Through a lifetime of service to the people, Deng Xiaopeng has earned the respect and affection of millions of his compatriots.
Often referred to simply as “Comrade Xiaoping”, Deng Xiaoping is revered in China as a leader who changed the course of the world by steering the country’s class-orientated revolutionary struggle into tangible economic development.
Although considered as “the general architect of China’s economic reform and socialist modernization”, Deng Xiaoping modestly shied away the cult of personality that was all too often enjoyed by his predecessor Mao Zedong.
Deng’s reforms replaced Chairman Mao’s ‘collectivization’ with the privatization of farmland, giving the land confiscated during the ‘Great Leap Forward’ in the 1950s back to the farmers.
As long as they regularly delivered a proportion of staple crops to the government, the farmers were free to grow whatever crops they wanted.
1976 is a year the Chinese people will never forget. Zhou Enlai, Zhu De and Mao Zedong died one after another, plunging the nation into mourning. Then in October, to general rejoicing, the Central Committee smashed the counter-revolutionary clique of the Gang of Four. The ten-year “cultural revolution” that had wreaked such have was finally brought to an end, and the country entered a new period of its history.
The situation, however, was dismaying. Hundreds of problems were crying for solution, the “Left’ thinking which had completely dominated the country for so many years was now deeply rooted and the economy was on the brink of collapse. What road should China take from now? This was the question troubling millions upon millions of people.
The new period and the new tasks called for the emergence of a new leader. Since Deng had made valuable contributions during the long revolutionary years, had waged a resolute struggle against the Gang of Four and had already achieved notable success in his efforts to restore order, he had earned enormous prestige in the Party and among the people. With the strong backing of Ye Jianying and other veterans and in accordance with the People’s wishes, in July 1977, at the Third Plenary Session of the Tenth Central Committee, Deng was reinstated as Vice-Chairman of the Central Committee, Vice-Premier of the State Council, Vice-Chairman of the Military Commission and Chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army.
In march 1978 he was elected Chairman of the Fifth national Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
Deng stressed that the Chinese people should be dedicated and steadfast in pursuit of socialist modernization and not let them be hindered by interference from any quarter. This was a fundamental rectification of the political line, and it ushered in a new era of reform and opening to the outside world.
In March 1979 Deng made it clear that to maintain the correct orientation in the modernization drive it was essential to adhere to the Four Cardinal Principles: keeping to the socialist road and upholding the dictatorship of the proletariat (the people’s democratic dictatorship), leadership by the Communist Party and Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought.
The late man insisted that to ensure the implementation of the ideological and political lines, a correct organizational line must be established.
His concern was to ensure the selection of successors to ageing cadres. These cadres would replace some of their older comrades and work in cooperation with those who would remain.
In this way the system of life tenure for leading cadres would gradually be abolished, and the age structure of new cadres would become more and more appropriate.
These efforts to rationalize the ideological, political and organizational lines set China back on the path of normal development.
This was the prerequisite for carrying out socialist modernization and the policies of reform and opening to the outside would.
In September 1982, following the initial successes in socialist modernization and in implementation of reform and the open policy,
the Party held its Twelfth National Congress.
At that Congress Deng summed up China’s recent historical experience and drew a basic conclusion: the universal truth of Marxism must be integrated with the concrete realities of China, and China must blaze a trail of its own, building socialism with Chinese characteristics.
Just as he was the first to articulate the Four Cardinal Principles, he was the first to propose and insist that China undertake reform, adopt an open policy and invigorate the economy.
The late leader started his reform policies in the country side where 80 percent of the population was living. The first provinces were Sichuan and Anhui.
Because the reforms became successful, it was then taken all over the country. The result was that when the initiative of 800 million peasants was aroused, the productive forces expanded greatly, a large number of enterprises run by villages and townships emerged and the peasants’ standard of living rose.
Three years later, these notable results having been achieved in the countryside, reform was begun in the cities. Because urban reform was more complicated than rural reform, Deng urged that possibility should be explored boldly but with great care and prudence.
Deng has defined the ambitious goals of China’s socialist construction as follows: first, to quadruple the 1980 gross national product by the end of this century, so that the people will enjoy a comparatively comfortable standard of living; and second, on the basis of that achievement, to again quadruple GNP over the following 30 to 50 years, so that China will reach the level of the moderately developed countries.
When China has realized these goals, it will have pointed the way for all the people of the Third World, who represent Three-quarters of the world’s population. More important, it will have demonstrated to mankind that socialism is the only solution and that it is superior to capitalism.
Deng Xiaoping had stressed all along that it is of strategic importance to bring younger people into positions of leadership and that the destiny of the Party and the state hinges on this question. He has stood firmly for abolishing permanent tenure in leading posts and has taken the lead in this connection.
The great man studied in Marseilles, France with lots of difficulty, but was able to overcome them, infact it was in France that he graduated as a Marxist before returning to China via Moscow where he completed his studies.
As China celebrates the 30 years of reform, the history of this great man will never be forgotten as schools and colleges continue to teach about the reform.
Today China is now a developed nation and all the small town 30 years ago are now big cities, the footpaths are now super highways, the deserts are now the Cedars of China, the same face theory 30 years ago is no more as China can boast of millions of beautiful girls; no more uniforms but enough western style dresses to show off their beauty.
Deng Xiaopeng has gone but his memories still lingers in the minds of Chinese people as the great architect of Chinese reform.
By Austin Thomas