The 15th National Congress of the Communist Party of China opened in September 1997. Deng Xiaoping Theory was first developed as the guideline to further promote China's development.
Deng Xiaoping Theory encapsulates the various policy pronouncements that guided the reform process that started in 1978. The Theory can be seen as a major departure from Mao Zedong Thought, as Deng insisted, "economic development is the center of party work". Two of the late patriarch's famous dicta were: "It always stands to reason to develop the economy faster" and "The economy must cross a new threshold every few years." Deng's development plan resulted in tremendous development, explosive growth and the first traces of a consumer society. At the same time, it engendered undesirable consequences that affect stability and the potential for the party's continued rule. They include polarization of rich and poor; a big gap between coastal and western China; rank corruption; and the neglect of indoctrination in Communist orthodoxy in particular.
In foreign policy, Deng formulated the theory that China should "adopt a low profile and never take the lead". And given his country's dependence on the American market as well as its investment and technology, Deng's main policy towards the United States was to avoid confrontation. In concert with his foreign policy, Deng saw the People's Liberation Army as a mainly defensive force. His major contributions included the massive demobilization and budget cuts in the 1980s and early 1990s.
After Deng's death in 1997, Jiang Zemin has been instrumental in having Deng Xiaoping Theory included in the canon of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought.