The Hot Zone
China's newly announced air defense identification zone over the East China Sea aims to shore up national security
Current Issue
· Table of Contents
· Editor's Desk
· Previous Issues
· Subscribe to Mag
Subscribe Now >>
Weekly Watch
Expert's View
Market Watch
North American Report
Government Documents
Expat's Eye
Photo Gallery
Reader's Service
Learning with
'Beijing Review'
E-mail us
RSS Feeds
PDF Edition
Reader's Letters
Make Beijing Review your homepage
Hot Links

cheap eyeglasses
Market Avenue

Special> CPC Celebrates 90th Anniversary 1921-2011> Previous Covers> 2000s
UPDATED: October 18, 2011 NO. 32, 2004
Lasting Charisma and Theory

Deng Xiaoping (1904-97), known around the world as the "little great man," is the chief contributor to China's fast development that began a quarter century ago. In the late 1970s, Deng propelled a far-reaching and inspiring revolution, which has transformed a largely agricultural Asian country into a global economic powerhouse and rising power.

With Deng's ongoing policies, China has gradually dismantled its planned economy and is building a market one. It was Deng who broke with traditional concepts, marrying the market economy to socialism. He believed market forces could be harnessed to modernize China. As GDP indicates, many Chinese are enjoying the fruits of a freer economy.

Deng believed that it is impossible for any country to develop in isolation and seclusion. The world is indispensable to China's progress. His opening-up policy has allowed China to learn much from other countries and absorb the knowledge and culture of other civilizations. Since Deng, China has integrated itself more into the global community and earned more world respect.

Deng Xiaoping's chief wish in his later years was to make a trip to Hong Kong after China resumed sovereignty over it as a special administrative region, or SAR. The man who became known as China's "father of reform" tackled one of the great problems left over from history- the division of Hong Kong from China's mainland-with unrelenting pragmatism. The policy of "one-country, two systems," under which Hong Kong was returned on July 1, 1997 after 155 years of British colonial rule, was bold and unorthodox.

But Deng, who had Parkinson's disease, died of respiratory complications resulting from a lung infection after failing to respond to emergency treatment in Beijing at 9:08 p.m. on February 19, 1997, at the age of 93, which was just under five months before the Hong Kong handover.

News of his death was met with shock and grief both in China and around the world. Heads of state from all over the world sent condolences. The United Nations flew its flag at half-mast, though Deng had retired from his official positions since December 1989.

The German news agency, DPA, remarked that Deng Xiaoping "lifted China out of destitution and solitude," praising him as the father of the "socialist market economy," a phrase which he coined.

According to Deng's wishes, his corneas were donated, remains anatomized and ashes poured into the Pacific.

Deng's adages are still frequently drawn on when the Party explains its political and economic philosophy: Allowing capable people to get rich first is a phrase wielded to justify the initial embrace of a market economy by the Communist Party of China (CPC). The ruling party's focus on economic liberalization is embodied in Deng's phrase: "Only development achievements speak loud."

In his six decades in politics, Deng met both success and severe challenges. On more than one occasion he was subjected to stinging attacks from political opponents. Surviving purges and subsequent emergencies only served to bolster his respect among the Chinese people.

Beyond China, Marxism

Deng was bom to a peasant family in Guang'an County (now Guang'an City) in Sichuan Province in 1904. China was just seven years away from a revolution that ended the faltering Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Deng entered school at age six.

As a teenager, Deng got swept up in China's tide of nationalism. After the May Fourth Movement of 1919, in which over 3,000 university students protested an unfair Treaty of Versailles in Tiananmen Square, he joined his schoolmates' chorus of "anti-imperialism" and "saving the country by industrialization" in a boycott of Japanese goods. Nonetheless, he wished to go to France with his patriotic desire to study industry. The same year, Deng enrolled in a school preparing young people to go abroad on a work-study program.

In the summer of 1920, Deng Xiaoping, only 16, boarded a ship for France with 80 other schoolmates. It took over 40 days to get to Paris. Deng was the youngest of all the Chinese students.

Deng found that he had to spend much more of his time working than he thought. Two months after his arrival he found odd jobs at the Le Creusot Iron and Steel Plant in central France. Later he worked as a fitter in a Renault factory in Billancourt, just outside Paris, as well as a firefighter and a kitchen helper in local restaurants. He could barely afford food but he still attended middle schools briefly in Bayeux and Chatillon.

Europe was still smoldering from the devastation of World War I at that time. Finding a job in France was especially difficult because of its depressed economy. Those Chinese students who were fortunate enough to find factory jobs were paid only half that of French workers. Meanwhile, Deng's family could no longer afford to send money.

Still, Deng was captivated by ideas. Spurred by the October Revolution in Russia, the workers' movement in France was gaining momentum. Marxism and other schools of socialist thought were winning adherents. A number of ideological Chinese students, including Zhou Enlai (the late Chinese Premier) and others, studied Marxism and were invigorated with the notion of revolution to rid society of class. Deng joined the CPC in late 1924. In early 1926, he left Paris for Moscow, where the Bolsheviks had established a socialist government eight years prior.

It was during Deng's five years in France, from age 16 to 21, that his youthful patriotism met Marxist ideology. It made him a revolutionary.

1   2   3   Next  

Top Story
-Protecting Ocean Rights
-Partners in Defense
-Fighting HIV+'s Stigma
-HIV: Privacy VS. Protection
-Setting the Tone
Most Popular
About BEIJINGREVIEW | About beijingreview.com | Rss Feeds | Contact us | Advertising | Subscribe & Service | Make Beijing Review your homepage
Copyright Beijing Review All right reserved