AS RUMOURS about Deng Xiaoping's impending demise continue to circulate, Julia Langdon, former political editor of the London Daily Mirror has recalled an encounter with Deng to readers of the respected British weekly, The Spectator. In the summer of 1985, Langdon travelled to China with her newspaper's proprietor, the late megalomaniac egocentric embezzler, Robert Maxwell, whose Pergamon Press had published a long-forgotten collection of Deng's speeches and writings. The ostensible reason for the trip was to let Maxwell personally hand over a specially-bound edition of Deng's tome. Langdon recalled having to sit through an awful lot of briefings and banquets with minor Chinese officials before meeting Deng at his home in the seaside resort of Beidaihe. At one of these banquets Langdon was asked if she had visited China before. 'Yes. Last time I came with Mrs Thatcher to give away Hong Kong. This time I come with Mr Maxwell to give away a book.' Langdon reported there were 'polite titters' from the Chinese when her comments were translated. Only later did she learn from a British diplomat that the translator had not included her remarks about Xianggang (Hong Kong) when he repeated them in Mandarin.