Introduced and annotated by Alvin Tang

This document was originally a speech and give by Deng on March 30, 1979, three years after Mao Zedong died and the Gang of Four were arrested.[1] Deng Xiaoping took over the Communist Party leadership in 1978 after Mao died, he wanted China to achieve the Four Modernizations and become a powerful socialist country before the end of the twentieth country. In 1981, the Party declared that the Cultural Revolution was “responsible for the most severe setback and the heaviest losses suffered by the Party, the country, and the people since the founding of the People’s Republic.” The Communist Party blamed Lin Biao and the Gang of Four for the ten years of chaos.[2] Although three years had passed, Deng still criticized Lin and the Gang of Four’s damages and ultra-left ideas repeatedly in this article. Deng’s speech showed that he strongly believed that for China to become a powerful socialist country, it must learn modern science and technology from the capitalist countries. However, he also mentioned problems in Chinese people’s daily lives. Many students and intellectuals began to speak out and asked for a fifth modernization: democracy. Deng responded by giving the speech of Uphold the Four Cardinal Principles. First, the Chinese Communist Party and the country should always maintain the socialist path. Second, always uphold the people’s democratic dictatorship. Third, Communist always follow the lead of the Communist Party. Fourth, always uphold Mao Zedong Thought and Marxism-Leninism to ensure that China is on the right direction.

Deng also quoted from Mao to criticize government officials seeking personal privilege behaviors. He added that young students might be influenced by “trouble-makers” and warned that Party leaders should be aware of this situation.

[1] “Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party Since the Founding of the People’s Republic of China,” adopted by the Sixth Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on June 27, 1981 Resolution on CPC History (1949-81) (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1981), 32.

[2] Ibid.


March 30, 1979

Deng Xiaoping




To achieve the four modernizations[1] and make China a powerful socialist country before the end of this century will be a gigantic task.

In our democratic revolution, we had to act in accordance with China’s specific situation and follow the path discovered by Comrade Mao Zedong of encircling the cities from the rural areas. Now, in our national construction, we must likewise act in accordance with our own situation and find a Chinese path to modernization.[2]

At least two important features of our situation must be taken into account in order to carry out the four modernizations in China.

First, we are starting from a weak base. The damage inflicted over a long period by the forces of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat-capitalism reduced China to a state of poverty and backwardness. However, since the founding of the People’s Republic we have achieved signal successes in economic construction, established a fairly comprehensive industrial system and trained a body of technical personnel. From Liberation to last year, the average annual rate of growth in our industry and agriculture was fairly high by world standards. Nonetheless, because of our low starting point, China is still one of the world’s poor countries. Our scientific and technological forces are far from adequate. Generally speaking, we are 20 to 30 years behind the advanced countries in the development of science and technology. In the past three decades[3] our economy has gone through reversals. The havoc wrought by Lin Biao[4] and the Gang of Four[5] in the decade 1966-76[6] has had particularly grave consequences. Our present readjustment is aimed precisely at eliminating those consequences.

Second, we have a large population but not enough arable land. Of China’s population of more than 900 million, 80 per cent are peasants. While there are advantages to having a large population, there are disadvantages as well. When production is insufficiently developed, it poses serious problems with regard to food, education and employment. We must greatly increase our efforts in family planning; but even if the population does not grow for a number of years, we will still have a population problem for a certain period. Our vast territory and rich natural resources are big assets. But many of these resources have not yet been surveyed and exploited, so they do not constitute actual means of production. Despite China’s vast territory, the amount of arable land is limited, and neither this fact nor the fact that we have a large, mostly peasant population can be easily changed. This is a distinctive characteristic which we must take into account in carrying out our modernization program.

To accomplish modernization of a Chinese type, we must proceed from China’s special characteristics.[7] For example, modern production requires only a small number of people, while our population is enormous. How shall we reconcile these two facts? Unless we take all factors into account, we shall be faced for a long time with the social problem of insufficient employment. There are many problems in this connection which Party comrades doing practical and theoretical work must study together. We can surely find ways of solving these problems. But I am not going to discuss them today.

What I want to talk about now is ideological and political questions. The Central Committee maintains that, to carry out China’s four modernizations, we must uphold the Four Cardinal Principles ideologically and politically. This is the basic prerequisite for achieving modernization. The four principles are:

  1. We must keep to the socialist road.
  2. We must uphold the dictatorship of the proletariat.
  3. We must uphold the leadership of the Communist Party.
  4. We must uphold Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought.

As we all know, far from being new, these Four Cardinal Principles have long been upheld by our Party. The Central Committee has been adhering to these principles in all its guidelines and policies adopted since the smashing of the Gang of Four, and especially since the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee.

We have criticized, on both a theoretical and a practical level, the phoney, ultra-Left socialism[8] pushed by the Gang of Four, which boils down to universal poverty. We have always followed the principles of socialist public ownership and distribution according to work. We have always followed the policy of developing socialist economic construction mainly through self-reliance-supplemented by foreign aid-and through the study and acquisition of advanced technology from abroad. We have tried to act in accordance with objective economic laws. In other words, we have adhered to scientific socialism.[9]

We have smashed the feudal fascism of the Gang of Four, redressed many injustices, solved many problems left over from the past, consolidated the dictatorship of the proletariat, and restored and extended socialist democracy. And particularly since the Third Plenary Session, we have created a lively political situation of the type Comrade Mao Zedong had long looked forward to in his lifetime.

We have restored the three major features of the Party’s style of work, which had been trampled upon, improved the system of democratic centralism in the Party, and reinforced unity throughout the Party and between the Party and the masses. All this has enormously enhanced the Party’s prestige and strengthened its leadership of the state and society.

We have broken the mental shackles forged by Lin Biao and the Gang of Four and have insisted that leaders should be regarded as human beings, not demigods.[10] We have always tried to understand Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought correctly and as an integral, scientific system, and have always proceeded from reality and sought truth from facts. In other words, we have restored the original features of Mao Zedong Thought and defended the eminence of Comrade Mao Zedong as a great figure in the history of the Chinese revolution and of world revolution.

Nevertheless, the Central Committee believes that today there is still a tremendous need to stress propaganda on the four principles. This need continues because some Party comrades have not yet freed themselves from the evil influence of the ultra-Left ideology of Lin Biao and the Gang of Four. A handful have gone so far as to spread rumors and calumnies, attacking the principles and policies adopted by the Central Committee since the toppling of the Gang of Four and particularly since the Third Plenary Session as running counter to Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought. It is necessary to continue emphasizing the Four Cardinal Principles also because a handful of people in society at large are spreading ideas which are against them or at least cast doubt on them, and because individual Party comrades, instead of recognizing the danger of such ideas, have given them a certain degree of direct or indirect support. Although the number of such persons both inside and outside the Party is very small, we must not overlook their impact on that account. Facts show that they can do great damage to our cause and that they have already done so. Therefore, it is not enough for us to keep on resolutely eliminating the pernicious influence of the Gang of Four, helping those comrades who have been misled by it to come to their senses, and rebutting the reactionary statements of those who slander the Central Committee. While continuing to do all these things, we must also struggle unremittingly against currents of thought which throw doubt on the Four Cardinal Principles. Both the ultra-Left and Right currents of thought run counter to Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought and obstruct our advance towards modernization. We have conducted massive criticism of the ultra-Left thinking spread by Lin Biao and the Gang of Four (there is no question that this thinking too is in opposition to the four cardinal principles, only it is opposition from the “Left”), and we will go on criticizing it relentlessly. But what I want to emphasize now is criticism of a trend of thought which is sceptical of, or opposed to, our Four Cardinal Principles, but which comes from the Right.

First, we must keep to the socialist road. Some people are now openly saying that socialism in inferior to capitalism. We must demolish this contention. In the first place, socialism and socialism alone can save China — this is the unshakable historical conclusion that the Chinese people have drawn from their own experience in the 60 years since the May 4th Movement [1919] .[11] Deviate from socialism and China will inevitably retrogress to semi-feudalism and semi-colonialism. The overwhelming majority of the Chinese people will never allow such a retrogression. In the second place, although it is a fact that socialist China lags behind the developed capitalist countries in its economy, technology and culture, this is not due to the socialist system but basically to China’s historical development before Liberation; it is the result of imperialism and feudalism. The socialist revolution has greatly narrowed the gap in economic development between China and the advanced capitalist countries. Despite our errors, in the past three decades we have made progress on a scale which old China could not achieve in hundreds or even thousands of years. Our economy has attained a fairly high rate of growth. Now that we have summed up experience and corrected errors, it will undoubtedly develop more rapidly than the economy of any capitalist country, and the development will be steady and sustained. Of course, it will take a considerable period of time for the value of our national output per capita to catch up with and surpass that of the developed capitalist countries. In the third place, let’s ask: Which is better, the socialist system or the capitalist system? Of course the socialist system is better. In certain circumstances, a socialist country may make serious errors, and even experience such major setbacks as the havoc created by Lin Biao and the Gang of Four. Naturally, this has its subjective causes, but basically it is due to influences inherited from the old society with its long history, influences that cannot be swept away overnight. Capitalist countries with a long feudal history — such as Britain, France, Germany, Japan and Italy — all experienced major setbacks and reversals at different times (counter-revolutionary restorations occurred in Britain and France while Germany, Japan and Italy had periods of fascist rule). But relying on the socialist system and our own strength, we toppled Lin Biao and the Gang of Four without too much difficulty and quickly set our country back on the road to stability, unity and healthy development. The socialist economy is based on public ownership, and socialist production is designed to meet the material and cultural needs of the people to the maximum extent possible — not to exploit them. These characteristics of the socialist system make it possible for the people of our country to share common political, economic and social ideals and moral standards. All this can never happen in a capitalist society. There is no way by which capitalism can ever eliminate the extraction of super-profits by its millionaires or ever get rid of exploitation, plundering and economic crises. It can never generate common ideals and moral standards or free itself from appalling crimes, moral degradation and despair. On the other hand, capitalism already has a history of several hundred years, and we have to learn from the peoples of the capitalist countries. We must make use of the science and technology they have developed and of those elements in their accumulated knowledge and experience which can be adapted to our use. While we will import advanced technology and other things useful to us from the capitalist countries — selectively and according to plan — we will never learn from or import the capitalist system itself, nor anything repellent or decadent. If the developed capitalist countries were to rid themselves of the capitalist system, their economy and culture would certainly make greater progress. That is why the progressive political forces in the capitalist countries are trying to study and propagate socialism and are fighting to eliminate the injustices and irrational phenomena endemic in capitalist society and to carry out socialist revolution. We should introduce to our people, and particularly to our youth, whatever is progressive and useful in the capitalist countries, and we should criticize whatever is reactionary and decadent.

Second, we must uphold the dictatorship of the proletariat. We have conducted a lot of propaganda explaining that the dictatorship of the proletariat means socialist democracy for the people, democracy enjoyed by the workers, peasants, intellectuals and other working people, the broadest democracy that has ever existed in history. In the past, we did not practise democracy enough and we made mistakes. Lin Biao and the Gang of Four, while boosting their so-called “all-round dictatorship”, exercised a feudal fascist dictatorship over the people. We have smashed this dictatorship, which had nothing in common with the dictatorship of the proletariat but was its diametric opposite. Now we have corrected the past mistakes and adopted many measures to constantly expand democracy in the Party and among the people. Without democracy there can be no socialism and no socialist modernization. Of course, democratization, like modernization, must advance step by step. The more socialism develops, the more must democracy develop. This is beyond all doubt. However, the development of socialist democracy in no way means that we can dispense with the proletarian dictatorship over forces hostile to socialism. We are opposed to broadening the scope of class struggle. We do not believe that there is a bourgeoisie within the Party, nor do we believe that under the socialist system a bourgeoisie or any other exploiting class will re-emerge after exploiting classes and the conditions of exploitation have really been eliminated. But we must recognize that in our socialist society there are still counter-revolutionaries, enemy agents, criminals and other bad elements of all kinds who undermine socialist public order, as well as new exploiters who engage in corruption, embezzlement, speculation and profiteering. And we must also recognize that such phenomena cannot be all eliminated for a long time to come. The struggle against these individuals is different from the struggle of one class against another, which occurred in the past (these individuals cannot form a cohesive and overt class). However, it is still a special form of class struggle or a special form of the leftover, under socialist conditions, of the class struggles of past history. It is still necessary to exercise dictatorship over all these anti-socialist elements, and socialist democracy is impossible without it. This dictatorship is an internal struggle and in some cases an international struggle as well; in fact, the two aspects are inseparable. Therefore, so long as class struggle exists and so long as imperialism and hegemonism exist, it is inconceivable that the dictatorial function of the state should wither away, that the standing army, public security organs, courts and prisons should wither away. Their existence is not in contradiction with the democratization of the socialist state, for their correct and effective work ensures, rather than hampers, such democratization. The fact of the matter is that socialism cannot be defended or built up without the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Third, we must uphold the leadership of the Communist Party. Since the inception of the international communist movement, it has been demonstrated that its survival is impossible without the political parties of the proletariat. Moreover, since the October Revolution it has been clear that without the leadership of a Communist Party, the socialist revolution, the dictatorship of the proletariat and socialist construction would all be impossible. Lenin said: “The dictatorship of the proletariat is a persistent struggle — bloody and bloodless, violent and peaceful, military and economic, educational and administrative — against the forces and traditions of the old society…. Without an iron party tempered in the struggle, without a party enjoying the confidence of all that is honest in the given class, without a party capable of watching and influencing the mood of the masses, it is impossible to conduct such a struggle successfully.” This truth enunciated by Lenin remains valid today. In our country, in the 60 years since the May 4th Movement, no political party other than the Communist Party of China has integrated itself with the masses of the working people in the way described by Lenin. Without the Chinese Communist Party there would be no socialist new China. The misdeeds of Lin Biao and the Gang of Four aroused the resolute opposition of the whole Chinese people as well as of the whole Party precisely because Lin Biao and the Gang cast aside the Chinese Communist Party, the long-tested leading force that maintains flesh-and-blood ties with the masses. And if the Party’s prestige among the people throughout the country has been enhanced since the downfall of the Gang of Four, and particularly since the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee, it is precisely because the entire nation pins all its hopes for the future on leadership by the Party. Although the mass movement of 1976 that culminated in the incident at Tiananmen Square where the people gathered to mourn Premier Zhou Enlai was not led by the Party organizationally, it staunchly supported the Party’s leadership and opposed the Gang of Four. The revolutionary consciousness of the masses in that movement was inseparable from the education given by the Party over the years, and it was precisely members of the Party and the Communist Youth League who were the principal activists among them. Hence we must on no account consider the mass movement at Tiananmen Square to have been a purely spontaneous one like the May 4th Movement, which had no connection with Party leadership. In reality, without the Chinese Communist Party, who would organize the socialist economy, politics, military affairs and culture of China, and who would organize the four modernizations? In the China of today we can never dispense with leadership by the Party and extol the spontaneity of the masses. Party leadership, of course, is not infallible, and the problem of how the Party can maintain close links with the masses and exercise correct and effective leadership is still one that we must seriously study and try to solve. But this can never be made a pretext for demanding the weakening or liquidation of the Party’s leadership. Our Party has made many errors, but each time the errors were corrected by relying on the Party organization, not by discarding it. The present Central Committee is persistent in promoting democracy in the Party and among the people and is determined to correct past errors. Under these circumstances, it would be all the more intolerable to the masses of our people to demand the liquidation or even the weakening of leadership by the Party. In fact, bowing to this demand would only lead to anarchism and the disruption and ruin of the socialist cause. Lin Biao and the Gang of Four, as they put it, kicked aside the Party committees to “make revolution”, and it is clear to all what kind of revolution they made. If today we tried to achieve democracy by kicking aside the Party committees, isn’t it equally clear what kind of democracy we would produce? In 1966 the Chinese economy, having gone through a few years of readjustment, was in a position to develop rapidly. But Lin Biao and the Gang of Four did it grave damage. Only now, under the leadership of the Central Committee and of the State Council, has our economy returned to the road of sound growth. If a handful of people are again allowed to kick aside the Party committees and make trouble, the four modernizations will vanish into thin air. This is not an exaggerated statement I am making to scare people; it is the objective truth corroborated by a wealth of facts.

Fourth, we must uphold Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought. One of the key points of our struggle against Lin Biao and the Gang of Four was opposition to their falsification, doctoring and fragmenting of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought. Since the smashing of the Gang, we have restored the scientific character of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought and have guided ourselves by them. This is a resounding victory for the whole Party and people. But a few individuals think otherwise. Either they openly oppose the basic tenets of Marxism-Leninism, or else they uphold Marxism-Leninism in word only while in deed opposing Mao Zedong Thought, which represents the integration of the universal truth of Marxism-Leninism with the practice of the Chinese revolution. We must oppose these erroneous trends of thought. Some comrades say that we should uphold “correct Mao Zedong Thought”, but not “erroneous Mao Zedong Thought”. This kind of statement is also wrong. What we consistently take as our guide to action are the basic tenets of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought or, to put it another way, the scientific system formed by these tenets. When it comes to individual theses, neither Marx and Lenin nor Comrade Mao could be immune from misjudgements of one sort or another. But these do not belong to the scientific system formed by the basic tenets of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought.

Now I want to talk at some length about Mao Zedong Thought. China’s anti-imperialist and anti-feudal revolution went through innumerable cruel defeats. Was it not Mao Zedong Thought which enabled the Chinese people — about a quarter of the world’s population — to find the correct road for their revolution, achieve nationwide liberation in 1949, and basically accomplish socialist transformation[12]by 1956? This succession of splendid victories changed not only China’s destiny but the world situation as well. From the international point of view, Mao Zedong Thought is inseparably linked with the struggle against hegemonism; and the practice of hegemonism under the banner of socialism is a most obvious betrayal of socialist principles on the part of a Marxist-Leninist party after it has come to power. As I have already mentioned, in the evening of his life Comrade Mao Zedong formulated the strategy of differentiating the three worlds and personally ushered in a new stage in Sino-American and Sino-Japanese relations. By so doing he created new conditions for the development of the worldwide struggle against hegemonism and for the future of world politics. While conducting our modernization programme in the present international environment, we cannot help recalling Comrade Mao’s contributions. Comrade Mao, like any other man, had his defects and made errors. But how can these errors in his illustrious life be put on a par with his immortal contributions to the people? In analysing his defects and errors, we certainly should recognize his personal responsibility, but what is more important is to analyse their complicated historical background. That is the only just and scientific — that is, Marxist — way to assess history and historical figures.[13] Anyone who departs from Marxism on so serious a question will be censured by the Party and the masses. Isn’t that natural?

Mao Zedong Thought has been the banner of the Chinese revolution. It is and always will be the banner of China’s socialist cause and of the anti-hegemonist cause. In our forward march we will always hold the banner of Mao Zedong Thought high.

The cause and the thought of Comrade Mao Zedong are not his alone: they are likewise those of his comrades-in-arms, the Party and the people. His thought is the crystallization of the experience of the Chinese people’s revolutionary struggle over half a century. The case of Karl Marx was similar. In his estimation of Marx, Frederick Engels said that it was only thanks to Marx that the contemporary proletariat became conscious for the first time of its own position and demands and of the conditions necessary for its own liberation. Does this mean that history is made by any one individual? History is made by the people, but this does not preclude the people from respecting an outstanding individual. Of course, this respect must not turn into blind worship. No man should be looked upon as a demigod.

To sum up, in order to achieve the four modernizations we must keep to the socialist road, uphold the dictatorship of the proletariat, uphold the leadership of the Communist Party, and uphold Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought. The Central Committee considers that we must now repeatedly emphasize the necessity of upholding these four cardinal principles, because certain people (even if only a handful) are attempting to undermine them. In no way can such attempts be tolerated. No Party member and, needless to say, no Party ideological or theoretical worker, must ever waver in the slightest on this basic stand. To undermine any of the four cardinal principles is to undermine the whole cause of socialism in China, the whole cause of modernization.

Is the Central Committee making a mountain out of a molehill when it takes this view of the matter? No, it is not. In the light of current developments the Party has no choice.

In the recent period a small number of persons have provoked incidents in some places. Instead of accepting the guidance, advice, and explanations of leading officials of the Party and government, certain bad elements have raised sundry demands that cannot be met at present or are altogether unreasonable. They have provoked or tricked some of the masses into raiding Party and government organizations, occupying offices, holding sit-down and hunger strikes and obstructing traffic, thereby seriously disrupting production, other work and public order.[14]

Moreover, they have raised such sensational slogans as “Oppose hunger” and “Give us human rights”, inciting people to hold demonstrations and deliberately trying to get foreigners to give worldwide publicity to their words and deeds. There is a so-called China Human Rights Group which has gone so far as to put up big-character posters requesting the President of the United States to “show concern” for human rights[15] in China. Can we permit such an open call for intervention in China’s internal affairs? There is also a so-called Thaw Society which has issued a declaration openly opposing the dictatorship of the proletariat on the ground that it “divides mankind”. Can we tolerate this kind of freedom of speech which flagrantly contravenes the principles of our Constitution?

In Shanghai there is a so-called Democracy Forum. Some of its members have slandered Comrade Mao Zedong and put up big counter-revolutionary posters proclaiming that “proletarian dictatorship is the source of all evils” and that it is necessary to “resolutely and thoroughly criticize the Communist Party of China”. They allege that capitalism is better than socialism and that, therefore, instead of carrying out the four modernizations China should introduce what they call “social reform”, by which they mean that it should turn to capitalism. They publicly declare that their task is to settle accounts with those whom the Gang of Four called the capitalist roaders but whom it had failed to deal with. Some of them have asked to go abroad to seek political asylum, and some have even made clandestine contact with the Kuomintang secret service, plotting sabotage.

It is obvious that these people are out to use any and all means to disrupt our effort to shift the focus of our work to the achievement of modernization. If we ignored these grave problems, our Party and government organs at various levels would be so harassed that they would find it impossible to function. How, then, could we concentrate on the four modernizations?

It is true that there are very few such incidents and that the overwhelming majority of our people disapprove of them. Nevertheless, they merit our serious attention. First, these trouble-makers generally say they speak in the name of democracy, a claim by which people are easily misled. Second, taking advantage of social problems left over from the time when Lin Biao and the Gang of Four held sway, they may deceive some people who have difficulties which the government cannot help to clear up at the moment. Third, the trouble-makers have begun to form all kinds of secret or semi-secret organizations which seek to establish contact with each other on a nationwide scale and at the same time to collaborate with political forces in Taiwan and abroad. Fourth, some of these people work hand in glove with gangster organizations and followers of the Gang of Four, trying to expand the scope of their sabotage. Fifth, they do all they can to use as a pretext — or as a shield — indiscreet statements of one sort or another made by some of our comrades. All this shows that the struggle against these individuals is no simple matter that can be settled quickly. We must strive to clearly distinguish between people (many of them innocent young people) and the counter-revolutionaries and bad elements who have hoodwinked them, and whom we must deal with sternly and according to law. At the same time, we must educate comrades throughout the Party about the necessity of sharpening their vigilance, bearing in mind the interests of the country as a whole and uniting as one under the leadership of the Central Committee. We must encourage them to continue the emancipation of their minds and consistently promote democracy so that they can mobilize all positive forces while at the same time endeavouring to clear up the ideological confusion among a small section of the people, especially young people.

We must make a special effort to explain the question of democracy clearly to the people, and to our youth in particular. The socialist road, the dictatorship of the proletariat, the leadership of the Communist Party and Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought — all these are tied up with democracy. What kind of democracy do the Chinese people need today? It can only be socialist democracy, people’s democracy, and not bourgeois democracy, individualist democracy. People’s democracy is inseparable from dictatorship over the enemy and from centralism based on democracy. We practise democratic centralism, which is the integration of centralism based on democracy with democracy under the guidance of centralism. Democratic centralism is an integral part of the socialist system. Under this system, personal interests must be subordinated to collective ones, the interests of the part to those of the whole, and immediate to long-term interests. In other words, limited interests must be subordinated to overall interests, and minor interests to major ones. Our advocacy and practice of these principles in no way means that we can ignore personal, local or immediate interests. In the final analysis, under the socialist system there is a unity of personal interests and collective interests, of the interests of the part and those of the whole, and of immediate and long-term interests. We must adjust the relations between these various types of interests in accordance with the principle of taking them all into proper consideration. Were we to do the opposite and pursue personal, local or immediate interests at the expense of the others, both sets of interests would inevitably suffer. In the final analysis, the relations between democracy and centralism and between rights and duties are the political and legal expressions of the relations between these diverse interests. This is precisely why Comrade Mao Zedong said that our aim is to create a political situation in which we have both centralism and democracy, both discipline and freedom, both unity of will and personal ease of mind and liveliness. That is the political situation which exists when there is true socialist democracy — the situation we must strive to create today and in the years to come.

We have not propagated and practised democracy enough, and our systems and institutions leave much to be desired. The constant promotion of democracy is therefore a firm, long-term Party objective. However, while propagating democracy, we must strictly distinguish between socialist democracy on the one hand and bourgeois, individualist democracy on the other. We must link democracy for the people with dictatorship over the enemy, and with centralism, legality, discipline and the leadership by the Communist Party. At present when we are confronted with manifold difficulties in our economic life which can be overcome only by a series of readjustments and by consolidation and reorganization, it is particularly necessary to stress publicly the importance of subordinating personal interests to collective ones, interests of the part to those of the whole, and immediate to long-term interests. Only when everyone — whether inside or outside the Party, in a leading position or among the rank and file — is concerned for the overall interests shall we be able to overcome our difficulties and ensure a bright future for the four modernizations. Conversely, departure from the four cardinal principles and talk about democracy in the abstract will inevitably lead to the unchecked spread of ultra-democracy and anarchism, to the complete disruption of political stability and unity, and to the total failure of our modernization programme. If this happens, the decade of struggle against Lin Biao and the Gang of Four will have been in vain, China will once again be plunged into chaos, division, retrogression and darkness, and the Chinese people will be deprived of all hope. This is a matter of deep concern not only for the Chinese people of whatever nationality but also for all people abroad who wish to see China strong, and even for those who merely wish to expand trade with China.

Here I would like to raise the question of standards of social conduct. Thanks to the correct leadership of the Party and government, these standards were quite sound in our country for a decade or more after the founding of the People’s Republic. Most of the young people who grew up under the Party’s education had high ideals, ardently loved the socialist motherland, responded actively to the calls of the Party and government, defended the people’s interests, helped safeguard public order, and generally displayed a fine spirit of dedication and discipline. This type of conduct on the part of young people had a good influence on the conduct of other members of society, and vice versa. And this won the praise of foreigners as well as of our own people. However, in the decade of the Cultural Revolution, Lin Biao and the Gang of Four plunged our Party, government and society into chaos, poisoned the minds of many young people and did grave damage to socialist moral standards. The situation has improved considerably since the downfall of the Gang of Four, but we must not underestimate the residue of their pernicious influence in certain spheres. The present state of affairs is entirely incompatible with the requirements of the shift of focus in the Party’s work. We encourage normal contact between Chinese and foreigners, because it is essential to the growth of understanding and friendship between our people and other peoples and to the acquisition of foreign technology and funds. There will be a vast increase in such contact in the future. However, some unhealthy phenomena have emerged among a small number of young people, because we have not adequately educated or guided them. Some young men and women blindly admire the capitalist countries, and some even show a blatant disregard for both national and personal dignity in their contact with foreigners. This is a matter requiring our serious attention. It is imperative that we educate our younger generation, take effective measures in all spheres to raise the standards of social conduct and deal sternly with offensive behaviour which seriously lowers them.

To raise the standards of social conduct, we must first of all improve the Party’s work style, and in particular this requires that leading Party comrades at all levels set a good example. The Party is a model for our entire society, and the leading Party comrades at all levels are models for our entire Party. If the Party organization ignores the views and interests of the masses, how can it expect to win their trust and their support for its leadership? If leading cadres in the Party do not set strict standards for themselves and observe Party discipline and the laws of the state, how can they be expected to help reform the standards of social conduct? How can they do so if, in violation of Party principles, they engage in factionalism, use their positions to obtain personal privileges, seize advantages through connections or influence, indulge in extravagance and waste, and seek personal gain at the expense of the public interest? How can they do so if they fail to share the joys and sorrows of the masses, refuse to be the first to bear hardships and the last to enjoy comforts, disobey the decisions of the Party organization and reject supervision by the masses or even retaliate against those who criticize them? In the present period of historical change, when problems have piled up and a thousand things wait to be done, it is crucial for us to strengthen the leadership of the Party and correct its work style. Comrade Mao Zedong said: “Once our Party’s style of work is put completely right, the people all over the country will learn from our example. Those outside the Party who have the same kind of bad style will, if they are good and honest people, learn from our example and correct their mistakes, and thus the whole nation will be influenced.[16] Only if we improve the Party’s style of work can the standards of social conduct be improved and the four cardinal principles be upheld.

Is anything I have said here out of keeping with the spirit of the Third Plenary Session of the Party’s Eleventh Central Committee? No, everything I have said relates to measures that must be taken to carry out the principles and policies laid down at that session. Let me repeat: If we fail to adopt these measures, these principles and policies will come to naught. So will our effort to shift the focus of our work, so will our modernization programme, and so will the promotion of democracy inside and outside the Party. Therefore, it is entirely wrong to say, as some have said, that the Central Committee has decided on a “tightening up” policy, or that it has changed its policy of promoting democracy. Only by upholding the four cardinal principles to which our Party has always adhered, and by firmly correcting the unhealthy tendencies which hamper the implementation of the principles and policies set forth at the Third Plenary Session can we advance steadfastly and victoriously towards our great objective.

[1] “The Four Modernizations” explained the significance of modern science and technology. People’s Daily (in Chinese) (Central Committee of the Communist Party of China). p. 1. Later on in 1978 Deng Xiaoping enhanced this four modernizations and the goal became to strengthen the fields of agriculture, industry, national defense, and science and technology in China.

[2] A “Chinese path to modernization” means that unlike the modernization in the west, China’s modernization must conform with China’s current situation.

[3] From 1949-1979. This speech was given on March 30, 1979 by Deng Xiaoping. And 1949 was the founding year of the People’s Republic of China.

[4] Lin Biao (1907-71), born in Huanggang, Hubei Province, China. He was ranked third among the Ten Marshals in People’s Republic of China. Lin helped Mao to build a cult of personality, and was named Mao’s designated successor and the Vice Chairman of the Communist Party of China. He died on September 13, 1971 and was labeled as a “counter-revolutionary force” of the Cultural Revolution, because he allegedly attempted to overthrow Mao.

[5] Refers to Jiang Qing, Zhang Chunqiao, Yao Wenyuan and Wang Hongwen. Together they are another “counter-revolutionary force” of the Cultural Revolution. The Communist Party blamed them for creating chaos during the Culture Revolution.

[6] Refers to the Cultural Revolution, which was a social-political movement started by Mao Zedong.

[7] Also referred to as “socialism adapted to Chinese conditions.” Deng Xiaoping believed that modern production only requires a small number of people. According to Deng, because China’s population was huge, it could only find its own way of modernization and should not copy from other nations.

[8] Ultra-Left refers to anti-authoritarian Marxism, it often involves an opposition to the state and to state socialism.

[9] Scientific socialism was first used by Friedrich Engels in Socialism: Utopian and Scientific. (1880) to describe the social-political-economic theory, this is differ from the ideal utopian socialism. Deng believed this is the best way to build China.

[10] Deng Xiaoping had no interest in building a cult of personality, which matched the “scientific” idea.

[11] The May Fourth Movement was a student movement that began on May 4, 1919, to protest against the unfair treatment of China received in the Treaty of Versailles.

[12] This refers to the socialist transformation of China’s agriculture, handicrafts and capitalist industry and commerce by the state. ADD A SENTENCE HERE CLARIFYING: collectivization of agriculture and nationalization of industry.

[13] Deng believed whenever people criticize Mao, they should acknowledge his contributions as well. In his view, this was the scientific way to assess a historical figure.

[14] Also known as the Democracy Wall Movement, in late 1978 students and intellectuals began to speak out about a fifth modernization: democracy.

[15] On January 29, 1979, a group of people held a forum in front of Xidan Wall in Beijing, calling for an appeal to the higher court against the detention of human-rights activists. In his essay “Do we want democracy or a New Dictatorship?” activist Wei Jingsheng warned that Deng would turn into a new dictator.

[16] Mao said that it was very important for party leaders to have the “right” work style, meaning no personal privileges and no personal gain,