MORE than 24 hours after Chen's death on Monday, few Beijing residents knew anything about it. Those told reacted with only mild surprise and little in the way of deep-felt sentiment. 'Well, he was 90 years old and that's about as long as anyone can expect to live,' said a florist. 'He had not been very active in the past few years, and I don't think his death will make much difference either way. Perhaps it would have a few years ago,' the florist added, expressing opinions echoed by many other capital residents. Among those spending a clear and breezy afternoon in Tiananmen Square, there was little sense Chen's death marked anything but the next step in an inevitable string of events. 'The old people from that generation of leaders are almost all gone now,' said a film salesman on the square, glancing over his shoulder at the nearby portrait of Mao Zedong gracing the Tiananmen rostrum across the Avenue of Eternal Peace. 'I guess Deng Xiaoping will be next, and we will just have to see what happens then,' he added, before handing a roll of film to his next customer. No added security measures were in evidence in the square. It was there, as citizens and leaders well remember, that small groups mourning the death of former Communist Party boss Hu Yaobang in April 1989 swelled into massive anti-government demonstrations that in the end were suppressed by military force. The news did not appear in the Beijing Evening News, but was announced on the regular evening television news bulletin, 29 hours after his death. Few Beijing residents were surprised to learn the news of the death of such a prominent figure had been suppressed. But one office worker reacted with indignation on learning that the chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, Qiao Shi, reportedly informed his Japanese hosts of Chen's death during his visit to Tokyo. 'How is it supposed to make us feel to when our leaders tell foreigners about something like this before they tell us?' he asked. Many commented on the profound ideological differences that divided Chen and Mr Deng. 'It's a good thing he died before Deng Xiaoping. If Chen Yun were still around when Deng died, he might really have caused some trouble,' a Beijing surgeon speculated. 'I do not know how Deng is doing now, but if he is in good enough shape to hear this news, I think he must be smiling,' said a taxi driver. The obvious lack of grief notwithstanding, some in Beijing appeared willing to express begrudging admiration for what was, by any standard, an impressive and meaningful political career. 'It is true he never really supported reforms and a lot of ordinary people disliked him for that,' said a father who was flying a kite with his young son in Tiananmen Square. 'But whether or not you agree with his political outlook, you have to admit that he was a great leader who did a lot for China over many, many years.'