Western journalists in search of a shorthand for China's dramatic economic turnaround will almost invariably trot this one out. But, oddly enough, it doesn't show up much in Chinese publications, and nobody has managed to find the original source where Deng allegedly said it.
The phrase was popularized by the writer Orville Schell in his 1984 book "To Get Rich Is Glorious: China in the '80s." But Schell never actually attributed the words to Deng, telling the L.A. Times's Evelyn Iritani in 2004 that it merely " grew out of the zeitgeist" of China's economic reforms.
That said, it's almost impossible to verify or debunk any quotation attributed to a dead Chinese leader, as China's Communist Party is extraordinarily adept at revising history so that it meets the political needs of the present.