Deng Xiaoping: For almost a century after that war, high-minded persons, including Dr. Sun Yat-sen, tried to find ways to save China.

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The excerpt from the article We must tell our young people about China's history included in Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping (volume Ⅲ):


Recently the college and university students created some disturbances. It is not the students themselves who are to blame for it but a small number of persons with ulterior motives, mainly higher intellectuals inside the Party who incited them to action. We have dealt with the matter sternly. But the struggle against bourgeois liberalization has not ended. Some people are still not clear what we are doing now in China. Everyone says that the modernization programme is a good thing, but some people have an understanding of it that is different from ours. By modernization we mean socialist modernization, but what those people advocate is modernization without socialism. This shows that they have forgotten the essence of the matter and that they have departed from the road China must take in its development.

This question is vital: here we can make no concessions. We shall continue to struggle against bourgeois liberalization throughout the process of modernization, not only in this century but in the next. However, precisely because this will be a long-term struggle, instead of launching a political movement we shall use mainly the method of education. Education and persuasion are also a form of struggle. But only our achievements in economic development can eventually convince those who do not believe in socialism. If we can become comparatively prosperous by the end of this century, they will be partly convinced, and when we have turned China into a moderately developed socialist country by the middle of the next century, they will be completely convinced. By that time most of them will have recognized their mistake. I think it will be possible for us to reach that magnificent goal.


The ideals of the exponents of bourgeois liberalization are different from ours. We advocate socialist and communist ideals, and they advocate capitalist ideals. After the Opium War of 1840 China was reduced to the status of a semi-colonial, semi-feudal society, and the Chinese nation was known as "the sick man of Asia". For almost a century after that war, high-minded persons, including Dr. Sun Yat-sen, tried to find ways to save China. At first Dr. Sun Yat-sen looked to the West -- that is, to capitalism. But later, when he found that what he learned from the capitalist West did not work in China, he put forward the idea of learning from Russia, which had been through the October Revolution. He initiated cooperation between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party, which brought about the success of the Northern Expedition [in 1926 against the northern warlords]. After Dr. Sun Yat-sen died, China under the rule of the Kuomintang remained a miserable semi-colonial and semi-feudal country, and when the Japanese invaded, a large part of its territory was turned into a Japanese colony. Under the oppression of imperialism, feudalism and the bureaucrat-capitalism that developed later, the country became poorer and poorer.

This history teaches us that capitalism would lead China nowhere and that we must follow the socialist road -- there is no alternative. If China abandoned that road, it would return to its semi-colonial and semi-feudal status, and the Chinese people would not have enough food and clothing, let alone become prosperous. So we have to know the history of our country. Since our young people do not know much about our past, we should tell them about it, and the rest of the people too.

In short, in the last dozen years of this century and the first 30 to 50 years of the next, we shall continue to demonstrate that we are on the right road. We are optimistic about developing our economy. But we also realize that it will not be easy and that we must not rest on our oars. We shall have to be more careful in our work and review our experience regularly.


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