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397 50 Having a Lot of Cotton Is a Joyous Burden1 August 26, 1997 This national conference on cotton convened by the State Council has been a very good conference. It has fully affirmed the achievements of our work on cotton and also clearly analyzed existing problems and proposed solutions for them. The State Council attaches great importance to the various problems that currently exist in cotton and regards them as difficulties that have emerged at a time when the overall situation is excellent—this is a burden we are glad to bear. When you get right down to it, this is just like grain. Even if there is too much cotton , it is only a temporary surplus, and the problems it creates are easy to solve. It’s much better than having a shortage of cotton. Now I’d like to discuss several issues. 1. The Current Situation with Cotton The current cotton situation is just like the overall economic situation in the country—it’s very good. The supply of cotton is not only large enough to ensure the needs of the textile industry and others, but there’s even a surplus, and progress has been made in both the quality and circulation of cotton. Therefore we should fully affirm the efforts and achievements of the supply and marketing cooperatives, the textile industry, and others, and we should absolutely not feel downcast or discouraged. In terms of present cotton supply and demand, although supply exceeds demand, this situation is gradually easing and is not worsening. While supply still exceeds demand for this year’s cotton, we expect it will be better than last year, because production this year is 11.3 million dan2 less than for the last 1. A national conference on cotton was held in Beijing on August 25–26, 1997. Participants included the officials in charge from certain provinces, autonomous regions, and centrally administered municipalities; responsible persons from planning (or planning and economic) commissions, supply and marketing cooperatives, cotton and hemp companies, agricultural departments (or bureaus), textile departments (or bureaus, federations, or head offices), industrial and commercial bureaus, and branches of the Agricultural Development Bank; and responsible persons from the relevant departments of the Party Central Committee, State Council, and news organizations. This was Zhu Rongji’s summary speech at the conference. 2. One dan equals 50 kilograms. 398 Having a Lot of Cotton Is a Joyous Burden­ cotton year. Although we’ve imported a few million more dan, and [the total] is probably as much as 16 million dan, the demand from the textile industry has also increased by several million dan, so the excess of supply over demand will continue to ease, and this problem is still one that can be resolved well. This is our overall assessment. 2. In a Situation Where Cotton Supply Exceeds Demand, There Absolutely Must Be No Wavering on the Policies Set by the Party Central Committee and State Council These policies can be summed up in the three “won’t let go’s” that have been stressed at our annual national conferences on cotton. Cotton is a strategic material and also a major source of income for farmers. If we let go of it, our work will become chaotic and it will be very hard to restore order. For the past several years, our policies have been successful. There were shortages of cotton before 1994; after we raised the purchase price of cotton in 1995, cotton production increased. Of course the textile industry is currently in the doldrums, exports of its products have met with a great deal of resistance, and the proportion of synthetics it uses has increased sharply, so there is relatively too much cotton, which will require further macroeconomic control measures. However, we cannot deny our achievements, and we cannot deny the policy of the three “won’t let go’s.” The policy of raising cotton prices is a policy to protect the interests of farmers, and it is a correct one. At the moment it would seem that they were raised a bit too much. It takes time to understand this, and things often develop in an unexpected way. I remember that when we were looking into raising the purchase price of cotton at the 1995 national conference on cotton, the State Council decided to raise the price to RMB 700 per dan; that is, the price per dan rose by RMB 100. Everyone was dissatisfied and felt the increase was too small...


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