In Peking, the government is allowing only officially orchestrated demonstrations of grief. The wearing of black armbands and the laying of flowers in the square has been banned; the few individuals who have tried to leave wreaths at the monument have had their offerings quickly confiscated by police.
Elsewhere in the capital, however, it was an ordinary chilly winter Saturday, with shoppers going about their business. Only the nightlife had taken a downturn, as karaoke lounges and discos have been ordered closed and bars instructed not to offer live music during the six-day official mourning period.
Across China there have been only isolated reports of spontaneous public grieving. In Shenzhen, the village near Hong Kong which metamorphosed into a city under Deng's reforms, hundreds of bunches of flowers had been laid beneath a billboard picture of the former patriarch, with police keeping a watchful eye. In Sichuan province, thousands of mourners have swamped Paifang village where Deng was born.
Amid this tight control, the funeral arrangements for Mr Deng have been distinctly restrained. There is no farewell ceremony, no lying in state; he will be cremated privately before Tuesday's memorial service, and his ashes scattered at sea.
In death, Mr Deng has proved to be a model citizen, donating his corneas, giving his body up for dissection and insisting on cremation in line with regulations for land conservation. Government offices and factories have been told to ensure that everybody tunes in to the live broadcasts of the ceremony.
Mr Deng's political heirs are stressing they will continue his economic reform policies for "100 years". President Jiang Zemin, in his first public comments since the patriarch's death on Wednesday aged 92, said the Chinese "are determined to turn grief into strength". A protege of Mr Jiang, Jia Qinglin, was formally elected mayor of Peking.
At Peking University, where students were returning to start a new term, a large banner had been hung reading "Venerable Comrade Deng Xiaoping Will Live Forever" and the display cabinet was filled with a photo exhibition devoted to Deng.
The Chinese government's determination to identify any nascent student radicalism seems misplaced so far. A 21-year-old politics undergraduate said: "It seems that everybody is minding their own business. I think that is a good phenomenon."
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