Key policies not designed by Deng

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 May, 2009, 12:00am

The secret memoirs of Zhao Ziyang challenged the conventional belief that Deng Xiaoping was the key architect of the economy in the 1980s.

Instead, Zhao revealed that he had conceived the ideas to develop coastal cities and to set China on the course of export-led growth.

'I proposed the coastal development strategy after much observation, experimentation, and deliberation,' Zhao said. 'It was also in response to the need for further implementation of the reform.'

He also said he promoted the idea of using imported raw materials to generate export revenue, which later turned provinces like Guangdong into the world's biggest manufacturing base.

While describing Deng as a benevolent godfather figure, Zhao appeared to be the person who designed many key policies, such as dismantling the rural communes and ushering in the household responsibility system.

But he also acknowledged Deng's staunch support of market reform and said that any economic reform would have been impossible without Deng.

In his posthumous memoir, Zhao also made a candid revelation that he devised a semantic trick to justify the turn to capitalism by saying that China was in its 'initial stage of socialism', in order to dodge attacks from conservatives.