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Out the window went Mao's "politics in command" and "grasping class struggle as the key link. Given Deng's passionate, lifelong commitment to communism, it is ironic that he may turn out to be its chief subverter in the world's largest nation. Says Susan Shirk, a University of California sinologist: "When communism ends in China, it may be undone by a real revolution unleashed by the success of economic reform.

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But while the Chairman drove Liu to his death, he merely sent Deng into the countryside to work in a machine shop. When Mao brought him back to Beijing in , he lauded his prodigal lieutenant: "Deng is a rare talent.

He is like a needle wrapped in cotton. His mind is round and his actions are square. The last ouster resulted from Mao's growing paranoia, which was fed by his wife, Jiang Qing, and other enemies of Deng's.

The purge was ironic given Deng's fixation with loyalty. It was with a display of fealty that he first captured Mao's attention. In , Deng was sacked as the young party's general secretary by mostly Russian-trained communists who advocated revolution in cities. Deng backed Mao, who wanted to target the countryside. When Mao later won control of the party and the nation, Deng gained an all-powerful, if volatile, ally.

But his loyalty also meant Deng rarely questioned even Mao's most disastrous policies. In , he faithfully prosecuted Mao's Anti-Rightist Campaign against intellectuals, who had criticized the party after the Chairman encouraged them to "let a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools of thought contend.

Deng's passion for loyalty cut both ways. During the Tiananmen crackdown of , he was outraged when Zhao Ziyang, his handpicked heir and party chief, broke publicly with majority opinion within the top leadership by taking a conciliatory approach toward the demonstrators. To Deng, it was disloyalty of the worst sort -- and he ousted Zhao.

Deng rejected demands by Zhao's foes for heavier punishment. Zhao has since lived his days in relative comfort, playing golf and traveling occasionally. Until the nanxun, the stigma of Tiananmen threatened to dominate Deng's legacy, overshadowing his achievements. There is little doubt that he bore ultimate responsibility for the decision to use military force against the protesters. Yet, in China beyond Beijing, the extent to which the incident will have a lasting impact remains to be seen.

In the s, the nation's cities have abandoned themselves to a feverish pursuit of wealth, while in the countryside the challenges of day-to-day living have always commanded greater attention than faraway political issues. Virtually all the countries that so loudly censured China in are now eager to secure their share of business in the world's biggest emerging market. Yet for a time after Tiananmen, Deng seemed to fade from politics.

In November he retired from his last official post, the chairmanship of the powerful Central Military Commission. Daughter Deng Rong says her father celebrated his retirement with a quiet family meal and a bottle of expensive red wine. By then, Deng clan repasts had grown to be sizable affairs. The entire extended family -- 18 in all -- ate dinner together every day. From his revolutionary days, Deng had developed simple eating habits.

He was never finicky about his food, and preferred coarse rice to the more refined variety. Deng's first two marriages, each of which lasted only months, produced no children. But his third, to Zhuo Lin in , endured more than 50 years. They had two sons and three daughters. The couple met at the party's revolutionary headquarters in Yanan, northwest China.

In those days, meals often consisted of radishes, crude millet and, on special occasions, steamed maize buns. Everything was strictly rationed. Deng once told Deng Rong: "I didn't do many things, but one thing I did do was to endure hardships. That didn't change much until after Tiananmen. From on, Deng embraced family life, as if to make up for all the lost time. He was a stickler for ceremony, at least around dinner time. He required the entire clan to wait at the table if even one person were late.

Deng enjoyed playing with his grandchildren and was often photographed with them. The patriarch was never a drinker, though he took two glasses of wine a day "for medicinal purposes," according to a newspaper account.

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And despite the nagging of his family, he smoked Chinese-made Panda-brand cigarettes at least until he was Deng acknowledged that it was his worst habit -- along with his frequent recourse to a spittoon. He also enjoyed watching sports programs on television, especially when the Chinese national team was in action.

This was the relatively leisurely life from which Deng emerged in to do political battle one last time. By then, Deng Rong was constantly by the side of her increasingly frail father, acting as his eyes, ears, voice and even memory. Often, she would lean down to whisper reminders of points he should make in speeches or people he should recall and why. In one sense, the trip was like a closing sprint at the end of a marathon run. Deng dashed to the finish line and left his conservative rivals and opponents gasping for breath. For Deng, the entire race had been remarkable.

But it was the last stretch that truly set him apart. He is best remembered for his simple maxims rather than for coherent policies: To defeat ideological attacks from the Maoists, he often quoted the Maoist dictum, ''Seek truth from facts. In this century China has been a land of warlords, invading armies, floods, famines and revolution. Tens of millions have died violently, or wretchedly from starvation.

Deng's inherent fear of disorder and the violence it has wrought explains his deep opposition to political pluralism. There was a time when Mr. Deng appeared briefly to embrace democratic ideals: As he struggled to regain power in , he identified with the goals of the Democracy Wall movement in Beijing. But in early , after he had gained the upper hand politically, he crushed the movement and sent its leader, Wei Jingsheng, to prison for 15 years.

When Mr.

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Deng's fiercest and most fearless critic, and found himself returned to prison seven months after his release. In , on the 35th anniversary of Communist rule, students at Beijing University hoisted a banner saying, ''Hello, Xiaoping! At the outset of , Beijing University students marching for democracy chanted, ''Xiaoping, hear our voice! Deng would embrace their goal. Instead he turned on them, crushed their movement and sacked the Communist Party general secretary, Hu Yaobang, for encouraging the democratic cause.

The more Mr. Deng resisted political reform, the more he seemed a guardian of a party elite that was doing little to bring corruption under control as China's economy gained speed. The party leaders, including Mr. Deng, were being chauffeured around in black Mercedes sedans. Some of their children became known as the princelings of conspicuous new wealth. And the leaders all seemed oblivious to their hypocrisy as they admonished the masses to guard against ''bourgeois liberalization. The death of Mr. Hu in April unleashed pro-democracy forces for a third time in Mr.

Deng's first decade as leader, but he was no longer a figure of hope.

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One Beijing University poster mourning Mr. Hu captured the antipathy toward Mr. Zhao Ziyang, the party chief tapped by Mr. Deng as a possible successor, showed sympathy for the Tiananmen demonstrators and was removed on the eve of the crackdown. Zhao's liberal tone in economic reform and political tolerance was buried by new edicts from the hard-line faction led by Prime Minister Li Peng.

In the aftermath of Tiananmen, Mr. Deng and his family took care to disguise his precise role in ordering the tanks and machine-gunners into Beijing, where they killed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of demonstrators and bystanders.

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Evans, the former British Ambassador, says in his biography that Mr. Deng was angry when he learned of the bloodshed around Tiananmen and told the President, Yang Shangkun, and Prime Minister Li that they had ''bungled the military operation appallingly. The sensitivity of fixing historic responsibility for the massacre was never lost on Mr.

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Deng, who understood that after his death, the harsh verdict with which he branded the Tiananmen demonstrators as counterrevolutionaries could be reversed and he could become history's villain. Deng's rule brought China nearly to the end of a century that opened with the Qing Dynasty still ensconced in the Forbidden City, the vermilion-walled palace compound at the center of Beijing. In the eight decades since the last Emperor, Pu Yi, was deposed in , tens of millions of Chinese have died in war, invasion and famine. Deng grew to manhood in the midst of chaos and became a revolutionary after spending five years in France on a work-study program, where he toiled in filthy factories that paid subsistence wages to Chinese.

His own family members were victims of a violent century: His father, Deng Wenming, was set upon by bandits near his home and killed in Deng was branded a public enemy, humiliated in ''struggle sessions'' and sent to work in a tractor factory. His younger brother, Deng Shuping, was driven to suicide in after weeks of abuse by Red Guards.

Deng's eldest son, Deng Pufang, was terrorized on the campus of Beijing University and, according to his sister Xiao Rong, attempted suicide by jumping from a fourth-floor physics laboratory window in September The fall broke his back and he suffered for months without adequate medical attention; he remains paralyzed.

Deng Xiaoping, like many of the emperors, combined the pursuit of a better life for the Chinese people with a studied ruthlessness to preserve the institution of power. As a young revolutionary, he exhorted peasants to kill landowners because, he is said to have reasoned, once the masses had blood on their hands, they would be more committed to the Communist cause. Deng would later earn a reputation as a pragmatist, but in the late 's he was an exponent of political repression and accelerated socialism. After intellectuals responded to Mao's invitation to ''let a hundred flowers bloom'' -- to express freely their criticisms of the Communist Party -- Mr.

Deng helped lead a witch hunt against those who had taken the invitation in full measure.