"Given that China is still backward, what road can we take to develop the productive forces and raise the people's standard of living? This brings us back to the question of whether to continue on the socialist road or to stop and turn onto the capitalist road. Capitalism can only enrich less than 10 per cent of the Chinese population; it can never enrich the remaining more than 90 per cent. But if we adhere to socialism and apply the principle of distribution to each according to his work, there will not be excessive disparities in wealth. Consequently, no polarization will occur as our productive forces become developed over the next 20 to 30 years.
"Our political line is to focus on the modernization programme and on continued development of the productive forces. Nothing short of a world war could tear us away from this line. And even if a world war broke out, we would engage in reconstruction after the war. The minimum target of our modernization programme is to achieve a comparatively comfortable standard of living by the end of the century. I first mentioned this to former Prime Minister Masayoshi Ohira during his visit here in December 1979. By a comparatively comfortable standard we mean a per capita GNP of US$800. That is a low level for you, but it is really an ambitious goal for us. China has a population of 1 billion now, and by then it will have reached 1.2 billion. If, when the GNP reaches $1 trillion, we were to apply the capitalist principle of distribution, most of the people would remain mired in poverty and backwardness. But the socialist principle of distribution can enable all the people to lead a relatively comfortable life. This is why we want to uphold socialism. Without socialism, China can never achieve that goal."
Deng Xiaoping, "Socialism With Chinese Characteristics" (June 30, 1984)