A Successor Generation

Chinese history is replete with tales of imperial intrigue and sanguinary succession struggles. No one, perhaps, understands the fate that may befall a leader's policies after his death better than Deng Xiaoping, who was twice purged by Mao Tse-tung but bounced back in 1978 to begin dismantling Maoism. Not long after Deng came to power, he told a gathering of top officials that choosing his successors was "a task of century-long significance." Since then, he has taken every possible precaution to ensure that Dengism will outlast him.

Deng began his effort by abandoning the personality cult and dictatorial system fostered by...

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