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Deng Xiaoping Theory (simplified Chinese: 邓小平理论; traditional Chinese: 鄧小平理論; pinyin: Dèng Xiǎopíng Lǐlùn), is the series of political and economic ideologies first developed by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping. The theory does not claim to reject Marxism–Leninism or Mao Zedong Thought but instead seeks to adapt them to the existing socio-economic conditions of China.
Deng also stressed opening China to the outside world, the implementation of one country, two systems, and through the phrase "seek truth from facts", an advocation of political and economic pragmatism.
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 Communist Party of China (CPC) and its control of the difficult reforms required by modernization.
Modernization efforts were generalized by the concept of the Four Modernizations. The Four Modernizations were goals, set forth by Zhou Enlai in 1963, to improve agriculture, industry, national defense, and science and technology in China.
To preserve ideological unity, Deng Xiaoping Theory formulated "Four Cardinal Principles" which the Communist Party must uphold:
In 1992, fourteen years after Deng had risen up as China's leader, he embarked on the "nan xun" or "Inspection visit to the South". There he, being already very old, uttered the famous words: "kai fang!" (Chinese: 开放). These words, which literally mean "open up", would indeed prove to be very significant for China's economic development up until the current day. After this surge of motivation, China started economically expanding.
Little evidence of Mao's approach survived in Deng. Deng Xiaoping Theory argues that upholding Mao Zedong Thought does not mean blindly imitating Mao's actions without deviation as seen in the government of Hua Guofeng, and doing so would actually "contradict Mao Zedong Thought".
Since the 1980s, the theory has become a mandatory university class. Having served as the Communist Party of China's (CPC) major policy guide since the Third Plenum of the 11th CPC 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.