Our Historical Tasks at the Primary Stage of Socialism and
Several Issues Concerning China's Foreign Policy


Wen Jiabao

I. Our Historical Tasks at the Primary Stage of Socialism

A keen appreciation of China's national conditions and its historical stage is the basis for our Party to put forward theories in a scientific way and adopt correct principles and policies. It is also a key prerequisite for ensuring the success of all our endeavors.

China is at the primary stage of socialism, and will remain so for a long time to come. The primary stage means a stage of underdevelopment, which manifests itself, first and foremost, in the low level of the productive forces. Therefore, we must unswervingly take economic development as the central task and go all out to boost the productive forces. However, when we talk about the primary stage, we should not just think about the underdeveloped productive forces. We should also recognize that the socialist system still has room for improvement and that it is not yet a mature one. Comrade Deng Xiaoping pointed out that in essence, socialism is about liberating and developing the productive forces, eliminating exploitation and polarization, and ultimately, it is about achieving prosperity for all. This means that in consolidating and developing socialism, we must be clear about and focus on two major tasks: one is to liberate and develop the productive forces to vastly increase the material wealth of the whole society, and the other is to achieve social fairness and justice, fire the creativity of the whole nation and promote social harmony. The two tasks are interconnected and reinforce each other. As a holistic endeavor, they should be pursued throughout the historical course of all the development stages of socialism. Without the sustained and full development of productive forces, it will be impossible to achieve social fairness and justice, an essential requirement of socialism. Without gradual progress in social fairness and justice along with the growth of productive forces, it will be impossible to give full play to the initiative and creativity of all the people and ensure sustained and full development of productive forces. In implementing Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of "Three Represents", following the scientific thinking on development and building a socialist harmonious society, it is critical that we have a full and scientific understanding of the essence of socialism.

When China began to build socialism, it was way behind developed countries in terms of productive forces. It will take a fairly long historical period before China can achieve industrialization and modernization. Since the founding of the People's Republic of China, and particularly since the introduction of reform and opening-up policy, China has greatly enhanced social productive forces and its overall national strength, and markedly improved the well-being of its people. China has achieved a historic leap from meeting the basic living needs for its people to making life moderately prosperous for them. However, given China's huge population, weak economic base and development imbalances between urban and rural areas and among different regions, its low level of productive forces remains basically unchanged. While continuing economic reform, we have steadily proceeded with reform in the political system. Socialist democracy and legal system are being enhanced, and the Chinese people are playing an increasingly active role in political affairs. People's political, economic, cultural, social and other rights are duly protected. Nonetheless, China's socialist market economy and its democracy and legal system are not yet fully developed. Social unfairness, graft and corruption still exist. The socialist system is not yet mature. Therefore, China still has a long way to go before it can move to a stage higher than the primary stage of socialism. It remains a developing country. Regarding the overall long-term development of socialism, Comrade Deng Xiaoping made a keen observation in 1992 in his remarks during his inspection tour to south China: It will take a very long historical period to consolidate and develop the socialist system, and it will require persistent struggle by many generations, a dozen or even several dozens. We can never rest on our oars.

In the process of reform, opening-up and modernization, we will gain a deeper understanding of what is socialism and how to develop socialism, and we will be able to enrich and advance socialism by adhering to the principle that practice is the only criterion for testing truth. In this connection, two points must be made clear: First, we need to have a full and profound understanding of the basic conditions of China at the primary stage of socialism. To build a country of more than one billion people into a prosperous, strong, democratic, civilized and harmonious modern socialist country is an unprecedented endeavor in human history. It is a historical mission that requires persistent and arduous efforts. Second, we must press ahead with reform and encourage innovation. Comrade Jiang Zemin pointed out, "The great progress our people have achieved under the leadership of our Party in reform, opening-up and modernization in the past more than 20 years has been possible because of the theoretical innovation, institutional innovation, scientific and technological innovation we have pursued." In pursuing reform and innovation, we should not only benefit from and carry forward the inexhaustibly rich and valuable experience our Party has gained in the long years of socialist development and reform; we should also boldly draw upon all the progress of human civilization and all advanced business and managerial expertise that embody the laws governing modern social production. This is the only way for our socialist system to gain strength in competing with the capitalist system. It is with this in mind that we say that socialism is like an ocean which never runs dry as it admits hundreds of rivers. It will take a considerably long historical process for socialism to gain maturity in terms of both theory and practice. Therefore, we must unswervingly adhere to the basic lines of the Party for the primary stage of socialism for the next 100 years and persist in carrying out reform and innovation to ensure enduring vigor and vitality for socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Leading officials at all levels should develop historical and global perspectives and view things from an overall and strategic angle. Only with a full and deep appreciation of the long-term nature of the primary stage of socialism and our historic mission can we truly understand why we have adopted the policies we are pursuing today instead of any other policy and work with stronger commitment, determination and creativity.

II. The Period of Strategic Opportunities for China's Development

The first 20 years of this century will be a period of important strategic opportunities for China. We must not miss it, and we must make full use of it. To embrace this period of strategic opportunities and make good use of it is of utmost importance to our goal of building a society of moderate prosperity in all respects and building socialism with Chinese characteristics.

China did not have many major opportunities for development in its history. In modern times, China closed itself and fell victim to imperialist aggressions. As a result, China lost an opportunity for development and fell behind. After the founding of New China, great achievements were made in its socialist development endeavors. However, we missed a major development opportunity because of some big policy mistakes, and particularly the disastrous ten-year-long "Cultural Revolution". Opportunity is rare. When it presents itself, we must seize it, or it will be lost for good. In the past 28 years of reform and opening-up, China's economy has maintained fast and sustainable growth. This is a miracle. Will China have another period of opportunity in the future? My answer is yes. How long will it last? This will depend on what domestic and foreign policies we follow and on our ability to respond to new developments.

Profound and complex changes are taking place in the world, and many new international developments deserve our close attention. But the overall international environment is a favorable one for China. Peace and development remain the general trend of the times and no major war is likely to break out. It is fully possible for us to have a fairly long-term peaceful international environment and a favorable neighborhood environment. History shows that those remaining backward are invariably despised and bullied by others. We must seize the favorable international opportunities to speed up our development. Achieving development is the overriding principle. It is the basis for solving all problems in China and for China to conduct effective diplomacy. Competition between states is based on strength. There are major principles and secondary principles, and the latter should be subjected to the former. Then what is the major principle? It is to accomplish the central goal of socialist modernization drive. People of all walks of life in China should recognize the larger interest of the modernization drive, comply with it and work to advance it.

III. Take the Path of Peaceful Development

China takes the path of peaceful development. This is made necessary by its national conditions, cultural traditions and its embracing of the global trend of development. And, in the final analysis, it is determined by the nature of China as a socialist country led by the Communist Party of China and by the goal of achieving socialist modernization in China. What is the essence of the path of peaceful development? It is to foster a peaceful international environment to develop itself and, in turn, promote world peace with its development. Taking the path of peaceful development is an initiative that has both external and domestic dimensions. Thus, we must keep firmly in mind our overall interests on two fronts, both internal and external.

Domestically, we need to rely mainly on our own effort in pursuing development. We should promote development by expanding the domestic demand to meet the people's growing material and cultural needs. China is the most populous country with a vast territory, relatively rich resources and a market of huge potential. All this has made it possible for China to achieve development mainly through its own efforts. In the course of development, China is bound to encounter bottleneck constraints in areas such as natural resources, energy and the environment. But thanks to years of hard work, we have succeeded in embarking on a path leading to all-round, coordinated and sustainable development. Our goal is to foster and implement a scientific thinking on development and build a resource-conserving and environment-friendly society. At the same time, we must give a strong impetus to the modernization drive by continuing to deepen our reform, opening wider to the outside world and removing institutional obstacles to development. It is important that we send a clear message to the world that China will achieve its development mainly through its own efforts, and this will help fundamentally remove misgivings in the international community that China is bound to engage in external plundering and expansion when it reaches a certain stage of development. As China develops itself, it will make greater contribution to both the development of its neighborhood areas and that of the whole world.

Internationally, we should advocate peace, development and cooperation and pursue an independent foreign policy of peace. China works to uphold its independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, makes judgment independently on the merit of each international issue and takes position accordingly. It does not use ideology and social system as a criterion in conducting diplomacy, nor does it impose its values on others. China does not enter into alliance with any country or country group. It does not interfere in other countries' internal affairs, nor does it allow others to interfere in its internal affairs. China opposes hegemonism and power politics and will never seek hegemony. In conducting foreign exchanges, we should fully implement the independent foreign policy of peace. This means we should live in friendship with all other countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, and treat all countries, whether big or small, rich or poor, strong or weak, as equals. It means we should work for a just and equitable international political and economic order which is based on equality, respect and mutual benefit and whose ultimate goal is to build a harmonious world. It means we should follow the principle of mutual benefit and mutual respect in expanding overseas business ties and conducting cultural exchanges. And it means we should follow a defense policy that is defensive in nature and do not engage in arms race or military expansion. Since it suffered bitterly from imperialist aggression and oppression for more than a century after the Opium War (1840-1842), China knows just too well what foreign aggression and oppression will bring to a nation. We are sincere and firm in our commitment to taking a path of peaceful development.

To take a path of peaceful development is a strategy and foreign policy to which China is committed. It is definitely not an expediency. In following this guiding principle, we should seize opportunities, remain unswayed by provocations and concentrate on our development, and we will not seek a leadership role in the international arena. It is thanks to following this policy that we have been able to gain more room for the conduct of China's diplomacy. As China's overall national strength and international standing grow, the international community will have higher expectation on China. One might ask if it is still necessary for China to follow this policy. The answer is yes, as there is no reason whatsoever to change it. Of course, we should remain actively engaged in international affairs. China is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a member in other important international organizations. We should make full use of this favorable condition to uphold China's fundamental interests. We should take an active part in the formulation of international rules to work for a fair and equitable international political and economic order. We should be actively involved in economic globalization and promote international and regional economic cooperation to achieve mutual benefit and win-win progress.

IV. Cultural Development and Exchanges

If China is to gain respect of the international community, we must grow our economy, advance science and technology and ensure that our people live a prosperous and happy life. We must also raise the educational level of our people, improve democracy and legal system and raise cultural and ethical standard. In recent years, at the same time of speeding up economic development, we have endeavored to promote political and cultural development and the building of a harmonious society, and we have given high priority to cultural exchanges with other countries. We have thus fostered an image of China as a country that is committed to reform and opening-up, a country of unity and dynamism, a country that upholds equality and values friendship, and a country that is sincere and responsible. As a result, China is increasingly viewed in an objective, rational and friendly light, and there is growing call for strengthening cooperation with China. All this has created a favorable external environment for China's modernization program. Therefore, we should enhance cultural development and exchanges and view it as a key endeavor in building socialism with Chinese characteristics in all respects.

Cultural diversity should be respected. There are more than 2,000 ethnic groups in the world. Human civilization has evolved and enriched itself through interactions among different ethnic communities. Diversity of world culture and civilization has existed for centuries and will remain so in the future. Science, democracy, legal system, freedom and human rights are not something peculiar to capitalism. Rather, they are common values pursued by mankind in the long historical process and they are fruit of human civilization created by mankind. It is only that at different historical stages and in different countries, they are achieved through different means and in different forms. There is not just one model for the realization of these values. The diversity of civilization is a reality, whether you face it or not. It is the coexistence, interaction and convergence of different cultures that have promoted human progress. Cultural diversity in the world should be recognized. Different cultures should not discriminate against, be hostile to or exclude each other. They should respect and draw on each other's strength, and this will make it possible to create a harmonious and colorful human culture.

China should take its own path in enhancing democracy. We never view socialism and democracy as something that is mutually exclusive. As a matter of fact, we see a high degree of democracy and well developed legal system as the inherent requirement of socialism and a key important feature of a mature socialist system. We are fully capable of building China into a country of democracy and rule of law under socialist conditions. We should explore ways to develop democracy with Chinese characteristics in light of China's particular conditions. We should focus on efforts to promote economic development, protect lawful rights and interests of the people, fight corruption, increase public trust in government, strengthen government functions and enhance social harmony. And we should continue the reform in the political system by expanding democracy and improving the legal system. This will enable other members of the international community to better appreciate and accept the path of development taken by the Chinese people.

We should fully improve the educational level of the Chinese people. This means giving a high priority to the development of education. The government must work with a stronger sense of responsibility to extend and consolidate compulsory education. More efforts should be made to develop vocational education and improve higher education. The scientific and cultural level of the whole Chinese nation should be uplifted. That requires a major effort to foster values and ethics among the people and accelerate the establishment of a system of values and ethics which is in keeping with the socialist market economy and which carries forward the traditional virtues and values of the Chinese nation. In particular, high priority should be placed on fostering a sense of honesty and integrity so that the public will have greater sense of integrity and credibility. In international exchanges, we should be credible and trustworthy, act in good faith and honor commitment. Thus, we need to ask people to act in a civilized way in their contacts with foreigners, respect local laws, regulations and customs and behave properly in public places overseas so that they will contribute to promoting China's culture and its image. As more Chinese are traveling overseas, we should strengthen foreign-affairs administration and crack down hard on crimes such as smuggling, human trafficking and drug trafficking to ensure order in people-to-people exchanges.

We should expand cultural exchanges with other countries. Cultural exchanges are a bridge connecting the hearts and minds of people of all countries and an important way to project a country's image. The rich and profound Chinese culture, which has a time-honored history, has made significant contribution to the progress of human civilization. The traditional Chinese culture is noted for its many luminous ideas: the philosophical precept of "harmony without uniformity", the political belief that "people is the foundation of the nation", the educational guideline of "respecting teachers and valuing education", and the moral ethic of "do not do to others what you would not have them do to you". We should use various forms and means, including tour performance and exhibition, Chinese language teaching, academic exchange and sponsoring culture year activities, to promote Chinese culture and increase its appeal overseas. We should implement a "going global" cultural strategy, develop culture industry, improve the international competitiveness of Chinese cultural enterprises and products, increase the export of books, films, TV programs and other cultural products, so that these Chinese cultural products and particularly the best of them, will reach the rest of the world.

We should conduct public diplomacy in a more effective way. We should inform the outside world of the achievements we have made in reform, opening-up and modernization in a comprehensive, accurate and timely manner. At the same time, we should be frank about the problems we have. We should be good at using flexible and diversified ways in conducting public diplomacy programs. We should use persuasive ways to communicate with the international community to ensure that our message is effectively put across. We should work to enable the international community to develop an objective and balanced view on China's development and international role, so as to foster an environment of friendly public opinion for China.

We should conduct public diplomacy in a more effective way. We should inform the outside world of the achievements we have made in reform, opening-up and modernization in a comprehensive, accurate and timely manner. At the same time, we should be frank about the problems we have. We should be good at using flexible and diversified ways in conducting public diplomacy programs. We should use persuasive ways to communicate with the international community to ensure that our message is effectively put across. We should work to enable the international community to develop an objective and balanced view on China's development and international role, so as to foster an environment of friendly public opinion for China.

Suggest To A Friend