January 12, 1983
According to the latest statistics, gross industrial and agricultural output in 1982 increased by 8 per cent, greatly exceeding the originally planned figure of 4 per cent -- something that had not happened in the previous two years. This raises a question: What will come of achieving a much higher growth rate than projected in the annual plan? We must investigate and study this question right away and analyse it correctly. However, this doesn't mean we should alter our Sixth Five-year Plan. Long-term plans should be more flexible, while annual plans should be more specific, though of course they should have some flexibility too. We should pay attention to improving economic efficiency, instead of just going after increases in the value and quantity of output. Experience shows that whenever our plans have been too ambitious, we have overreached ourselves. This has been a bitter lesson for us. We are already aware of this mistake and will continue to guard against it in future. But now we face the opposite situation. In short, the principles for drawing up plans are: they should be specific, flexible and achievable if we work hard.
There should be a comprehensive plan for agricultural production, giving priority to increasing the output of grain. We must carefully work out the minimum amount of grain that will have to be produced in the year 2000 in order for each person to have enough. One way or another, we must reach this target in 2000. It is a goal of strategic importance. In China, each person usually consumes 200 to 250 kilogrammes of grain a year, and that is in addition to the amount required for seed, animal feed and industrial uses. It is no easy thing to produce enough grain; it calls for efforts by several different sectors. The overall plan should include specific means by which to achieve this goal. For instance, there should be separate figures for the amount of additional grain to be produced through the use of more fertilizer, through the use of improved varieties of seeds, through improved capital construction, through prevention and control of plant diseases and elimination of pests, through better management and so on. Nevertheless, we cannot rely solely on increases in grain production to quadruple agricultural production as a whole; we must rely primarily on diversification. Agriculture has great potential waiting to be tapped, but we haven't even begun to outline general goals yet. Agronomists have made many good suggestions. We must step up scientific research and the training of competent personnel. We must concentrate on key projects in agricultural science. We must never forget that agriculture is the foundation of our economy.
Some people in rural areas and cities should be allowed to get rich before others. It is only fair that people who work hard should prosper. To let some people and some regions become prosperous first is a new policy that is supported by everyone. It is better than the old one. In agriculture I favour the system of contracted responsibility for larger tracts of land. This system should be adopted more widely. In short, our work in all fields should help to build socialism with Chinese characteristics, and it should be judged by the criterion of whether it contributes to the welfare and happiness of the people and to national prosperity.
(Excerpt from a talk with leading members of the State Planning Commission, the State Economic Commission and departments in charge of agriculture.)