DENG Xiaoping used to say he was opposed to having a cult of personality built around him. Yet now, as his health appears to be failing, a personality cult of sorts is developing. His daughter has published a rose-tinted, if solid, biography, his collected works and speeches are being recommended for study by all Chinese and his exhortations to keep up the pace of reform and development are being reinforced by frequent official pronouncements. In a younger, stronger man the change of style would be cause for real concern. Cults of personality are a particularly insidious form of propaganda. They spread the myth of a leader's infallibility. More often than not, it is the leader himself, not thepublic, that is taken in. In Mr Deng's case, however, the cult is unlikely to have time to develop that far. The timing of the new campaign suggests the goals are fairly precise and short-term. By boosting his open-door and growth policies, even, perhaps, at the expense of sound short-term management, the plan appears to be to lock in his reforms long enough to block any opening for his most dangerous leftist rivals to undo them while any of them are still hale enough to assert themselves. The manoeuvre could be positive for Hong Kong. Retrenchment may be necessary in the short term, but the territory gains from China's long-term growth strategy and its rapid moves toward a market economy. The downside may be that the cult could make an orderly succession even harder to achieve. Mr Deng has embarrassed and upstaged Zhu Rongji, a highly capable second-generation leader who had been trying to cool down a hot economy, and given new impetus tothe Zhongnanhai power struggle. For Hong Kong, as well as for China, the revival of the personality cult is not wholly positive.