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Laid-off Workers Cherish Memory of Deng Xiaoping

Whenever she recalls the ups and downs she experienced during the government reform and opening-up drive introduced in China in the late 1970s, Hu Zhifeng expresses hearty appreciation for Deng Xiaoping.

"If there was no Deng Xiaoping, there would be no development for me nowadays," said 42-year-old Hu, in anticipation of the centenary anniversary of the birth of Deng on Aug. 22.

Hu has run a large private architectural glass plant in Shanghai for several years, which is expanding its business with exports to a number of countries, including the United States and Japan.

But the satisfaction of running a successful business cannot erase the memory of bitterness and distress she felt eight years ago when she was laid off from a state-run plant in Shanghai.

Hu's simple but peaceful life was put on hold when she lost her job as an accountant after Shanghai's No. 2 Electronic Timepiece Plant went bankrupt for failing to survive the fierce competition caused by the market economy system created from the socialist planned economy as part of the reform and opening-up drive engineered by Deng.

Soon after she lost job in the winter 1996, Hu and her husband borrowed money from relatives and friends to establish their architectural glass manufacturing business.

The company is making a name for itself after making contributions to some symbolic buildings in Shanghai.

The introduction of the market economy in China forced state-run businesses to restructure, which often required them to reduce staff in efforts to enhance productivity. Millions of workers from state-owned enterprises in the country became jobless.

Lu Guorong, in his fifties, underwent the similar experience as Hu.

After Lu lost his position as a workshop director in a state-run enterprise, he hated Deng and regarded himself as a "victim of Deng's reforms. "

He was forced to make his way by pursuing six new jobs. He also found time to finish a graduate study in his spare time in two years.

Currently, however, Lu works as a marketing manager with an overseas-funded company in Shanghai, with a salary many times what he earned at the state-run company.

Calling to mind the bitterness he suffered after being laid-off, Lu said "any reforms definitely lead to painful sacrifice of personal interests."

Even so, Lu's opinion of Deng has changed dramatically.

"Deng is a great man," he said.

Not all of China's laid-off workers are so lucky to have found successful reemployment, but it is widely acknowledged that the reforms and opening-up have ushered in a new era in the development of the country.

In 2003, after 25 years of economic expansion, the country's GDP skyrocketed to 11.6 trillion yuan (US$1.4 trillion), ranking it 6th in the world.

China hit the development goal of 1,000 US dollars per capita GDP in 2003. The country's new strategic objectives are to quadruple 2000's GDP by 2020, and to achieve full modernization by the middle of this century.

(Xinhua News Agency August 14, 2004)

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