Deng cancer reports denied
BEIJING has officially denied that patriarch Deng Xiaoping is suffering from testicular cancer.
But Chinese sources in the capital said the 88-year-old senior leader's health was still ''problematic'' and that it was unlikely he would be able to follow his past habit of leaving Beijing in the summer.
Yesterday, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry denied as ''totally groundless'' a report last week by the Japanese daily, Yomiuri Shimbun, that Mr Deng had undergone surgery for cancer of the testicles.
The Chinese-run Hongkong daily, Ta Kung Pao, also quoted ''informed sources'' in Beijing as denying the Yomiuri report.
''The report by the Japanese media about Deng Xiaoping falling sick recently is untrue'', Ta Kung Pao said yesterday.
On Monday, Taiwan's quasi-official Central News Agency quoted the Vice-Chairman of the National People's Congress, Cheng Siyuan, as denying the cancer story.
''Deng Xiaoping's health is very good,'' Mr Cheng said. ''This is mainly because he often swims.
''He does not have cancer of the testicles''.
Chinese sources said yesterday the propaganda machinery had been told by the leadership to adopt a ''unified line'' on reporting about the patriarch's health.
The national media as well as the pro-Chinese media in Hongkong would generally give an ''upbeat spin'' to stories about Mr Deng's health while steering away from specific details about his condition.
The sources said while Mr Deng had successfully recovered from earlier treatments of a preliminary stage of prostate cancer as well as a stroke, the patriarch's health remained uneven.
They said Mr Deng was not fit to swim and that he had to rest in Beijing.
The sources added Mr Deng's health would preclude him from following his usual habit of going to the seaside resort of Beidaihe every summer to take part in informal discussion sessions on major matters of state.
Western diplomats in Beijing said a sign of Mr Deng's declining health was his inability to rein in his opponents.
Yesterday, two of Mr Deng's ideological foes, former politburo member Song Ping and veteran ideologue Deng Liqun, put in an appearance at a function marking a new book by moderate party elder Bo Yibo.
Mr Deng Liqun, who is masterminding a campaign to criticise Mr Deng's market reforms, had earlier been taken to hospital for an unknown ailment.
His reappearance has been interpreted as a sign of renewed activity.
In addition to Mr Bo, who also showed up yesterday, conservative elders including Chen Yun and Peng Zhen are said to have been active in recent weeks.
Western diplomats said a stratagem of the ideologues was to target businessman friends of the patriarch who might be accused of economic crimes.
They said other high-profile businessmen might soon be prosecuted.