FACTIONAL strife within the Chinese Communist Party has flared after patriarch Deng Xiaoping expressed anger over the way celebrations of the centenary of Chairman Mao's birthday had been ''overplayed''. The 89-year-old senior leader also indirectly criticised the Politburo for failing to stop the partial revival of Maoism that went along with the festivities. According to Chinese sources, Mr Deng earlier this month gave vent to his dissatisfaction over the Mao celebrations while he was on holiday in Shanghai. ''Who is behind the festivities?'' he asked city officials, referring to the hundreds of Mao-related events held throughout the country in the run-up to Mao's birthday on December 26. The sources said Mr Deng made an indirect reference to ''underground general secretary'' Deng Liqun, the conservative elder and former propaganda chief who had orchestrated the celebrations. The patriarch also expressed dismay at how his ideological foes had been given almost free rein. It is understood Mr Deng was aware that the leftists had used the commemorative activities to reinstate Maoism and disparage the past 15 years of reform. Knowing that it would be against party decorum for him to lay down restrictions on Mao celebrations, Mr Deng left Beijing about December 6 without issuing instructions on the subject. The only thing he did was to acquiesce in the suggestion of a member of his personal office that Deng Liqun, dubbed Little Deng by Western diplomats, should be told not to make any speeches or to write articles for the centenary. An informed source said, however, that the patriarch was nonetheless shocked by the number and pervasive influence of the festivities. The source said while Mr Deng's anger was primarily aimed at Little Deng and his fellow ideologues, he was unhappy with how the Politburo, including President Jiang Zemin, had handled the issue. ''Members of the Politburo Standing Committee, including Jiang Zemin, had in early December asked the patriarch at least three times how they should conduct the celebrations,'' the source said. ''But Deng refused to say anything.'' While talking to local cadres in Shanghai, however, Mr Deng continued to express his confidence in the ''third-generation leadership with comrade Jiang Zemin as its core''. ''They have done a good job with the economy,'' Mr Deng reportedly said. Sources in Shanghai said Mr Deng would likely stay in the area until the Lunar New Year.