Report at the News Work Conference in the South-western Region

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16 May 1950

Deng Xiaoping

Picking up the writing brush is the main method of exercising leadership. Leading comrades must learn how to pick up the writing brush. Having conferences is a sort of leadership method, it is necessary, but the people coming to conferences are always small in number, even if a large report is made, there still will be only a few hundreds listening. Specific talks are also a leadership method, but it can only be “specific”. The broadest way of realizing leadership is using the writing brush. Using brushes to write things out and disseminate them is broad, and through writing, ideologies are refined, and become relatively thorough. Therefore, using the brush to lead is the main method of leadership, this is what Chairman Mao told us. All those who have not yet learned it should learn how to write, those who can write, but not proficiently, must slowly become more proficient

There are many ways of picking up the brush. The Party and government write resolutions, instructions, and send out telegrams, this is very important, but instructions and telegrams can only reach a certain scope of cadres. Any policy, if it is only seen by cadres and not seen by the masses, cannot give rise to effect. In picking up the brush, the way with the broadest application is writing articles and carrying them in newspapers or publishing pamphlets, as well as writing good contributions and broadcasting them on radio stations. Publishing newspapers and organizing radio, publications and pamphlets, can both achieve a reality of close links, closely integrate the central tasks, this is more effective and broader than their methods in implementing and realizing the intention of leadership, and their application is larger.

“The brush is too heavy”, not being able to write, what should be done? We must talk with leading comrades in all regions, explain the importance of picking up the brush and the importance of news work, if he doesn’t understand how to use a brush, this leader has many shortcomings himself. Writing articles is also not very difficult, mainly, the idea should be good. Leading comrades have these conditions: understanding relatively much of the situation, being relatively complete and correct in looking at problems. Problems in technical aspects are secondary, with effort of oneself, help from others, this can be raised steadily. If leading comrades are not willing to write articles, news work comrades must take the initiative to do work. If he doesn’t want to write, there is always a reason “I can’t write, I can’t write it” or “I have no time”, he must be actively sought out, “You speak and I’ll write”, or looking for near leaders and comrades who can write to write it. But first and foremost, the leader must write himself, news work comrades actively help and organize contributions in a planned way. In this way, it is possible to progressively resolve the problems of leading organs and leading comrades using newspapers and leading newspapers. There are three conditions for running newspapers: integrating reality; linking with the masses; criticism and self-criticism. If these three conditions are deviated from, leadership will not be exercise well, newspapers will have no strength, and may easily become “records of everything that is hear”. Therefore, the precondition for running newspapers well lies in leadership.

We must run local newspapers well. There has been progress recently in the “New China Daily”. Our newspapers must carry general information issued by the Centre, but local newspapers, don’t necessarily have to use all broadcast scripts of the New China general office, and must appropriately select, adapt, compress, and abstract them, we must consider targets, whether or not they can read that much and can understand it after reading. Some small newspapers are run more integrated with reality than large newspapers, are more suited to the requirements of the masses, are even more popular and vivid. Naturally, localities wanting to run large newspapers (large cities) must run large newspapers, but they should not all run large newspapers.

Newspapers must integrate with reality, and integrate with the central tasks of the time and the place. The New China main office-issued contributions should be given high regard, but are editable relatively well. The main vigour of leading comrades and comrades running newspapers must be put towards local news, the work and life situations of the people in those regions should be carried in large numbers. Newspaper publishers must constantly gain contact with leaders, and according to the changes in the present tasks in that regions, adjust their reporting policy from time to time. Not long ago, the “New China Daily” wrote a special article, which explained the situation of suppressing bandits, and content mainly was critical. Was it correct or incorrect? It is also correct. Is it timely or untimely? It was untimely. In considering whether something is correct or not, we must consider time, place, conditions and other factors. There were already achievements in suppressing bandits, the army was under circumstances of great effort and arduousness, mainly going about criticizing was untimely. Putting it a month in advance would have been just timely. This illustrates that our comrades’ understanding of the real circumstances of bandit suppression was insufficient. Now, the influence of newspapers is larger than in the past, there are some incorrect things that are published in newspapers, this is a waste. In the past few years, many cadres did not read newspapers, now, it is different, newspapers have prestige, reading what a newspaper is saying must be done with reflection. Many localities reading that newspapers criticized methods, secretly change them, this is the function of newspapers. In society, many people read newspapers, read about some attitude of the Communist Party, how the people’s government policies are, and want to find things they need in newspapers, and resolve their own problem. Exactly because of this, cadres and newspapers all give high regard to newspapers, we must be very cautious.

What is the Southwest’s central task today? Speaking about the entire region, first is suppressing bandits, second is completing the task of levying grain taxes, revenue and government bonds, third is leading production (which is mainly agricultural production) four is adjusting industry and commerce and providing relief to the unemployed. In order to realize these tasks, we must convene People’s Congresses and Peasant Congresses. The next step is reducing rent this winter and next spring, this is also put forward from the Southwest.

How are these tasks completed? In the area of suppressing bandits, Sichuan has many good experiences in suppressing bandits, newspapers must report these, but cannot let bandits completely understand our tactics. Newspapers must propagate bandit suppression policies, and integrate leniency with suppression. Chief criminals must be punished, unwilling accomplices are let off, those rendering meritorious service will be rewarded. What does letting off unwilling accomplices mean? “Letting off” means no convictions, and also means no punishments. Some are let off without so much as an interrogation, this is a mistake. There must always be education, speaking frankly, only when the masses provide guarantee, should people be let off. Generally speaking, bandit suppression produces the desired results. The situations in Guizhou and Yunnan are each different as well. Newspapers must grasp the characteristics of every locality, this is leadership.

Levying grain tax, is generally very dynamic at the beginning, but very difficult to collect afterwards. The methods in ten thousand counties to resolve this problem are relatively appropriate, they must be introduced and expressed well. This is realizing leadership. Newspapers must use comments and editorials to add a series of reports to lead the payment of grain taxes.

In leading production, the overall situation is not too bad. Chairman Mao instructed that new regions must maintain the original production levels, and not let them drop, and that old regions still have to “grow an inch”, this is not easy. At present, peasant’s production vigour has been raised. But cultivating new plots must not be encouraged, trees must be cut for cultivating new plots, and the largest problem for Sichuan right now is that there are few woods. Some localities report that they have reallocated a plot of land from rich tenant farmers to poor farmers, it is said that this was voluntary. For these things, newspapers cannot write editorials in praise, and cannot write information for dissemination. The main policy in production is no chaos. All ungrasped things require a but of caution, to be researched first, or write bout it, say it is good, but also which dangers there are, making the masses consider it again from another angle, this is also leadership.

Adjusting industry and commerce is mainly a city matter. Our policy is to adjust labour and capital, simultaneously dealing with both interests, otherwise, it will be unfavourable for the entire national economy. We must assist privately run industry and commerce that is beneficial to the national economy and people’s livelihood, and encourage the production vigour of private persons. The capital side must improve management and reduce costs. Recently, newspapers carried a few reports of privately run cotton mills resolving difficulties, this should be carried, it uses privately run enterprises’ examples to realize leadership over privately run enterprises. We foster progressive privately run enterprises with good prospects those without prospects must be guided to change production. Adjusting industry and commerce involves problems in three aspects, one: capital, two: labour, three: the public, all must be guided to develop productivity. The Communist Party is for developing social productivity, otherwise, it has violated Marxist theory. In Shanghai, one piece of cotton sells for 5 million Yuan, here, 9 million Yuan is wanted, who will buy it? We cannot bring tariff barriers to the Three Gorges, and even worse, bring feudal separatist rule. It is said that some industrialists and businesspeople conflict with our policies, but this is truly changing, which is good, once it is improved, they will feel that our policies are of assistance to them. We are in the middle of great change, destruction is hard to avoid. What is managed extremely unreasonably must collapse, speculation must also collapse. The production of incense, candles and hell bank money and other superstitious products absolutely has no future. The production of some things must now be reduced, but after ten years may develop again, such as cosmetics. We must guide the development of industry and commerce in a healthy direction. Price stability has benefits to industry and commerce, recently, a few loans have also been lent on this bases. Guidance must be conducted over lending, and uses assigned. If more than 2 billion is lent to the Minsheng Corporation, and assigned to buy coal or repair ships, this has also resolved a few problems in the coalmining business and the machinery sector. After lending out money, there must be inspections, to ensure it is used in appropriate localities, otherwise, it may create an anarchist attitude. There are some things of which excessive production exceeds market demand, if it cannot be sold, there is a problem, and production switches must be guided.

Unemployment mainly is within large cities. It is said that Chongqing has 50.000 people (with 250.000 workers in the entire city), Guiyang has 10.000 people (with 30.000 workers in the entire cities) and Chengdu has 20.000 people. We must appropriately arrange for and provide relief to the unemployed.

Resolving these above problems, mainly requires holding People’s Congresses in all walks of life, this is the best and most important method to link up with the masses. We must rectify incorrect working styles among cadres, oppose bureaucratism and commandism. Even if it is hardworking bureaucratism, or even if it is commandism that works hard in spite of difficulties, both must be opposed.

The Centre will publish land laws, and will without exception lead the people of all classes to study it, because everyone is involved. Studying well will prepare for land reform next year, and will prepare for rent reduction this year. Newspapers must organize study and discussion, and let this be known inside and outside of the Party. “Ten eyes watching, ten fingers pointing”, everyone has studied this, understood this, and it is not tolerated that cadres act recklessly, this has benefited overall leadership.

These abovementioned problems all are tasks for newspapers to realize leadership. In prominent aspects, they must concentrate forces, ad some times, use a full page to carry them, use a month of time to publish a series of comments and editorials to propagate and implement matters. In this way, people will pay attention. Whether or not there is strength, is not only a question of quality, but also quantity. Quality means correctness, quantity also means expansion, only when all sides revolving around this, will there be strength.

Launching criticism and self-criticism, the “Xinhua Daily” recently has done this a bit better. In the past, newspapers only reported the good and held back the bad, now, they also report bad news, this may treat complacency and lax vigilance. Newspapers’ most powerful force is criticism and self-criticism. The Centre praised some newspapers in the past, which mainly was because they realized criticism and self-criticism, and clearly separated right and wrong, clearly separated what should be done and what should not be done. Newspapers engaging in criticism must grasp models, go from start to finish, guide towards the positive side, and sometimes must consciously contrast good and bad. This sort of criticism and self-criticism has strength, and explains that it is for the sake of improving work, and not for being negative. What does vivid and vigorous mean? It does not lie within the length of writing, but that vivid processes must be written about, and that there are results. The criticism we have often only brings out problems, and there is no outcome. Describing the process also cannot be long and tedious. Criticism and self-criticism must strongly carry on, we still don’t do it enough. The leadership, Party Committees and governments must support reporters to write critical pieces with all their strength, now, people who dare to talk are too few, we must encourage them to talk. When necessary, we must also be alert towards and explain criticism that does not conform to the facts.

Looking from the leadership side, running newspapers means everyone runs newspapers, looking from the side of news workers, it also means everyone runs newspapers. Newspapers really are linked up very well with reality, and with the masses, newspapers that are run well, are the largest help for the leadership. There often is a situation like this: Party and government can’t hear something, newspapers can hear it, and can feel the pulse of society. To know what the most important problem presently is, comprehensively research the letters from readers, often, it can be deduced from there.

Any task is not one that one newspaper can complete. All newspapers interface differently, efforts must be made on all sides, only then is it possible to universally disseminate the voice of the Party and government towards the masses at all levels.


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