“Everyone here is scared — the youth, even more the elderly. That is precisely why our technology is so far behind.”
— Deng Xiaoping, early 1970s
“There is no risk-free innovation in the world. Very often, eliminating risk entirely is the biggest risk itself.”
— Jack Ma, 2020
Deng Xiaoping saw the ideological uniformity of Maoist China as an insurmountable barrier to national progress. In his telling, the country would remain an economic and technological backwater so long as it was roiled by continuous revolution. Deng’s vocal calls for reform in the lead-up to Mao Zedong’s 1976 death landed him in exile — the …
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