“For some time now economists have been predicting that China will probably have the largest aggregate economy in the world by the second decade of the next century. To the extent that any individual can be held responsible for the massive transformation of a communist party state into the world's most dynamic economy, then that person was Deng Xiaoping. The reform era that started in 1978 indelibly bears his name, even though that change in the direction of the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) policies was brought about and sustained by a collective leadership in which Deng Xiaoping, though regarded as 'primary architect' (of reform) or 'paramount leader', was never chairman or general secretary of the CCP, or president of the People's Republic of China, or premier of the State Council. Together with Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, Deng is usually regarded, with reason, as one of the key figures in the evolution of communism in China. Whatever else he may have achieved, more than anyone else it was he who was responsible for reversing the political and economic lunacy of Mao's later years, and for starting the process of bringing China into the twentieth century.”
-Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding
"...unlike after the death of Mao and of Chou En-lai, Deng's mentor, Beijing did not grind to a halt in a display of grief for the leader who had so radically changed the course of Chinese history"
February 20, 1997AP
BEIJING - China lowered its red flags to half-staff in Tiananmen Square today and declared "eternal glory" to Deng Xiaoping, the revolutionary who helped transform the country into an economic power.
The government announced a six-day period of mourning and said 10,000 people have been invited to a "memorial meeting" Tuesday at Beijing's Great Hall of the People, the national legislative chambers.
Deng's family has asked that the mourning activities be kept simple, requesting that no mourners be allowed to make the traditional three bows in front of Deng's corpse.
His eyes are to be donated, his organs dissected for scientific research and his ashes scattered at sea.
Deng, 92, died yesterday of a lung infection and complications of Parkinson's disease.
"Eternal glory to Comrade Deng Xiaoping!" the state-run Xinhua News Agency proclaimed in an 11-page tribute to his career. Xinhua's eulogy declared that China would "unswervingly adhere" to Deng's policies.
News of Deng's death came while China was asleep. Word spread slowly throughout the Chinese capital, with many incredulous that the ailing leader, long rumored to be dead or dying, had finally gone.
As on any normal day, hundreds of people gathered on Tiananmen Square at dawn to watch soldiers hoist the red, five-starred Chinese flag before a giant portrait of Mao Tse-tung. It was only when the flag was lowered that the crowd sensed something had happened.
"It's a big loss for China. Even though life in China is hard, under Deng things improved," said a 64-year-old retired official taking an early-morning walk on the square. "It feels as if something is missing."
State-run television repeatedly broadcast the eulogy, accompanied by a funeral dirge, occasionally switching to a revolutionary war film.
Difference from Mao's death
But unlike after the death of Mao and of Chou En-lai, Deng's mentor, Beijing did not grind to a halt in a display of grief for the leader who had so radically changed the course of Chinese history.
Deng had rejected the slavish personality cult that marked the last years of Mao's rule, and the Chinese no longer feel the need to publicly demonstrate their political loyalties.
The roads filled with cars and bicycles as people bustled to work. Young, well-dressed Chinese, products of an era shaped by Deng's insistence that making money and getting ahead are perfectly acceptable, were too busy for interviews.
In Shenzhen, a former fishing village turned metropolis in southern China, thousands streamed to a park to lay wreaths and weep before a huge picture of Deng.
They were China's pioneer capitalists, grieving for the leader who made their city the crucible of his economic revolution by making it a special capitalist enclave.
"Deng is like my real grandpa," said Wang Xinen, 16, weeping. "Without him, we couldn't have what we are enjoying today."
Old and young agree
Praise for Deng spanned generations. Older Chinese remember the destitution and political turmoil they endured before Deng took power. Younger Chinese grew up under his market reforms and appreciate the comparative affluence and opportunities they have brought.
Deng exercised power from behind the scenes after retiring from his last official post in 1990. But his increasingly frail health - his last public appearance was three years ago - ended his direct involvement in day-to-day politics.
"The generation above us had a tough life. But our generation has been luckier, and that's because of Deng," said Johnson Chiu, a 17-year-old student munching on a burger and fries at a McDonald's.
Source: The Seattle Times.