The Marxist
Volume: 15, No. 04
Oct.-Dec. 1999
Speech at the Symposium Commemorating the
78th Anniversary of the Founding of the
Communist Party of China
(June 28, 1999) 
Jiang Zemin
It is of great significance for us to have a symposium today on the ongoing "three stresses" education drive in theoretical study, political awareness and good conduct within the Party across the country to commemorate the 78th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China.  Several comrades have made very good speeches just now.
Having traversed a 78-year course of struggle, our party has united and led the Chinese people of all nationalities in scoring great achievements in revolution, construction and reform, winning their wholehearted support. It has become a strong Marxist ruling party with over 60 million members, overcoming all difficulties and obstacles and constantly making new headway in our cause.  The reason for this lies in the Party’s historical experience that we have persisted in integrating Marxism, which is our guidance, with our country’s specific conditions and situation in different historical periods.  By leading our people in their practice which focuses on the central task of our party, we have made unremitting efforts in strengthening our Party ideologically, politically, organisationally and improving its work style.  Comrade Mao Zedong defined Party building as one of the main magic weapons for the party to grow in strength and conquer the enemy.  Over the past seven decades, our party has persisted in practicing this important historical experience and maintained its nature as the vanguard of the working class.  As a result, our party’s fighting capacity and leading ability have been enhanced.
A major task facing our party ever since it came into power has been how to improve party building in time of peace and construction. In the days of revolutionary wars, every Communist was often faced with severe tests of life-threatening battles and harsh conditions.  The best way to test the party spirit of the vast number of party members and leading cadres was whether they could defy all difficulties and dangers, sacrifice their lives, and shed blood for the cause of the Party and the people.  Our party made the uttermost sacrifice and withstood this test for national independence and the people’s liberation. In time of peace and construction, the central task of our party is economic development.  With changes in the situation, living conditions are also improving gradually.  Although the stern tests of life and death still exist, they do not take place so frequently as during the war period.  Under such new historical conditions, the content, form and characteristics of party building  will inevitably be greatly different from those in the war days. In response to such changes, our party has made unremitting efforts and new exploration since the founding of New China and has accumulated a lot of fresh experience.  Although there have been some mistakes or even serious twists and turns, we have, in general, gradually worked out a series of effective measures and methods for improving our party building in time of peace and construction.  We should carry forward all of these.  After the 3rd Plenary Session of the 11th  Central Committee of the CPC, Comrade Deng Xiaoping had led our party in seriously summing up both positive and negative experience, which led to great achievements in exploring new ways of improving party building in reform, opening-up and modernization drive.  The process is not yet over. It requires further exploration and practice by our party.
The party Central Committee makes a decision to concentrate our efforts for a certain  period of time to carry out the "three stresses" education drive in the spirit of rectification  among the government and party leading bodies and cadres at and above the country level to effectively deal with the prominent problems concerning party spirit and conduct.  This represents a new and creative attempt by our party to improve itself.  This is the need for maintaining its advanced nature and purity, raising its ability to guard against corruption and degeneration and withstand risks.  This is the need for comprehensively strengthening the party ideologically, politically and organisationally, improving party conduct and raising the quality of the cadres.   This is the need for our party to lead the people in advancing in an all-round manner the great cause of building socialism with Chinese characteristics in accordance with the strategic plan laid out at its 15th National Congress.  To carry out "three stresses" education drive in real earnest will have major and profound significance and impact.
The ongoing education drive is the top priority of party building. Localities and departments are carrying out the education drive by stages and in different batches in the light of the requirements of the Party Central Committee.  In general, most localities and departments are clear in guiding ideology and have done an earnest and down-to-earth job so far so that the education drive has been conducted smoothly and soundly and has produced  fairly marked results.  We have also accumulated some useful experience. Many comrades comment that it has been unusual for years that our party’s leading cadres concentrate their efforts for a certain period of time to study Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought and  Deng Xiaoping Theory in particular, while keeping the actual situation in mind, integrating the transformation of the objective world with that of the subjective world with that of the subjective world, and earnestly summarizing the experience and lessons of their practice in work and in the improvement of party spirit.  It has also been unusual for the leading cadres at the provincial and ministerial   level to take the lead in searching for and identifying the prominent problems with regard to their party spirit and conduct, and exposing and analyzing them from the perspectives of their outlooks of the world, life and value. It has been unusual  too that our party fully practices democracy, persists in the mass line, extensively solicits views from all circles and conducts criticism and self-criticism seriously and earnestly.
At present, the education drive is progressing well.  Party committees at all levels, with the main leading cadres at the foremost, should be firmer in their confidence, exert further efforts and conscientiously implement the plan laid out by the Party Central Committee, carry forward in depth the education drive with high responsibility, serious attitude and vigorous enthusiasm.
The "three stresses" on theoretical study, political awareness and good conduct are closely linked and integrated with one another with political awareness being the core.  A political party is a political group organised for the purpose of achieving its political aim in accordance with its political program and line.  Without a political program, an aim or a political line, a party can no longer remain in the true sense as a political party.  Ours is a Marxist party, which persists in Marxism, socialism with Chinese characteristics and the goal of realizing, safeguarding and developing the interests of the masses. The whole party membership, especially the leading cadres, must firmly stick to correct political stance, orientation and viewpoint, strictly abide by the Party’s discipline, enhance political sharpness and judgement, and guarantee the ideological, political and organizational unity of the Party. Only by so doing can we remain sober-minded, stick to scientific understanding and firm belief, can we withstand the tests of various difficulties and risks, and fulfill all the tasks of reform and construction.  
Stressing political awareness is concrete rather than abstract.  The key for leading cadres to stress political awareness is to implement such requirements in their daily work, study, inner-party activities and in the economic, political, cultural and other aspects of the cause of building socialism with Chinese characteristics.  I’d like to emphasize the  following points.
Firstly, it’s essential to firmly stick to correct ideal and beliefs.  Socialism and communism are fundamental political  beliefs of the communists, and Marxist dialectical and historical materialism is our world outlook.  This cannot be wavered at any time.  If a party member, especially a leading cadre, is ideologically less firm in these fundamentals, one will waver in one’s basic political stance and will  surely deviate from the correct political orientation.  With this as the target, the Central Committee demands that the priority for the education drive is to be firm in ideal and beliefs.  Some comrades do have some problems that should not be neglected.  For instance, some comrades are not firm in their beliefs that socialism will finally triumph over capitalism through long-term development, and they have doubts about the future of building socialism with Chinese characteristics.  With revolutionary will weakened and spirit barren, some people indulge in dissipation, or even seek spiritual sustenance from superstition or other negative activities. Overwhelmed by selfish desire, some people drift with the tide of money worship, thus abusing power and taking advantage of their positions to seize state assets for their own future benefits.  All these show that it’s imperative to make constant efforts to educate the party members and cadres to be firm in their ideal and beliefs, strengthen the education on dialectical and historical materialism, encouraging all the party members to base their ideal and beliefs  firmly on the science of Marxism. In order to take a grim grasp of the ideological front with Marxism and give no chance to idealism, non-Marxist and anti-Marxist thoughts, we should adapt to new domestic and international developments and new changes in economy, politics and culture, look for new measures and ways, create new experience, and make sure to strengthen the Party’s work on ideology, politics, organization, publicity and masses in its great and arduous practice of building socialism with Chinese characteristics.  The practice of ideological and political work proves that if proletarian thoughts fail to take over the ideological front, the non-proletarian thoughts would do.  We must pay enough heed to and learn from the historical experience and lessons.
Secondly, we should be good at understanding and judging situation correctly from the political perspective.  The socialist modernization drive led by our Party is an arduous and ever growing cause carried out in a complicated and changing international environment. If one fails to understand and view the economic and social situation in China or the impact of the changes of the present international situation on our country from a political, strategic and overall perspective, if one fails to size up the situation and make correct  decisions, one can hardly stick to the correct orientation or implement the basic theory, line and program of the Party. Only by correctly analyzing and understanding the situation, can we properly handle the relations between the excellent situation in the modernization drive and temporary difficulties and problems arising in the course of progress, understanding matters by telling the essence from the phenomena and main factors from minor factors, and boost the confidence of doing a good job. Only by so doing can we properly handle the relations  between reform, development and stability, can we do proper work in all quarters by taking all factors into consideration and promote the economic and social progress in an all around way. Only by so doing, can we understand that the international situation is moving towards relaxation on the one  hand, US and other western countries are pursuing hegemonism and power politics on the other hand, thus making efforts to secure a favourable international environment for the modernization drive and safeguard the security and interests of our country.  Recently, in dealing with the issue concerning US-led NATO’s armed interference in Yugoslavia’s internal affairs and its attack on our Embassy in Yugoslavia, the Central Committee of the CPC formulated and implemented correct policies and counter-measures by judging and analyzing the even with consistent attention to the overall situation at home and abroad.  All in all, we should use Marxist dialectical ideas in viewing domestic and  international situation.  When in favourable situations, we should not be blindly optimistic, but  should see the existing  problems and solve  them timely.  When in difficulties and suffering setbacks, we should press forward in face of difficulties with full confidence.  We should not lose sight of the bright side and be pessimistic and disappointed.  When facing challenge, we should be sober-minded instead of muddle-headed, and handle it calmly and properly.
Thirdly, we should always remain sober and steadfast politically regarding our lines, principles, and policies.  Politics is the concentrated manifestation of economy. It gives service to economy. Lenin pointed out that when a social class fails to understand issues from the political perspective, it cannot sustain its rule, thus failing to complete its task of production.  The focus of  our modernization drive is developing the economy, which must be unswervingly upheld without wavering.  Solid political backup and  sufficient political facility are indispensable for economic development. Otherwise, economic construction would not be successful.  We should always stress political awareness in our economic work as well as any other undertakings.   The 15th party Congress proposed the need to take initiative to explore new forms of materializing public ownership that can further emancipate the productive forces by allowing joint stock system and joint stock partnerships.  Some foreigners took for granted that China was going to opt for privatization.  Some of our comrades had similar misunderstandings which led to errors in the work of some localities.  Thanks to the  development in the last five decades since the founding of New China, China’s state assets have added up to over 8000 billion Yuan.  This property belongs to the people and constitutes an important economic foundation for our socialist system. If we are not sober-minded enough and dispose it simply at will, for instance, enabling the concentration of the assets in the grip of a handful of people by transferring in large quantity the state assets to the individuals indiscriminately and without limit, then our state assets will be in the danger or erosion.  Our socialist system will lose its economic foundation. I wonder what a picture China would pose provided that was the case, and what we would rely on to maintain the socialist system, to consolidate the people’s state power, and to ensure the common prosperity of the whole people.  Therefore, it is not only a major economic problem, but also a significant political problem which has a bearing on the future of the Party and the country to correctly understand and stick to the  fundamental economic system with the public ownership as the mainstay and multiple ownership developing side by side, and correctly understand and handle the relationship between the public sector and non-public sectors.  By elaborating this issue, I am to make it clear the necessity for the leading cadres, especially the senior leading cadres, to observe and handle the situation from the political  perspective.  We must not analyze economic issues solely from economic perspective and improve our work simply out of professional considerations. Otherwise, not only would we fail to do a good job  in our work, but the cause of the Party and the people would suffer a loss.  I hope the leading cadres at various levels will consciously understand and handle their work from the political perspective with a view to ensuring that our work of various aspects  will proceed in the correct orientation.
Fourthly, we should consciously adhere to our party’s principle of democratic centralism.  Democratic centralism is the fundamental system or organization and leadership of our party and  our country. It is also the most important organizational and political discipline. There are many reasons for the lack of harmony and unity among certain leading bodies. However, one thing in common is that they don’t observe democratic centralism sufficiently.  Some main leading cadres are akin to make decisions on their own and reduce the collective discussions to a matter of formality.  Some leading cadres, due to insufficient awareness of the overall situation, implement the collective decisions on a selective basis according to their liking. Such practice obstructs the formation of collective strength of the leading bodies, and will bring about unwanted political consequences. I have always been stressing that leading bodies must hold on to collective leadership and democratic centralism, allowing individual deliberations before final decisions are made at the meeting. Main leaders should be bold enough to make final decisions with resolve on the basis of practicing democracy.  At the same time, they should respect the opinion of others so as to collect everybody’s good advice and correctly facilitate centralism. Each member of the leading body should perform his duty well in line with the decisions and division of work made by the collective leadership.  At the  same time he should be concerned about the overall situation and play an active part in the decision-making of the collective leadership.  The decision-making of major issues and the arrangement of important personnel changes should be based on democratic centralism by following the established regulations and procedures and holding collective discussions before making final decisions at the meetings.  There should be mutual trust, support, complimentarity and understanding among the members of the leadership.  We should be frank and exchange views in time when any possible disagreements arise.  It is not advisable to make irresponsible remarks against others when they are not present while refraining from giving criticism face to face, or be preoccupied with one’s personal gains and losses. In this way, we may avoid or reduce the occurrences of possible problems that may damage unity and ease contradictions more easily wherever there are.  We should use criticism and self-criticism as weapons to solve inner-party contradictions.  This is one of the fine traditions and good conducts of our party, and is also indispensable for enhancing party unity, improving inner-party life and helping our comrades to make progress under the new historical conditions. It would be very dangerous if we just turn a deaf ear to the wrong practices, refrain from necessary ideological struggle, make decisions according to personal feelings or connections instead of party integrity and established principles, and confuse the right with the wrong only to evade contradictions and seek unprincipled reconciliation.  We must have the courage  to criticize and fight against the basic problems concerning the violation of the party’s lines, principles and policies as well as erroneous behaviors against the purposes and discipline of the Party. Leading  cadres should be ready to solicit different opinions and be glad to have his errors pointed out.  That would be helpful for them to make progress and enhance the cohesiveness and combating capability of the Party as well.
Fifthly, we should serve the people’s interests and heart and soul.  As communists, our starting point and ultimate goal are to serve the people’s interests.  This is the foundation on which we build our party and rule the country. Politics mainly means the attitude towards the masses and the relations with the masses.  As Comrade Mao Zedong observed, the masses are the history-makers and real heroes. I have quoted and stressed those observations time and again. Leading cadres should keep very close ties with the  masses so as to truly become one of them.  We should be concerned about their concerns and worries, judge our work by taking the masses’ attitude into consideration. Otherwise, we will be in danger of being abandoned by the masses.  We must tackle the problems they put forward and report to us with enthusiasm, and take concrete steps to help them solve the difficulties in their production and daily life. Under no circumstances should we be indifferent to them.  Less should we harshly treat the masses and intensify the contradictions.  To serve the people’s interests wholeheartedly should not be merely paying lip services. It requires real efforts to do concrete things for the masses.  We should begin our work with the most pressing problems of their utmost concern. We should implement the fundamental purposes of our party in all spheres of work for the people.
In short, party members and cadres, especially the leading cadres, should be political-minded, no matter which field or front they are working in.  The Central Committee requires that high-level cadres should do their best to make themselves statesmen who are loyal to Marxism, adhere to the  road of building socialism with Chinese characteristics and are capable of managing the affairs of both the Party and the State.  The key to raise the quality of the cadres lies in enhancing  their ability to master Marxism.  Without this, the cadres will lose the direction and cannot make themselves sober-minded and qualified leading cadres of the Party, nor can they be qualified and  sober-minded  in contributing to and leading the cause of building socialism with Chinese characteristics. In accordance with the requirements of the Party Central Committee, high-ranking cadres must work hard to study and practice so as to make statesmen required by the Party, who are adept at managing the affairs of the Party and the State.  The leading cadres should  train and improve themselves in line with the same requirements. Our Party has a large number of statesmen who are capable of managing the affairs of the Party and State during the new historical period when we are faced with the social environment of reform, opening-up and developing the socialist market economy and the complicated situation of international struggle.  Since we have such statesmen to carry out various aspects of work in economic, cultural, military and  diplomatic fields in our modernization drive, our great undertaking of building socialism with Chinese characteristics will definitely advance from one victory to another.
To stress political awareness means we must stress the need to study. Only by having a sound theoretical basis of Marxism and rich knowledge of various fields, can leading cadres comprehensively understand and handle all kinds of complicated contradictions and problems, acutely distinguish different wrong ideas and thoughts, and work out policies and measures scientifically.  And that is the only way to adhere to the correct political orientation under complicated conditions. In short, only by stressing the need to study, can we raise our political awareness.  The first  priority of study is to study the theory.  Theoretical education forms the basis of party building and the theoretical quality constitutes the soul of the ideological and political quality of the leading cadres.  Strengthening the study of the Marxist theory remains an urgent and important task facing the entire Party.  We have to persist in doing so. Meanwhile, we should also extensively acquire the knowledge of various fields such as economics, politics, law, science and technology, history, culture, etc., as well as the knowledge of international politics and economics.  Since excellent works of literature and art contribute to the improvement of one’s ideology and morality, we should have some intimate or general knowledge of them.  Man has obtained so much knowledge that it is impossible to acquire all of it.  We should firstly make a rational plan according to our knowledge level and job requirements so that we can further our study and accumulate knowledge step by step. No one is born literate.  Knowledge, ability and experience are all acquired through practice and hard study.  We should not only learn from books but also from practice.  We should not only gain improvement by summing up successful experiences, but also make progress by drawing lessons from failures.  This is required  by our party’s ideological line of seeking truth from facts and by the Marxist style of study of integrating theory with practice.
Political awareness should naturally find manifestation in good conduct.  By stressing good conduct, we  should keep and carry forward the true political nature and revolutionary integrity of communists.  The Party Central Committee has always been emphasizing that all party members, especially leading cadres, should foster and preserve the lofty values and revolutionary integrity of communists.  This has always been the powerful spiritual strength for our party to be united in  working hard for victories.  A revolutionary party should have a moral force of integrity so that the whole Party will have a great spiritual prop and be full of vigor and vitality.  During recent years, some leading cadres failed to resist the temptations of money, power and lust.  As a result, they ended up in  degeneration and corruption. One important reason is that these people pay less attention to the improvement of their world outlook, and lose the revolutionary integrity of communists. Our Chinese nation has always valued reputation and integrity. Just as Meng Zi once put it, "Riches and nobility cannot make him proud; poverty and humbleness cannot make him give up his aspirations; power and force cannot sway him".  There are many other maxims embodying our nation’s pursuit of faithful moral integrity.  We communists should inherit and carry forward the fine cultural traditions of the Chinese nation.  We should cultivate and advocate lofty personality on the ideological basis of Marxism. Maintaining the revolutionary integrity means that under whatever circumstances, we should be loyal to the undertakings of the Party and the people, should not change our revolutionary commitments, or lose confidence of our final success.  We will  not be scared by evil forces or believe in heresy. On the contrary, we should uphold truth and principles of the Party, fight against various wrong thoughts, unhealthy tendencies and evil forces with clear stance.  We should persist in performing our official duties honestly and working hard.  Facing the money worship, hedonism, individualism and the temptation of luxurious life-style, we  should stick to our principles and keep our moral integrity. Under the new conditions, it is an important effort aimed at improving party building ideologically and politically to strength the education on revolutionary integrity among the whole party members, especially the leading cadres. In the process of reform, opening-up and modernization drive, all of us should consciously improve our  party spirit and  enhance our ideological and political cultivation.  Efforts should be made to  foster correct values and outlook of the world and life. In order to truly establish lofty spirit of communists, we should continue to firm our beliefs and ideal, polish our volition and quality.
Since the beginning of reform and opening-up, great changes have taken and are taking place in the country’s internal and external environment which the Party faces. So is the situation with the Party’s historical tasks and the composition of the party membership and cadres’ contingent.   The economic elements and organizational forms of the society are diversified, and the people’s material  and other demands are different.  These will unavoidably have some influence over the Party, its members and its leading cadres.  These are unprecedented new situation and new problems facing the Party building.  The "three stresses" education drive is an important initiative of our party to strengthen the building of its leading bodies, improve the quality of its cadres’  contingent and settle the outstanding problems concerning the party spirit and conduct existing in the new circumstance.
Now, the "three stresses" education drive for the first batch of provincial and ministerial level leading bodies and cadres will soon complete.  However, there are still much work to be done to consolidate and expand the education results and implement the measures for rectification and improvement.  The "three stresses" education drive for cadres of  prefectural and department level of various provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities and cadres of department and division level of various ministries and commissions is also being carried  out or will be carried out soon.  The  "three stresses" education drive for the second batch of provincial and ministerial level leading bodies and cadres will begin soon.  The party committees or party groups of every locality and department should strengthen their leadership in the education drive.   The main leading comrades should shoulder prime responsibilities.  The leading bodies of higher level should supervise and direct their subordinates’ work.  All of them should stick to high standards and strict requirements.  They should not let down and lower their standards and requirements, or go through the motions.  The inspection groups of the Party Central Committee should continue to play their roles by giving directions and help during the education drive. On the basis of summing up and disseminating the experience of the "three stresses" education drive of the first batch of units, we should do a better job in the coming batches of education drive for various levels.  After all, the time for the "three stresses" education drive is limited, while it is a long-term task to stress theoretical study, political awareness and good conduct. It should become a regular and conscious practice of all the party members, especially the leading cadres.
Comrades, we are at a historical juncture at the turn of the century and shouldering the great and tedious task of cross-century development.  Through the "three stresses" education drive, we should make further improvement of the theoretical and political level of all the party members, raise the ability of the leading cadres to  have an overall understanding of the situation and handle the complicated circumstances properly.  The education drive will further strengthen the cohesiveness and fighting capacity of the Party, thus the Party will be in a better position to lead the Chinese people of all nationalities in advancing in an all-round way the great cause of building socialism with Chinese characteristics.
  — Translated by First Asian Bureau, International Department of CPC Central Committee.