Thirty years have passed since the publication of an article in Guanming Daily entitled“Practice Is the Sole Criterion for Testing Truth.” The essay, which held that the integration of theory with practice was a fundamental part of Marxism, touched off a fierce national debate. It was part of a great movement to free the minds of Chinese people from the strictures of the Cultural Revolution and to lay a solid ideological foundation for the reforms that would follow.
The article appeared under the name of Hu Fuming, a scholar at Nanjing University, though in fact it had many fathers. Among them was Hu Yaobang, a senior party official who had himself been persecuted during the Cultural Revolution. Hu realized that China had suffered enormous setbacks during that tumultuous period. “How can a nation comprised of people shackled and oppressed mentally as well as organizationally compete with developed countries of the world?” he asked.