China Honours Man Who Reshaped World

February 18, 2007 at 6:30 pm | Posted in China, 經濟, 经济, Economics, News, Politics, 政治, 新聞, 新闻, 中国, 中國 | Leave a comment

When Deng Xiaoping came to power in the late 1970s, the tallest building in China was the 18-floor Beijing Hotel. Today the Jingguang building soars to 53 storeys and by 2008 will be eclipsed by the 330-metre China World Trade Centre.

China might still be low-rise but for Deng’s determination to open the country after decades of isolation, and to try to end grinding poverty by forcing through market-style economic reforms.

But despite his role in reshaping the nation, the memorials for Deng today, the tenth anniversary of his death, are likely to be as low-key as the man himself…

His daughter says that his most difficult task was to overhaul the system of lifelong tenure for the elite. “He ended power-for-life for leaders, replacing government by man with government by law. I’m very proud to say that my father was the first leader in Chinese history who retired while he was still in power.”

I can’t help but think he was simply doing what he had to do under the circumstances at the time. No matter who came into power after Mao’s death, the results would have been relatively the same. China prior to its market reforms in 1978 was on the verge of an economic and social breakdown. China needed to open up its markets to allow for the injection of foreign investments to revitalize its economy. The way I see it, Deng only had two options: 1) retain the old communist system, maintain China’s economic isolation, and thus run the risk of widespread civil unrest, which most likely would have led to the downfall of the CCP regime OR 2) convince the remaining party elders that “socialism with Chinese characteristics” was more socialist than capitalist, which would allow China to embrace capitalism as well as maintain the CCP’s legitimacy as a “communist” government. The decisions Deng faced were not rocket science, but simple common sense.


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