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26 4 Changes in Thinking Can Bring Great Hope to Shanghai1 February 27, 1988 When I was working at the State Planning Commission and the State Economic Commission, I was very concerned about Shanghai. Perhaps it’s the bystander who sees things most clearly, but it struck me that if we don’t change our way of thinking and don’t raise our awareness, it will be very hard to revitalize the city. Eagerness alone without a change in thinking just won’t do. Three problems need to be resolved here. The first is self-satisfaction and smugness. People tend to talk about how well their enterprises are doing compared with their past performance or that of others in the whole country. What they say may indeed be the case, but their situation is actually very precarious and some have already been outdone by others [outside Shanghai]. Guizhou, for example, used to sell goods from Shanghai, but now these have been displaced by goods from Guangdong. Bonuses at some enterprises now amount to seven or eight months’ wages, while those at others account for half of their income. This doesn’t occur anywhere else. The general sense is that Shanghai bonuses are quite high and people are living very comfortably. The second problem is grumbling and blaming heaven and earth for everything . The reality is that enterprises are not actively engaging in technical upgrading, they don’t follow up, and factory directors aren’t in a hurry. “Give me the policies they have in Guangdong and I can do better.” This kind of sentiment has become widespread. The third is conservatism and complacency. When you talk to some people , they won’t disagree to your face, but back home they’ll say your ideas are unworkable. I’m talking specifically about the Municipal Agricultural Commission . Their objective—which is to improve the supply of non-staple foods within three years—is not bad, and the work they’re doing is also not bad. But given the circumstances in Shanghai, as well as the contracting system, if you 1. This is the main part of a speech by Zhu Rongji at a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Shanghai Party Committee. Zhu_Shanghai Years_1987-1991_hc_9780815731399_i-xii_1-620.indd 26 12/26/17 12:00 PM Changes in Thinking Can Bring Great Hope to Shanghai 27 marshal your forces, might it not be possible to accomplish this ahead of schedule ? You should look into this. As we were on our way to do surveys in one county, some of our people spoke very positively and were highly in favor, saying the work could be done ahead of schedule, but this wasn’t reflected in yesterday’s report. All the counties said they could speed up supply but worried that this would bring in more vegetables than they could buy. To solve the city’s supply problem, we must ensure supplies of ordinary vegetables, guarantee their prices, and have product variety. For now it won’t do to completely deregulate vegetable prices in the city. Planned production must still be in place for ordinary vegetables, arrangements must be made for areas to be planted, and we must ensure that the vegetables get to market. But the people at the Municipal Agricultural Commission don’t seem to want to hear this. The three problems just outlined must be solved, or they will hinder the implementation of Shanghai’s economic development strategy as a coastal area. Shanghai people are very likable and they have high management standards , but they need to change their way of thinking. For one thing, their economic concepts need to shift from products to commodities . A purchasing agent from Jiangsu can retain 1–1.5%; the rate in Shanghai is too low—raise it to 1%. This isn’t higher than in Jiangsu, but that’s all right. In addition, their operational thinking should move away from a domestically oriented approach to an externally oriented one. Some cadres keep concentrating on domestically oriented operations because they think that’s safe. As soon as I arrived, I focused on foreign trade and formed three groups of companies. Without change of this kind, we won’t be able to solve the supply problem. The past notion of living off central government finances must also be replaced by contracting. It will usher in great changes, but people have yet to understand this. The potential for contracting at the district and county levels is excellent...


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MARC Record
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