1997, February 19
Deng Xiaoping, the "reformer with an iron fist", will probably be remembered best for his blunt pragmatism as expressed in the famous saying: "Whether a cat is black or white makes no difference. As long as it catches mice, it is a good cat." He promoted the creation of a market economy and private businesses in China, while strengthening the power of the Communist Party and insisting on a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist ideology. He argued that "poverty is not socialism". By the end of the 1990s, his fundamental economic reforms, started in 1978, had reduced the number of desperately poor people in China by some 200 million. His economic policy led to a most spectacular economic development in China and fundementally improved the lives of millions of ordinary Chinese.
However, in June 1989, Deng apparently approved the brutal suppression of unarmed demonstratons in Beijing's Tinananmen Square, which cast a shadow over his historic legacy. The photo shows Deng Xiaoping and U.S. President Carter during Deng's visit of the United States in January 1979.
Baum, Richard (1994): Burying Mao. Chinese politics in the age of Deng Xiaoping. Princeton, NJ (Princeton University Press)
Lieberthal, Kenneth (1995): Governing China. From revolution through reform. New York, London (W.W. Norton & Company Inc.)
MacFarquhar, Roderick (Ed.) (1997): The politics of China: The eras of Mao and Deng. 2nd Edition. New York, Cambridge (Oxford University Press)
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White House Photographic Collection. Source: National Archives and Records Administration. This work is in the public domain, because it is a work of the United States Government.