The 110th birthday of Deng Xiaoping (1904-97) this month has ignited people's enthusiasm for memorializing and looking back at the life of this pioneer behind China's reform and opening-up policy. So far August has witnessed a legion of new screen works, exhibitions and publications about the former Chinese leader.
Among the various recent publications centering on his life which have occupied the heartland of many bookstores in Beijing, the CCCPC Party Literature Publishing House's recently published Deng Xiaoping Biography, the first biography for Deng from the central government, doesn't just act as an authoritative biography for Deng, but also ties together previously published official biographies of China's early generation of leaders including Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai and Liu Shaoqi.
While various publications have delved into Deng's life from different perspectives, such as the two highly popular books by foreign authors, Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China by Ezra Feivel Vogel, and Deng Xiaoping and the Making of Modern China by former British ambassador to China Richard Evans, which examine Deng and China from an outsiders perspective, the official Deng Xiaoping Biography undoubtedly tries to stand out by providing plenty of historic materials that were once classified.
According to Yang Shengqun, the book's editor and former vice director of the CCCPC Party Literature Research Office, much of the material used to research the book, which includes recordings from various speeches, letters written by Deng, minutes of various high level meetings and interviews with people close to Deng, is being revealed to the public for the first time.
While the Deng Xiaoping Biography only covers the first 70 years of Deng's life from 1904-74, this time period not only marks the formative years of Deng's later career with the central government, but also the formative years of the nation itself. "The first 70 years of his life is like a long path leading to his prime time during his later years," said Yang. "Seventy years may be a little too long for a biography and rarely seen in the history of the world, but that's the legendary life of Deng," said Yang.
Ups and downs
Deng's political career wasn't all smooth sailing, sometimes seen as too radical a figure, he experienced several set-backs in his career, along with several political resurgences. With this new biography readers now not only have a chance to get a better understanding of Deng, but also some other historic figures by taking a look at their words and deeds during certain historic periods.
For example, the book reveals, in some cases for the first time, the contents of the many letters Deng wrote to Mao Zedong during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), demonstrating to readers Deng's persistency during a low point in his career at that time, as well as the subtle relations between him and Mao during this chaotic period in China.