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Important CPC Plenums
Special> The Third Plenary Session of the 17th CPC Central Committee> Beijing Review Archives> Important CPC Plenums
UPDATED: October 10, 2008 NO.52, 1978
Communique of the Third Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee

The plenary session points out that it is imperative to improve the livelihood of the people in town and country step by step on the basis of the growth of production. The bureaucratic attitude of paying no attention at all to urgent problems in the people's livelihood must be resolutely opposed. On the other hand, since our economy is still very backward at present, it is impossible to improve the peoples livelihood very rapidly and it is essential to keep the people informed on the relevant state of affairs and to intensify education in the revolutionary ideas of self-reliance and hard struggle among the youth and other sectors of the people, and leading comrades at all levels must make themselves exemplars in this regard.


The session had a serious discussion on some major political events which occurred during the Great Cultural Revolution and certain historical questions left over from an earlier period. It holds that satisfactory settlement of these questions is very necessary for consolidating stability and unity, facilitating the shift in the focus of the work of the whole Party and getting the whole Party, the whole army and the people of all our nationalities to unite as one and to look forward so as to mobilize all positive factors to work for the four modernizations.

The session points out that in 1975, in the period when Comrade Teng Hsiao-ping was entrusted by Comrade Mao Tsetung with the responsibility of presiding over the work of the Central Committee, there were great achievements in all fields of work, with which the whole Party, the whole army and the people throughout the country were satisfied. In accordance with Comrade Mao Tsetung's instructions, Comrade Teng Hsiao-ping and other leading comrades of the Central Committee waged tit-for-tat struggles against interference and sabotage by the "gang of four." The gang arbitrarily described the political line and the achievements of 1975 as a "Right-deviationist wind to reverse correct verdicts." This reversal of history must be reversed again. The session points out that the Tien An Men events of April 5, 1976; were entirely revolutionary actions. The great revolutionary mass movement, which unfolded around the Tien An Men events and in which millions upon millions of people in all parts of the country expressed deep mourning for Comrade Chou En-lai and indignantly condemned the "gang of four," provided the mass base for our Party's success in smashing the "gang of four." The plenary session decided to cancel the erroneous documents issued by the Central Committee in regard to the movement "to oppose the Right-deviationist wind to reverse correct verdicts" and the Tien An Men events.

The session examined and corrected the erroneous conclusions which had been adopted on Peng Teh-huai, Tao Chu, Po I-po, Yang Shang-kun and other comrades, and affirmed their contributions to the Party and the people. It points out that historical questions must be settled in accordance with the principle consistently advocated by Comrade Mao Tsetung, that is, seeking truth from facts and correcting mistakes whenever discovered. Only by firmly rejecting false charges, correcting wrong sentences and rehabilitating the victims of frame-ups can the unity of the Party and the people be consolidated and the high prestige of the Party and Comrade Mao Tsetung upheld. This task must be fulfilled resolutely without any relaxation after the mass movement to expose and criticize the "gang of four" ends. The session unanimously agrees that the adoption of these steps is in itself an example of grasping the scientific system of Mao Tsetung Thought comprehensively and accurately and holding high the banner of Chairman Mao.

The session holds that the past practice of setting up special-case groups to examine cadres without Party and mass supervision had great disadvantages and must be abolished once and for all.

The session held a serious discussion on the question of democracy and the legal system. It holds that socialist modernization requires centralized leadership and strict implementation of various rules and regulations and observance of labour discipline. Bourgeois factionalism and anarchism must be firmly opposed. But the correct concentration of ideas is possible only when there is full democracy. Since for a period in the past democratic centralism was not carried out in the true sense, centralism being divorced from democracy and there being too little democracy, it is necessary to lay particular emphasis on democracy at present, and on the dialectical relationship between democracy and centralism, so as to make the mass line the foundation of the Party's centralized leadership and the effective direction of the organizations of production. In ideological and political life among the ranks of the people, only democracy is permissible and not suppression or persecution. It is essential to reiterate the "principle of three nots": not seizing on others' faults, not putting labels on people and not using the big stick. Leadership at all levels should be good at concentrating the correct ideas of the masses and making appropriate explanation and persuasion in dealing with incorrect ideas. The constitutional rights of citizens must be resolutely protected and no one has the right to infringe upon them.

In order to safeguard people's democracy, it is imperative to strengthen the socialist legal system so that democracy is systematized and written into law in such a way as to ensure the stability, continuity and full authority of this democratic system and these laws; there must be laws for people to follow, these laws must be observed, their enforcement must be strict and law breakers must be dealt with. From now on, legislative work should have an important place on the agenda of the National People's Congress and its Standing Committee. Procuratorial and judicial organizations must maintain their independence as is appropriate; they must faithfully abide by the laws, rules and regulations, serve the people's interests, keep to the facts; guarantee the equality of all people before the people's laws and deny anyone the privilege of being above the law.


The session had a thoroughgoing discussion on continuing to inherit and bring into full play the Marxist style of study advocated by Comrade Mao Tsetung, that is, upholding a materialist ideological line. The session unanimously agrees that only if comrades of the whole Party and the people of the whole country, under the guidance of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought, emancipate their thinking, dedicate themselves to the study of new circumstances, things and questions, and uphold the principle of seeking truth from facts, of proceeding from reality and of linking theory with practice can our Party smoothly shift the focus of its work, correctly work out the concrete path, policies, methods and measures for carrying out the four modernizations and correctly transform those aspects of the relations of production and the superstructure that do not correspond with the swiftly developing productive forces.

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