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The 12th National Congress

Date: September 1-11, 1982

Place: Beijing

Number of delegates: 1,600 full delegates and 149 alternate delegates

Party membership: 39.65 million

With Deng Xiaoping as the core of the leadership, the CPC Central Committee led the work of resolutely setting right the wrongdoings of the past in guiding ideology and practical work. Step by step, the Party established the basic line of adhering to the Four Cardinal Principles and adhering to the policy of reform and opening to the outside world, with economic construction at the centre of the work, and a series of other principles and policies.

The 12th National Congress was aimed at, by summing up the historical victory since the 11th Party Congress and eliminating the negative effects of the chaos of the "cultural revolution", defining a correct road, strategy, principles and policies for creating a new situation of socialist modernization construction.

After basically finishing bringing order out of chaos, the CPC held the Twelfth National Congress in September 1982. It pointed out to "integrate the universal truth of Marxism with the concrete realities of China, blaze a path of our own and build a socialism with Chinese characteristics". It also set the strategic objective of quadrupling the gross annual value of China's industrial and agricultural output by the end of 20th century and then achieved modernizations by the middle of the next century.

Deng Xiaoping made an opening speech. Hu Yaobang made a report on behalf of the 11th Central Committee. Ye Jianying and Chen Yun both delivered important speeches concerning the cooperation between the senior and young officials and the replacement of senior by young officials. Li Xiannian addressed the closing session. In his opening address, Deng Xiaoping put forward the idea of building socialism with Chinese characteristics.

The congress outlined the general task of the Party in the new historical period as follows: to unite the people of all ethnic groups in working hard and self-reliantly to achieve, step by step, the modernization of industry, agriculture, national defense and science and technology and to make China a culturally and ideologically advanced and highly democratic socialist country. It also set the economic goal for the period from 1981 to the end of this century, that is, under the prerequisite of constantly improving economic efficiency, to quadruple the annual industrial and agricultural output value of the country, i.e. from 710 billion yuan in 1980 to about 2,800 billion yuan in the year of 2000, so that people can enjoy a better standard of living. The congress also adopted the new Party Constitution.

The congress elected a new Central Committee composed of 210 members and 138 alternate members, a Central Advisory Commission composed of 172 members and a Central Commission for Discipline Inspection composed of 132 members. At the First Plenary Session of the 12th CPC Central Committee, Hu Yaobang, Ye Jianying, Deng Xiaoping, Zhao Ziyang, Li Xiannian and Chen Yun were elected Standing Committee members of the Political Bureau, and Hu Yaobang general secretary of the Central Committee. Deng Xiaoping was appointed chairman of the Central Military Commission as well as chairman of the CPC Central Advisory Commission. Chen Yun was appointed first secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

The Standing Committee the innermost circle of power had six members who were placed in the most important party and government posts. These six leaders were Hu Yaobang (who was demoted from party general secretary in January 1987), Ye Jianying (who died in October 1986, a year after resigning his Standing Committee post), Deng Xiaoping, Zhao Ziyang (who was named acting general secretary in January 1987), Li Xiannian, and Chen Yun.

The new period features the reform and open-up. The drive of reform and opening started from the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee and comprehensively developed after the Twelfth CPC National Congress. It began from rural areas to urban areas, from reform of the economic structure to restructuring on various aspect and from invigorating the domestic economy to opening China to the outside world. The reform in rural areas conformed to the specific Chinese conditions. Chinese farmers created the household contract responsibility system with remuneration linked to output. The Chinese central authorities respected the willingness of common farmers and actively supported the tryouts and then introduced the advanced experience to the whole country within a couple of years. The CPC Central Committee decided to abolish the People's commune system but not to privatize the farmland. The Party stressed the need to maintain the responsibility system, to improve the system of unified management combined with independent management and to deepen the reform in rural China.

The 800 million farmers have gained the decision-making power on farmland management. The abolishment of unified purchase and arranged purchase by the government and the loosening of the restriction on farm produce prices helped the agriculture step out of the long-term predicament. The agricultural economy grew fast toward specialization, commercialization and socialization. Chinese farmers as well as urban dwellers benefited from the reform. The thriving of township enterprises was another great achievement done by the Chinese farmers. The enterprises, making surplus rural labor shift from farming, blazed a new trail on enriching rural people and stimulating the industry and the whole economic restructuring as well.

Meeting requirements of the new period, the Third Plenary Session of the Twelfth CPC Central Committee, held in Beijing on October 20, 1984, adopted the "Decision on Reform of the Economic Structure". The decision stated that the basic task of the reform was to completely change the old structure that has stunted the development of the productive forces and to establish a vigorous socialist structure of a specifically Chinese character. It rejected the traditional concept that a planned economy is in direct opposition to a commodity economy and declared that China would have a planned market economy based on public ownership. This decision was a programmatic document designed to serve as a guide to the overall reform of the economic structure and a further development of Marxist political economics. The CPC Central Committee later launched the reform of the system for managing science and technology and the reform of the education structure. They also laid down the principles and objective for reform of the political structure.

The leadership was altered significantly at a special conference of delegates called the National Conference 6f Party Delegates, held September 18-23, 1985. The conference was convened on the authority of Article 12 of the 1982 party constitution, which provides for holding conferences of delegates between full congresses. These national conferences of delegates appear to be more authoritative than regular plenums. The conference was attended by 992 delegates, and it elected 56 new full members and 35 new alternate members to the Central Committee, while accepting the resignations of 65 full and alternate members, including Ye Jianying and nine other senior Political Bureau members.

The Fifth Plenum, which immediately followed the conference, elected six new members to the Political Bureau, dropped three from the party Secretariat, and added five new members to the latter body. The conference thus produced a sizable turnover in the senior party leadership and in a direction very favorable to Deng's reform program. Younger and better educated leaders who supported Deng's reforms replaced aging and long-inactive leaders. The other major accomplishment of the conference was its adoption of the "Proposal on the Seventh Five-Year Plan" (1986-90), the framework for developing the actual plan adopted at the Sixth National People's Congress in 1986.

After the Twelfth National Congress of the CPC, China solved the problems about the returns of Hong Kong and Macao. The governments of the People's Republic of China and the United Kingdom formally signed a joint declaration concerning the Hong Kong issues on December 19, 1984, in Beijing after two years' negotiations. The Joint Declaration states that the government of the People's Republic of China will resume the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong on July 1, 1997. This sets a good example for resolving the Macao issues. The governments of the People's Republic of China and the Portuguese Republic signed another joint declaration on April 13, 1987, in Beijing. The Joint Declaration states that the government of the People's Republic of China will resume the exercise of sovereignty over Macao on December 20, 1999.

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Page last modified: 28-12-2017 18:37:14 ZULU