Long Marcher's life of dedication to party

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 July, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 July, 2003, 12:00am

The eventful and productive life of Deng Liujin was tied closely to the history of the Communist Party.

Deng, who died in Beijing on July 16 aged 91, is the widow of red guard veteran Zeng Shan, who was Shanghai's vice-mayor in 1949 and minister of internal affairs in 1960. Her eldest son is Vice-President Zeng Qinghong.

Deng also made her own mark on the history of the party as one of the 27 women who survived the Long March.

Born in a mountainous area of Fujian province, Deng was sold as a future child bride just weeks after her birth. She joined the party in 1929 as a teenager.

Her harsh start in life helps explains her strength and toughness - she was a stretcher-bearer on the Long March. Su Juncai, vice-director of the communist history research centre in Longyan city, Fujian, Deng's home town, said: 'She did not go to school and she only started learning how to write after she joined the Communist Party.'

Deng and Zeng Shan were married in Xian in 1939. In 1948, she was given an important mission, which later proved to help the political career of her son. She set up a nursery for the children of revolutionary martyrs and senior communist cadres. Deng managed to move more than 100 children from Shandong province to Shanghai.

State media said Deng enjoyed deep respect from many senior government and army officials who she once cared for in Huadong Nursery. They include Liu Yandong, a minister of the United Front Work Department; Tan Dongsheng, commander of the Guangzhou military region; and Chen Haosu, president of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.

Some overseas media reports said the nursery provided a strong network of political connections for Mr Zeng. Deng was widowed in 1972 during the Cultural Revolution, and later worked in the Government Offices Administration in the State Council.

She kept a low profile in her old age, focusing on charity work for children and women. She suffered serious arthritis and was diagnosed with cancer in 1999.

She had five children. Her second-eldest son, Zeng Qinghuai, is a special ambassador of the Ministry of Culture in Hong Kong. Her other two sons and daughter hold senior posts in the PLA.