Did Deng Xiaoping say “There is oil in the Middle East there is rare earth in China”?
September 5, 2009 1:03 AM   Subscribe

Deng Xiaoping 1992: “There is oil in the Middle East there is rare earth in China.” Where? Why? When? Anybody have a good reference?

I often see it stated that Deng Xiaoping in 1992 (or 1997) said “There is oil in the Middle East there is rare earth in China.”

Sometimes the quote is "The Middle East has the oil we have the rare metals".

Just occasionally the quote is attributed to Mao.

Where does this quote come from? Does anybody have an official looking reference.

In the nicest possible way...let us not get into a discussion about whether or not it is accurate and use a lot of words ending in "ium" and discuss the various battery technologies.
posted by priorpark17 to Writing & Language (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This source says 1997.

Here is a possible data source.
posted by wongcorgi at 1:51 AM on September 5, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks Wong, but this quote is just copied from article to article and I am looking for the original source - when did he say it (it what speech) and to who? Over to you Sinologists,.
posted by priorpark17 at 2:43 AM on September 5, 2009

If you take a look at this, there doesn't appear to be anything encompassed by Google which would count as such a citation.

Why? Because it seems to be true. There's been fairly consistent noise about China's share of the world's rare earth metals.
posted by valkyryn at 3:58 AM on September 5, 2009

In Chinese: 中东有石油 中国有稀土. He apparently said it during his famous 'Southern Tour'; this is from China National Radio which is official enough:


'In June of 1987, Comrade Deng Xiaoping, the architect of reform and opening, speaking on the subject of the economic development of Inner Mongolia predicted that the Autonomous Region would very likely be 'in the front ranks' of development. This [i.e. the photo at the link] is Deng noting in a speech he made January 1992 during his Southern Tour, 'The Middle East has its oil, China has rare earth.'
posted by Abiezer at 4:18 AM on September 5, 2009

Searching around for a more definite cite, can't seem to get past summaries that say he spoke several times between January 18 and 21 1992 in various southern cities; this blog entry gives a slightly longer quote and says Deng was in Jiangxi when he made the remarks:
'The Middle East has its oil, China has rare earth: China's rare earth deposits account for 80 percent of identified global reserves, you can compare the status of these reserves to that of oil in the Middle East: it is of extremely important strategic significance; we must be sure to handle the rare earth issue properly and make the fullest use of our country's advantage in rare earth resources.'

If you stick this longer version in Google books you get cites from back in the 90s from official publications like the Xinhua monthly news round-up, so seems the legitimate quote.
posted by Abiezer at 4:58 AM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: And there's more - if that's correct that he made the remarks in Jiangxi, that would be on his journey up to Shanghai on the way back from the visits he made to Shenzhen, Zhuhai etc; this People's Daily piece says his train stopped off along the way at a couple of places were he spoke to local provincial leaders, including Yingtan (鹰潭) Station in Jiangxi on January 30 (Deng spent time sent down to the countryside in the area during the Cultural Revolution and this is the station he set out back to Beijing from when he was rehabilitated in 1973; he also spent four years working in the Jiangxi Soviet back in the 1930s); says he met provincial leaders but talks about rural reform and doesn't mention the rare earth quote.
posted by Abiezer at 5:39 AM on September 5, 2009

In case no one has done a straight Google Books search that gets quite a few hits. (I can't read Chinese though so I don't know what any of them say.)
posted by XMLicious at 7:49 AM on September 5, 2009

Response by poster: Abiezer _ you are a legend.
posted by priorpark17 at 8:29 AM on September 5, 2009

Aw shucks :D Tantalisingly, there's a FBIS translation of an account of Deng in Yingtan but you only get snippet view in Google Books; might be worth checking out if you really need a cast-iron citation - would make sense to mention rare earth in Jiangxi as IIRC it's got substantial deposits, if not on the scale on Inner Mongolia. Always a chance I've got this completely round me neck though and he said it somewhere else, though on this particualr trip seems a definite.
As to the why, enjoyed reminding myself of the diminutive chain-smoker's southern jaunt - actually watched a couple of videos and was cheered to think that the country was run for so many years by men (if you include Mao too) who spoke Mandarin with a worse accent than me. Any road, he doesn't really make a formal speech anywhere in the trip and one short clip I watched had the head of his bodyguard detail reminiscing that he was always speaking with notes; general purpose of the whole thing was to kickstart reform again of course, and you get the impression that the old fella (he was 88 at the time) also used it to just impart his various wider thoughts about strategy and direction for China's future development (same trip he made his 发展是硬道理 comment - 'development is the iron principle'). I note that several instances of the quote that came up in the search were blog posts from the past few years lamenting that no-one had really taken notice of Deng's perspicacious remarks and they were pissing away the rare earth bounty by selling it off far too cheap - though of course that's changed now, hence the topicality.
posted by Abiezer at 9:10 AM on September 5, 2009

Should have been "speaking without notes"...
posted by Abiezer at 9:12 AM on September 5, 2009

Response by poster: I had forgotton that the press up north wasnt reporting what DXP was saying down south at the time as the Pres running the show was that one with those awful glasses. Wasnt it only at the end of year when BJ started talking about the colour of cats? Try and find tape of DXP meeting Kim Il-sung off the train in BJ about 1984ish. DXP was too short to give him a commie kiss so he grabs King Crmson by the goiter and pulls him down to 4 foot 11.
posted by priorpark17 at 9:43 AM on September 5, 2009

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