‘How my father’s speeches saved Chinese economic reform’: Deng Xiaoping’s daughter pays tribute

Daughter's remarks part of celebrations marking the late paramount leader's 110th birth anniversary

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 August, 2014, 3:42pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 August, 2014, 11:32pm

Deng Xiaoping’s daughter said her father’s speeches on his famous 1992 southern tour saved China’s economic reform push at a “crucial moment” in history, as she paid tribute to the leader ahead of the 110th anniversary of his birth.

The official People’s Daily on Thursday published Deng Nan’s commentary on her father's political legacy, a day before the anniversary.

Deng Nan, 69, the late paramount leader’s second daughter, said her father’s speech on socialist market economy helped reform efforts “sail [through] stormy waters”.

In a veiled reference to the 1989 crackdown on democratic movements including in Tiananmen Square, she wrote that socialism’s credibility was at stake, both at home and abroad, after the “turbulent days in the late 1980s and early 1990s”.

Chinese people had learned a lesson from the turbulence and would move forward on the path of “socialism with Chinese characteristics”, she quoted her father as saying during the southern tour.

Deng embarked on the trip from January to February 1992, visiting several southern cities including Shanghai, Wuhan, Shenzhen and Zhuhai.

Easing uncertainties at the time, Deng Xiaoping reaffirmed economic reform and paved the way for the country’s spectacular economic growth in the past two decades.

“Until today, the world is still taking about the Chinese path,” Deng Nan said.

”He said those words with his last strength … After making the [southern tour] speeches at the age of 88, his health problems were getting worse and worse rapidly and he never managed to recover,” she wrote.

Deng Xiaoping died in February 1997, just months before the Hong Kong handover.

Deng Nan also wrote of the significance of the “liberalisation of thoughts” – a reference to reforms.

”Father said the starting point of the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics is the liberalisation of thoughts,” said Deng Nan, who has maintained a low profile after retiring from the China Association for Science and Technology.

The commentary was the latest in a series of high-profile events on the mainland to commemorate Deng’s birth.

Speaking to an audience including Deng’s five children at a symposium on Wednesday, President Xi Jinping also highlighted Deng’s southern tour and his efforts to push forward the marketisation of China’s economy in the wake of “political turbulence home and abroad”.

The son of reformist leader Hu Yaobang was also in attendance at the symposium.

Earlier in the week, Deng Nan attended a symposium in the family’s hometown of Guangan in Sichuan province on Tuesday.

Her two sisters, Deng Lin and Deng Rong, meanwhile, were invited to an exhibition on Deng Xiaoping in Hong Kong but were not able to make it.

A seminar on his “one country, two systems” policy was also scheduled in the territory.