INTERNATIONAL

A grateful nation remembers Deng

REVERED LEADER: People wait for buses at a station in Guangan, in China's Sichuan province in front of a huge billboard of Deng Xiaoping in this recent photo.   | Photo Credit: PHOTO: AFP

The architect of China's economic reform and socialist modernisation

BEIJING: Often referred to simply as ``Comrade Xiaoping'', Deng Xiaoping is revered in China as a leader who changed the course of the world by steering the country's class-orientated revolutionary struggle into tangible economic development.

Although considered as ``the general architect of China's economic reform and socialist modernisation'', Deng Xiaoping modestly shied away from the cult of personality.

Deng died from a lung infection and Parkinson's disease on Feb. 19, 1997, at the age of 92. Even 10 years after his death, many of his countrymen still adore him as a saint.

``I miss Grandpa Deng a lot,'' said Feng Daishu while fertilising lettuce in his farmyard on the outskirts of Chengdu, in Deng's home province of Sichuan.

Without Deng's ``opening-up'' policy, the 64-year-old vegetable farmer said, he could have ended up becoming homeless, begging in the street.

``When he passed away, I almost cried my heart out,'' Deng's reforms replaced Chairman Mao's ``collectivisation'' with the privatisation of farmland, giving the land confiscated during the ``Great Leap Forward'' in the 1950s back to the farmers.

Mr. Feng said the nation, which observes the 10th anniversary of the leader's death on Monday, treasures his memories. "Grandpa Deng made our rice bowl full, and pockets deep as well. He bailed us farmers out of poverty.''

Without a doubt, Deng was a pragmatic leader with a vision of a modern nation. Cai Jinwei, a well established cinema photographer, noted that Mao saved China once by founding the People's Republic of China in 1949 and overthrowing imperialism and feudalism.

A veteran Communist at the age of 79, Mr. Cai said during Mao's era, however, people were living a simple life.

In Mr. Cai's view, it wasn't until Deng's opening-up policy that the people at large started to believe an affluent life was possible and reachable. He said, ``What made Deng great was his innovation, creativity, and honesty.'' Xinhua