The Four Cardinal Principles (simplified Chinese: 四项基本原则; traditional Chinese: 四項基本原則; pinyin: Sì-xiàng Jīběn Yuánzé) were stated by Deng Xiaoping in March 1979, during the early phase of Reform and Opening-up, and are the four issues for which debate was not allowed within the People's Republic of China. The Four Cardinal Principles were one of Deng's Two Basic Points, the other of which was the Chinese economic reform.
- The principle of upholding the socialist path
- The principle of upholding the people's democratic dictatorship
- The principle of upholding the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
- The principle of upholding Mao Zedong Thought and Marxism–Leninism
Such principles marked a relaxation of control over ideology. In stating the four cardinal principles, an implication was that these four topics could not be questioned, but political ideas other than those in the list could be debated. Moreover, while the principles themselves are not subject to debate, the interpretations of those principles are.
On the other hand, the principles were proclaimed as a sign of adherence to the communist ideology, thus paving the secure way to reevaluation of the Cultural Revolution while preserving ideological stability and legitimacy of the CCP as a response to the Democracy Wall movement.
The Four Cardinal Principles were emphasized in the 1981 Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party since the Founding of the People's Republic of China: 168 and were enshrined in Constitution of the People's Republic of China in 1982.
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