PATRIARCH Deng Xiaoping has given qualified support to celebrations of the centenary of Mao Zedong's birthday. Chinese sources said while Mr Deng's career of reform was built on de-Maoification, the patriarch thought he could manipulate the Mao celebrations to his own advantage. Moreover, official reports about Mr Deng casting his vote on Wednesday for municipal-level elections in Beijing were meant to remind China and the world that it was the Chief Architect of Reform who was firmly in charge. The sources said Mr Deng had turned down advice from aides to drastically contain the scope of Mao-related festivities. Advisers to Mr Deng had suggested that most of the celebrations be kept out of the capital, and that no politician with the ranking of politburo member or above attend the events. Intellectuals in Beijing said the Deng camp had acquiesced to the celebrations, many of which were organised by the conservative wing of the party, because of widespread evidence that the Great Helmsman still commanded respect. They said particularly in view of recent economic problems like hyper-inflation, a large number of workers and peasants were nostalgic about the ''good old days'' of the Great Helmsman. Scores of Mao-related galas, especially theoretical forums about the contributions of the late chairman, were organised by ideologues faithful to Mr Deng's nemesis, former propaganda chief Deng Liqun. In internal meetings, the leftist ideologues claimed that market reforms pioneered by Mr Deng had spawned negative phenomena like polarisation of income levels. Moreover, aside from Mao's relatives, other remnant Maoists like former party chairman Hua Guofeng had been in the media limelight in the past few weeks. National newspapers yesterday ran pictures of Mr Hua casting his votes for the Beijing legislative elections. Mr Hua, who was Mao's heir apparent, has continued to enjoy high popularity among party cadres and ordinary citizens. ''Deng Xiaoping wants to turn the table on the conservatives by asking his followers to host some of the centenary activities,'' a Western diplomat said. ''The theme of these activities was that the patriarch had taken over the mantle of Mao and 'further developed' Maoism by introducing market economics to raise the living standard of the people.'' China analysts said in spite of the long-standing rivalry between the two communist-Chinese titans, Mr Deng thought both the party and his own faction could gain legitimacy by exploiting warm feelings that citizens still attached to Mao. They said it was for this reason that President Jiang Zemin, Mr Deng's anointed successor, went to Mao's birthplace, Shaoshan in Hunan province, this week to unveil a new statue of the Great Helmsman. Mr Jiang, who is lobbying hard to become the next helmsman of the party, was portraying himself as the successor of both Mr Deng and the Great Helmsman. At the same time, however, the Chinese media have continued to devote ample space to the study of the Third Volume of Mr Deng's Selected Works.