Four Cardinal Principles

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The Four Cardinal Principles (simplified Chinese: 四项基本原则; traditional Chinese: 四項基本原則; 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 Reform and Opening[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 Communist Party of China (CPC)
  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, the 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. For example, there has been extensive debate[clarification needed] over the meaning of socialism.

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 CPC as a response to the Democracy Wall movement.[5] The Four Cardinal Principles were enshrined in China's Constitution in 1982.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Shambaugh, David (2000). The Modern Chinese State. The Press Syndicate of The University of Cambridge. p. 184. ISBN 9780521776035.
  2. ^ Deng, Xiaoping. "UPHOLD THE FOUR CARDINAL PRINCIPLES (excerpts)". Wellesley College. Retrieved 2021-01-10.
  3. ^ a b "'Four Cardinal Principles' (Mar. 1979)". China Internet Information Center. Retrieved 2021-01-10.
  4. ^ MacFarquhar, Roderick. "Deng's Last Campaign". ISSN 0028-7504. Retrieved 2021-01-15.
  5. ^ ACRadmin14. "Opening China to the World: Deng Xiaoping, the Democracy Wall and the Four Cardinal Principles | All China Review". Retrieved 2021-01-10.
  6. ^ Song, Yuehong (2015-04-25). "四项基本原则从提出到写入宪法". Renmin Wang (in Chinese). Retrieved 2021-01-10.

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