TV reinforces Jiang's claim to succeed Deng

Chinese state television last night broadcast the first of a 12-part series on Deng Xiaoping amid a flurry of rumours about the health of the ailing 92-year-old patriarch. The series is designed to usher in 1997 as one of the most "significant" in Chinese history, with first the return of Hong Kong on 1 July and then the full Communist Party Congress in the autumn.

Mr Deng is the architect of China's reform and opening policies which have transformed the country since 1979, and the mastermind of the negotiations with Britain for the return of Hong Kong. The first programme introduced the great man's life story with choirs singing, white doves flying, and a montage of Mr Deng's face superimposed on a panorama of Tiananmen Square with time-delay film of orange clouds racing towards the camera.

It covered the first two decades of Mr Deng's life, starting with a guided tour of the restored family home in Sichuan province. No expense was spared, including sending a film crew to France to visit the various factories and towns where Mr Deng worked as a student after arriving in Marseille in 1920. As a result of his experiences in a Toulouse steel factory, the teenager "discovered how capitalists exploited the workers", the programme said. Before long he had become a "Communist believer". As well as reinforcing the official Deng myth, the series will seek to reaffirm the position of President Jiang Zemin as the inheritor of his mantle. Early in the first episode, in a filmed interview Mr Jiang gave in 1995, he lauded Mr Deng's role in China's 20th century history. With party in-fighting subdued while Mr Deng is still alive, it is in his interests that the old man lives until the party congress, when the President aims to cement his position as leader for the post-Deng era.

Mr Deng has not been seen in public for more than three years. The state of his health is secret, but he has so far defied repeated rumours that he was at death's door. In recent days, however, such rumours have re- emerged. The South China Morning Post in Hong Kong yesterday said that on Monday night nurses had been unable to wake him for supper. He recovered consciousness later that night and was put under intensive care in his Peking house, which is fitted out like a hospital. The newspaper quoted a source close to the family as saying since early 1996 Mr Deng had experienced a "spell of unconsciousness" about once a week. The source said he had not been admitted to hospital.

Earlier this week, Sing Tao Daily in Hong Kong quoted a Peking source as saying Mr Deng's health had deteriorated and he was sent to a military hospital last week. The Apple Daily, quoting Taiwan cable television, said Mr Deng's health had worsened and he had been sent to hospital. According to Reuters, no unusual movements had been noticed near the 301 hospital where Mr Deng is usually treated.

Analysts said the government would not have scheduled the television series if it thought Mr Deng, who is believed to have Parkinson's Disease and other ailments, might not make it to the last episode.

The introduction to the television series promised "the real story" of Deng Xiaoping, which will test China's view of history. His early life is basically uncontroversial, but the propaganda departments will have had a harder time in deciding how to portray his zealous role in the 1957 anti-rightist movement, when tens of thousands were persecuted. The treatment of China's great famine and the brutal Cultural Revolution when Mr Deng was purged will also attract scrutiny.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Credit Controller / Customer Service

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Engineers / Senior Electronics Engineers

£25000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in Henley-on-Thames, this...

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project