Slogan of "Four Cardinal Principles" in a market in Xinjiang, 1992.

The Four Cardinal Principles (Chinese: 四项基本原则; pinyin: Sì-xiàng Jīběn Yuánzé) were stated by Deng Xiaoping in March 1979, during the early phase of Reform and Opening-up, and are the four issues for which debate was not allowed within the People's Republic of China.[1][2][3] The Four Cardinal Principles were one of Deng's Two Basic Points, the other of which was the Chinese economic reform.[4]

The principles include:[3]

  1. The principle of upholding the socialist path
  2. The principle of upholding the people's democratic dictatorship
  3. The principle of upholding the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
  4. The principle of upholding Mao Zedong Thought and Marxism–Leninism

Such principles marked a relaxation of control over ideology. In stating the four cardinal principles, an implication was that these four topics could not be questioned, but political ideas other than those in the list could be debated. Moreover, while the principles themselves are not subject to debate, the interpretations of those principles are.[citation needed]

On the other hand, the principles were proclaimed as a sign of adherence to the communist ideology, thus paving the secure way to reevaluation of the Cultural Revolution while preserving ideological stability and legitimacy of the CCP as a response to the Democracy Wall movement.[5]

The Four Cardinal Principles were emphasized in the 1981 Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party since the Founding of the People's Republic of China[6]: 168  and were enshrined in Constitution of the People's Republic of China in 1982.[7]

See also


  1. ^ Shambaugh, David (2000). The Modern Chinese State. Cambridge University Press. p. 184. ISBN 9780521776035.
  2. ^ Deng, Xiaoping. "UPHOLD THE FOUR CARDINAL PRINCIPLES (excerpts)". Wellesley College. Archived from the original on 1 September 2022. Retrieved 2021-01-10.
  3. ^ a b "'Four Cardinal Principles'". China Internet Information Center. June 22, 2011 [March 1979]. Archived from the original on 2022-03-31. Retrieved 2021-01-10.
  4. ^ MacFarquhar, Roderick. "Deng's Last Campaign". New York Review of Books. ISSN 0028-7504. Retrieved 2021-01-15.
  5. ^ ACRadmin14 (26 February 2015). "Opening China to the World: Deng Xiaoping, the Democracy Wall and the Four Cardinal Principles | All China Review". Retrieved 2021-01-10.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ Karl, Rebecca E. (2010). Mao Zedong and China in the Twentieth-Century World: a Concise History. Asia-Pacific series. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. doi:10.2307/j.ctv11hpp6w. ISBN 978-0-8223-4780-4. JSTOR j.ctv11hpp6w.
  7. ^ Song, Yuehong (2015-04-25). "Sì xiàng jīběn yuánzé cóng tíchū dào xiě rù xiànfǎ" 四项基本原则从提出到写入宪法 [From the proposal of the four basic principles to the writing into the constitution]. Renmin Wang (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 2 April 2021. Retrieved 2021-01-10.