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Hu Jintao's speech at the Meeting Marking the 30th Anniversary of Reform and Opening Up
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Speech at the Meeting Marking the 30th Anniversary of Reform and Opening Up

By Hu Jintao, General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee December 18, 2008

(Translated by Beijing Review)

On this day 30 years ago, the Third Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) was convened. This meeting ushered in a historic period of reform and opening up. A meeting of great significance, it marked a turning point in the Party's history since the founding of New China in 1949. At that historic moment, Chinese people of all ethnic groups started a great new revolution under the leadership of the CPC.

As we gather here today to mark the 30th anniversary of the Third Plenary Session, we must fully recognize the great significance and achievements of reform and opening up, review the course we have traversed and sum up our experience over the past 30 years. We must stick to the spirit of that meeting, hold high the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and put into practice the Scientific Outlook on Development under the guidance of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thinking of the "Three Represents." We shall make greater strides in reform and opening up as we march on the path of building socialism with Chinese characteristics.

The Third Plenary Session was convened at an important historical juncture when the Party and our country were at a crossroads. After the overthrow of the Gang of Four, there was strong public demand that the mistakes of the Cultural Revolution be corrected, and the serious situation created by 10 years of chaos reversed. Our Party and nation would thus emerge from a difficult period. However, this understandable wish met with strong obstacles, and there was hesitation over the future work of the Party and the nation. At the same time, the world economy was developing rapidly. Science and technology were making progress every day. Within China, there was an urgent need for reconstruction. On the ideological front, a heated debate on the "criterion for truth" was going on throughout the country. Therefore, it was the internal and external situation that demands that the Party and the nation had to make political decisions and the strategic choice vital to the fate of the Party as well as the nation.

Led by Comrade Deng Xiaoping and supported by other veteran revolutionaries, the Third Plenary Session began correcting "Leftist" mistakes of all forms committed before and during the "cultural revolution," firmly repudiated the fallacy of the "two whatevers" (i.e. Whatever has been said and done by Mao Zedong is right and whatever has been stipulated by him must not be changed). The Session affirmed that the scientific system of Mao Zedong Thought must be correctly understood in its full context and that the debate on the "criterion for truth" was of great significance. It called on the people to free their thinking, be practical, innovative and realistic, and work together for the reconstruction of the country. The slogan "The class struggle is the key link," which we used to guide our work during the "cultural revolution," was thoroughly repudiated. A historic decision was adopted at the Session to make economic development the central task of the Party and the government and to adopt reform and opening up.

For the Chinese Communist Party, the Third Plenary Session marked a reawakening under changed circumstances and demonstrated the Party's determination to create a new contemporary socialism in line with the people's aspirations. The session reinvigorated the whole country. All-round efforts were made to correct the wrong policies; past problems were resolved one by one; a socialist democracy and legal system were being built; the system and institutions of the Party and government in governing the country were improved; and progress was made in all fields. Throughout our great motherland, people's minds were set free, the economy began to grow, democracy was advocated, and education, arts and culture, and science developed. The Party and the nation were again full of hope and vigor on the great march to socialist modernization.

Reform and opening up is the essential feature of the new era. The purpose of reform and opening up is to liberate and develop productive forces and modernize the country, which will enable the Chinese people to live better lives and rejuvenate our great Chinese nation. It is to improve and develop our socialist system, instill vitality into socialism and build Chinese-style socialism. It is to improve and strengthen the Party as it leads contemporary China in development and to preserve the advanced nature of the Party to ensure that the Party will always march at the forefront.

In the past 30 years, the second generation of Party leadership with Comrade Deng Xiaoping at its core, the third generation of Party leadership with Comrade Jiang Zemin at its core, and the Party leadership since the 16th National Congress have led the whole Party and the whole nation of all ethnicities in making great efforts to push forward reform and opening up, showing their spirit of hard work and strong determination. During this period, six national Party congresses and 45 plenary sessions of the central committees were held to resolve new problems and sum up new experiences given the changing situations. By pooling the wisdom of the whole Party and all ethnic groups, we managed to establish the basic theory, line, program and experience, draw up and adopt a series of policies and principles as well as specific plans to guide the reform and opening up and socialist modernization. Thus, the road to socialism with Chinese characteristics was clearly charted.

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