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Historic Reality and Power of Deng Xiaoping's Southern China Tour Talks
From Jan. 18 to Feb. 21 of 1992, at the crucial moment of China's reform and opening up to the outside world and her socialist modernization, China's senior leader Deng Xiaoping, at the advanced age of 88, went to visit and inspect factories, enterprises and shopping malls and had chats with the local leaders and the general public in such places as Wuchang, Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Shanghai, and a series of talks were delivered on the way. This is the famous Southern Tour Talks. Today, when we review this programmatic document which started a new stage of the socialist cause with Chinese characteristics, we would feel energized again by revisiting the history.
It is dead end if we do not reform. Deng Xiaoping pointed out decidedly, "If we do not uphold socialism, do not reform and open up to the outside world, do not develop economy, or do not improve people's livelihood, then it'll be an dead end." Some days ago, Premier Wen Jiaobao, while inspecting Guangzhou, also pointed out, the program of reform and opening up surely will be synchronized with the entire process of modernization, and only by reforming and opening up can we blaze a path of socialism with Chinese features, bring about a greater change to our economy and society, bring more tangible benefits to the people, and can our nation hold her head high and stand rock-firm among the family of nations.
On Jan.23, 1992, Deng Xiaoping left Shenzhen for Zhuhai. After stopping his car at Shekou harbour, he got off, and walked a few steps forward to one of the wharves, and suddenly he turned back and said to Li Hao, Party Secretary of Shenzhen: "You must speed up!" In retrospect, his daughter Deng Nan said, "My Dad preached his ideas all his way." As can be seen, the urgency of grasping the opportunity and speeding up the economic construction was a big deal haunting Deng Xiaoping, who regarded it an important mission to modernize China.
Shenzhen， before and after Reform and Opening up
Development is nothing but the truth. Development being the hard truth is an eternal theme that will always ring true in the primary stage of socialism. Firstly, development is the requirement for China to stand firm and invincible in international situation. "Neither of the two issues of world peace and development has been solved so far." Deng raised the issue of development to the height of the whole world and the whole humanity, which fully demonstrates that only by seizing the opportunity and speeding up development, can China move forward in the tide of the times, can she realize the great revitalization of the Chinese nation and stand in an invincible position in the world. Secondly, development is the biggest political issue in contemporary China. Poverty is not socialism, neither is slow development. Deng pointed out clearly while he was giving his southern China talks in 1992, "Now, some countries and regions surrounding the mainland of China have developed faster than us in economy. If we do not develop or develop too slowly, problems will occur when our people make comparisons with them." Since the reform and opening up to the outside world, our Party's line, guiding principles and policies have gained support from the general public, and one of the important experience is that we have been relying on development to solve problems on our way forward. The Central Party Committee has put forward guidelines of "treating development as our Party's top priority in governing the country and revitalizing the nation" and "putting people first, and establishing the concept of comprehensive, balanced and sustainable development," which have enriched and developed the thought of "development is the hard truth."
Deng Lin, 67-year-old eldest daughter of Deng Xiaoping, received an exclusive interview of our newspaper last night. She said that it has been 30 years since the reform and opening up to the outside world was initiated, and the ideas of her Dad have come true one after another.
Deng Lin: We stayed for some time in Guangzhou. One thing that I cannot forget is my Dad was especially interested in things happening in Guangzhou. He always had chats and meetings with people wherever he went. Of course as his children, we could not be present on these occasions. During our whole journey by train, he kept asking questions. When we stopped in Guangzhou, his questions were even more in detail. We stayed in the "small Island," precisely "Pearl Island Hotel," but we all called it "Small Island." Every day, he walked around, even though it was specially-cold that year. Our staying in Guangzhou was particularly of avail to his thinking and decision-making. My Dad's theories all came from the ordinary people, such as "wading across the river by groping for stones," and the "white cat and black cat." He carried out these theories from the common people in the design of reform and opening up, and this is absolutely no fooling with it. When we find it correct in our real practice, we will stick to it, and otherwise, we'll correct it.
While in Shenzhen, we went to see quite a few fishing villages. The life of the fishermen was much better than people in the north. They had TVs and refrigerators at home. They had become rich through reform and opening up. Dad was very happy for this. We were all deeply impressed by it. We were staying in the Hostel of Shenzhen Party Committee and outside the gate were many vendor stalls. I even went to Sha Tau Kok to buy soaps and MSG. I found everything fresh and attractive.
On his trip in 1984, he didn't talk much and mostly just went to see things. He was not talkative by nature. Later he also went to visit Xiamen of Fujian, therefore, he didn't just draw one circle, but actually many, which were connected and formed a large area. These places were good promotions and models for China's reform and opening up.
As a daughter of the chief architect of China's reform and opening up, Deng Lin witnessed the ideas of her father being gradually transformed into reality. Heartfelt happiness surrounded her as she was one of those benefited.
He often said to us at home at the time, "The world has given very few opportunities to China and this time is one. If we do not seize it, we will feel regretful for our future generations and of our country."
Deng Lin: In my heart he was just an ordinary person. He had his own ideals and ambitions, as well as abilities and personal charisma. He had an agile mind, had humour and he was quick in counting. But, like everyone else, he also had various emotions and desires, and had love for kids. I don't agree with the argument that he had no mistakes. He himself had said that he was accountable for part of Chairman Mao's errors. I think perfect is not absolute, but imperfect is.
Certainly, I feel the most valuable thing about him is that he had done what he should in his position and he had done them best.
Deng Lin: Maybe most people do not know this. In an ordinary family, children and parents should be together, but not us. It was very difficult to get together. Owing to historical reasons, the time that we spent with our parents was rare and precious. We could only be with our parents when there were good conditions. Therefore, many snapshots of my father were the outcome of my "direction". I hope these snapshots can highlight his daily life as an ordinary person. For example, when I saw him sitting on the floor, I felt very excited and snapped it. I feel it was totally a contrast to his image.
Reporter: What was your father's retired life like?
Deng Lin: It was all the same, whether before or after his retirement. His life was as simple as it could be. I had wanted to shoot a documentary about "a day of my father," but his life was so dull and simple that I just couldn't do it. After getting up in the morning, he drank tea, had a light breakfast, and then, he would read documents. There was nothing else in his life.
The reason that he lived to his nineties was that he led a very regular life. Another reason was his temperament. He seldom had extreme emotions and always kept calm whether happy or angry.