May 24, 1977
The key to achieving modernization is the development of science and technology. And unless we pay special attention to education, it will be impossible to develop science and technology. Empty talk will get our modernization programme nowhere; we must have knowledge and trained personnel. Without them, how can we develop our science and technology? And if we are backward in those areas, how can we advance? We must recognize our backwardness, because only such recognition offers hope. Now it appears that China is fully 20 years behind the developed countries in science, technology and education. So far as scientific research personnel are concerned, the United States has 1,200,000 and the Soviet Union 900,000, while we have only some 200,000. The figure for China includes the old, the weak, the sick and the disabled. There are not too many who are really competent and can work regularly. As early as the Meiji Restoration, the Japanese began to expend a great deal of effort on science, technology and education. The Meiji Restoration was a kind of modernization drive undertaken by the emerging Japanese bourgeoisie. As proletarians, we should, and can, do better.
To promote scientific and technological work, it is necessary to improve education at every level simultaneously, from primary to secondary and higher education. I hope that we will set about this task now so that we will see initial results within five years, further results within 10 years, and major results within 15 to 20 years. To improve education, we must walk on two legs, that is, we must raise the standards of education at the same time as we make it available to more and more people. It is necessary to establish key primary schools, key secondary schools and key colleges and universities. It is necessary to bring together, through stiff examinations, the outstanding people in the key secondary schools and the key colleges and universities.
We should select several thousand of our most qualified personnel from within the scientific and technological establishment and create conditions that will allow them to devote their undivided attention to research. Those who have financial difficulties should be given allowances and subsidies. Some now have their children and aged parents living with them, earn well under 100 yuan a month, and must spend a lot of time doing housework. They can't even find a quiet place to read in the evening. How can this state of affairs be allowed to continue? The political requirements set for these people must be appropriate: they should love the motherland, love socialism and accept the leadership of the Party. If they do their research work well and achieve results, that will be helpful politically and will benefit China.
We must create within the Party an atmosphere of respect for knowledge and respect for trained personnel. The erroneous attitude of not respecting intellectuals must be opposed. All work, be it mental or manual, is labour. Those who engage in mental work are also workers. As time goes by, it will become increasingly hard to differentiate between mental and manual labour. In developed capitalist countries, the job of a good number of workers is just to stand and press buttons for hours on end. This is intense and concentrated mental labour as well as toilsome manual labour. Great importance should be attached to knowledge and to those who engage in mental labour, and they should be recognized as workers.
In the army as well, it is necessary to encourage scientific research and education at the same time. Without knowledge of modern warfare, how can we fight a modern war? Leading army cadres should become knowledgeable and respect knowledge. We should establish schools at various levels to enable leading army cadres to master modern science, culture and modern warfare in the course of training. At the same time, we should lower the average age of our army cadre corps. Sixty-year-olds should not be serving as commanders at the army level.
All trades and professions should promote science, technology and education. Large enterprises should all have their own scientific and technological research organs and personnel. Every professional department should conduct scientific research.
(Excerpt from a talk with two leading comrades of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.)