Deng Accepted That There Were Limits to His Expertise

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Structural Transformation of the Economic Sphere
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<p>I think the fundamental key to understanding Deng Xiaoping&rsquo;s role is, that I don&rsquo;t think Deng Xiaoping feels confident with economics. He doesn&rsquo;t see himself as an economist. &nbsp;He&rsquo;s definitely a reformer and some people think that Deng Xiaoping is the most radical reform. &nbsp;I don&rsquo;t know. I don&rsquo;t have any personal knowledge about that. But it&rsquo;s quite clear that Deng Xiaoping accepts that Chen Yun among the elders knows more about economics than he does. &nbsp;And he accepts early on that Zhao Ziyang will be in charge of economic policy. That doesn&rsquo;t mean that Deng washes his hands of it. He still wants Zhao to come and report to him and clear key decisions with him, but that&rsquo;s just because he wants to be kept in the loop. And there is this version which I don&rsquo;t think we absolutely have confirmed but has been reported in the Hong Kong press, that when Zhao became first party secretary in 1988, he agreed to approve all crucial political decisions with Deng Xiaoping and all crucial economic decisions with Chen Yun. So again we don&rsquo;t know 100 percent that&rsquo;s factual, but it has been reported by pretty good sources. &nbsp;And I think it shows that Deng Xiaoping accepted that there were limits to his expertise.&nbsp;And when we see where Deng is really outstanding, he&rsquo;s really outstanding in the design of personnel systems. Waht Deng really understands is the Communist Party system. &nbsp;He understands how people are chosen, how they&rsquo;re promoted, what the incentives are within the system. In that sense, he goes well beyond most other people. And of course Cheng Li, last night, described the current political system as one that was designed by Deng Xiaoping. Now I don&rsquo;t know enough to say that that&rsquo;s true, but I think it&rsquo;s fair to say that Deng Xiaoping from very early on, from the mid-1970s, was thinking about restructuring the political system with a clarity and a depth and an insight that we never see in terms of Deng Xiaoping thinking about the economic system.&nbsp;So, was Zhao Ziyang pushing Deng economically? &nbsp;Yeah, absolutely, no question about it. I mean if you have to give personal credit to somebody for the economic innovation that took place during the 1980s, in my mind there&rsquo;s no question: Zhao Ziyang is the person who deserves the credit.</p>
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