficient, economical and convenient for use. The experts and other personnel dispatched to the recipient countries have the obligation to pass on conscientiously technical know-how to the people there and to respect the laws and national customs of the countries concerned. They must not make special demands or ask for special amenities, let alone engage in illegal activities.
  • If one day China should change her colour and turn into a superpower, if she too should play the tyrant in the world, and everywhere subject others to her bullying, aggression and exploitation, the people of the world should identify her as social-imperialism, expose it, oppose it and work together with the Chinese people to overthrow it.
  • History develops in struggle, and the world advances amidst turbulence. The imperialists, and the superpowers in particular, are beset with troubles and are on the decline. Countries want independence, nations want liberation and the people want revolution — this is the irresistible trend of history. We are convinced that, so long as the Third World countries and people strengthen their unity, ally themselves with all forces that can be allied with and persist in a protracted struggle, they are sure to win continuous new victories.

Speech at the Opening Ceremony of the National Conference on Science (March 1978) (excerpts)[edit]

Speech At the Opening Ceremony of the National Conference On Science

  • Vast numbers of scientists, technicians, workers, peasants and armymen are actively participating in the movement for scientific experiment. Young people are becoming interested in science and eager to study it. The entire nation is setting out with tremendous enthusiasm on the march towards the modernization of our science and technology. Splendid prospects lie before us.
  • Our people are undertaking the historic mission of modernizing our agriculture, industry, national defence and science and technology within the present century, in order to transform China into a modern and powerful socialist state.
  • The key to the four modernizations is the modernization of science and technology. Without modern science and technology, it is impossible to build modern agriculture, modern industry or modern national defence. Without the rapid development of science and technology, there can be no rapid development of the economy. The Central Committee of the Party decided to call this national science conference in order to bring home to the Party and country the importance of science, to map out a programme, to commend advanced units and individuals and to discuss measures for speeding up the development of science and technology in China.
  • Marxism has consistently treated science and technology as part of the productive forces. More than a century ago, Marx said that expansion of the use of machinery in production requires the conscious application of natural science. Science too, he said, is among the productive forces.The development of modern science and technology has bound science and production ever more tightly together. It is becoming increasingly clear that science and technology are of tremendous significance as productive forces.
  • Modern science and technology are now undergoing a great revolution. The advances over the last three decades have not been limited to particular scientific theories or production techniques, nor have they just represented progress and reform in the usual sense. Rather, profound changes have taken place and new leaps have been made in almost all areas. A whole range of new sciences and technologies is continuously emerging. Modern science opens the way for the improvement of production techniques and determines the direction of their development.
  • In societies under the rule of exploiting classes, there are various kinds of mental workers. Some are wholly in the service of the reactionary ruling classes and thus stand in an antagonistic relationship to manual workers. But even in such a situation, as Lenin said, many of the intellectuals engaged in scientific and technical work are themselves not capitalists but scholars, even though they are filled with bourgeois prejudices. The fruits of their work are used by the exploiters, but in general this is determined by the social system and not by their own free choice. They are totally different from those politicians who rack their brains for expedients of direct service to the reactionary ruling classes.
  • Science and technology are part of the productive forces. Mental workers who serve socialism are part of the working people. A correct understanding of these two facts is essential to the rapid development of our scientific enterprises. Once we have accepted these premises, it follows that we must make every effort to develop scientific research and education in science and to encourage the revolutionary initiative of our scientific, technical and educational workers.
  • Backwardness must be recognized before it can be changed. One must learn from those who are more advanced before he can catch up with and surpass them. Of course, in order to raise China’s scientific and technological level we must rely on our own efforts, develop our own creativity and persist in the policy of independence and self-reliance. But independence does not mean shutting the door on the world, nor does self-reliance mean blind opposition to everything foreign. Science and technology are part of the wealth created in common by all mankind. Every people or country should learn from the advanced science and technology of others. It is not just today, when we are scientifically and technologically backward, that we need to learn from others. Even after we catch up with the most advanced countries, we shall still have to learn from them in areas where they are particularly strong.
  • China’s revolution exerts an attraction on all the revolutionary people in the world, who identify with it. Our drive for socialist modernization has enlisted their interest and support and will continue to do so ever more widely. We must endeavour to increase international academic exchanges and expand our friendly contacts and co-operation with scientific circles in other countries. We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to all friends abroad who have helped us in science and technology.
  • For the modernization of science and technology, we must have a mighty scientific and technical force serving the working class, a force which is both “red and expert” and includes a large number of scientists, engineers and technicians who are first rate by world standards. It will not be easy for us to build up such a force.
  • In our socialist society, everyone should remould himself — not just persons who have not changed their basic stand, but everybody. We should all engage in a continued process of learning and transforming our thinking. We should all study fresh problems, absorb what is new and consciously guard against corrosion by bourgeois ideology. In this way, we will be better able to carry out the glorious and arduous task of building a modern, powerful socialist country.
  • Scientists and technicians should concentrate their energies on their professional work. When we say that at least five-sixths of their work time should be left free for professional work, this is meant as the minimum requirement. It would be better still if more time were made available. If someone works seven days and seven nights a week to meet the needs of science or production, it shows his lofty and selfless devotion to the cause of socialism. We should commend, encourage and learn from such people. It has been demonstrated countless times that only those who devote themselves heart and soul to their work, who constantly strive for perfection and fear neither hardship nor disappointment can reach the pinnacles of science. We cannot demand that scientists and technicians, or at any rate, the overwhelming majority of them, study stacks of books on political theory, join in numerous social activities and attend many meetings not related to their work.
  • The discovery and training of talented people by our scientists and teachers is in itself an achievement and a contribution to the country. The history of science shows us the tremendous importance of discovering genuinely talented persons. Some of the world’s scientists look upon the finding and training of new talent as the crowning achievement of a lifetime devoted to science. There is much to be said for this view.
  • We must give full play to democracy and follow the mass line, trusting the judgement of the scientists and technicians in such matters as the evaluation of scientific papers, the assessment of the competence of professional personnel, the elaboration of plans for scientific research and the evaluation of research results. When views diverge on scholarly questions, we must follow the policy of “letting a hundred schools of thought contend” and encourage free discussion. In scientific and technical work, we must listen closely to the opinions of the experts and leave them free to use all their skills and talents so as to achieve better results and reduce our errors to the minimum.
  • What is right and what is wrong in regard to political line has been basically clarified, we have mapped out a programme and the measures for carrying it out, and the masses are already on the move.

Interview with Oriana Fallaci (1980)[edit]

Deng Xiaoping interviewed by Oriana Fallaci (1980)

  • But… look, Chairman Mao made mistakes, yes. Nonetheless, he was one of the principal founders of the Communist Party of China and the People’s Republic of China. Thus, when we look at his merits together with his mistakes, we think that his mistakes take second place, while his merits take first. And this means that the contribution he made to the Chinese revolution cannot be forgotten and that the Chinese people will always cherish his memory; they will always think of him as one of the founders of the party and of the republic.
  • According to Marx, socialism, which is the first stage of Communism, covers a very long period. And, during this period, we will try to fulfill the principle “From each according to his ability, to each according to his work.” In other words, we will blend the interests of the individual with the interests of the country. There is no other way to mobilize interest in production among the masses, let’s admit it. And since the capitalist West will be helping us to overcome the backwardness we find ourselves in — the poverty that afflicts us — it doesn’t seem opportune to get caught up in the subtleties. However things go, the positive effects will be greater than the negative effects.
  • Democracy and dictatorship of the proletariat are two parts of the same antithesis, and proletarian democracy is far superior to its capitalist counterpart. We are emphasizing the Four Principles that we must adhere to: the principle of socialism, the principle of dictatorship of the proletariat, the principle of Marxism and Leninism elaborated in Mao Zedong Thought, and the principle of leaders supported by the Communist Party of China. So, you see, that even the principle of dictatorship of the proletariat has remained untouched and untouchable.
  • War is inevitable because superpowers exists and because imperialism exists. And we are not the only ones who think this way; in every part of the world today, many people are convinced that war will break out in the 1980s. The next ten years will be very, very dangerous. They’re terrifying. We should never forget this, because this is the only way we will prevent war from breaking out immediately; this is the only way we can defer it. Not by chatting about peace and detente. Westerners have been talking about peace and detente since the end of the Second World War. So has the Soviet Union. But where is this peace, where is this detente? Year to year, if not day to day, the hot spots are growing; the factors that will lead to World War Three are increasing; and still they talk about detente and peace.
  • China is poor and our military is backwards, I agree. But we have our traditions, you know. And for quite some time, using inadequate and miserable equipment, we have cultivated the art of defeating well-armed enemies. Our territory is extremely vast, and in this vast territory the people have learned the necessary resistance for a long war — to bend the strength of others through their weaknesses. Whoever wants to invade China should remember this truth, and I believe that the Soviets remember it well.
  • Hmm… listen, I have made mistakes — yes, sometimes serious ones. But I never made them with bad intentions; I always made them with good intentions. My conscience is clear about my own life. Hmm… listen, I think I could give myself fifty percent. Yes, fifty percent would be all right.


Misattributed or apocryphal[edit]

  • 致富光荣 (zhìfù guāngróng: To get rich is glorious!)
    • Deng is commonly quoted with this phrase in western media but there is no proof that he actually said it
    • However, this phrase in Chinese is more accurately translated as "wealth is glorious," where wealth can have a very general meaning, including knowledge, personal relationships, family: anything of value. Understood this way, the quote is not as directly controversial as a ideological/political statement, and so it is not hard to believe that he really did say this.[1]
  • One Country, Two systems.
    • Actually coined by Mao Zedong, popularized by Deng Xiaoping
  • Seek Truth from Facts
    • Actually from the Han Shu 《漢書·河間獻王劉德傳》, not coined by Mao Zedong nor by Deng Xiaoping, popularized by various people before them.
  • Crossing the river by feeling the stones
    • 摸着石头过河 (mō zhe shítou guòhé)
    • Meaning: proceed gradually, by experimentation.
    • Traditional saying, first used in Chinese Communist context by Chen Yun, 1980 December 16, then popularized by Deng 1984 October.[2] Frequently misattributed to Deng.[3][4]

Quotes about Deng Xiaoping[edit]

  • Deng Xiaoping decided in 1979 that China could teach Vietnam a lesson through a brief but decisive invasion, forcing the diversion of Vietnamese forces from Cambodia and delivering a blow to the Vietnamese-Soviet (anti-China) alliance. His low opinion of the Vietnamese ignored the fact that they had routed France and outlasted the United States. The Chinese miscalculation was not an unmitigated blunder: Deng cut his losses by keeping the conflict short, and the war exposed China's military weakness, allowing him to consolidate power and reform the People's Liberation Army. Operationally, though, the war was a military disaster for China. China suffered massive losses and failed to draw the Vietnamese out of Cambodia.
  • I knew Deng, and I had a wonderful, frank discussion with him, and he said, ‘What happened in Tiananmen Square is none of your business—it’s a domestic issue, and we do whatever we want,’ and I said, ‘You’re right. It is none of our business. But the consequences of what you did in the world and to our relations are our business. And that’s what I’m here to talk about.’
    • Brent Scowcroft, quoted in Jeffrey Goldberg, "Breaking Ranks", The New Yorker (October 23, 2005)

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. [1]
  2. Henry He, Dictionary of the Political Thought of the People's Republic of China, Routledge, 2016, ISBN 978-1-31550044-7, p. 287
  3. Evan Osnos, Boom Doctor, New Yorker, October 11, 2010:
    The strategy, as Chen Yun put it, was "crossing the river by feeling for the stones." (Deng, inevitably, received credit for the expression.)
  4. Chinese land reform: A world to turn upside down, The Economist, 2013 October 31
    Liu Hongzhi, who oversees the scheme, quotes a famous phrase often attributed to Deng, though in fact coined by a colleague: "We are crossing the river by feeling the stones."
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