BEIJING, OCT. 30 -- China, which used to boast of its egalitarianism, today introduced several model entrepreneurs who personify a new ethic: to become rich is glorious.
The decision to publicize these successful profitmakers toward the end of an eight-day Communist Party congress sends a dramatic signal to the Chinese people that there is nothing wrong with private initiative as long as it benefits others.
The focus of attention today was a plump, curly-haired woman named Guan Guangmei, 37, manager of eight grocery stores in the northeast China town of Benxi. The stores, which were losing money until she leased them from the state and made them turn a profit, now employ more than 1,000 workers.
Guan, a congress delegate, was attacked earlier this year by party officials who accused her of exploiting workers, monopolizing the market and making excessive profits. She had made salaries dependent on her employes' success at making sales, in contrast to the old ethic under which workers were paid roughly the same and were guaranteed lifetime employment.
"Now people are seeing me in a much more favorable light," Guan said at a news conference.
The unassuming, plain-spoken Guan has been the subject of numerous articles in the Chinese press. The official workers' newspaper is publishing her reflections on the party congress daily.
Guan said that her personal income over the past two years came to 44,000 yuan, or about $11,900. But she said that she kept for herself only 7,000 yuan, or about $1,900.
This would mean an average monthly income of about 292 yuan, nearly three times the basic wage of the average Chinese worker.
Guan said she distributed more than five times the amount she kept for herself in the form of bonuses to workers and contributions to an insurance fund for the grocery enterprise.
Also presented today were a chicken farmer with 90 workers and a manager who oversees 1,200 employes in China's only factory for the export of universal couplings. Both men said they also contributed substantial parts of their incomes to local community projects, such as schools.
"The main part of my income is used for my home town and to let my villagers get rich and prosperous along with me," said one of the entrepreneurs.
At the end of 1978, the Communist Party rejected Soviet-style industrial management and began attempting to make state-owned enterprises more independent and responsible for profits and losses. In an effort to provide incentives, the party told managers that if they were successful, they could keep some of the profits for themselves.
The party endorsed the slogan "to get rich is glorious" and the country's senior leader, Deng Xiaoping, said it was all right "to make some people rich first, so as to lead all the people to wealth."
But some peasants who have grown rich have found themselves the targets of "taxes" imposed by local party cadres or demands for "voluntary contributions" to various government projects.
Asked about corruption among party cadres, Guan said it represented the main obstacle to Deng's economic reforms. "Decadent and corrupt" cadres should be expelled from the party, she added.
Earlier this year, a campaign initiated by Deng and other leaders against "bourgeois liberalization," or the spread of western political ideas, seemed to cast doubt on the future of entrepreneurship. Today's news conference was a repudiation of party ideologues who wanted to turn the campaign into a battle against free market economics.
In a separate development, a delegate revealed today that Deng's name was not on a preliminary list of party members nominated for election to the party's Central Committee. Shanghai delegate Chen Zhili said that President Li Xiannian and Chen Yun, Deng's traditionalist rival for influence in the party, also were not on the list.
This indicated that all three men would be retiring from the party's powerful Politburo and its standing committee, and seemed to put to rest reports that Deng would have to remain on the standing committee in order to maintain a balance of power in the party between reformists and conservatives.
Diplomats said that Deng will remain as chairman of the party's military commission, which controls the Army.
According to one diplomat, Premier Zhao Ziyang told a West European visitor last week that Deng "has shaped and guided all our work and he will continue to do so as long as he remains physically and intellectually able.
"We cannot dispense with him and he accepts that," Zhao was quoted as saying.
Delegate Lu Guangqiu, the manager of the universal couplings factory, said delegates were handed a preliminary ballot sheet yesterday that listed 182 candidates for 172 Central Committee seats. The delegates were told to mark 10 names off the ballot sheet.
This method appeared to allow the delegates a degree of choice. In some previous years delegates had the names of all candidates dictated to them.
At the day's final news conference, delegates representing Taiwan told reporters that 27,000 Taiwanese who live on the Chinese mainland want to visit relatives on the Nationalist Chinese-controlled island.
Taiwan authorities have refused to allow such visits, apparently because of a fear of communist infiltration.
Taiwan recently lifted a ban on travel to the mainland, permitting persons who are not active in the Taiwanese military or government service to visit close relatives.