Chi­nese Com­mu­nists Lead­ing Re­form and Open­ing Up

China Pictorial (English) - - Front Page - Text by Ruan Yuan Ed­i­tor’s Note:

The year 2018 marks the 40th an­niver­sary of China’s im­ple­men­ta­tion of re­form and open­ing-up pol­icy. Dur­ing the past four decades, un­der the lead­er­ship of the Com­mu­nist Party of China (CPC), the Chi­nese na­tion has achieved a tremen­dous trans­for­ma­tion—it has stood up, grown rich and be­come strong. Rid­ing the tide of the times, the Chi­nese peo­ple are com­mit­ted to eman­ci­pat­ing the mind and push­ing for­ward the re­form and open­ing up, in a bid to seek a bet­ter life. From this is­sue on­ward, China Pic­to­rial will pub­lish ar­ti­cles on rep­re­sen­ta­tive fig­ures dur­ing the coun­try’s 40-year-long re­form and open­ing-up process in its “Peo­ple” col­umn to help trace the coun­try’s great jour­ney over the past 40 years for read­ers around the world.

Start­ing with Spe­cial Eco­nomic Zones

For China, the late 1970s was a cru­cial pe­riod of tran­si­tion. At the time, the “cul­tural rev­o­lu­tion” (19661976), which had plagued China for 10 years, fi­nally came to an end. Where to go next and how China’s so­cial­ist cause would move for­ward af­ter such a bumpy road were ma­jor prob­lems fac­ing the coun­try and the CPC.

In late 1978, the Third Ple­nary Ses­sion of the 11th CPC Cen­tral Com­mit­tee was held. The ple­nary ses­sion unan­i­mously en­dorsed a pol­icy de­ci­sion that shifted em­pha­sis of the Party’s work to so­cial­ist mod­ern­iza­tion in the next year, ush­er­ing in a new his­toric pe­riod for China’s re­form, open­ing up and so­cial­ist mod­ern­iza­tion. Deng Xiaop­ing, who be­came known as the chief ar­chi­tect of China’s eco­nomic re­form and open­ing up, led Chi­nese Com­mu­nists in new ex­plo­rations in build­ing so­cial­ism with Chi­nese char­ac­ter­is­tics.

In 1979, Xi Zhongxun, then gover­nor of Guang­dong Prov­ince, pro­posed dur­ing the Cen­tral Work­ing Con­fer­ence that be­cause Guang­dong is the ori­gin of so many over­seas Chi­nese peo­ple and is ad­ja­cent to Hong Kong and Ma­cao, it should cap­i­tal­ize on its ad­van­tages and carry out eco­nomic and tech­ni­cal ex­change with the out­side world. He fur­ther re­quested that the CPC Cen­tral Com­mit­tee del­e­gate some power to Guang­dong and let the prov­ince take a first step for­ward. At the same meet­ing, Fu­jian Prov­ince also re­quested to set up an ex­por­to­ri­ented man­u­fac­tur­ing base in its coastal city Xi­a­men. Deng Xiaop­ing ex­pressed sup­port and ap­proved such re­quests. Soon, the CPC Cen­tral Com­mit­tee and China’s State Coun­cil de­cided that Guang­dong and Fu­jian prov­inces would carry out spe­cial poli­cies and flex­i­ble mea­sures in for­eign trade ac­tiv­i­ties. And four pilot spe­cial ex­port zones — Shen­zhen, , Zhuhai and Shan­tou in Guang­dong, ng, and Xi­a­men in Fu­jian — were es­tab­lished. In May 1980, th­ese four ur spe­cial ex­port zones be­came “spe­cial cial eco­nomic zones.”

As the spe­cial eco­nomic zones s were es­tab­lished, a group of Chi­nese Com­mu­nists with open minds and brav­ery car­ried out re­form and be­came pi­o­neers of the he coun­try’s re­form and open­ing up. In Guang­dong, as early as late 1978, 78, Yuan Geng, an early pro­po­nent of China’s re­form and open­ing up and then vice chair­man of the China Mer­chants Group in Hong Kong, cre­ated the Shekou In­dus­trial ial Zone. The in­dus­trial zone cov­ered d 2.14 square kilo­me­ters in what was s for­merly known as Bao’an County, y, in to­day’s Nan­shan Dis­trict of Shen­zhen. It was the first ex­port

pro­cess­ing in­dus­trial zone on the Chi­nese main­land and in­spired Chi­nese Com­mu­nists to carry out a series of re­forms with world­chang­ing sig­nif­i­cance, in­clud­ing those on hous­ing, per­son­nel sys­tems and in­come dis­tri­bu­tion. In Fu­jian, then Sec­re­tary of the Pro­vin­cial Party Com­mit­tee Xiang Nan, who was dubbed an “ex­plorer and pi­o­neer of Fu­jian’s re­form and open­ing up,” be­gan re­form­ing en­ter­prises, com­mer­cial dis­tri­bu­tion and com­modi­ties pric­ing, elec­tri­fy­ing ur­ban re­form in the prov­ince. Xiang fur­ther pro­posed stream­lin­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion and del­e­gat­ing more power to en­ter­prises, which was

quite pro­gres­sive and in­no­va­tive for that time. Later in 1983, the CPC Cen­tral Com­mit­tee de­cided to grant Hainan Is­land pref­er­en­tial eco­nomic poli­cies. In April 1988, Hainan, which was for­merly ad­min­is­tered as part of Guang­dong, be­came a sep­a­rate prov­ince and the largest spe­cial eco­nomic zone in China.

The re­form and open­ing up be­gan snow­balling through­out China, and grad­u­ally spread from coastal ar­eas to other parts of the coun­try. Gen­er­ally speak­ing, China’s open­ing up went through four phases. The first was es­tab­lish­ing the spe­cial eco­nomic zones, fol­lowed by open­ing of coastal port cities and set­ting up coastal open eco­nomic zones. By the 1990s, China opened cities along rivers and bor­ders as well as in­land cities. By 1993, the coun­try had formed a com­pre­hen­sive pat­tern for open­ing up through per­sis­tent ef­forts.

Free­ing the Mind

Al­though the Third Ple­nary Ses­sion of the 11th CPC Cen­tral Com­mit­tee de­cided to shift the em­pha­sis of the Party’s work to so­cial­ist mod­ern­iza­tion and spe­cial eco­nomic zones were al­ready es­tab­lished in the coun­try in the early 1980s, the choice be­tween a mar­ket econ­omy and a planned econ­omy re­mained a highly con­tro­ver­sial is­sue from the late 1970s to the late 1980s. Dur­ing that pe­riod, many peo­ple still con­sid­ered the mar­ket econ­omy and po­lit­i­cal re­struc­tur­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tive of cap­i­tal­ism.

In 1979, when meet­ing with American guests, Deng Xiaop­ing pre­sented the idea that so­cial­ism could pro­mote its own mar­ket econ­omy. In 1992, Deng toured some south­ern Chi­nese prov­inces, call­ing for greater courage and re­newed ef­forts in re­form. “A planned econ­omy or a mar­ket econ­omy is not the es­sen­tial dif­fer­ence be­tween so­cial­ism and cap­i­tal­ism,” he re­marked. This view creatively cleared some of the long-stand­ing doubts in China about the mar­ket econ­omy’s re­la­tion­ship to cap­i­tal­ism, and stressed the im­por­tance of eco­nomic mic de­vel­op­ment.

The idea of “eman­ci­pat­ing minds inds and seek­ing truth from facts,” put for­ward by Chi­nese Com­mu­nists, is not only ex­hib­ited at the macro level, vel, but also at the mi­cro level of peo­ple’s ple’s ev­ery­day lives. In the late 1970s, when hen Xi Zhongxun had just ar­rived in Guang­dong to take his post, sneak­ing king into Hong Kong had be­come a com­mon prac­tice lo­cally. Through h re­search and in­ves­ti­ga­tion, he learned ned that farm­ers of the Chi­nese main­land, and, sep­a­rated from their Hong Kong neigh­bors by only the Shen­zhen River, were earn­ing an­nual per capita pita in­come of 134 yuan, while that fig­ure on the other side of the river er was 13,000 Hong Kong dol­lars. “We We should take the blame,” Xi lamented. ed. “We failed to help our peo­ple lead d qual­ity lives or for­mu­late good poli­cies to pro­tect their in­ter­ests.” He cut to the heart of the mat­ter and pointed out that the key to solv­ing g il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion was to de­velop the lo­cal econ­omy and im­prove

peo­ple’s liv­ing stan­dards. Yuan Geng con­densed his un­der­stand­ing of re­form and open­ing up into “time” and “ef­fi­ciency.” He coined one of the most fa­mous slo­gans of the era: “Time is money; ef­fi­ciency is life.” When the planned econ­omy was still on many minds, the in­tro­duc­tion of views of the mar­ket econ­omy deeply in­flu­enced and im­pacted Chi­nese so­ci­ety at that time.

By the turn of the 21st cen­tury, the Chi­nese econ­omy had de­vel­oped by leaps and bounds, and great changes were hap­pen­ing through­out the coun­try. Chi­nese peo­ple, who had once only cared about pol­i­tics and class strug­gle dur­ing the early stage of re­form and open­ing up, shifted fo­cus to cre­at­ing eco­nomic re­turns and so­cial wealth. This change, a re­sult of so­cial and eco­nomic progress, also brought about ma­te­ri­al­ism and he­do­nism. Chi­nese Com­mu­nists be­gan at­tach­ing greater im­por­tance to free­ing the mind and plac­ing greater em­pha­sis on pro­mot­ing spir­i­tual civ­i­liza­tion. Dur­ing the past 40 years, eman­ci­pat­ing minds and re­form and open­ing up worked handin-hand. Eman­ci­pa­tion of minds, the­o­ret­i­cal in­no­va­tion and re­form break­throughs have be­come cru­cial steps in a process that has be­come the in­evitable choice for China to em­bark on each new jour­ney dur­ing the past four decades.

De­vel­op­ing the Econ­omy

Be­gin­ning with de­vel­op­ing the econ­omy and eman­ci­pat­ing minds, China has achieved much over the past 40 years. Some an­a­lysts be­lieve that dur­ing the 1980s and 1990s, when the world po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion was chaotic and tur­bu­lent, China, un­der the CPC lead­er­ship, spared no ef­forts in its re­form and open­ing up, reap­ing fruit­ful re­sults. China’s grad­ual re­form process formed a sharp con­trast to the “shock ther­apy” rec­om­mended to the for­mer Soviet Union by the West.

The time for China to open its door and em­brace the world was right for the international sit­u­a­tion and en­vi­ron­ment as well. At that time, China started to break the ice with the United States and ac­tively sought to be­come in­te­grated as a con­struc­tive mem­ber of the international com­mu­nity. In 1980, China re­gained its law­ful seats in the International Mone­tary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank in suc­ces­sion. A series of pos­i­tive re­sults from the world­wide eco­nomic rev­o­lu­tion be­gin­ning in the 1970s, such as com­put­er­i­za­tion and the emer­gence of con­tainer ships, were also in­tro­duced into China through re­form and open­ing up.

Fac­ing fierce international com­pe­ti­tion in the new mil­len­nium, China be­gan to place more em­pha­sis on gain­ing knowl­edge and tech­nolo­gies and build­ing its own international en­ter­prises. And China’s suc­cess in re­form and open­ing up is not lim­ited to eco­nomics. At present, the coun­try is in­ject­ing pos­i­tive en­ergy into global eco­nomic growth and em­bark­ing on a new jour­ney to build a new type of international re­la­tions and a com­mu­nity of shared fu­ture for mankind.

In 1978, un­der the lead­er­ship of the CPC, China started un­prece­dented re­form, the most suc­cess­ful case for na­tional de­vel­op­ment in hu­man his­tory. From then on, China grad­u­ally made its way to the cen­ter of the world stage. With­out the right choices made by Chi­nese Com­mu­nists at the mo­ment that de­ter­mined China’s fate in the con­tem­po­rary era, as well as their com­mit­ment to th­ese choices in the years to come, China’s achieve­ments to­day would not have been pos­si­ble.

1992: In­vestors swarm to pur­chase stock sub­scrip­tion cer­tifi­cates in Shen­zhen. With the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the re­form and open­ing-up poli­cies, great changes have been hap­pen­ing through­out China. by Lan Shuitian

Shekou street on May 23, 1979 be­fore de­vel­op­ment (left) vs. the sky­scrapers of the Shekou In­dus­trial Zone on Oc­to­ber 10, 2008. Xin­hua

Young peo­ple en­joy free karaoke in Si­hai Park, Shekou, Shen­zhen. With the rapid de­vel­op­ment of the econ­omy, Chi­nese peo­ple be­gan to lead more di­verse lives af­ter China’s re­form and open­ing up. by Zhang Xin­min

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