Twilight of A Titan

With Deng Xiaoping's health failing fast, Beijing frets over his successor

IF ONE WERE TO WALK IN A CIRCLE around the courtyard of the Beijing bungalow that 90-year-old Deng Xiaoping shares with more than a dozen members of his extended family, the distance covered would add up to exactly 165 yds. Until last year China's most powerful patriarch would complete this circuit 20 times in the course of his two daily walks. He was extremely serious about his count, carefully ticking off the rounds to himself each time he finished a lap.

But now the man who survived the persecution and chaos of the Cultural Revolution to set the country on the...

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