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Deng Xiaoping

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Deng Xiaoping (, also UK: ; courtesy name Xixian; 22 August 1904 – 19 February 1997) was a Chinese politician who was the paramount leader of the People’s Republic of China from 1978 until his retirement in 1992. After Chairman Mao Zedong’s death in 1976, Deng gradually rose to power and led China through a series of far-reaching market-economy reforms, which earned him the reputation as the “Architect of Modern China.”Born into an educated land-owning family in Sichuan province, Deng studied and worked in France in the 1920s, where he became a follower of Marxism–Leninism. He joined the Communist Party of China in 1923. Upon returning to China, Deng joined the party organization in Shanghai, becoming a political commissar for the Red Army in rural regions. In 1931, he was demoted within the party due to his support of Mao Zedong, but was promoted again during the 1935 Zunyi Conference. By late 1930s, Deng was considered a “revolutionary veteran” because he participated in the Long March. Following the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Deng worked in Tibet as well as in southwest China to consolidate Communist control. As the party’s Secretary-general in the 1950s, Deng presided over the Anti-Rightist Campaign launched by Mao and became instrumental in China’s economic reconstruction following the Great Leap Forward (1958-1960). However, his economic policies caused him to fall out of favor with Mao Zedong and he was purged twice during the Cultural Revolution.Following Mao Zedong’s death in 1976, Deng outmaneuvered the late chairman’s chosen successor Hua Guofeng and became the new paramount leader of China in December 1978. Inheriting a country beset with social conflict, disenchantment with the Communist Party and institutional disorder resulting from the chaotic policies of the Mao era, Deng began to bring the country back to order. From 1977 to early 1979, he resumed the College Entrance Examination in China which was interrupted by the Cultural Revolution for ten years, initiated the historic Reform and Opening-up of China, and started a one-month Sino-Vietnamese War. In August 1980, he started China’s political reforms by setting term limits for officials and proposing a systematic revision of China’s third Constitution which was made during the Cultural Revolution; the new Constitution embodied Chinese-style constitutionalism and was passed by the National People’s Congress in December, 1982, with most of its content still being effective as of today. In the 1980s, Deng supported the family planning policy to cope with China’s overpopulation crisis, helped establish China’s nine-year compulsory education, launched the 863 Program for science and technology, and revived China’s political reforms which ended and failed during the June Fourth Incident in 1989.While Deng never held office as the head of state, head of government or General Secretary (leader of the Communist Party), some called him “the architect” of a new brand of thinking that combined socialist ideology with free enterprise, dubbed the “socialism with Chinese characteristics”. He opened China to foreign investment and the global market, policies that are credited with developing China into one of the fastest-growing economies in the world for several generations and raising the standard of living of hundreds of millions. Deng was the Time Person of the Year in 1978 and 1985, the third Chinese leader (after Chiang Kai-shek and his wife Soong Mei-ling) and the fourth time for a communist leader (after Joseph Stalin, picked twice; and Nikita Khrushchev) to be selected. He was criticized for ordering the crackdown on the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, but was praised for his reaffirmation of the reform program in his Southern Tour of 1992 as well as the reversion of Hong Kong to Chinese control in 1997.