Seek truth from facts

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Seek truth from facts
Traditional Chinese實事求是
Simplified Chinese实事求是
Seek truth from facts


The Prince Xian of Hejian, Liu De, was made a prince in the second year of Emperor Jing the Filial; he enjoyed studying classics from earlier eras, and sought truth from facts. When he obtained a valuable book from the people, he always made a copy by transcribing it and returned the copy to them, keeping the original himself, and provided gold and silk to keep those guests coming.

《漢書 ·河間獻王德傳》
The Biography of the Prince Xian of Hejian, Liu De (Book of Han)[1]

"Seek truth from facts" is a historically established idiomatic expression (chengyu) in the Chinese language that first appeared in the Book of Han. Originally, it described an attitude toward study and research.

In modern Chinese culture[edit]

The slogan became a key element of Maoism, first quoted by Mao Zedong during a speech at the Sixth National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in 1938, in reference to pragmatism. Mao had probably remembered it as being the inscription on his alma mater, Hunan's First Teachers Training School.[2] Beginning in 1978, it was further promoted by Deng Xiaoping as a central ideology of Socialism with Chinese characteristics,[3] and applied to economic and political reforms thereafter.

Use in political context[edit]

On 11 May 1978 journalist Hu Fuming published an article in Guangming Daily entitled "Practice is the Sole Criterion for Testing the Truth"(Chinese: 实践是检验真理的唯一标准; pinyin: Shíjiàn shì jiǎnyàn zhēnlǐ de wéiyī biāozhǔn)directly contradicting then CCP general secretary Hua Guofeng's line of the "Two Whatevers" (Chinese: 两个凡是; pinyin: Liǎng gè fánshì) policy and thereby Mao Zedong's policy of class struggle in favour of economic reform championed by Deng Xiaoping. The title of the article is inspired by the saying and is widely seem as a seminal document in Chinese history marking the beginning of the Reform and Opening Up era.[4]


  1. ^ "河間獻王德傳". Book of Han. 111.
  2. ^ Terrill, Ross (1993). Mao: A Biography. Simon & Schuster. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-671-79803-1.
  3. ^ Deng, Xiaoping. "Emancipate the mind, seek truth from facts and unite as one in looking to the future". Retrieved 31 December 2018.
  4. ^ "An article influences Chinese history --". Retrieved 2022-08-14.