China's Deng Rallies for Reform
A leadership scuffle between Deng and his conservative rivals rages in the Chinese press
IN his most important policy statement since the June 1989 crackdown nationwide, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping ordered the Communist Party to uphold his agenda of market-oriented reform for 100 years and warned that any opponents "will be overthrown."
Mr. Deng's six-point instructions, contained in Central Committee Document No. 2, are now being disseminated through the ranks of the 50-million-member party, say Chinese sources briefed on the document.
The document represents Deng's strongest attempt to rally the party to shunt conservative opposition and urge a platform of economic reform at the 14th Party Congress later this year.
"Anyone who attempts to change the basic line ... will be overthrown because the common people will not permit him to do so," the document paraphrases Deng as saying during a tour of southern China beginning in late January.
The popularity of reforms, which drastically raised living standards in the 1980s, enabled the party to "stand the test of June 4," Deng asserts, referring to the crushing of nationwide protests for basic freedom in 1989. More daring reforms
Deng urges the party to pursue "more daring" economic experiments and not overemphasize political stability. The party must seek faster growth and act pragmatically to develop the economy, without regard for whether a policy is socialist or capitalist, he says.
Market-driven economic policies and a widening influx of foreign investment will not lead to the downfall of communism in China, Deng suggests.
"We must not be afraid ... because political power is in our hands," he says.
Yet while urging more laissez faire economic policies, Deng says China's leaders must carry on a prolonged crackdown on political liberalism.
In a rare assessment of his disgraced prots, former party chief Zhao Ziyang and Mr. Zhao's predecessor, the late Hu Yaobang, Deng says the two men failed not because of their economic policies, but because they allowed the spread of liberal political ideas. Zhao and Hu lost power in 1989 and 1987 after being blamed for major student protests.
Western diplomats say that with Deng's campaign to revive reforms gathering steam in official directives and the state-run media, the prospect of a conservative counter-attack is waning.
"Even if conservatives are objecting they are objecting at the edges," one diplomat says in Beijing. "It would be very difficult for them to say that [Deng's paramount goal of] economic construction is not the central task."
Conservative ideologues who until recently dominated China's propaganda apparatus and cultural policy, including People's Daily director Gao Di and acting Culture Minister He Jingzhi, have tendered their resignations in recent days, according to Chinese sources in Beijing.
Nevertheless, China's state-run media continues to print some dissenting views that clash with Deng's reformist line, confirming an active resistance behind the scenes.
The conservative Beijing journal "Contemporary Trends of Thought" has recently published views that cast doubt on Deng's recent statements.
The magazine, launched in 1990, is under the control of hard-line ideologue and former propaganda chief Deng Liqun, Chinese sources say.
In its latest issue, the journal contradicts Deng Xiaoping by strongly implying that the party's greatest threat comes from "rightist" or Western liberal influences, rather than from the "leftism" of orthodox Marxists.
The commentary, entitled "If We Oppose the Wrong Tendency We'll Capsize the Ship," blames former party chief Zhao for causing the spring 1989 unrest by attacking leftism while "totally disregarding the grave danger of unchecked liberalism."
In contrast, Deng emphasizes in Document No. 2 that leftism is "deep-rooted" in China.
While conceding that liberalism caused the 1989 turmoil, he implies that leftism poses a greater danger to party rule by obstructing China's reform and open-door policies. Demands for shared power
Another article in the conservative journal warns that Deng's reforms could jeopardize party supremacy as China's newly emerged private entrepreneurs make growing demands for political power.
"We are ready to pay a price for reform," the article says. "But we should never pay the price of losing the leading position of the Communist Party."
In a jab at Deng, the article notes that the "spokesmen" for such private interests seek to promote reforms indiscriminately and are "opposed to asking the question of whether [a policy] is surnamed capitalism or surnamed socialism."
In his statement, Deng is critical of attempts to label policies socialist or capitalist. "The correct approach is to judge whether something is helpful to developing the productive forces ... strengthening the nation and improving living standards," Deng says.