China decided to accelerate the modernization process by stepping up the volume of foreign trade, especially the purchase of machinery from Japan and the West. By participating in export-led growth, China was able to quickly take advantage of foreign investment, advanced technologies and professional management.
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Deng attracted foreign companies to a series of Special Economic Zones, where foreign investment and market liberalization were encouraged. The reforms focused on improving productivity by introducing new material incentives and bonus systems. Rural markets were revived to sell peasants' homegrown products and the surplus products of communes. Not only did the rural markets increase agricultural output, they created a demand for domestically-manufactured goods and increased the political support for more difficult economic reforms. Peasants who were able to sell surplus agricultural yields on the open market had the means to purchase more domestic products, stimulating industrial growth.
Hu was widely seen as a liberal-minded person who had been made a scapegoat for student pro-democracy demonstrations in —, humiliated and forced to resign from his position by Deng Xiaoping and other influential leaders of the Politburo. He died of a heart attack on April 15, The crowds who gathered to mourn his death in Tienanmen Square included many pro-democracy students and many protesters who were disgruntled with the government.
On April 18, ten thousand students staged a sit-in in Tienanmen Square.
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On April 21, one hundred thousand students marched on Tienanmen Square. Demonstrations began to occur all over China, and the protests escalated in Beijing. General Secretary Zhao Zhiyang favored a soft approach to the demonstrations, but most of the Communist Party elders believed that the prolonged demonstrations were a threat to the political stability of China. On May 20, Deng Xiaoping, as chairman of the Central Military Commission, declared martial law, but the demonstrations continued. The decision by Communist party leaders to use of military force caused deep division in the Politburo, and Zhao Ziyang was ousted from political leadership.
Even the military was reluctant to oppose the students, and soldiers and tanks from the 27th and 28th Armies of the People's Liberation Army, which were based in rural areas, were sent to take control of the city. These forces were confronted by Chinese students in the streets of Beijing and the ensuing violence resulted in both civilian and army deaths.
Student protesters maintained that over 7, were tortured and killed. Following the violence, the government conducted widespread arrests to suppress, torture, and kill the remaining supporters of the movement, limited access for the foreign press, and controlled coverage of the events in the mainland Chinese press. The violent suppression of the Tienanmen Square protest caused widespread international condemnation of the PRC government.
Deng Xiaoping, along with other hardliners, especially Li Peng, were generally blamed for the events. Critics accused Deng of suppressing any signs of political freedom that would undermine the direction of his economic reforms. Deng's involvement in the events of Tienanmen Square showed that he still possessed dictatorial powers, and that the Chinese Communist Party still relied in the use of force and violence to control public protest. For years after the crackdown, opponents of Deng, centered mainly around college campuses, would anonymously burn and smash little glass bottles as a gesture of contempt toward him, especially on the crackdown anniversary.
Officially, Deng decided to retire from top positions when he stepped down as Chairman of the Central Military Commission in , and retired from the political scene in China, however, was still in the "era of Deng Xiaoping. Deng was recognized officially as "the chief architect of China's economic reforms and China's socialist modernization. He was often referred to as simply Comrade Xiaoping, with no title attached. Because of the Tiananmen Square protests of , Deng's power had been significantly weakened and there was a growing faction officially opposed to Deng's reforms within the Communist Party.
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To reassert his economic agenda, in the spring of , Deng made his famous southern tour of China, visiting Guangzhou , Shenzhen , Zhuhai, and spending the New Years holiday in Shanghai. On his tour, Deng made various speeches and generated widespread local support for his reformist platform. He stressed the importance of economic construction in China, and criticized those who were against further economic and foreign policy reforms. Deng's catchphrase, "To Get Rich Is Glorious," unleashed a wave of personal entrepreneurship that continues to drive China's economy today.
He stated that the "leftist" elements of Chinese society were much more dangerous than "rightist" ones. Deng was instrumental in the opening of Shanghai's Pudong New Area, revitalizing the city as China's economic hub. His southern tour was initially ignored by Beijing and national media, which were under the control of Deng's political rivals.
President Jiang Zemin showed little support. Deng penned several articles supporting reforms under the pen name "Huang Fuping" in Shanghai's Liberation Daily newspaper, which quickly gained support amongst local officials and the general populace. Deng's new wave of policy rhetoric gave way to a new political storm between factions in the Politburo. President Jiang eventually sided with Deng, and the national media finally reported Deng's southern tour several months after it occurred. Observers suggest that Jiang's submission to Deng's policies had solidified his position as Deng's heir apparent.
On the backstage, Deng's southern tour aided his reformist allies' climb to the apex of national power, and permanently changed China's direction toward economic development. In addition, the eventual outcome of the southern tour proved that Deng was still the most powerful man in China.
Deng's insistence on economic openness aided the phenomenal growth levels of the coastal areas, especially the "Golden Triangle" region surrounding Shanghai. Deng reiterated that "some areas must get rich before others," and asserted that the wealth from coastal regions would eventually be transferred to aid economic construction inland. This theory, however, faced numerous challenges when provincial governments moved to protect their own interests.
The policy contributed to a widening economic disparity between the affluent coast and the underdeveloped hinterlands. Deng Xiaoping died on February 19, , at age 92, from a lung infection and Parkinson's disease, but his influence continued. Even though Jiang Zemin was in firm control, government policies maintained Deng's ideas, thoughts, methods, and direction.
Officially, Deng was eulogized as a "great Marxist, great Proletarian Revolutionary, statesman, military strategist, and diplomat; one of the main leaders of the Communist Party of China, the People's Liberation Army of China, and the People's Republic of China; The great architect of China's socialist opening-up and modernized construction; the founder of Deng Xiaoping theory.
On the morning of February 24, the people of China were asked by Premier Li Peng to pause in unison silence for three minutes. The nation's flags flew at half-staff for over a week. The nationally televised funeral , which was a simple and relatively private affair attended by the country's leaders and Deng's family, was broadcast on all cable channels. After the funeral, Deng was cremated, his organs donated to medical research, and his ashes scattered at sea, according to his wishes.
For the next two weeks, Chinese state media ran news stories and documentaries related to Deng's life and death. In the year that followed, songs like "Story of the Spring" by Dong Wenhua, which were created in Deng's honor shortly after Deng's Southern Tour in , once again were widely played. There was a significant international reaction to Deng's death. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Deng was to be remembered "in the international community at large as a primary architect of China's modernization and dramatic economic development.
The Taiwan presidential office also sent its condolences, saying it longed for peace, cooperation, and prosperity. The Dalai Lama voiced regret. As a pivotal figure in modern Chinese history, Deng Xiaoping's legacy is very complex and opinion remains divided.
H-Diplo Roundtable XVII, 23 on Deng Xiaoping: A Revolutionary Life
Deng changed China from a country obsessed with mass political movements to a country focused on economic construction. In the process, Deng was unrelenting in his use of the political clout of the Communist Party of China, as demonstrated by the Tiananmen Square Protests. Although some criticize Deng for his actions in , China's significant economic growth in the s and s was largely credited to Deng's policies.
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Although some areas and segments of society were notably better off than before, the re-emergence of significant social inequality did little to legitimize the Communist Party's founding ideals, as the party faced increasing social unrest. Deng's emphasis on light industry, compounded with China's large population, created a large cheap labor market which became significant on the global stage. Favoring joint-ventures over domestic industry, Deng allowed foreign capital to pour into the country.
While some see these policies as a fast way to put China on par with the west, Chinese nationalists criticize Deng for embracing too many foreign ideas, to the point where domestic industries are now insignificant.
Deng's era, set against the backdrop of the Cold war , saw the best Sino-American relations in history. Some Chinese nationalists assert, however, that Deng's foreign policy was one of appeasement, and that past wrongs such as war crimes committed by Japan during the World War II were ignored to make way for economic partnership. When compared to the memorials of other former CCP leaders, those dedicated to Deng have been relatively minimal, in keeping with Deng's pragmatism. Deng's portrait, unlike that of Mao, has never been hung publicly anywhere in China.
After his death, he was cremated after death, instead of being embalmed like Mao. There are a few public displays of Deng in the country. In addition, in many coastal areas and on the island province of Hainan , Deng is seen on large roadside billboards with messages emphasizing economic reform or his policy of One Country, Two Systems.
Another bronze statue of Deng was dedicated August 13, , in Deng's hometown, Guang'an, in southwest China's Sichuan Province, to commemorate Deng's th birthday.
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According to the Chinese government, Deng Xiaoping experienced more assassination attempts than any other senior Chinese leader. Information declassified after Hu Jintao came to power, details seven attempts on Deng's life from the s to the s. Most of the cases remain unsolved, and all of them were rooted in Maoist opposition to Deng's reform:.
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Before assuming power in , Hu had said so little on any topic of importance that both conservatives and liberals in China claimed him as one of their own. Since then, Hu has displayed minimal public emotion and avoids even the most scripted interactions with the media and most party outsiders. Their position is that although Deng was not a democrat, in many ways it was easier to understand, and work with, the motivations and actions of a Chinese leadership dominated by one man rather than by a collective dictatorship.
What they fear most about China is the absence of a genuine autocrat. Perhaps because of his down-to-earth style and his disinterest in grand ceremony, Deng has attracted few serious biographies outside China.
Like most of the first- and second-generation party members who became senior leaders after the Communists prevailed in the Chinese civil war in , Deng had a revolutionary background. In the civil war, Deng served as military leader and political commissar, leading sizable battles and at one point overseeing some half-million men. After the war he served Mao for nearly two decades in the leadership, gaining insight into politics, economics and governing.