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Panelists Discuss Deng's Rule

Praise Economic Reforms, Assails Political Crackdowns

By Matthew R. Hubbard

Panelists praised the economic reforms of recently deceased Chinese paramount leader Deng Xiaoping last night at a forum sponsored by the Fairbank Center for East Asian Research.

The forum, which was attended by about 250 people, was organized to discuss the significance of Deng's almost two-decade rule as well as what will follow in the wake of his death, said moderator Ezra F. Vogel, Henry Ford II professor of the social sciences.

Deng, who came to power in China in 1978, died Wednesday night in Beijing at the age of 92. He was one of the founding revolutionaries of Communist China, and was one of the last leaders to have participated in Mao Zedong's formation of the People's Republic of China in 1949 (see story, page 4).

Deng was praised by forum members for his economic policies, which advocated a shift from a state-controlled economy to a free-market system.

"Deng finally set China on a course so that the country could become powerful and her people could become prosperous," said Roderick MacFarquhar, Williams professor of history and political science.

Other forum members criticized Deng's authoritarian political policies, including the crackdown he initiated against student protestors in Tiananmen Square in April 1989.

Merle Goldman, a history professor from Boston University, called Deng's handling of the Tiananmen Square situation "his greatest failing."

"Deng didn't have a political vision," she said.

Stuart Schram, a research associate at the Fairbank Center and professor emeritus at the University of London, expressed concern about the effectiveness of Deng's successor, Jiang Zemin.

"Deng had thought, Jiang does not," he said.

The Chinese people need to feel they have a stake in the country before they can connect to the government, MacFarquhar said. This change will "only come through political reform." Hui K. Kuok '00, who attended the forum, said the praise of Deng's economic changes to China may have been over-emphasized.

"There are still loads of poor people in China," she said.

Some panelists, such as MacFarquhar, viewed Deng as a "transitional figure." Goldman disagreed.

"When the Chinese people look back on their recent history, they will view [Deng Xiaoping as] their most modern leader," she said

"There are still loads of poor people in China," she said.

Some panelists, such as MacFarquhar, viewed Deng as a "transitional figure." Goldman disagreed.

"When the Chinese people look back on their recent history, they will view [Deng Xiaoping as] their most modern leader," she said

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