Former Chinese propaganda chief and communist hardliner Deng Liqun died on Tuesday at the age of 100, Agence France-Presse reported, citing a statement from the Communist Party central authorities.
A terse dispatch from Xinhua News Agency said Deng was praised as “an excellent Party member, a time-tested and loyal communist soldier, a proletarian revolutionist, an outstanding leader in the Party’s ideological and theoretical publicity work, and a Marxist theorist”.
Deng was a fierce critic of the economic reforms championed by the late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, AFP said.
He joined the Communist Party in 1936 and after the victory of Mao Zedong’s forces in 1949, worked in Xinjiang where he helped to quell Muslim resistance to Communist rule.
He was purged during the chaotic Cultural Revolution but was rehabilitated in the 1970s. The hardline leftist served as party propaganda chief from 1982 to 1985 and played a key role in purging liberal intellectuals.
In 1995 he distributed an internal document charging that uninhibited economic development triggered by the paramount leader’s reforms risked ruining the party and socialism.
In another document distributed before Deng Xiaoping’s death in February 1997, he accused the leader and his protege, then president Jiang Zemin, of the possible destruction of the party.
He was barred from Deng’s funeral, ironically along with former party secretary Zhao Ziyang whom he had helped oust after the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy protests.
In 2001 he attacked Jiang’s attempt to allow capitalist entrepreneurs to join the party.
In an open letter, he accused Jiang of violating Communist Party regulations, predicted the death of the party if Jiang’s theory was embraced, and slammed the “cult of personality” around the leader.
The internet letter railed against the corruption within the party which he said had flourished since China began economic reforms 20 years earlier.
“Private entrepreneurs have long ago established ties with members of the Communist Party in an exchange of money for power,” the letter said.
“By entering the Chinese Communist Party, corruption in China will become more open, the party will become even more corrupt with every level of the party wanting private entrepreneurs to become party members.”
Deng was born in November 1915, the report said, citing Chinese sources. It explained that in China, a person is considered aged one from the moment of birth, unlike in Western cultures, which begin counting after the baby’s first year is completed.
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