A set of special stamps issued by Hong Kong, under the theme of "Four Great Inventions of Ancient China", Aug. 18, 2005. [Xinhua File Photo]
China is a country with a very early civilization and a long and rich history. The compass, gunpowder, the art of paper-making and block printing invented by the ancient Chinese have contributed immensely to the progress of mankind. The Great Wall, Grand Canal and other projects built by the Chinese people are regarded as engineering feats in the world.
The Great Wall [Xinhua Photo]
Jing-Hang Grand Canal [Photo: lib.whu.edu.cn]
Man has lived for a very long time in what is now China, according to archaeological finds. In many parts of the country, for instance, fossil remains of primitive ape men have been unearthed. Among them are the fossil remains of the Yuanmou Ape Man who lived in Yunnan Province some 1.7 million years ago.
Research findings show that the Peking Man, who lived about 500,000 years ago, was able to make and use simple implements and knew the use of fire.
Peking Man [Photo: YNET.com]
Like all other peoples on earth, the Chinese have passed through the primitive, matriarchal and patriarchal communes and the slave and feudal systems.
People in China take pride in calling themselves the offspring of Huang Di or Yellow Emperor, a tribal chief who dwelled in the Yellow River Valley more than four millenniums ago. Prehistorical legends about the Yellow Emperor and other outstanding personages of his time abound in ancient Chinese books. Legend has it that the Yellow Emperor made weapons out of jade to conquer other tribes, while his wife, Lei Zu, introduced the rearing of silkworms. The Yellow Emperor taught tribemen to domesticate wild animals and to grow cereals, and as a result his tribes grew in strength and defeated the tribes under Yan Di(Emperor Yan). Later, the Yellow Emperor and Emperor Yan formed an alliance that conquered all the other tribes in the Yellow River Valley. Today the Yellow Emperor is regarded as the ancestor of the Chinese people, who call themselves the descendants of Yan Di and Huang Di(Emperor Yan and Yellow Emperor).
Yandi statue(Emperor Yan)in Hunan [Photo: REDNET.com.cn]
Society in those bygone times, as reflected in the legends, was based on the primitive communion which private property and the exploitation of man by man was unknown.
After the death of the Yellow Emperor, the primitive tribes in the Yellow River Valley were ruled in succession by such legendary figures as Yao, Shun and Da Yu(Great Yu) who subdued floods and harnessed Rivers.
The Xia Dynasty (21st century BC-16th century BC), the first dynasty that emerged in China 4,100 years ago, was founded by Qi, son of Great Yu who conquered floods and tamed rivers. The Xia dynasty, which was a slave-owning society, was overthrown by warriors commanded by Shang Tang, the founder of the Shang Dynasty(16th century BC-11th century BC)during which the slave-owning system developed with the growth of farm and handicraft production. The art of smelting and casting bronze reached a higher level of development in this period during which recorded history commenced in China. As paper was then unknown, some of the writings in Shang time were cast in bronze, and some inscribed on tortoise shells or animal bones.
The Shang Dynasty was superseded by the Western Zhou Dynasty(11th century BC-771BC)during which the slave-owning system grew more prosperous. The Western Zhou rulers instituted an enfeoffment system under which nobles were invested with hereditary titles as well as land along with the slaves working on it. Introduced then was the "9-square pattern" of farming in which a tract of land was partitioned into nine squares. The eight outer squares were allocated to slaves who had to work the central square gratis for their masters.
The Spring and Autumn Period (770BC-476BC) witnessed the advent of the ox as a draught animal and the use of iron implements on the farm. This boosted farm output and made it possible for the opening up of more land for crop cultivation. As a result, more farmland came under private ownership and the disintegration of the slave system commenced to give way for a feudal society.
The up-and-coming land-owning or landlord class introduced reforms to change the land ownership system to its own advantage at the beginning of the Warring States Period(475BC-221BC). There were then seven vassal states contending with one another for hegemony. In the struggle for supremacy, the state of Qin based in Shaanxi Province, which had become powerful because of the fact that it had adopted drastic measures to reform the land ownership system, conquered all the other states to establish the Qin Dynasty (221BC-206BC), the first centralized, autocratic feudal empire in China. This was a signal victory for the new landlord class.
Emperor Qin Shi Huang of the Qin Dynasty carried out a lot of reform measures, including standardization of weights and measures and the initiation of a single currency and a unitary script, etc. While building a network of roads across the land, he conscripted 300,000 laborers to build the Great Wall and dispatched 500,000 warriors to garrison Lingnan(present-day Guangdong Province)and 700,000 men to erect his mausoleum. The Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum along with a big army of life-sized terra cotta warriors and battle steeds, which have been unearthed in the city of Xi'an, are a big attraction for tourists from all over the world.
The terracotta warriors and horses in Emper Qin's Terra-cotta Museum in Xi'an [File Photo]
Pauperized by such extravagances, the peasant masses rose up in arms and overthrew the Qin rulers to set up the Western Han Dynasty (202BC-AD8).
During this dynastic period agriculture and handicraft made marked progress along with the flourishing of science, culture and the arts. Links between the different ethnic groups in the country were strengthened and exchanges with the outside world broadened. Zhang Qian, a diplomat of that time, who was dispatched as envoy to the Western Regions, opened the world-famous Silk Road.
As the Western Han Dynasty was later weakened by corruption, Liu Xiu, taking advantage of the strength of peasant uprisers, replaced the Western Han Dynasty with the Eastern Han Dynasty founded in AD25. From this time onward economy, science and culture continued to progress. However, contradictions within the ruling class flared up later and the uprisings of the Yellow Turbans led by Zhang Jiao hastened the disintegration of the Eastern Han Dynasty. There followed tangled warfare among various separatist regimes until three rival kingdoms Wei, Shu Han and Wu, came to the fore.
In AD265 Sima Yan, an influential official of the Kingdom of Wei, dethroned its ruler and established the Western Jin Dynasty. He annexed the Kingdom of Wu in 280. So, with the Kingdom of Shu Han toppled by the Kingdom of Wei earlier in 263, the Three Kingdoms came to an end. Soon afterwards, nevertheless, tangled warfare broke out among various ethnic groups, resulting in the emergence of 16 small kingdoms in northern China and the downfall of the Western Jin Dynasty. In 317, the year that the Western Jin Dynasty was brought down, Sima Rui, a member of the royal house, set up the Eastern Jin Dynasty in the south.
In 386 there came into existence two antagonistic regimes-the Southern Dynasty in the south and the Northern Dynasty in the north. At last, in 581, the country was unified under the Sui Dynasty. The nation's economy, however, was later ruined by Emperor Yang Di's extravagance and corruption as well as by his gigantic construction projects and excessive military spending. This brought about peasant uprisings which swept the whole country. Taking advantage of this situation, Li Yuan, a military commander of the dynasty, led his forces to take the capital Chang'an. He became the founder of the Tang Dynasty (618-907).
The Tang Dynasty witnessed a period of economic and cultural boom in China. At that time China was powerful and ranked among the most advanced countries in the world. Its foreign relations were broader than ever before. It forged friendly ties with Japan, Korea and many countries in West Asia, Europe and Africa, with its capital Chang'an serving as center of cultural exchange between various countries.
Tri-colored glazed pottery of the Tang Dynasty in Henan Province Museum [Xinhua File Photo]
Economically, agriculture and handicraft in Tang times reached a very high level of technology. Literary and artistic creations flourished. It was in the Tang period that most of the frescos in the Dunhuang Grottos, a world-renowned treasure house of art, were done. A host of noted scientists and men of letters came to the fore, such as the high monk Yi Xing(alias Zhang Sui), an astronomer, and Li Bai and Du Fu, poets. Also accredited to the Tang Dynasty are the inventions of gunpowder, block printing and the astronomical clock, which have substantially contributed to the development of world culture.
The rebellion of An Lushan and Shi Siming, generals of the Tang court, marked the beginning of the decline of the Tang Dynasty, which came to an end in 907. In the years that followed, constant strifes plagued the country. In a space of 50 years five dynasties(Later Liang, Later Tang, Later Jin, Later Han and Later Zhou)rose and fell in the Yellow River Basin. At the same time 10 kingdoms including Qian Shu, Wu, Min, Wuyue and Chu ruled different areas in the south. This period has come to be known as the period of Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms.
National unification was achieved again in 960 when Zhao Kuangyin, a general of the Later Zhou Dynasty, founded the Song Dynasty with the capital in Kaifeng, modern Henan Province. This dynasty is known in history as the Northern Song Dynasty.
In Northern Song time some border tribes grew very strong. They were the Khitan of the Kingdom of Liao and the Nuzhen of the Kingdom of Jin in Northeast China, and the Dang Xiang of the Kingdom of Western Xia. They fought among themselves and against the Song government. After conquering the Khitan, the Nuzhen swept south and overthrew the Northern Song Dynasty. In 1127 Zhao Gou, brother of the last emperor of the Northern Song Dynasty, established a new government in Nanjing (now Shangqiu, Henan Province), which is historically known as the Southern Song Dynasty.
During the Song period agriculture and commerce flourished and science and technology made impressive strides. New cities sprang up. Overseas trade began to develop. A host of thinkers, scholars and men of letters came to the fore. There was a boom in calligraphy, painting, sculpture and weaving art. Achievements in porcelain manufacture outshone all previous records. Gunpowder was widely used for military purposes. Especially noteworthy are the inventions of the compass and movable type printing which have greatly contributed to human progress.
While the Song and Nuzhen armies were locked in continuous warfare, the Mongols in the north rose to power under Genghis Khan who unified all the Mongol tribes. He subjugated the Western Xia, Liao and Jin kingdoms one after another. His grandson, Kublai Khan, set up the Yuan Dynasty(1271-1368) and in 1276 overthrew the Southern Song Dynasty, thus unifying China once more.
The renewed national unification served to boost the economy, promote science and culture, improve the ties between various nationalities and increase contacts with foreign lands. During the nine decades of Yuan rule, however, there were no end to peasant insurrections.
In 1368 Zhu Yuanzhang, a peasant leader, established the Ming Dynasty and in the same year drove the Mongol emperor away from his capital (now Beijing), thereby restoring Han nationality rule in China.
During the Ming Dynasty the growth of agriculture and handicraft production brought an expansion to the commodity economy. From the middle of Ming times onward, capitalism began to burgeon in some handicraft industries in certain coastal regions. Meanwhile, overseas contacts increased. A notable example is provided by Zheng He, a noted navigator, who was sent overseas as envoy at the head of a large fleet on seven voyages, the longest of which took him to the equator on the eastern African coast.
The Ming Dynasty was overthrown in 1644 by the peasant armies under the command of Li Zicheng and Zhang Xianzhong. In the same year Manchu armed forces pushed south of the Great Wall through Shanhaiguan Pass. They defeated the peasant armies, followed by the establishment of the Qing Dynasty(1644-1911).
The Qing Dynasty reached the zenith of its power during the reigns of emperors Kang Xi, Yong Zheng and Qian Long. Its territory was extensive and production boomed. However, the isolationist policy carried out in the later years of the Qing government retarded the burgeoning of capitalism in China and kept the country ignorant of the political, economic, military and cultural developments in the West.
In 1840 the British imperialists launched the Opium War against China. In its wake came invaders from various countries. The foreign powers forced the corrupt and incompetent Qing government to sign a series of unequal treaties. Consequently, China was gradually turned into a semi-feudal and semi-colonial country.
The revolution led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen overthrew the Qing Dynasty in 1911 and led to the founding of the Republic of China, thus putting an end to the more than 2,000 years of feudal, monarchic rule in China. Regretably, the fruits of the 1911 Revolution were usurped by the warlord Yuan Shikai with the backing of imperialism.
In 1919 the May 4th Movement broke out to spearhead against imperialism and feudalism.
The Communist Party of China was founded in 1921.
In 1924 the Kuomintang founded by Dr. Sun Yat-sen entered into cooperation with the Chinese Communist Party to launch from Guangdong Province in 1926 the Northern Expedition to overthrow imperialist-backed warlordism. In the following year, Chiang Kai-shek, Wang Jingwei and other Kuomintang right-wingers betrayed the revolution one after another. They set up in Nanjing a new regime that still went under the name of the "Republic of China" .
Under Chiang Kai-shek's rule, there emerged in China national monopoly capitalism of a comprador and feudal nature. The fascist rule he instituted plunged the Chinese people into misery.
After 1931, Japan stepped up its aggression against China. This triggered off the Anti-Japanese War six years later. For the second time the Communist Party and the Kuomintang Party entered into cooperation--this time to fight the Japanese invaders. The war dragged on for eight years until Japan surrendered in August 1945.
In 1946, Chiang Kai-shek launched an all-out attack against the resistance forces led by the Chinese Communist Party. Chiang was defeated, and the Kuomintang regime was toppled in 1949. Chiang fled to Taiwan Island with his remnant troops. On Oct. 1, 1949 the People's Republic of China was proclaimed with Mao Zedong as chairman.
From the inception of the People's Republic of China in October 1949 to 1956, the new democracy to socialism, rapidly rehabilitating the country's economy, undertaking planned economic construction and in the main accomplishing the socialist transformation of the private ownership of the means of production in most of the country. The guidelines and basic policies defined by the Party in this historical period were correct and led to brilliant successes.
In the first three years of the People's Republic, we cleared the mainland of bandits and the remnant armed forces of the Kuomintang reactionaries, peacefully liberated Tibet, established people's governments at all levels throughout the country, confiscated bureaucrat-capitalist enterprises and transformed them into state-owned socialist enterprises, unified the country's financial and economic work, stabilized commodity prices, carried out agrarian reform in the new liberated areas, suppressed counter-revolutionaries and unfolded the movements against the "three evils" of corruption, waste and bureaucracy and against the "five evils" of bribery, tax evasion, theft of state property, cheating on government contracts and stealing of economic information, the latter being a movement to beat back the attack mounted by the bourgeoisie. We effectively transformed the educational, scientific and cultural institutions of old China. While successfully carrying out the complex and difficult task of social reform and simultaneously undertaking the great war to resist US aggression and aid Korea, protect our homes and defend the country, we rapidly rehabilitated the country's economy which had been devastated in old China. By the end of 1952, the country's industrial and agricultural production had attained record levels.
On the proposal of Comrade Mao Zedong in 1952, the Central Committee of the Party advanced the general line for the transition period, which was to realize the country's socialist industrialization and socialist transformation of agriculture, handicrafts and capitalist industry and commerce step by step over a fairly long period of time. This general line was a reflection of historical necessity.
1)Socialist industrialization is an indispensable prerequisite to the country's independence and prosperity.
2)With nationwide victory in the new-democratic revolution and completion of the agrarian reform, the contradiction between the working class and the bourgeoisie and between the socialist road and the capitalist road became the principal internal contradiction. The country needed a certain expansion of capitalist industry and commerce which were beneficial to its economy and to the people's livelihood. But in the course of their expansion, things detrimental to the national economy and the people's livelihood were bound to emerge. Consequently, a struggle between restriction and opposition to restriction was inevitable. The conflict of interests became increasingly apparent between capitalist enterprises on the one hand and the economic policies of the state, the socialist state-owned economy, the workers and staff in these capitalist enterprises and the people as a whole on the other. An integrated series of necessary measures and steps, such as the fight against speculation and profiteering, the readjustment and restructuring of industry and commerce, the movement against the "five evils, " workers' supervision of production and state monopoly of the purchase and marketing of grain and cotton, were bound to gradually bring backward, anarchic, lop-sided and profit-oriented capitalist industry and commerce into the orbit of socialist transformation.
3)Among the individual peasants, and particularly the poor and lower-middle peasants who had just acquired land in the agrarian reform but lacked other means of production, there was a genuine desire for mutual aid and co-operation in order to avoid borrowing at usurious rates and even mortgaging or selling their land again with consequent polarization, and in order to expand production, undertake water conservancy projects, ward off natural calamities and make use of farm machinery and new techniques. The progress of industrialization, while demanding agricultural products in ever increasing quantities, would provide stronger and stronger support for the technical transformation of agriculture, and this also constituted a motive force behind the transformation of individual into co-operative farming.
As is borne out by history, the general line for the transition period set forth by the Party was entirely correct.
During the period of transition, the Party creatively charted a course for socialist transformation that suited China's specific conditions. In dealing with capitalist industry and commerce, it devised a whole series of transitional forms of state capitalism from lower to higher levels, such as the placing of state orders with private enterprises for the processing of materials or the manufacture of goods, state monopoly of the purchase and marketing of the products of private enterprise, the marketing of products of state-owned enterprises by private shops, and joint state-private ownership of individual enterprises or enterprises of a whole trade, and it eventually realized the peaceful redemption of the bourgeoisie, a possibility envisaged by Marx and Lenin. In dealing with individual farming, it devised transitional forms of co-operation, proceeding from temporary or all-the-year-round mutual-aid teams, to elementary agricultural producers'co-operatives of a semi-socialist nature and then to advanced agricultural producers' co-operatives of a fully socialist nature, always adhering to the principles of voluntariness and mutual benefit, demonstration through advanced examples, and extension of state help. Similar methods were used in transforming individual handicraft industries. In the course of such transformation, the state-capitalist and cooperative economies displayed their unmistakable superiority. By 1956, the socialist transformation of the private ownership of the means of production had been largely completed in most regions. But there had been shortcomings and errors. From the summer of 1955 onwards, the Party was overhasty in pressing on with agricultural co-operation and the transformation of private handicraft and commercial establishments;it was far from meticulous, the changes were too fast, and it did its work in a somewhat summary, stereotyped manner, leaving open a number of questions for a long time. Following the basic completion of the transformation of capitalist industry and commerce in 1956, we failed to do a proper job in employing and handling some of the former industrialists and businessmen. But on the whole, it was definitely a historic victory for the Party has effected, and to have effected fairly smoothly, so difficult, complex and profound a social change in so vast a country with its several hundred million people, a change, moreover, which promoted the growth of industry, agriculture and the economy as a whole.
In economic construction under the First Five-Year Plan (1953-1957), China likewise scored major successes through her own efforts and with the assistance of the Soviet Union and other friendly countries. A number of basic industries, essential for the country's industrialization and yet very weak in the past, were built up. Between 1953 and 1956, the average annual increases in the total value of industrial and agricultural output were 19.6 and 4.8 per cent respectively. Economic growth was quite fast, with satisfactory economic results, and the key economic sectors were well-balanced. The market prospered, prices were stable. The people's livelihood improved perceptibly.
The First National People's Congress was convened in September 1954, and it enacted the Constitution of the People's Republic of China. In March 1955, a national conference of the Party reviewed the major struggle against the plots of the careerists Gao Gang and Rao Shushi to split the Party and usurp supreme power in the Party and the state;in this way it strengthened Party unity. In January 1956, the Central Committee of the Party called a conference on the question of the intellectuals. Subsequently, the policy of "letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend" was advanced. These measures spelled out the correct policy regarding intellectuals and the work in education, science and culture and thus brought about a significant advance in these fields. Owing to the Party's correct policies, fine style of work and the consequent high prestige it enjoyed among the people, the vast numbers of cadres, masses, youth and intellectuals earnestly studied Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought and participated enthusiastically in revolutionary and construction activities under the leadership of the Party, so that a healthy and virile revolutionary morality prevailed throughout the country.
The Eighth National Congress of the Party held in September 1956 was very successful. The congress declared that the socialist system had been basically established in China;that while the country must strive to liberate Taiwan, thoroughly complete socialist transformation, ultimately eliminate the system of exploitation and continue to wipe out the remnant forces of counter-revolution, the principal contradiction within the country was no longer the contradiction between the working class and the bourgeoisie but between the demand of the people for rapid economic and cultural development and the existing state of our economy and culture which fell short of the needs of the people;that the chief task confronting the whole nation was to concentrate all efforts on developing the productive forces, industrializing the country and gradually meeting the people's incessantly growing material and cultural needs;and that although class struggle still existed and the people's democratic dictatorship had to be further strengthened, the basic task of the dictatorship was now to protect and develop the productive forces in the context of the new relations of production. The congress adhered to the principle put forward by the Central Committee of the Party in May 1956, the principle of opposing both conservatism and rash advance in economic construction, that is, of making steady progress by striking an overall balance. It emphasized the problem of the building of the Party in office and the need to uphold democratic centralism and collective leadership, oppose the personality cult, promote democracy within the Party and among the people and strengthen the Party's ties with the masses. The line laid down by the Eighth National Congress of the Party was correct and it charted the path for the development of the cause of socialism and for Party building in the new period.
After the basic completion of socialist transformation, the Party led the entire people in shifting China's work to all-round, large-scale socialist construction. In the 10 years preceding the "cultural revolution" China achieved very big successes despite serious setbacks. By 1966, the value of fixed industrial assets, calculated on the basis of their original price, was 4 times greater than in 1956. The output of such major industrial products as cotton yarn, coal, electricity, crude oil, steel and mechanical equipment all recorded impressive increases. Beginning in 1965, China became self-sufficient in petroleum. New industries such as the electronic and petrochemical industries were established one after another. The distribution of industry over the country became better balanced. Capital construction in agriculture and its technical transformation began on a massive scale and yielded better and better results. Both the number of tractors for farming and the quantity of chemical fertilizers applied increased over 7 times and rural consumption of electricity 71 times. The number of graduates from institutions of higher education was 4.9 times that of the previous seven years. Educational work was improved markedly through consolidation. Scientific research and technological work, too, produced notable results.
In the 10 years from 1956 to 1966, the Party accumulated precious experience in leading socialist construction. In the spring of 1957, Comrade Mao Zedong stressed the necessity of correctly handling and distinguishing between the two types of social contradictions differing in nature in a socialist society, and made the correct handling of contradictions among the people the main content of the country's political life. Later, he called for the creation of "a political situation in which the Party members have both centralism and democracy, both discipline and freedom, both unity of will and personal ease of mind and liveliness. " In 1958, he proposed that the focus of Party and government work be shifted to technical revolution and socialist construction. All this was the continuation and development of the line adopted by the Eighth National Congress of the Party and was to go on serving as a valuable guide. While leading the work of correcting the errors in the great leap forward and the movement to organize people's communes, Comrade Mao Zedong pointed out that there must be no expropriation of the peasants;that a given stage of social development should not be skipped;that egalitarianism must be opposed;that the country must stress commodity production, observe the law of value and strike an overall balance in economic planning;and that economic plans must be arranged with the priority proceeding from agriculture to light industry and then to heavy industry. Comrade Liu Shaoqi said that a variety of means of production could be put into circulation as commodities and that there should be a double-track system for labour as well as for education* in socialist society. Comrade Zhou Enlai said, among other things, that the overwhelming majority of Chinese intellectuals had become intellectuals belonging to the working people and that science and technology would play a key role in China's modernization. Comrade Chen Yun held that plan targets should be realistic, that the scale of construction should correspond to national capability, considerations should be given to both the people's livelihood and the needs of state construction, and that the material, financial and credit balances should be maintained in drawing up plans. Comrade Deng Xiaoping held that industrial enterprises should be consolidated and their management improved and strengthened, and that the system of workers' conferences should be introduced. Comrade Zhu De stressed the need to pay attention to the development of handicrafts and of diverse undertakings in agriculture. Deng Zihui and other comrades pointed out that a system of production responsibility should be introduced in agriculture. All these views were not only of vital significance then, but have remained so ever since. In the course of economic readjustment, the Central Committee drew up draft rules governing the work of the rural people's communes and work in industry, commerce, education, science and literature and art. These rules which were a more or less systematic summation of the experience in socialist construction and embodied specific policies suited to the prevailing conditions remain important as a source of reference to this very day.
In short, the material and technical basis for modernizing China was largely established during that period. It was also largely in the same period that the core personnel for the work in the economic, cultural and other spheres were trained and that they gained their experience. This was the principal aspect of the Party's work in that period.
In the course of this decade, there were serious faults and errors in the guidelines of the Party's work, which developed through twists and turns.
1957 was one of the years that saw the best results in economic work since the founding of the People's Republic owing to the conscientious implementation of the correct line formulated at the Eighth National Congress of the Party. To start a rectification campaign throughout the Party in that year and urge the masses to offer criticisms and suggestions were normal steps in developing socialist democracy. In the rectification campaign a handful of bourgeois Rightists seized the opportunity to advocate what they called "speaking out and airing views in a big way" and to mount a wild attack against the Party and the nascent socialist system in an attempt to replace the leadership of the Communist Party. It was therefore entirely correct and necessary to launch a resolute counterattack. But the scope of this struggle was made far too broad and a number of intellectuals, patriotic people and Party cadres were unjustifiably labelled "Rightists, " with unfortunate consequences.
In 1958, the Second Plenum of the Eighth National Congress of the Party adopted the general line for socialist construction. The line and its fundamental aspects were correct in that it reflected the masses' pressing demand for a change in the economic and cultural backwardness of our country. Its shortcoming was that it overlooked the objective economic laws. Both before and after the plenum, all comrades in the Party and people of all nationalities displayed high enthusiasm and initiative for socialism and achieved certain results in production and construction. However, "Left" errors, characterized by excessive targets, the issuing of arbitrary directions, boastfulness and the stirring up of a "communist wind, " spread unchecked throughout the country. This was due to our lack of experience in socialist construction and inadequate understanding of the laws of economic development and of the basic economic conditions in China. More important, it was due to the fact that Comrade Mao Zedong and many leading comrades, both at the centre and in the localities, had become smug about their successes, were impatient for quick results and overestimated the role of man's subjective will and efforts. After the general line was formulated, the great leap forward and the movement for rural people's communes were initiated without careful investigation and study and without prior experimentation. From the end of 1958 to the early stage of the Lushan Meeting of the Political Bureau of the Party's Central Committee in July 1959, Comrade Mao Zedong and the Central Committee led the whole Party in energetically rectifying the errors which had already been recognized. However, in the later part of the meeting, he erred in initiating criticism of Comrade Peng Dehuai and then in launching a Party-wide struggle against "Right opportunism. " The resolution passed by the Eighth Plenary Session of the Eighth Central Committee of the Party concerning the so-called anti-Party group of Peng Dehuai, Huang Kecheng, Zhang Wentian and Zhou Xiaozhou was entirely wrong. Politically, this struggle gravely undermined inner-Party democracy from the central level down to the grassroots;economically, it cut short the process of the rectification of "Left" errors, thus prolonging their influence. It was mainly due to the errors of the great leap forward and of the struggle against "Right opportunism" together with a succession of natural calamities and the perfidious scrapping of contracts by the Soviet Government that our economy encountered serious difficulties between 1959 and 1961, which caused serious losses to our country and people.
In the winter of 1960, the Central Committee of the Party and Comrade Mao Zedong set about rectifying the "Left" errors in rural work and decided on the principle of "readjustment, consolidation, filling out and raising standards" for the economy as a whole. A number of correct policies and resolute measures were worked out and put into effect with Comrades Liu Shaoqi, Zhou Enlai, Chen Yun and Deng Xiaoping in charge. All this constituted a crucial turning point in that historical phase. In January 1962, the enlarged Central Work Conference attended by 7, 000 people made a preliminary summing-up of the positive and negative experience of the great leap forward and unfolded criticism and self-criticism. A majority of the comrades who had been unjustifiably criticized during the campaign against "Right opportunism" were rehabilitated before or after the conference. In addition. most of the "Rightists" had their label removed. Thanks to these economic and political measures, the national economy recovered and developed fairly smoothly between 1962 and 1966.
Nevertheless, "Left" errors in the principles guiding economic work were not only not eradicated, but actually grew in the spheres of politics, ideology and culture. At the 10th Plenary Session of the Party's Eighth Central Committee in September 1962, Comrade Mao Zedong widened and absolutized the class struggle, which exists only within certain limits in socialist society, and carried forward the viewpoint he had advanced after the anti-Rightist struggle in 1957 that the contradiction between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie remained the principal contradiction in the society. He went a step further and asserted that, throughout the historical period of socialism, the bourgeoisie would continue to exist and would attempt a come back and become the source of revisionism inside the Party. The socialist education movement unfolded between 1963 and 1965 in some rural areas and at the grass-roots level in a small number of cities did help to some extent to improve the cadres' style of work and economic management. But, in the course of the movement, problems differing in nature were all treated as forms of class struggle or its reflections inside the Party. As a result, quite a number of the cadres at the grass-roots level were unjustly dealt with in the latter half of 1964, and early in 1965 the erroneous thesis was advanced that the main target of the movement should be "those Party persons in power taking the capitalist road. " In the ideological sphere, a number of literary and art works and schools of thought and a number of representative personages in artistic, literary and academic circles were subjected to unwarranted, inordinate political criticism. And there was an increasingly serious "Left" deviation on the question of intellectuals and on the question of education, science and culture. These errors eventually culminated in the "cultural revolution, " but they had not yet become dominant.
Thanks to the fact that the whole Party and people had concentrated on carrying out the correct principle of economic readjustment since the winter of 1960, socialist construction gradually flourished again. The Party and the people were united in sharing weal and woe. They overcame difficulties at home, stood up to the pressure of the Soviet leading clique and repaid all the debts owed to the Soviet Union, which were chiefly incurred through purchasing Soviet arms during the movement to resist U.S. aggression and aid Korea. In addition, they did what they could to support the revolutionary struggles of the people of many countries and assist them in their economic construction. The Third National People's Congress, which met between the end of 1964 and the first days of 1965, announced that the task of national economic readjustment had in the main been accomplished and that the economy as a whole would soon enter a new stage of development. It called for energetic efforts to build China step by step into a socialist power with modern agriculture, industry, national defence and science and technology. This call was not fulfilled owing to the "cultural revolution. "
All the successes in these 10 years were achieved under the collective leadership of the Central Committee of the Party headed by Comrade Mao Zedong. Likewise, responsibility for the errors committed in the work of this period rested with the same collective leadership. Although Comrade Mao Zedong must be held chiefly responsible, the blame cannot be laid on him alone for all those errors. During this period, his theoretical and practical mistakes concerning class struggle in a socialist society became increasingly serious, his personal arbitrariness gradually undermined democratic centralism in Party life and the personality cult grew graver and graver. The Central Committee of the Party failed to rectify these mistakes in good time. Careerists like Lin Biao, Jiang Qing and Kang Sheng, harbouring ulterior motives, made use of these errors and inflated them. This led to the inauguration of the "cultural revolution. "
The "cultural revolution, " which lasted from May 1966 to October 1976, was responsible for the most severe setback and the heaviest losses suffered by the Party, the state and the people since the founding of the People's Republic. It was initiated and led by Comrade Mao Zedong. His principal theses were that many representatives of the bourgeoisie and counter-revolutionary revisionists had sneaked into the Party, the government, the army and cultural circles, and leadership in a fairly large majority of organizations and departments was no longer in the hands of Marxists and the people;that Party persons in power taking the capitalist road had formed a bourgeois headquarters inside the Central Committee which pursued a revisionist political and organizational line and had agents in all provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions, as well as in all central departments;that since the forms of struggle adopted in the past had not been able to solve this problem, the power usurped by the capitalist-roaders could be recaptured only by carrying out a great cultural revolution, by openly and fully mobilizing the broad masses from the bottom up to expose these sinister phenomena;and that the cultural revolution was in fact a great political revolution in which one class would overthrow another, a revolution that would have to be waged time and again. These theses appeared mainly in the May 16 Circular, which served as the programmatic document of the "cultural revolution, " and in the political report to the Ninth National Congress of the Party in April 1969. They were incorporated into a general theory-the "theory of continued revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat" -which then took on a specific meaning. These erroneous "Left" theses, upon which Comrade Mao Zedong based himself in initiating the "cultural revolution, " were obviously inconsistent with the system of Mao Zedong Thought, which is the integration of the universal principles of Marxism-Leninism with the concrete practice of the Chinese revolution. These theses must be thoroughly distinguished from Mao Zedong Thought. As for Lin Biao, Jiang Qing and others, who were placed in important positions by Comrade Mao Zedong, the matter is of an entirely different nature. They rigged up two counter-revolutionary cliques in an attempt to seize supreme power and, taking advantage of Comrade Mao Zedong's errors, committed many crimes behind his back, bringing disaster to the country and the people. As their counter-revolutionary crimes have been fully exposed, this resolution will not go into them at any length.
The history of the "cultural revolution" has proved that Comrade Mao Zedong's principal theses for initiating this revolution conformed neither to Marxism-Leninism nor to Chinese reality. They represent an entirely erroneous appraisal of the prevailing class relations and political situation in the Party and state.
1)The "cultural revolution" was defined as a struggle against the revisionist line or the capitalist road. There were no grounds at all for this definition. It led to the confusing of right and wrong on a series of important theories and policies. Many things denounced as revisionist or capitalist during the "cultural revolution" were actually Marxist and socialist principles, many of which had been set forth or supported by Comrade Mao Zedong himself. The "cultural revolution" negated many of the correct principles, policies and achievements of the 17 years after the founding of the People's Republic. In fact, it negated much of the work of the Central Committee of the Party and the People's Government, including that of Comrade Mao and the arduous struggles the entire people had conducted in socialist construction.
2)The confusing of right and wrong inevitably led to confusing the people with the enemy. The "capitalist-roaders" overthrown in the "cultural revolution" were leading cadres of Party and government organizations at all levels, who formed the core force of the socialist cause. The so-called bourgeois headquarters inside the Party headed by Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping simply did not exist. Irrefutable facts have proved that labelling Comrade Liu Shaoqi a "renegade, hidden traitor and scab" was nothing but a frame-up by Lin Biao, Jiang Qing and their followers. The political conclusion concerning Comrade Liu Shaoqi drawn by the 12th Plenary Session of the Eighth Central Committee of the Party and the disciplinary measure it meted out to him were both utterly wrong. The criticism of the so-called reactionary academic authorities in the "cultural revolution" during which many capable and accomplished intellectuals were attacked and persecuted also badly muddled up the distinction between the people and the enemy.
3)Nominally, the "cultural revolution" was conducted by directly relying on the masses. In fact, it was divorced both from the Party organizations and from the masses. After the movement started, Party organizations at different levels were attacked and became partially or wholly paralysed, the Party's leading cadres at various levels were subjected to criticism and struggle, inner-Party life came to a standstill, and many activists and large numbers of the basic masses whom the Party has long relied on were rejected. At the beginning of the "cultural revolution, " the vast majority of participants in the movement acted out of their faith in Comrade Mao Zedong and the Party. Except for a handful of extremists, however, they did not approve of launching ruthless struggles against leading Party cadres at all levels. With the lapse of time, following their own circuitous paths, they eventually attained a heightened political consciousness and consequently began to adopt a sceptical or wait-and-see attitude towards the "cultural revolution, " or even resisted and opposed it. Many people were assailed either more or less severely for this very reason. Such a state of affairs could not but provide openings to be exploited by opportunists, careerists and conspirators, not a few of whom were escalated to high or even key positions.
4)Practice has shown that the "cultural revolution" did not in fact constitute a revolution or social progress in any sense, nor could it possibly have done so. It was the people and not the enemy at all who were thrown into disorder by the "cultural revolution. " Therefore, from beginning to end, it did not turn "great disorder under heaven" into "great order under heaven, " nor could it conceivably have done so. After the state power in the form of the people's democratic dictatorship was established in China, and especially after socialist transformation was basically completed and the exploiters were eliminated as classes, the socialist revolution represented a fundamental break with the past in both content and method, though its tasks remained to be completed. Of course, it was essential to take proper account of certain undesirable phenomena that undoubtedly existed in Party and state organisms and to remove them by correct measures in conformity with the Constitution, the laws and the Party Constitution. But on no account should the theories and methods of the "cultural revolution" have been applied. Under socialist conditions, there is no economic or political basis for carrying out a great political revolution in which "one class overthrows another. " It decidedly could not come up with any constructive programme, but could only bring grave disorder, damage and retrogression in its train. History has shown that the "cultural revolution", initiated by a leader labouring under a misapprehension and capitalized on by counter-revolutionary cliques, led to domestic turmoil and brought catastrophe to the Party, the state and the whole people.
The "cultural revolution" can be divided into three stages.
1)From the initiation of the "cultural revolution" to the Ninth National Congress of the Party in April 1969. The convening of the enlarged Political Bureau meeting of the Central Committee of the Party in May 1966 and the 11th Plenary Session of the Eighth Central Committee in August of that year marked the launching of the "cultural revolution" on a full scale. These two meetings adopted the May 16 Circular and the Decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China Concerning the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution respectively. They launched an erroneous struggle against the so-called anti-Party clique of Peng Zhen, Luo Ruiqing, Lu Dingyi and Yang Shangkun and the so-called headquarters of Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping. They wrongly re-organized the central leading organs, set up the "Cultural Revolution Group Under the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party" and gave it a major part of the power of the Central Committee. In fact, Comrade Mao Zedong's personal leadership characterized by "Left" errors took the place of the collective leadership of the Central Committee, and the cult of Comrade Mao Zedong was frenziedly pushed to an extreme. Lin Biao, Jiang Qing, Kang Sheng, Zhang Chunqiao and others, acting chiefly in the name of the "Cultural Revolution Group", exploited the situation to incite people to "overthrow everything and wage full scale civil war. " Around February 1967, at various meetings, Tan Zhenlin, Chen Yi, Ye Jianying, Li Fuchun, Li Xiannian, Xu Xiangqian, Nie Rongzhen and other Political Bureau Members and leading comrades of the Military Commission of the Central Committee sharply criticized the mistakes of the "cultural revolution. " This was labelled the "February adverse current" and they were attacked and repressed. Comrades Zhu De and Chen Yun were also wrongly criticized. Almost all leading Party and government departments in the different spheres and localities were stripped of their power or re-organized. The chaos was such that it was necessary to send in the People's Liberation Army to support the Left, the workers and the peasants and to institute military control and military training. It played a positive role in stabilizing the situation, but it also produced some negative consequences. The Ninth Congress of the Party legitimatized the erroneous theories and practices of the "cultural revolution, " and so reinforced the positions of Lin Biao, Jiang Qing, Kang Sheng and others in the Central Committee of the Party. The guidelines of the Ninth Congress were wrong, ideologically, politically and organizationally.
2)From the Ninth National Congress of the Party to its 10th National Congress in August 1973. In 1970-1971 the counter-revolutionary Lin Biao clique plotted to capture supreme power and attempted an armed counter-revolutionary coup d'etat. Such was the outcome of the "cultural revolution" which overturned a series of fundamental Party principles. Objectively, it announced the failure of the theories and practices of the "cultural revolution". Comrades Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai ingeniously thwarted the plotted coup. Supported by Comrade Mao Zedong, Comrade Zhou Enlai took charge of the day-to-day work of the Central Committee and things began to improve in all fields. During the criticism and repudiation of Lin Biao in 1972, he correctly proposed criticism of the ultra-Left trend of thought. In fact, this was an extension of the correct proposals put forward around February 1967 by many leading comrades of the Central Committee who had called for the correction of the errors of the "cultural revolution". Comrade Mao Zedong, however, erroneously held that the task was still to oppose the "ultra-Right". The 10th Congress of the Party perpetuated the "left" errors of the Ninth Congress and made Wang Hongwen a vice-chairman of the Party. Jiang Qing, Zhang Chunqiao, Yao Wenyuan and Wang Hongwen formed a gang of four inside the Political Bureau of the Central Committee, thus strengthening the influence of the counter-revolutionary Jiang Qing clique.
3)From the 10th Congress of the Party to October 1976. Early in 1974 Jiang Qing, Wang Hongwen and others launched a campaign to "criticize Lin Biao and Confucius. " Jiang Qing and the others directed the spearhead at Comrade Zhou Enlai, which was different in nature from the campaign conducted in some localities and organizations where individuals involved in and incidents connected with the conspiracies of the counter-revolutionary Lin Biao clique were investigated. Comrade Mao Zedong approved the launching of the movement to "criticize Lin Biao and Confucius. " When he found that Jiang Qing and the others were turning it to their advantage in order to seize power, he severely criticized them. He declared that they had formed a gang of four and pointed out that Jiang Qing harboured the wild ambition of making herself chairman of the Central Committee and "forming a cabinet" by political manipulation. In 1975, when Comrade Zhou Enlai was seriously ill, Comrade Deng Xiaoping, with the support of Comrade Mao Zedong, took charge of the day-to-day work of the Central Committee. He convened an enlarged meeting of the Military Commission of the Central Committee and several other important meetings with a view to solving problems in industry, agriculture, transport and science and technology, and began to straighten out work in many fields so that the situation took an obvious turn for the better. However, Comrade Mao Zedong could not bear to accept systematic correction of the errors of the "cultural revolution" by Comrade Deng Xiaoping and triggered the movement to "criticize Deng and counter the Right deviationist trend to reverse correct verdicts", once again plunging the nation into turmoil. In January of that year, Comrade Zhou Enlai passed away. Comrade Zhou Enlai was utterly devoted to the Party and the people and stuck to his post till his dying day. He found himself in an extremely difficult situation throughout the "cultural revolution. " He always kept the general interest in mind, bore the heavy burden of office without complaint, racking his brains and untiringly endeavouring to keep the normal work of the Party and the state going, to minimize the damage caused by the "cultural revolution" and to protect many Party and non-Party cadres. He waged all forms of struggle to counter sabotage by the counter-revolutionary Lin Biao and Jiang Qing cliques. His death left the whole Party and people in the most profound grief. In April of the same year, a powerful movement of protest signalled by the Tian An Men Incident swept the whole country, a movement to mourn for the late Premier Zhou Enlai and oppose the gang of four. In essence, the movement was a demonstration of support for the Party's correct leadership as represented by Comrade Deng Xiaoping. It laid the ground for massive popular support for the subsequent overthrow of the counter-revolutionary Jiang Qing clique. The Political Bureau of the Central Committee and Comrade Mao Zedong wrongly assessed the nature of the Tian An Men Incident and dismissed Comrade Deng Xiaoping from all his posts inside and outside the Party. As soon as Comrade Mao Zedong passed away in September 1976, the counter-revolutionary Jiang Qing clique stepped up its plot to seize supreme Party and state leadership. Early in October of the same year, the Political Bureau of the Central Committee, executing the will of the Party and the people, resolutely smashed the clique and brought the catastrophic "cultural revolution" to an end. This was a great victory won by the entire Party, army and people after prolonged struggle. Hua Guofeng, Ye Jianying, Li Xiannian and other comrades played a vital part in the struggle to crush the clique.
Chief responsibility for the grave "Left" error of the "cultural revolution", an error comprehensive in magnitude and protracted in duration, does indeed lie with Comrade Mao Zedong. But after all it was the error of a great proletarian revolutionary. Comrade Mao Zedong paid constant attention to overcoming shortcomings in the life of the Party and state. In his later years, however, far from making a correct analysis of many problems, he confused right and wrong and the people with the enemy during the "cultural revolution". While making serious mistakes, he repeatedly urged the whole Party to study the works of Marx, Engels and Lenin conscientiously and imagined that his theory and practice were Marxist and that they were essential for the consolidation of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Herein lies his tragedy. While persisting in the comprehensive error of the "cultural revolution, " he checked and rectified some of its specific mistakes, protected some leading Party cadres and non-Party public figures and enabled some leading cadres to return to important leading posts. He led the struggle to smash the counter-revolutionary Lin Biao clique. He made major criticisms and exposures of Jiang Qing, Zhang Chunqiao and others, frustrating their sinister ambition to seize supreme leadership. All this was crucial to the subsequent and relatively painless overthrow of the gang of four by the Party. In his later years, he still remained alert to safeguarding the security of the country, stood up to the pressure of the social-imperialists, pursued a correct foreign policy, firmly supported the just struggles of all peoples, outlined the correct strategy of the three worlds, and advanced the important principle that China would never seek hegemony. During the "cultural revolution" the Party was not destroyed, but maintained its unity. The State Council and the People's Liberation Army were still able to do much of their essential work. The Fourth National People's Congress which was attended by deputies from all nationalities and all walks of life was convened and it determined the composition of the State Council with Comrades Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping as the core of its leadership. The foundation of China's socialist system remained intact and it was possible to continue socialist economic construction. China remained united and exerted a significant influence on international affairs. All these important facts are inseparable from the great role played by Comrade Mao Zedong. For these reasons, and particularly for his vital contributions to the cause of the revolution over the years, the Chinese people have always regarded Comrade Mao Zedong as their respected and beloved great leader and teacher.
The struggle waged by the Party and the people against "Left" errors and against the counter-revolutionary Lin Biao and Jiang Qing cliques during the "cultural revolution" was arduous and full of twists and turns, and it never ceased. Rigorous tests throughout the "cultural revolution" have proved that standing on the correct side in the struggle were the overwhelming majority of Members of the Eighth Central Committee of the Party and the Members it elected to its Political Bureau, Standing Committee and Secretariat. Most of the Party cadres, whether they were wrongly dismissed or remained at their posts, whether they were rehabilitated early or late, are loyal to the Party and people and steadfast in their belief in the cause of socialism and communism. Most of the intellectuals, model workers, patriotic democrats, patriotic overseas Chinese and cadres and masses of all strata and all nationalities who had been wronged and persecuted did not waver in their love for the motherland and in their support for the Party and socialism. Party and state leaders such as Comrades Liu Shaoqi, Peng Dehuai, He Long and Tao Zhu and all other Party and non-Party comrades who were persecuted to death in the "cultural revolution" will live for ever in the memories of the Chinese people. It was through the joint struggles waged by the entire Party and the masses of workers, peasants, PLA officers and men, intellectuals, educated youth and cadres that the havoc wrought by the "cultural revolution" was somewhat mitigated. Some progress was made in China's economy despite tremendous losses. Grain output increased relatively steadily. Significant achievements were scored in industry, communications and capital construction and in science and technology. New railways were built and the Changjiang River Bridge at Nanjing was completed;a number of large enterprises using advanced technology went into operation;hydrogen bomb tests were successfully undertaken and man-made satellites successfully launched and retrieved;and new hybrid strains of long-grained rice were developed and popularized. Despite the domestic turmoil, the People's Liberation Army bravely defended the security of the motherland. And new prospects were opened up in the sphere of foreign affairs. Needless to say, none of these successes can be attributed in any way to the "cultural revolution, " without which China would have scored far greater achievements for her cause. Although China suffered from sabotage by the counter-revolutionary Lin Biao and Jiang Qing cliques during the "cultural revolution", she won out over them in the end. The Party, the people's political power, the people's army and Chinese society on the whole remained unchanged in nature. Once again history has proved that Chinese people are a great people and that the Communist Party and socialist system have enormous vitality.
The victory won in overthrowing the counter-revolutionary Jiang Qing clique, or the Gang of Four, in October 1976 saved the Party and the nation. But the "Cultural Revolution" left the serious consequences of political, ideological, organizational and economic confusion. The second generation of the collective leadership with Deng Xiaoping at the core shaped after the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in December 1978. (Mao Zedong was at the core of the CPC first generation of collective leadership, and Deng was an important member among that leadership. ) The second generation of collective leadership undertook the arduous tasks, realized the historic turn and enabled China to enter a new historical period of building socialism.
Before and after the convocation of the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee, the Party led and supported the large-scale debate about whether practice is the sole criterion for testing truth. The nationwide debate smashed the traditional personality cult on Chairman Mao Zedong and shattered the argument of the "two whatevers" , the notion pursued by then Party Chairman Hua Guofeng after the death of Chairman Mao. The erroneous notion included that whatever policy decisions Mao had made must be firmly upheld and whatever instructions he had given must be followed unswervingly. The statement first appeared in an editorial entitled "Study the Documents Carefully and Grasp the Key Link", which was published simultaneously in the People's Daily, the Liberation Army Daily and later in the monthly journal Hongqi, or the Red Flag. The debate upheld again the ideological principles of emancipating the mind and seeking truth from facts and brought order out of chaos.
The Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee decisively discarded the slogan "Take class struggle as the key link" , the "Left" political line which had become unsuitable in a socialist society, and made the strategic decision to concentrate instead on socialist modernization. The Party made efforts to set things right and started the all-round reform, which took economic development as the central task. In addition, it decided to open up to the outside world. Meanwhile, to counter the erroneous ideological trends during the process of setting wrong things right, the Party took a clear-cut stand for sticking to the socialist road, the People's democratic dictatorship, the leadership by the Communist Party, and Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought. The basic line of "one central task and two basic points" , the shortened form of making economic development as the central task while adhering to the Four Cardinal Principles and persevering in reform and the open policy, were shaped, which decided the basis of the Party's basic principles at a new stage.
The implementation of the correct ideological and political lines must be ensured by a correct organizational line. The historic turn required the strengthening of organizational building. The Party urged to make all ranks of cadres more revolutionary, younger, better educated and more competent professionally. It abolished the de facto system of life tenure in leading Party and government posts and enabled new cadres to succeed the old ones in the central leading organs of the Party.
The CPC examined a large number of cases in the history of the Party in which the charges made against people had been false or exaggerated, or which had been dealt with incorrectly, and redressed the injustices that had been done. The Sixth Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee held from June 27 to 29, 1981, examined and approved the "Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party since the Founding of the People's Republic of China" . In this resolution the central committee made a scientific summation of the major events in the history of the Party over the 32 years since the founding of the People's Republic of China. They categorically negated the value of the "Cultural Revolution" and of the theory of "continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat" . But they also affirmed the importance of Mao Zedong's historical role and systematically expounded Mao Zedong Thought. With the development of domestic and international situation, it proved the courage and high vision of the CPC Central Committee to make such decisions.
After basically finishing bringing order out of chaos, the CPC held the Twelfth National Congress in September 1982. It pointed out to "integrate the universal truth of Marxism with the concrete realities of China, blaze a path of our own and build a socialism with Chinese characteristics" . It also set the strategic objective of quadrupling the gross annual value of China's industrial and agricultural output by the end of 20th century and then achieved modernizations by the middle of the next century.
The new period features the reform and open-up. The drive of reform and opening started from the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee and comprehensively developed after the Twelfth CPC National Congress. It began from rural areas to urban areas, from reform of the economic structure to restructuring on various aspect and from invigorating the domestic economy to opening China to the outside world.
The reform in rural areas conformed to the specific Chinese conditions. Chinese farmers created the household contract responsibility system with remuneration linked to output. The Chinese central authorities respected the willingness of common farmers and actively supported the tryouts and then introduced the advanced experience to the whole country within a couple of years. The CPC Central Committee decided to abolish the People's commune system but not to privatize the farmland. The Party stressed the need to maintain the responsibility system, to improve the system of unified management combined with independent management and to deepen the reform in rural China. The 800 million farmers have gained the decision-making power on farmland management. The abolishment of unified purchase and arranged purchase by the government and the loosening of the restriction on farm produce prices helped the agriculture step out of the long-term predicament. The agricultural economy grew fast toward specialization, commercialization and socialization. Chinese farmers as well as urban dwellers benefited from the reform. The thriving of township enterprises was another great achievement done by the Chinese farmers. The enterprises, making surplus rural labor shift from farming, blazed a new trail on enriching rural people and stimulating the industry and the whole economic restructuring as well.
Meeting requirements of the new period, the Third Plenary Session of the Twelfth CPC Central Committee, held in Beijing on October 20, 1984, adopted the "Decision on Reform of the Economic Structure" . The decision stated that the basic task of the reform was to completely change the old structure that has stunted the development of the productive forces and to establish a vigorous socialist structure of a specifically Chinese character. It rejected the traditional concept that a planned economy is in direct opposition to a commodity economy and declared that China would have a planned market economy based on public ownership. This decision was a programmatic document designed to serve as a guide to the overall reform of the economic structure and a further development of Marxist political economics. The CPC Central Committee later launched the reform of the system for managing science and technology and the reform of the education structure. They also laid down the principles and objective for reform of the political structure.
In May 1980 the CPC Central Committee and the State Council decided to establish four special economic zones in the cities of Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Shantou(Guangdong Province)and Xiamen(Fujian Province), which was the significant measure for China to use overseas funds and draw on advanced experience on technology and management from foreign countries.
The achievements in the construction of the special economic zones have given people a definite answer that the special economic zones are socialist, not capitalist. In May 1984 they decided to open another 14 coastal port cities. Other areas, such as the Yangtze River Delta, the Pearl River Delta, the southeast Fujian Province and the Bohai Sea Rim, were opened to the outside world for economic development. The State Council also approved that Hainan Island became a province and another special economic zone. The extensive opening and fast economic development of the coastal areas, which had the population of about 200 million, boosted the nationwide reform and open-up and the economic construction.
The successful reform and smooth economic construction must be ensured by correct ideology and policies. The CPC Central Committee stressed the strategy of keeping working at two tasks and being steadfast with regard to both. On the one hand, they focused on the reform and opening process;and on the other hand, they stressed the crackdown on crime. The nation was determined to attach great importance both on economic development and democratic legal system, both on material progress and ethical and cultural progress. The Sixth Plenary Session of the Twelfth Central Committee, held in Beijing on September 28, 1986, published the "Resolution of the CPC Central Committee on the Guiding Principles for Building a Socialist Society with an Advanced Level of Culture and Ideology" . The enhancement of ethical and cultural progress must boost the socialist modernizations, the overall reform, the open-up policy and the perseverance in the Four Cardinal Principles. Throughout the process of reform and opening, the CPC Central Committee urged the people to adhere to the Four Cardinal Principourgeois liberalization.
To solve the problems of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, Deng Xiaoping, considering the historical and current conditions, advocated the concept of "one country, two systems" for the peaceful reunification of the nation. The concept means that within the People's Republic of China, the mainland with its more than one billion people will maintain the socialist system while Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan will continue under the capitalist system. When meeting with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in September 1982, Deng elaborated China's basic position on the issues of Hong Kong, safeguarding the sovereignty and dignity of his motherland. In 1983 he suggested the six principles aiming at Taiwan issues, strongly showing his willingness for peaceful reunification. However, he reiterated that China will never rule out the possibility of using non-peaceful means if any force tries to split Taiwan from the motherland.
After the Twelfth National Congress of the CPC, China solved the problems about the returns of Hong Kong and Macao. The governments of the People's Republic of China and the United Kingdom formally signed a joint declaration concerning the Hong Kong issues on December 19, 1984, in Beijing after two years' negotiations. The Joint Declaration states that the government of the People's Republic of China will resume the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong on July 1, 1997. This sets a good example for resolving the Macao issues. The governments of the People's Republic of China and the Portuguese Republic signed another joint declaration on April 13, 1987, in Beijing. The Joint Declaration states that the government of the People's Republic of China will resume the exercise of sovereignty over Macao on December 20, 1999.
The Thirteenth National Congress of the CPC was held in Beijing from October 25 to November 1, 1987. It systematically expounded the theory of the primary stage of socialism in China and defined the Party's basic line of "one central task and two basic points" for building socialism with Chinese characteristics during that stage. It also affirmed a three-step development strategy, which was launched by Deng Xiaoping. China worked out the three-step development strategy in the early 1980s to achieve the country's modernization. It included to double the country's 1980 per capita GNP in the first ten years of the strategy's implementation with adequate food and clothing for the people as the goal(first step), to redouble the doubled per capita GNP by the end of the century(second step), and to achieve modernizations by the middle of the next century(third step). The congress highly valued the process of building socialism with Chinese characteristics since the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh CPC Central Committee. Building socialism with Chinese characteristics is the second historic leap next to the first one, which refers to the success of the new-democratic revolution led by the first generation of collective leadership with Mao Zedong at the core, in the process of integrating Marxism with the Chinese realities.
After the convocation of the Thirteenth National Congress, the CPC Central Committee led the people of all nationalities in united effort to surmount difficulties, stabilize social and political situation and further develop the national economy. China accelerated the economic development from 1984 to 1988, showing a vigorous picture of mutual promotion between agriculture and industry, between rural areas and cities, and between reform and social development. While the scale of the national economy attained a new height, some problems appeared, such as the fluctuation of commodity prices and duplicated construction. The CPC Central Committee decided to spend a certain period on improving the economic environment and rectifying the economic order to create a more favorable environment so that the reform would go smoothly. A political disturbance occurred in late spring and early summer of 1989. The Party and the government, taking a clear-cut stand against the turmoil, depended on the Chinese people to quell the anti-revolutionary rebellion. It defended the socialist regime, safeguarded the basic interests of the people and guaranteed further reform and opening. Meanwhile, the CPC Central Committee declared that the Party's basic line and decisions made on the Thirteenth National Congress would not change. The Fourth Plenary Session of the Thirteenth Central Committee elected the new collective leadership. After the fourth and the fifth plenary sessions of the Thirteenth Central Committee, the second generation of the collective leadership with Deng Xiaoping at the core transferred the power gradually to the third generation of the collective leadership with Jiang Zemin at the core. The Central Committee extensively persevered in the Party's basic line and continued focusing on economic development while attaching equal importance to both tasks of economic growth and ethical and cultural progress. They also strengthened the ideological, political and organizational work. The CPC Central Committee observed the radical international changes sober-mindedly and dealt with the challenge calmly. China concentrated on handling its own affairs well. The CPC Central Committee made successive decisions on strengthening the anti-corruption drive, improving the economic environment and rectifying the economic order, deepening the reform, reinforcing the close ties between the Party and the people, and opening Shanghai's Pudong New Area. They also drew up the Eighth Five-Year Plan and the Ten-Year Program for the National Economic and Social Development. Furthermore, they tried to do well on state-owned large and medium-sized enterprises and further strengthen agriculture and work in rural areas. All the decisions were absolutely correct at the crucial times.
The socialist modernization needs not only a stable domestic situation but also a peaceful international environment. After judging and sizing up the situation, Deng Xiaoping put forward a series of diplomatic strategies. Peace and development are the two major issues in the world. China pursues the independent and peaceful foreign policy and opposes hegemonism and power politics and safeguards world peace. It advocates establishing a new international political order and a new international economic order on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, including 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. Deng said that China always belongs to the Third World and never seeks hegemony itself. Deng masterminded to establish diplomatic relations between the People's Republic of China and the United States of America, sign a peaceful and friendly treaty with Japan, normalize the relations between the CPC and the Soviet Communist Party, and develop friendly ties with neighboring countries and countries from the Third World. Deng visited many foreign countries and met lots of foreign leaders in China as well. The international situation changed violently and the cause of socialism experienced the twists and turns at the turn of 1980s and 1990s. Deng urged other Chinese leaders to attempt to hold their own ground in sober minds and deal with the situation properly. The national sovereignty and security must be safeguarded as the top priority. Deng has made tremendous contributions to China's modernization drive, the protection of world peace and the development of the human being.
In early 1992, Deng Xiaoping's talks given during his visits to southern China were published. The talks by him scientifically summarized the basic practice and experiences since the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee. Deng theoretically solved the major problems which had troubled the Chinese people and trammeled their minds for a long time, especially the relationship between the socialism and the market economy. The talks stressed that we should adhere to the basic line for a hundred years, with no vacillation. Deng urged the Chinese people to emancipate the mind more, be bolder and develop faster than before in conducting reform and opening to the outside and must not lose opportunities. The Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee held a plenum in March 1992. The participants entirely agreed with Deng's point of view and regarded it as the important guide for the reform and economic development and the coming Fourteenth National Congress of the CPC. The talks also have far-reaching historic significance for the cause of socialist modernization. Then, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council made a series of decisions to speed up the reform and opening.
The Party held the Fourteenth National Congress in October 1992. With Deng's talks and the convocation of the congress as the symbols, China's socialist modernization drive and the reform and opening ushered in a new period of development.
After the Fourteenth National Congress of the CPC, the Central Committee with Jiang Zemin at the core hold high the great banner of Deng Xiaoping Theory of building socialism with Chinese characteristics. They led the whole Party, the armed forces and the people of all nationalities to conscientiously implement the important policy decisions made by the Fourteenth Congress of "seizing the current opportunity to deepen the reform and open China wider to the outside world, promoting development and maintaining stability" . Meanwhile, they fostered both material progress and ethical and cultural progress and realized the sustained, fast and sound economic development. The national economy and social development greatly advanced and the second step of Deng Xiaoping's three-step development strategy had been achieved beforehand.
China's GNP increased annually by 12 percent from 1991 to 1995, reaching 5.76 trillion yuan in 1995. The target of quadrupling the country's 1980 per capita GNP was attained five years ahead of time. China obtained the breakthrough in the reform on economic restructuring, and basically shaped the overall setup of opening to the outside world. Rural people and urban residents also bettered their lives. During the five years, the average annual per capita income for living expenses increased by 7.7 percent for city dwellers in real terms, while the average annual per capita net income went up by 4.5 percent for rural residents in real terms. The nation witnessed an overall social development and took new steps in promoting ethical and cultural progress while significant progress was made in developing socialist democracy and improving the legal system. And the social stability was further consolidated.
The Resolution of the Central Committee of the CPC on Certain Important Questions on Promoting Socialist Ethical and Cultural Progress, approved by the Sixth Plenary Session of the Central Committee on October 10, 1996, sets the major objectives for socialist ethical and cultural progress in the coming 15 years.
Deng Xiaoping passed away on February 19, 1997. Deng was an eminent leader who enjoyed high prestige among the whole Party, the Chinese armed forces and the people of all China's ethnic groups. He was a great Marxist, a proletarian revolutionist, a great statesman, a military strategist, a diplomat, a long-tested communist fighter, the chief architect of China's socialist reform and open-up drive and modernization construction, and the founder of the theory of building socialism with Chinese characteristics. The Chinese people of all nationalities, including the compatriots from Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and overseas Chinese felt deeply grieved for the death of Deng. Lots of foreign state leaders also lamented over Deng's death. The Chinese people were determined to turn grief into strength to push forward, under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Jiang Zemin at the core, the reform and opening to the outside world and the cause of socialist modernization, the endeavor which was initiated by Deng Xiaoping. The Chinese people will make efforts to turn China into a prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and modern socialist country.
The government of the People's Republic of China resumed the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong on July 1, 1997. Hong Kong's return to the motherland symbolized the great success of the concept of "one country, two systems" and an important step forward for the Chinese people in the process of the nation's peaceful reunification.
The Fifteenth National Congress of the CPC, which was held in September 1997, approved the work report of the Fourteenth Central Committee and the resolution on the amendments to the Constitution of the Communist Party of China. The Congress unanimously agreed to take Deng Xiaoping Theory as the guiding ideology for the Party and write it into the CPC Constitution. The Congress also elected the new Central Committee. The First Plenary Session of the Fifteenth Central Committee elected Jiang Zemin General Secretary and Chairman of the Military Commission of the CPC Central Committee.
The national economy maintained the appropriately fast growth in 1997. The GDP of 1997 reached 7.4772 trillion yuan, with an increase of 8.8 percent over the previous year. The added value of agriculture reached 1.3674 trillion yuan, adding by 3.5 percent and with its proportion in the whole economy declining by 1.9 percent. The added value of industry reached 3.677 trillion yuan, increasing by 10.8 percent and with its proportion in the whole economy enlarging by 0.2 percent. The added value of the service sector reached 2.4328 trillion yuan, increasing by 8.2 percent and with its proportion in the whole economy expanding by 1.7 percent. The labor productivity of the whole society in 1997 was valued at 5, 637 yuan, increasing by 7.5 percent over the previous year.
The national economy continued to grow rapidly and market prices basically remained stable. The margin of price rises continued to fall. Retail prices rose by 0.8 percent, representing a drop of 5.3 percentage points over 1996, and consumer prices rose by 2.8 percent, 5.5 percentage points less than the figure for the previous year.
In 1997, China enjoyed a favorable international balance of payments, both on the current account and the capital account, and the country's national foreign exchange reserves reached 139.9 billion US dollars, with an annual increase of 34.9 billion US dollars.
The income of the urban and rural population increased significantly and the standard of living was improved. In 1997 the average per capita disposable income reached 5,160 yuan for city dwellers, representing an increase of 3.4 percent in real terms than the previous year. The average per capita net income of rural residents rose to 2, 090 yuan, representing an increase of 4.6 percent in real terms than the previous year.
* The double-track system for labour refers to a combination of the system of the eight-hour day in factories, rural areas and government offices with a system of part-time work and part-time study in factories and rural areas. The double-track system for education means a system of full-time schooling combined with a system of part-time work and part-time study.
A Brief Chinese Chronology
about 2070 BC-1600 BC
about 1600 BC-1046 BC
Western Zhou Dynasty
Eastern Zhou Dynasty
Spring and Autumn Period
about 1046 BC-221 BC
about 1046 BC-771 BC
Western Jin Dynasty
Eastern Jin Dynasty
Northern and Southern Dynasties
|Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms
Northern Song Dynasty
Southern Song Dynasty
|Western Xia Dynasty
|Republic of China
People's Republic of China
founded on Oct. 1, 1949