Deng Xiaoping as Cultural Conservative

Today is Deng Xiaoping’s birthday. He was born in 1904 in Guang’an, Sichuan, a city now receiving various and not entirely uncontroversial forms of capital as a result. Consequently, I am reminded of my desire at some point in 2015–16 to reread big chunks of of the Deng Xiaoping biography which Harvard University Press wisely agreed to publish in 2013, written by Ezra Vogel.

Amid the chorus of praise and critique for Ezra Vogel’s epic, there has been some renewed debate about the meaning of Deng – stifled reactionary or true reformer? (The answer with respect to Hu Jintao seemed to veer toward the former.) Suffice it to say that there are multiple sources upon which one might rely to test this assertion, but of late, I have seen this one as being particularly useful, as it describes his fears of liberalization.

Source: Deng Xiaoping, “Excerpts from Talks Given in Wuchang, Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Shanghai” (Jan. 18-Feb. 21, 1992) in Selected Works (online in English)

Image: Deng Xiaoping at a Houston rodeo, 2 February 1979, courtesy Georgetown University.

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