Who was Deng Xiaoping

Deng Xiaoping was born 100 years ago

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Deng Xiaoping was born 100 years ago

Deng Xiaoping was born on August 22, 1904 in Guangan, Sichuan Province. As a student, he joined the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the party that has ruled China alone for many decades. He is called the chief architect or father of the reform, opening up and modernization of China. Many dramatic experiences and decisions shape his political path.

A sculpture by Deng Xiaoping, made for his 100th birthday.

The long march

From 1934 to 1936 he took part in the Long March and fought alongside the later Mao Zedong. During the Long March, the Red Army of the Chinese Soviet Republic under Mao Zedong withdrew to evade the Kuomintang Army. The Red Army suffered huge losses and covered a distance of over 12,000 kilometers, hence the long march. In the end, the Red Army landed in Yanan, where they built a new communist center. For his services, he was appointed General Secretary of the CCP by Mao after the civil war ended.

For a long time, foreign countries viewed the Cinese in exile in Taiwan as the actual Chinese government

At the end of World War II, the Red Army drove the Kuomintang Army from mainland China to the island of Taiwan. For a long time, the Chinese exiles in Taiwan were viewed by other countries as the legitimate government of China.

Great leap forward famine

Deng Xiaoping officially supported the Red Army leader Mao. But then Mao initiated his so-called Great Leap Forward Policy. Between 1958 and 1960, behind the slogan of the great leap was a policy that attempted to transform China into an economic superpower.

The victims of this project were initially the farmers, many of whom were expropriated and killed in order to collectivize their property, that is, to make it available to the general public. The consequence of this policy was a huge famine in 1961/62, in which around 30 to 45 million Chinese died - about half of the German population today! It was the greatest famine in human history.

Cultural revolution

This catastrophe damaged Mao's reputation and benefited Deng Xiaping, who thoroughly criticized this kind of politics. During this time, he and President Liu Shaogi initiated economic reforms. Mao noticed that he was coming under increasing pressure and staged the so-called cultural revolution in order to maintain his position of power. He also saw his life's work, the transformation of China as a communist country, in danger.

This cultural revolution brought China to a state of civil war. The popular anger of the common people was now directed against an educated middle class, such as doctors or teachers. In the end, even the army had to be deployed.

This cultural revolution was finally ended with the death of Mao in 1976. It cost the lives of millions of people and almost completely destroyed the educational class of that time.
After Mao's death, Deng Xiaoping was rehabilitated and immediately set out to regain the highest political office.

Deng Xiaoping's domestic policy

Initially, Deng Xiaping sharply condemned the Cultural Revolution and enabled public criticism. In addition, he dissolved the old, established class society, which prevented, for example, the children of former landowners from studying. These measures earned him a lot of approval.

He was one of the first Chinese politicians to propose opening up China and internal reforms that should lead the huge country with its almost 1.3 billion inhabitants out of poverty and isolation. With a socialist modernization, he wanted to make China an industrial and technology state. But the means of production and goods should still belong to the general public and not to a few private owners. After a meeting of the CCP in 1978, at which these goals were also passed off as the political direction of China, Deng Xiaoping got a leadership role in this so-called second generation.

Deng Xiaoping with the then US President Jimmy Carter in the USA

Foreign policy

On January 1, 1979, the United States and China established the first official diplomatic relations under his leadership. Deng Xiaoping therefore also traveled to the USA. Relationships should be developed culturally, economically, politically and militarily as well as technologically. An important point of contention, however, was still Taiwan, which, as the Republic of China, had long taken its seat on the United Nations Security Council. Deng Xiaoping achieved that the People's Republic of China was recognized by the USA as the only legitimate government of China.

Tiananmen Square in Beijing, called "Tiananmen"

Anti-government demonstrations began in China in the late 1980s. Especially in student circles one called for more democracy and less corruption. The conflict culminated in 1989 with the Tiananmen massacre in Beijing. Numerous people died.

Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, the traditional, Chinese part is being displaced more and more by modern high-rise buildings

One of his main goals was to hold on to the return of Hong Kong by the British. For this he developed the motto one country two systems. In a British-Chinese agreement signed in 1984, the return was agreed for July 1, 1997. Deng Xiaoping resigned from all his offices in November 1989, but was still an influential man in China who knew how to keep his relationships going.

These actions initially isolated Deng Xiaoping and his government. Many countries threatened sanctions and foreign trade bans. Indeed, foreign trade initially declined. Opponents of the regime who could left China and three years of economic stagnation followed.

Against the opposition of his party, Deng Xiaoping then went on a trip to the south. Among other things, he visited Shanghai and made it clear that he wanted to continue to stick to his free economic zones such as Shenzhen or Shanghai. That got the reform course rolling again and with it Deng Xiaoping's so-called socialist market economy, which is making China steadily growing economically.

Deng Xiaoping did not witness the return of Hong Kong. Because on February 19, 1997, the politician died of the consequences of Parkinson's disease, from which he had suffered for a number of years. But he is still revered as the father of China's reform.

-from-20.08.04 Text / Photos: Mao portrait in Beijing: Raimond Spekking 1990; www.wikipedia.de; Taiwan, Buddha, farmer in the rice field, Tiananmen Square, Hong Kong: Destination Asia; Deng Xiaoping and Jimmy Carter: http://www.archives.gov/research_room/arc/;

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