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Thursday, February 19, 1998 Published at 12:28 GMT

World: Analysis

China commemorates Deng Xiaoping
image: [ Gold-plated commemorative stamps featuring Deng Xiaoping ]
Gold-plated commemorative stamps featuring Deng Xiaoping

This week China is commemorating the first anniversary of the death of its elder statesman, Deng Xiaoping. The BBC's Duncan Hewitt reports from Beijing on a year of political consolidation:

A newsreader announces the death of Deng Xiaoping (Dur: 0' 4")
Deng Xiaoping's death 12 months ago at the age of 92, after several years of ill health, ended a period of political uncertainty in China and raised new questions about the ability of his successors to maintain stability. In the last year Jiang Zemin, nominated by Mr Deng as a compromise successor after the Tiananmen crackdown in 1989, has confounded his critics, strengthening his control over the leadership and pushing ahead with radical state enterprise reforms.

[ image: Chins'a President, Jiang Zemin, has consolidated his power]
Chins'a President, Jiang Zemin, has consolidated his power
Yet the prospect of tens of millions of newly unemployed at a time of economic slowdown poses tough new challenges for the ruling Communist Party. And President Jiang, who lacks the revolutionary credentials which gave Deng Xiaoping so much authority, is perhaps now more than ever in need of Mr Deng as a source of legitimacy. So while he has taken some new initiatives, particularly to defuse international criticism of China's human rights record, he has also elevated Deng Xiaoping's theories to the level of an official ideology.

[ image: Deng Xiaoping lying in state]
Deng Xiaoping lying in state
The essentially pragmatic nature of these theories has the benefit of flexibility and in an article broadcast on nationwide television on the eve of the anniversary, Mr Jiang called on the Chinese people to build on Deng Xiaoping's ideas to take fresh steps and accept new experiences. A new series of books totalling four and a half million Chinese characters is being published, providing a full assessment of those theories. And Mr Deng, who famously said that to get rich was glorious, would no doubt be pleased with the edition of 20,000 gold-plated commemorative stamps.

A Foreign Ministry spokeswoman discusses China's achievements since Deng's death (Dur: 01 26")
Meanwhile, new insights into the private life of a man who always said he opposed Chairman Mao-style personality cults, are provided by a new TV documentary and an exhibition of his daughter's photographs.


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