Several Chinese Politburo members called on Deng Xiaoping on his 92nd birthday last week, but the patriarch was too frail to say anything. A source close to the Deng household said yesterday senior cadres who went to see the patriarch included Jiang Zemin and Li Peng . Several offspring of party elders and retired generals also made the trip to the compound, just north of the Zhongnanhai party office. 'There is no focus to Deng's gaze,' the source said. 'He has lost a lot of weight. He seemed to recognise his visitors and on a few occasions nodded his head slightly to show recognition. But he failed to manage a smile. 'The old man said very little, and could not finish a single sentence. In any case, his voice was so weak not even his daughters could make out what he said.' Zhuo Lin , Mr Deng's wife and a couple of his daughters were present. The source said on average, each visitor stayed for only 20 minutes, much of it talking to Mr Deng's kin. One visitor tried to shake Mr Deng's hand, which was laid on the arm-rest of his chair. But the patriarch made no effort to lift his hand. It is understood the Deng household had turned down suggestions that the official media release a picture or some television footage of him for the occasion. Analysts said the patriarch's health had worsened during the past year. When Mr Jiang and premier Li went to see him on his 91st birthday, Mr Deng could manage a few audible words. After that visit Mr Deng gave instructions concerning the fifth party Central Committee plenum, which took place last September. They included the promotion of generals Zhang Wannian and Chi Haotian as vice-chairmen of the Central Military Commission. Last week Mr Jiang and Mr Li again went to the Deng house together, a sign of their 'power pact'. But a veteran diplomat doubted if they could get political mileage out of the meeting. 'Even if Jiang or Li had wanted to put words into Deng's mouth to further their own ends, they couldn't have done so because it is common knowledge the patriarch is no longer up to it,' the diplomat said.