Deng Xiaoping

Deng Xiaoping Theory (Chinese: 邓小平理论; pinyin: Dèng Xiǎopíng Lǐlùn), also known as Dengism,[1][2] is the series of political and economic ideologies first developed by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping.[3]: 1500  The theory does not reject Marxism–Leninism or Maoism, but instead claims to be an adaptation of them to the existing socioeconomic conditions of China.[4][5]

The theory also played an important role in China's modern economy, as Deng stressed opening China to the outside world,[6] the implementation of one country, two systems, and through the phrase "seek truth from facts",[3]: 1500  an advocation of political and economic pragmatism.[7][8]


Further information: Ideology of the Chinese Communist Party

Drawing inspiration from Lenin's New Economic Policy,[9] Deng's theory encouraged the construction of socialism within China by having it develop "Chinese characteristics,"[10] which was guided by China's economic reform policy with the goal of self-improvement and the development of a socialist system. His theory did not suggest improvement or development of China's closed economic system, but rather, overthrowing the existing economic system for a more open one.[11]

Deng saw domestic stability as an important factor in economic development - "In China, the overriding need is for stability. Without a stable environment, we can accomplish nothing and may even lose what we have gained". He added that "stability is the basic premise for reform and development. Without stability nothing can be achieved".[12]

China largely owes its economic growth to Deng Xiaoping's emphasis on economic production, under the theory of the productive forces – a subset of 20th century Marxist theory. In the view of Deng, the task faced by the leadership of China was twofold: (i) promoting modernization of the Chinese economy, and (ii) preserving the ideological unity of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its control of the difficult reforms required by modernization.[13] Deng believed that "only by constantly developing the productive forces can a country gradually become strong and prosperous, with a rising standard of living."[14]

Deng argued that due to the isolation of China in the international order of the time and an extremely underdeveloped economy, in order for China to achieve socialism and to bridge the gap between China and Western capitalism, China would have to borrow certain market elements and aspects of capitalism into its economy.[15] However, he also suggested that its usage would have to be state-controlled. These borrowed principles, in Deng's mind, allowed a more liberal interpretation of China's modernization into a socialist state. This includes marketing characteristics such as planning, production, and distribution that could be interpreted as socialism.[16] Modernization efforts were generalized by the concept of the Four Modernizations. The Four Modernizations were goals, set forth by Zhou Enlai in 1963, and continued by Hua Guofeng after 1976, to improve agriculture, industry, national defense, and science and technology in China.[17] Dengists still believe that China needs public ownership of land, banks, raw materials, and strategic central industries so a democratically elected government can make decisions on how to use them for the benefit of the country as a whole instead of the land owners, but at the same time, private ownership is allowed and encouraged in industries of finished goods and services.[18][19][20] According to the Dengist theory, private owners in those industries are not a bourgeoisie. Because in accordance with Marxist theory, bourgeois owns land and raw materials. In Dengist theory, private company owners are called civil run enterprises.[21]

To preserve ideological unity, Deng Xiaoping Theory formulated "Four Cardinal Principles"[22] which the CCP must uphold:[23]

In 1992, fourteen years after Deng had become China's leader, he embarked on a tour of southern China (南巡).[24] During this trip he uttered his famous phrase: "Open up" (开放). "Open up" would be the foundation for China's economic development up until the present day.

Dengists also take a very strong position against any form of personality cult which appeared in the Soviet Union during Stalin's rule and the current North Korea.[25][26]

Relation to Maoism

Deng Xiaoping Theory downplays the Maoist focus on class struggle on the basis that that struggle would become an obstacle to China's economic development.[27] It maintains that it upholds communism, the dictatorship of the proletariat, leadership of the Communist Party, Marxism-Leninism, and Mao Zedong Thought.[27] Under this view, upholding Mao Zedong Thought does not mean blindly imitating Mao's actions without much deviation as seen in the government of Hua Guofeng, and that doing so would actually "contradict Mao Zedong Thought".[28]

According to academic Richard Baum, little evidence of Mao's approach survived in Deng.[29][page needed]


The Deng Xiaoping theory played a crucial role in transforming China from its previously state-owned command economy to a socialist market economy, which resulted in a rapid increase in economic growth within the country, known as the "Chinese economic miracle".[30]

It has increased the Chinese GDP growth rate to over 8% per year for thirty years and China now has the second largest economy by nominal GDP in the world. Due to the influence of Dengism, Vietnam and Laos have also adopted similar beliefs and policies, allowing Laos to increase its real GDP growth rate to 8.3%.[31] Cuba is also starting to embrace such ideas.

Deng's theory would be inherited by Jiang Zemin, along with aspects of Mao Zedong Thought and Marxist-Leninism, into a socio-political theory known as the “Three Represents.”[32] This theory was added to the Constitution of the Chinese Communist Party in 2002.[33]

Having served as the CCP's major policy guide since the Third Plenum of the 11th CCP National Congress in 1978, the theory was entrenched into the Communist Party's Constitution as a guiding ideology in 1997, and was also subsequently written into the Constitution of the People's Republic of China:

Since the Third Plenum of the 11th CPC Central Committee, the Chinese Communists, represented mainly by Comrade Deng Xiaoping, have summed up both the positive and negative experiences gained since the founding of New China, implemented the principle of emancipating the mind and seeking truth from facts, shifted the focus of the Party's work to economic development, introduced reform and opening, ushered in a new period for the development of the socialist cause, gradually formed the line, principles, and policies on building socialism with Chinese characteristics, expounded the basic issues concerning building, consolidating, and developing socialism in China, and created Deng Xiaoping Theory. Deng Xiaoping Theory is a product of the integration of the basic theory of Marxism-Leninism with the practice of modern China and the characteristics of the present era, the inheritance and development of Mao Zedong Thought under new historical conditions, a new stage of the development of Marxism in China, Marxism of modern China, and the crystallization of the collective wisdom of the CPC, guiding the cause of China's socialist modernization steadily forward.[34]

See also


  1. ^ Nathan, Andrew J. (1999). Dilemmas of Reform in Jiang Zemin's China. Lynne Rienner Publishers. pp. 34–36, 39, 46. ISBN 978-1-55587-851-1 – via Google Books.
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  3. ^ a b Guo, Dingping (2011). "Marxism". In Badie, Bertrand; Berg-Schlosser, Dirk; Morlino, Leonardo (eds.). International Encyclopedia of Political Science. Vol. 5. SAGE Publications. pp. 1495–1501. doi:10.4135/9781412994163. ISBN 9781412959636.
  4. ^ "The Years of Hardship and Danger". Peoples Daily China. 14 September 2010. Archived from the original on 24 October 2017. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  5. ^ Zhang, Wei-Wei (1996). Ideology and economic reform under Deng Xiaoping, 1978–1993. Routledge.
  6. ^ Xiaoping, Deng (10 October 1978). "Carry out the policy of opening to the outside world and learn advanced science and technology from other countries". Archived from the original on 23 January 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
  7. ^ "Ideological Foundation". Archived from the original on 21 January 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
  8. ^ Bader, Jeffrey A. (February 2016). "How Xi Jinping Sees the World… and Why" (PDF). Order from Chaos: Foreign Policy in a Troubled World. Archived (PDF) from the original on 21 June 2021.
  9. ^ Changqiu, Zeng (2005). "Lièníng de xīn jīngjì zhèngcè yǔ dèngxiǎopíng de gǎigé kāifàng zhī bǐjiào" 列宁的新经济政策与邓小平的改革开放之比较 [Comparison of Lenin's New Economic Policy and Deng Xiaoping's Reform and Opening]. Qinghai Social Sciences (in Chinese) (2): 9–13. Archived from the original on 11 December 2020.
  10. ^ Peters, Michael A. The Chinese Dream: Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. Taylor & Francis. doi:10.4324/9780429329135-3. ISBN 9780429329135. S2CID 211643969. Retrieved 4 December 2022. ((cite book)): |work= ignored (help)
  11. ^ Wang, Guidong (2016). "Joint Integration of Deng Xiaoping' Reform Theory and Chinese Reform". Proceedings of the 2016 2nd International Conference on Social Science and Technology Education (ICSSTE 2016). Guangzhou, China: Atlantis Press. pp. 433–436. doi:10.2991/icsste-16.2016.80. ISBN 978-94-6252-177-3.
  12. ^ Wong, Kam C. (2011). Police Reform in China. Taylor & Francis. p. 242.
  13. ^ Kang, Liu (1996). "Is there an alternative to (capitalist) globalization? The debate about modernity in China". Boundary 2. 23 (3): 193–218. doi:10.2307/303642. JSTOR 303642. S2CID 164040788.
  14. ^ Lu, Yang (2016). China-India Relations in the Contemporary World Dynamics of National Identity and Interest. Taylor & Francis. p. 53.
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  16. ^ Moak, Ken; Lee, Miles W. N. (2015). Deng Xiaoping Theory. New York: Palgrave Macmillan US. pp. 91–115. doi:10.1057/9781137535580_6. ISBN 978-1-349-55604-5. Retrieved 4 December 2022. ((cite book)): |work= ignored (help)
  17. ^ Uhalley Jr., Stephen (1988). A History of the Chinese Communist Party. Stanford: Hoover Institution Press. p. 180.
  18. ^ "Selected Works of Deng Xiaopeng Volume 1 (1938–1965)". Archived from the original on 10 May 2008.
  19. ^ "Selected Works of Deng Xiaopeng Volume 2 (1975–1982)". Archived from the original on 3 April 2008.
  20. ^ "Selected Works of Deng Xiaopeng Volume 3 (1982–1992)". Archived from the original on 16 March 2008.
  21. ^ "Lìyǐníng: Mínyíng qǐyè jiā bùshì jiù zhōngguó zīběnjiā de yánxù shāngyè píndào" 厉以宁:民营企业家不是旧中国资本家的延续 商业频道 [Li Yining: Private entrepreneurs are not a continuation of the old Chinese capitalists]. (in Chinese). 1 March 2005. Archived from the original on 5 May 2005. Retrieved 3 October 2020.
  22. ^ Shambaugh, David (2000). The Modern Chinese State. Cambridge University Press. p. 184. ISBN 9780521776035.
  23. ^ "'Four Cardinal Principles'". China Internet Information Center. 22 June 2011 [March 1979]. Archived from the original on 31 March 2022. Retrieved 10 January 2021.
  24. ^ Zhao, Suisheng (1993). "Deng Xiaoping's southern tour: elite politics in post-Tiananmen China". Asian Survey. 33 (8): 739–756. doi:10.2307/2645086. JSTOR 2645086.
  25. ^ "(Wǔ) dèngxiǎopíng duì gèrén chóngbài de pīpàn" (五) 邓小平对个人崇拜的批判 [(5) Deng Xiaoping's Criticism of Personality Cult]. (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 28 May 2019.
  26. ^ "Dèngxiǎopíng bādà fāyán: Jiānchí mínzhǔ jízhōng zhì fǎnduì gèrén chóngbài" 邓小平八大发言:坚持民主集中制 反对个人崇拜 [Deng Xiaoping's speech at the Eighth National Congress of the Communist Party of China: Adhere to Democratic Centralism and Oppose the Cult of Personality]. (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 8 March 2021.
  27. ^ a b Marquis, Christopher; Qiao, Kunyuan (2022). Mao and Markets: The Communist Roots of Chinese Enterprise. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 50. doi:10.2307/j.ctv3006z6k. ISBN 978-0-300-26883-6. JSTOR j.ctv3006z6k. OCLC 1348572572. S2CID 253067190.
  28. ^ Xiaoping, Deng (16 September 1978). "Hold high the banner of Mao Zedong Thought and adhere to the principle of seeking truth from facts". Archived from the original on 5 January 2015. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
  29. ^ Baum, Richard (1996). Burying Mao: Chinese politics in the age of Deng Xiaoping. Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691036373.
  30. ^ Harrison, Virginia; Palumbo, Daniele (1 October 2019). "China anniversary: How the country became the world's 'economic miracle'". BBC News. Archived from the original on 6 October 2021. Retrieved 28 October 2021.
  31. ^ "The World Factbook — Central Intelligence Agency". Archived from the original on 13 June 2007.
  32. ^ Backer, Larry Catá (7 November 2021). "The Communist Party as Polity and the Chinese Party-State Constitutional Order". Handbook of Constitutional Law in Greater China. Rochester, NY. SSRN 3958293.
  33. ^ Huang, Yibing (2020). An ideological history of the Communist Party of China. Qian Zheng, Guoyou Wu, Xuemei Ding, Li Sun, Shelly Bryant (First English ed.). Montreal, Quebec. ISBN 978-1-4878-0425-1. OCLC 1165409653.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  34. ^ "Constitution of the Communist Party of China". China Internet Information Center. 18 September 1997.

Further reading