Deng passed away in 1997 and arranged to have his ashes scattered over the ocean. His legacy, like Mao’s, was mixed. Although never reaching the scale of Mao’s atrocities, Deng oversaw brutal crackdowns on students and dissidents. Unlike Mao, however, Deng could claim credit for launching an economic boom of unprecedented proportions.
After missteps with Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang, Deng settled on Jiang Zemin and Zhu Rongji as his chosen successors. Both products of Shanghai, Jiang would assume overall leadership of the party, with Zhu overseeing economic and domestic matters as Premier.
With the legitimacy of the party in free fall after 1989, Deng watched with trepidation as communist regimes collapsed in Eastern Europe. With Deng losing influence to conservatives like Li Peng and Chen Yun, he found a new ally in the mayor of Shanghai, Zhu Rongji. With Zhu’s help, Deng made a play to regain… Read more »