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Deng Xiaoping

Leader Profile: Chinese Patriarch Deng Xiaoping (邓小平)

Deng Xiaoping 53%

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While Deng Xiaoping held many positions within the Communist Party and was never head of government or state, but did serve as the de facto party leader and leader of the People's Republic of China from 1978 to the early 1990s.

 

Deng Xiaopingv (邓小平)Deng's place in history is largely tied to two things: his economic reforms after the death of Mao Zedong and his repression of students after the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

Born Deng Xianxeng on Aug. 22, 1904, in Sichuan province, he traveled to France at age 15 to work and study. Deng often cited his long hours in grueling conditions at the French factories of manufacturers Le Creuset and Renault as his first encounters with what he believed were the evils of capitalism.

During his five years in France, Deng studied Marxism under the future premier of the People's Republic of China, Zhou Enlai, and eventually joined the Communist Youth League in Europe. In the second half of 1923, he joined the Chinese Communist Party and in 1925 he moved to Moscow to study at Sun Yat-Sen University, intending to train youth for the communist revolution.

Deng returned to China in 1927 to become a member of the Red Army, the antecedent to the People's Liberation Army, and rose to power during the retreat of the communists from the nationalists (KMT) known as the Long March.

As he was promoted through the army and party by his comrade Mao Zedong, Deng lead successful military battles against Japanese forces and in late November 1948, he led the final assault that ousted the nationalist forces from the Chinese mainland.

During the Cultural Revolution of 1966 to 1976, which decimated the educated classes and caused economic and social turmoil, Deng Xiaoping fell out of favor with the ruling elite and was forced into early retirement. Several anti-rightist campaigns were waged against him, and the mass movement of civilians known as the Red Guards reportedly harassed his family and imprisoned and tortured his son, Deng Pufang.

When the beloved Premier, Zhou Enlai, fell ill with cancer in 1974 he handpicked Deng as his successor, reinstating him into the party power structure and appointing him "first vice premier." Deng was tolerated by party elites for two years while Zhou was alive but with his death, Deng was left with little support in the party and Hua Guofeng was picked as Zhou's successor.

After Mao's death in 1976, party power was highly factionalized and Deng managed to emerge rehabilitated and outmaneuver his rivals. Hua was replaced by the reformist Zhao Ziyang as premier in 1980.

As Deng gained more power within the party he advocated for a liberalization of some restrictions calling for a "Beijing Spring" to mirror the "Prague Spring" of 1968. By allowing open dissent about the Cultural Revolution, Deng was able to destabilize his enemies in the party that had supported the Cultural Revolution and shore up those like himself who had been purged by the event.

His other reforms included land privatization, the creation of Special Economic Zones, and the welcoming of capitalists into the party. Deng is credited with most of the economic reforms and was the first CCP member to meet a. sitting U.S. president, Jimmy Carter.

...continues

By Elizabeth Berryman

 

Original source: the Online News Hour - June 2, 2009


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