No major official celebrations were held to mark the 11th anniversary of Deng Xiaoping's death Tuesday, but other reminders of the late paramount leader's legacy seem to be everywhere in China as the country welcomes the 30th year of its economic reforms.
Nearly 13,000 tourists visited Deng's commemorative site in Guang'an City in the southwestern Sichuan Province on the anniversary, said Ma Fu, head of the management bureau in charge of the site.
He Yan, a villager from Xiexing Town in Guang'an, led her children to dedicate a flower basket to thank the man for her happy life.
She runs a restaurant serving local cuisine to tourists and earns more than 100,000 yuan (about 14,000 U.S. dollars) annually. While her parents were proud of owning watches and televisions, her family can now surf the Internet in their two-story home.
"It's due to Deng Xiaoping. Without his decision to initiate the reform, I would not have enjoyed this prosperity today," she said. "Deng changed the fate of so many people."
Deng died of Parkinson's disease and a lung infection at 92 in 1997. His impact on the country has grown with time.
Thirty years ago, Deng and other senior leaders gathered for the Third Plenum of the 11th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. The meeting marked the beginning of China's reform and opening-up drive.
The plenum introduced a series of important decisions on reform which represented a turning point in the history of the CPC and New China since its founding in 1949.
The reform and opening policies since then have boosted China's economy and lifted the country from poverty and backwardness to the fourth largest economy. Deng has been called the chief architect of China's reform and opening up.
The Beijing News, a mainstream newspaper based in the Chinese capital, on Tuesday looked back at the 30 years of reform and opening up on the anniversary of Deng's passing.
"We choose today to begin our retrospect on the reform and opening up policy that formed the seeds of a revolution that would lift hundreds of millions out of poverty," it said in its editorial.
The Communist Party of China (CPC) website on Tuesday introduced a new book, The Last 20 Years of Deng Xiaoping, to commemorate his contribution to the country and its emergence as a global player.
In the southern city of Shenzhen, one of the country's first Special Economic Zones that lured foreign investment into the industrial sector, the local official daily newspaper carried a long article praising Deng's legacy, particularly his speech that was delivered during a tour of southern China in 1992.
The speech arbitrated the debate among officials and scholars about the proper attitude to the market economy that has become the underlying system in China.
"Practice of a planned economy is not equivalent to socialism because there is also planning under capitalism; Practice of a market economy is not equivalent to capitalism because there are also markets under socialism." This is one of his most oft-repeated quotes.
Experts believe Deng's simple but penetrating paradox paved the way for China's switch from a planned economy to a market economy.
Deng used to tell party leaders that reform and opening up require greater boldness and courageous experiments, and must not proceed like a woman with bound feet.
China has never rein in its steps to carry on the reform and opening up drive.
In his report to the 17th National Congress of the CPC, President Hu Jintao said, "the orientation and path of reform and opening up are entirely correct, and their merits and achievements can never be negated. To stop or reverse reform and opening up would only lead to a blind alley".
Zhou Ruijin, former People's Daily vice editor-in-chief, wrote in an commemorating article, "Comrade Xiaoping always encouraged us to emancipate our mind and to take more courage to be the first. We need this kind of courage and wisdom, don't we?"
(Xinhua News Agency February 20, 2008)