5. The Principle to “Rely on One’s Own Efforts” Is Being Abandoned

To advance the economic development of the country, the People’s Republic of China in Mao Zedong’s time basically relied on the reserves and resources of the country and on the creative power of the masses of the Chinese people. The principle to “rely on one’s own efforts” is an expression of the Chinese people’s will to develop agriculture and industry on its own without foreign help, especially without foreign capital.

Mao Zedong outlines this road as follows:

“Rely mainly on our own efforts while making external assistance subsidiary, break down blind faith, go in for industry, agriculture and technical and cultural revolutions independently, do away with slavishness, bury dogmatism, learn from the good experience of other countries conscientiously, and be sure to study their bad experience too, so as to draw lessons from it. This is our line.” (quoted in: Peking Review, No. 35, 1976, p. 8)

This guiding principle for the building of the socialist society had arisen due to bitter experiences of the Chinese people. When the Chinese communists adhered to their criticism of the revisionist Khrushchev, the Soviet Union discontinued all previously granted aid in the early 1960s (the same way today’s Chinese leadership did it to Albania last year). Thousands of Soviet technicians were recalled by the Soviet leadership, buildings remained unfinished. All construction plans were taken home with them. China had received high credits from the erstwhile still socialist Soviet Union and had to pay them back. That was a dangerous situation for China then.

In this situation something unimaginable for a narrow-minded capitalist world of thought happened in China: The Communist Party of China led by Mao Zedong called the whole people to learn from the experience and to build socialism by its own efforts. At first the capitalists sneered at the small smelting furnaces and the “blue ants.” But soon there was unquestionable evidence for success in the self-reliant building of a socialist industry, as for instance the oil field of Daqing (Taching) in Manchuria, the development of which started in 1960. China’s oil industry was very backward at that time.

“The imperialists tried to make China a permanent dumping ground for their oil. Before liberation they sent one group after another of their so-called geological ‘experts’ to China to make ‘investigations’. They preached that ‘the types of rock and their geological age in the greater part of China fail to show any possibility of oil deposits’ and arbitrarily concluded that ‘China is poor in oil’. The modern revisionists also said that China lacked oil, and tried to restrict our economic development by oil embargo.” (TACHING – Red Banner on China’s Industrial Front, Peking 1972, p. 19)

Relying on their own efforts, without foreign assistance and in spite of all obstacles and difficulties, the Chinese workers developed the Daqing (Taching) oil field. The original capacity of the field’s oil refinery of one million tons per year was later on increased to 2½ million tons, then doubled to 5 million tons in 1972.

“Taching has produced oil, created experience and trained many cadres, contributing outstandingly to China’s socialist construction.” (ibid., p. 23)

For the peoples in Asia, Africa, and Latin America this is a shining example how an industry of one’s own can self-reliantly be developed without dependence on foreign countries.

But meanwhile a fundamental change has taken place in Chinese politics, received with satisfaction by the Western capitalists. A brochure of Dresdner Bank on “Particularities of the Foreign Trade of the People’s Republic of China” states:

“Owing to the economic program adopted in March 1978, through which the country wants to rank among the leading industrial powers by the year 2000, the foreign trade policy of the PRC is profoundly changing. While up to then, even trade balances preferably were sought, also in bilateral trade, and credits were accepted, if anything, only on a deferred payment basis, i.e. as supplier credits, now the PRC is evidently ready to incur foreign debts to some extent in order to finance its ambitious industrialization schemes….

The previous Chinese principle that foreign debts would unduly restrict political freedom of action will probably only be applied in a quite modified way in the future. As a consequence, substantially extended opportunities to intensify the German-Chinese exchange of commodities will arise. Increasingly, the Chinese side also seems to be considering compensatory trade [offsetting imported commodities against export products – the editors].” (Besonderheiten des Außenhandels der Volksrepublik China, Frankfurt, 1979, pp. 1–2, our translation from German)

Let us go into particulars about the measures the Chinese revisionists want to negotiate or have already negotiated with foreign countries:

  • Complete industrial plants are bought overseas, as for example the Houlinhe Coal Mine. It was designed by the companies Orenstein & Koppel and Friedrich Krupp AG, and its modern mining equipment was completely imported. (Beijing Review, No. 12, 1979, p. 13)
  • The capitalists get the opportunity to despoil China of its raw materials. Beijing Review, No. 17, 1979, states: “As for utilizing foreign capital, no matter what forms we adopt, we should see to it that they are all based on our ability to repay, that is, in the final analysis, we have to increase exports.” (p. 16) Compensatory trade is considered the most important means for this purpose:

“In engaging in compensatory trade, we must first of all make sure that the contracting party will agree to take the products turned out by the introduced equipment, that is, these products will make for payment. There is a great future for compensatory trade in such fields as non-ferrous metals, rare metals, petroleum, coal, and other minerals. In these fields we have rich resources and abundant labour power which are favourable conditions for compensatory trade.” (Beijing Review, No. 17, 1979, p. 19)

The capitalist trade partners will be pleased, because in this way they will gain a foothold in the Chinese economy, from which they anticipate profits over the long term. The Chinese workers have to work for the foreign capitalists. Through such practices the new Chinese leadership submits itself to the same form of neocolonial dependence as the one described for the stage of state-monopoly capitalism in Revolutionärer Weg, No. 16:

“Often the loan is not repaid with money but with goods and thus serves as a means of plundering valuable raw materials at very unfavorable prices for the raw-material producing country.” (W. Dickhut, State-Monopoly Capitalism in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), Vol. I, p. 53)

  • At the Second Session of the Fifth National People’s Congress (NPC), the revisionist leadership had the members pass a law “on Joint Ventures Using Chinese and Foreign Investment”. Article 1 reads:

“With a view to expanding international economic co-operation and technological exchange, the People’s Republic of China permits foreign companies, enterprises, other economic entities or individuals … to incorporate themselves, within the territory of the People’s Republic of China, into joint ventures with Chinese companies, enterprises or other economic entities … on the principle of equality and mutual benefit and subject to authorization by the Chinese Government.” (“unofficial” translation in: Beijing Review, No. 29, 1979, p. 24)

The NPC had left open the upper limit of the proportion of investment by foreign companies and had only set a lower limit of 25 percent. Obviously, the new leadership had not been so certain of the NPC members’ support for its ambitious plans to restore capitalism, so it had not included the upper limit in the law. A few days later, however, in a meeting with a US industrial research delegation, Vice-Premier Li Xiannan let the cat out of the bag:

“‘China does not confine herself to the established international practice of 51 per cent and 49 per cent,’ Vice-Premier Li added. ‘The proportion of investment by foreign companies can be higher than 50 per cent, and the duration may be ten years, 20 years or even longer.’ He said that foreign investors can send abroad the profits they have earned from the joint enterprises so long as they abide by the Chinese law and tax policy.” (Beijing Review, No. 30, 1979, p. 4)

This is the open invitation to the imperialists to establish themselves in China, despoil it of its raw materials and exploit the Chinese working people. Head of the China International Trust and Investment Company will be a former industrialist in his sixties, the Vice-Chairman of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, surely a competent person. The imperialist friends will be delighted!

  • In their scramble for foreign exchange, the Chinese revisionists do not even shrink from offering the Chinese workers as cheap labor. They invite the imperialists to engage in contract processing trade with China:

“In producing export goods, for instance, we accept the specifications, trade marks or materials provided by the buyers, engage in co-operative production or assembly-manufacturing and conduct compensatory trade.” (Beijing Review, No. 17, 1979, p. 15 – emphasis added)

What is to be understood by “assembly-manufacturing” other than the provision of cheap workers, who, for a pittance, have to do jobs similar to those of the ‘compatriots in Taiwan’?

The new revisionists of the kind of Deng Xiaoping deliberately deny what Mao Zedong once said about the foreign ‘aid’ of capitalist countries:

“Why do these countries [USA, Great Britain – the editors] do business with us and, supposing they might be willing to lend us money on terms of mutual benefit in the future, why would they do so? Because their capitalists want to make money and their bankers want to earn interest to extricate themselves from their own crisis — it is not a matter of helping the Chinese people.” (“On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship”, Selected Works, Vol. IV, p. 417)

That is exactly what the revisionists have forgotten today when they raise credits abroad on a large scale to finance their megalomaniacal plans (120 mega-projects with estimated overall costs of 450 to 600 billion dollars, according to the German business news magazine Wirtschaftswoche, 28 May 1979). From the FRG alone, China is most likely to raise a credit now of about 36 billion Deutsche Mark for a term of ten years. There are credit negotiations with Japan, Switzerland, England and France as well. But the DM 36 bn. alone are an inconceivably large sum, equaling the annual wage (DM 25,000) of more than 1.4 million workers.

To back up and justify their new policy the new revisionists refer to Lenin, who stated in 1920:

“Hence, the first thing is to restore the economy and place it firmly on its feet. Without equipment, without machinery obtained from capitalist countries, we cannot do this rapidly. And we should not grudge the capitalist a little extra profit if only we can effect this restoration.” (Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 31, p. 495)

This quotation from Lenin appears in Peking Review, No. 41, 1978, p. 12, while the situation in which Lenin said this is ignored. Lenin actually speaks of the necessity “to restore” the economy. What was the situation like at that time? The young Soviet Union urgently needed money to buy necessary machines and equipment, since the economy was totally shattered. From 1914 to 1917, when the October Revolution took place, World War I raged. Then the years of the civil war followed. On the one hand, after years of total trade boycott by England, France, the USA, Japan and so on, the young Soviet republic wanted and had to kick-start trade in order to buy machines etc. On the other hand, after the hard years of intervention, the Soviet Union had to prevent at all events that the imperialists, banded together like a pack of wolves, raid the first socialist country.

Lenin and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union then chose the lesser of two risks. At the same time, the attention of the people was drawn to the ‘lesser risk’ and a call for vigilance was issued:

“The capitalists are coming to us to wage a new kind of war….” (ibid., p. 483)

This sounds nothing like Deng Xiaoping’s raving about the construction of a strong socialist economy by the year 2000 with billions in capitalist credits. In short, Lenin has a clear reason for his compromise, and the people consented. Deng has no reason, and the people will not consent. Therefore Deng is forced to use lies and demagogy.

A further method of Deng’s is to dramatize the economic situation, to spread calculated pessimism and to demonize the alleged economic sabotage of the “gang of four.” In doing so the revisionists resort to a means familiar to their like: they rig the figures about the economic development.

At the Second Session of the Fifth National People’s Congress in June 1979, for the first time in several years concrete figures about the economic development were published. We take these figures from the communique on fulfillment of the 1978 National Economic Plan (Beijing Review, No. 27, 1979, pp. 37f.) and Hua’s report on the work of the government:




Steel (millions of tons - mt)




Coal (mt)




Crude oil (mt)




Chemical fertilizer (mt)




Chemical fibers (1000s t)




Electricity (bn kWh)




Let us compare these figures with those of 1971 and 1974, which we listed in Revolutionärer Weg, No. 19 (W. Dickhut, State-Monopoly Capitalism in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), Vol. II, pp. 566f.):



Steel (mt)



Coal (mt)


Crude oil (mt)



Electricity (bn kWh)

42 (1965)


Obviously the figures for steel production are manipulated, as 24 million tons are stated for 1974 already, while in his report Hua indicates 20.46 million tons for the year 1976. The other industrial products show a steady increase. So there can be no talk of economic ruin under the “gang of four.” It only exists in the minds of the new revisionists, who want to deceive the people with it.

In spite of all the fuss Hua and Deng are making today, there never even was an absolute decrease of production in China, let alone a disruption. It is nothing more than a purposeful lie to conceal the real reasons and the actual consequences of their policy.