The current ideological campaign calls into question whether any further effort will be made to allow a private sector to function in China or to change the ownership system. The emphasis of current propaganda is on reminding the nation of the importance of sticking to the socialist road.
"China can't take the path of auctioning off the assets of state-owned enterprises," the party newspaper Economic Daily said last month. Although a small stock market opened in Shanghai last year, the newspaper warned that China now needs "a cage" to contain the issuance of stocks and bonds.
A fourth crucial issue is that of a consumer economy. In October, 1984, when the Communist Party Central Committee first adopted its program of urban economic reforms, the party gave its official approval to the idea that increasing consumption by China's 1 billion people is important for the growth of the economy.
"The growth of consumption gives a strong impetus to creation of new social demands, opens up vast markets and encourages production," said the party in its official 1984 resolution on the economic reform program.
Chinese newspapers launched a huge propaganda campaign to encourage people to stop being so thrifty and to start spending more money.
"Our leading cadres should take the lead to dress more fashionably," Vice Premier Tian Jiyun said. "How are we going to develop our textile industry if everyone keeps wearing the same garment for nine years?"
Now this policy has been completely reversed. Since early last month, party leaders and newspapers have repeatedly urged the nation to practice thrift and have discouraged consumerism.
"For quite a while in the past, people were encouraged to consume highly, as if our country had already become very rich," the Economic Daily said Jan. 19. " . . . People should know that some expensive goods are not even for everyone in capitalist countries. Living in what is still a poor country, how could we enjoy these things?"
In what came close to self-criticism, Deng confessed recently to an official visitor, Prime Minister Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, that encouraging consumption under the urban reform program was a mistake.
"Our goals now are realistic and practical," Deng said. "China's mistakes committed a few years ago were due to over-demanding and excessive speed, disregarding the country's realities."
A fifth issue deals with China's open-door policies. Deng, Zhao and other leaders have insisted that they want to maintain trade relations with the world and continue to welcome foreign investment. So far, there is no sign of any policy shift in trade and investment.
However, analysts note that as part of the new ideological campaign, some Chinese newspapers have revived the theme that China is self-reliant and, when pressed, can survive without outside help.
"We're full of confidence that socialism is bound to defeat capitalism," the Economic Daily said on Jan. 14. "In the first years after liberation (in 1949), imperialism blocked us, and the capitalist class doubted our ability to construct. . . .
"Through struggle, setbacks, poverty and the darkness of old China, we changed into new, socialist China. Some people slander us, saying we can't do anything, that we need to study everything from foreign countries. Such views can only sap the people's fighting will."
Some Peking-based diplomats say they believe that the tone of these articles, and the current criticisms of those who advocate "total Westernization," may cause many Chinese officials at the grass roots to be more careful about close ties or business dealings with foreigners.
"The cadres in charge at the local level are reading all this stuff about bourgeois liberalism, and at least for the time being, I think they will play it safe," one West European diplomat said. "Why would they put themselves in a position where they can be criticized for being too Westernized?"
Beyond these specific changes in economic approach, analysts here say that recent political developments cannot help but produce a slowdown in China's reforms.
"All our predictions and hopes about the success of China's economic reforms assumed continuing political stability and a smooth, orderly succession of power after Deng leaves the scene," one Western analyst said recently. "Now, those assumptions have been called into doubt."