摸着石头过河 (mō zhe shítou guòhé)
Meaning: proceed gradually, by experimentation.
Traditional saying, first used in Chinese Communist context by Chen Yun, 1980 December 16, then popularized by Deng 1984 October. Frequently misattributed to Deng.
Misattributed or apocryphal
Origine: Henry He, Dictionary of the Political Thought of the People's Republic of China, Routledge, 2016, ISBN 978-1-31550044-7, p. 287 https://books.google.com/books?id=XSi3DAAAQBAJ&lpg=PA287&dq=%22cross%20the%20river%20by%20feeling%20the%20stones%22&pg=PA287#v=onepage
Origine: Evan Osnos, Boom Doctor https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/10/11/boom-doctor, New Yorker, October 11, 2010:
The strategy, as Chen Yun put it, was “crossing the river by feeling for the stones.” (Deng, inevitably, received credit for the expression.)
Origine: Chinese land reform: A world to turn upside down https://www.economist.com/briefing/2013/10/31/a-world-to-turn-upside-down, The Economist, 2013 October 31
Liu Hongzhi, who oversees the scheme, quotes a famous phrase often attributed to Deng, though in fact coined by a colleague: “We are crossing the river by feeling the stones.”