Reforms face new plot by Little Deng

LEFTIST commissar Mr Deng Liqun is planning a counter-attack against the reform programme of patriarch Mr Deng Xiaoping and Vice-Premier Mr Zhu Rongji.

Chinese sources said Mr Deng Liqun, known to Western diplomats as ''Little Deng'', had collected the recent sayings of Mr Zhu in a bid to incriminate him as a ''bourgeois liberal''.

In a series of internal talks, Little Deng also expressed doubts about the use of market economics.

The former chief of the party's Propaganda Department, is also mapping out plans for the promotion of his proteges.

According to sources close to the leftist establishment, Little Deng and his advisers recently collected the speeches and internal sayings of Mr Zhu and other noted reformists.

''We must raise our guard against bourgeois-liberal officials and former rightists,'' Little Deng reportedly said.

''The market economy enabled the capitalistic system to be set up. Yet there is no scientific proof that the market economy can help socialist countries develop and prosper.'' The Mirror also reported that aside from ideological and cultural circles, Little Deng had tried to build bridges to the People's Liberation Army.

He and other commissars have recently held gatherings celebrating the end of Mr Deng Xiaoping's anti-leftist campaign.

''It is true that at the 14th Congress, a leader of the 'pro-market faction' was promoted to head economic work,'' Little Deng said.

''However, such important departments as ideology and thoughts, higher education, propaganda and the arts, are still in the hands of comrades who are resolute Marxists.'' According to a report in the January issue of the China-watching magazine, Frontline, Little Deng is pushing the Vice-Minister of Education, Mr Zhu Kaixuan, and the party secretary of Beijing University, Ms Wang Jialiu, for more senior positions.

The senior ideologue has also expressed hope that the ousted director of the People's Daily, Mr Gao Di, might be promoted to vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in April.

And Little Deng is manoeuvring to have protege Mr Sha Jianxun, an expert on party history, made chief editor of the People's Daily.

In early winter, Little Deng became the president of the newly formed National Historical Society, which could become an operating base for the leftists.

Its five vice-presidents are Mr Sha, disgraced former vice-minister of higher education Mr He Dongchang, state planner Mr Fang Weizhong, ideologue Mr You Lin, and the director of the Press and Publications Administration, Mr Song Muwen.