Deng Xiaoping Theory

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Deng Xiaoping Theory (simplified Chinese: 邓小平理论; traditional Chinese: 鄧小平理論; pinyin: Dèng Xiǎopíng Lǐlùn), also known as Dengism, is the series of political and economic ideologies first developed by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping. The theory does not reject Marxism or Mao Zedong Thought but instead seeks to adapt them to the existing socio-economic conditions of China, which is in the primary stage of socialism.

Since the 1980s the theory has become a mandatory university class. Having served as the Communist Party of China's (CPC) major policy guide since the Third Plenum of the 11th CPC National Congress in 1978, the theory was entrenched into the Communist Party of China's Constitution as a guiding ideology in 1997, and was also subsequently written into the Constitution of the People's Republic of China.

Since the Third Plenum of the 11th CPC Central Committee, the Chinese Communists, represented mainly by Comrade Deng Xiaoping, have summed up both the positive and negative experiences gained since the founding of New China, implemented the principle of emancipating the mind and seeking truth from facts, shifted the focus of the Party's work to economic development, introduced reform and opening, ushered in a new period for the development of the socialist cause, gradually formed the line, principles and policies on building socialism with Chinese characteristics, expounded the basic issues concerning building, consolidating and developing socialism in China, and created Deng Xiaoping Theory. Deng Xiaoping Theory is a product of the integration of the basic theory of Marxism-Leninism with the practice of modern China and the characteristics of the present era, the inheritance and development of Mao Zedong Thought under new historical conditions, a new stage of the development of Marxism in China, Marxism of modern China, and the crystallization of the collective wisdom of the CPC, guiding the cause of China's socialist modernization steadily forward.[1]

Deng also stressed opening China to the outside world,[2] the implementation of one country, two systems, and the phrase "seek truth from facts", advocating for political and economic pragmatism.[3]

Relation to Maoism[edit]

Deng Xiaoping Theory argues that upholding Mao Zedong Thought does not mean blindly imitating Mao's actions without deviation as seen in the government of Hua Guofeng, and doing so would actually "contradict Mao Zedong Thought".[4]

Synopsis[edit]

One of the most famous maxims of Deng, dating back to the years before the Cultural Revolution, states that "It doesn't matter whether a cat is white or black, as long as it catches mice." In other words, he did not worry too much about whether a person is a revolutionary or not, as long as he or she is efficient and capable to do the job under the socialist economy.[5] (This statement came to stand in opposition to the ideas of class struggle projected into economic relations, the latter being epitomized in a phrase "a socialist train coming with a delay is better than the capitalist one that comes on time").

China's economic growth largely owes its success to this pragmatism of Deng Xiaoping's theory. The task faced by Deng was twofold: to promote modernization while preserving the ideological unity of the CPC and its control of the difficult process of reforms.

It was generalized by the concept of the Four Modernizations.

This became the main motivation for ideological conservatism of Deng Xiaoping Theory: "Four Cardinal Principles" which the Communist Party must uphold, namely,

  • Upholding the basic spirit of Communism
  • Upholding the People's democratic dictatorship political system
  • Upholding the leadership of the Communist Party
  • Upholding Marxism–Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought

In 1992, fourteen years after Deng had risen up as China's de facto leader, he embarked on the "nan xun" or "Inspection visit to the South". There he, being already very old, uttered the famous words: "kai fang 开放!". These words, which literally mean "open up", would indeed prove to be very significant for China's economic and social development up until the current day. After this surge of motivation, China both economically and socially started expanding.

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