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This is a Chinese idiom. In Chinese it is 韜光養晦、有所作為, meaning, "keep a low profile ( or hide our capacity ) and bide your time.", which means if more according to here "If one wants success at the strategy, hide your intention, wait until the opponents' will ( to power ) be reduced, show the opponent their profit from you, take a servile attitude to them so ...


Deng was paraphrasing well-known Chinese proverb. Context was change in Chinese foreign policy, and avoidance of conflict with great powers (mostly US, USSR collapsed soon after) . Before Deng Xiaoping , Chinese policy was to criticize US and USSR on ideological grounds, and sometimes confront them directly (Korea, Vietnam, Sino-Soviet border skirmishes ...) ...

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