In 1978, Deng Xiaoping, China's paramount leader, launched the economic reforms that turned the world's most populous nation into an economic dynamo. Yet Deng also shaped the destiny of a China that to this day is locked in the iron embrace of the Chinese Communist Party and its ancient, intractable leaders—even though early in his regime Deng had held out to the Chinese people the promise of democratic reforms. Such is the "empire" of Deng Xiaoping. It is at one and the same time the world's third largest economy and a country imprisoned behind the bars of a political structure created by the founding "emperor," Mao Zedong. This book tells the inside story of the ideological memo a mano leadership battles that have made today's China a nation of great economic vitality and political despotism. Ruan Ming, a former associate of Deng Xiaoping's first designated successor, Hu Yaobang, was uniquely placed to view these battles with an experienced—and sardonic—eye. In 1978 he contributed to Deng's pathbreaking Third Plenum speech, which launched China's reforms. Throughout the 1980s, Ruan Ming joined with liberal reform forces in the CCP to push Deng toward both economic and political liberalism; this futile effort ultimately led to Ruan's purge from the CCP and relocation to the United States. In this revealing chronicle, although Deng Xiaoping is portrayed as a leader with some liberal political intentions, Ruan shows him to be utterly crippled by deep insecurities that have doomed any effort to break with his powerful cohorts in the "gang of old men"—those conservative manipulators in the Chinese Communist Party who oppose political change of any kind.
Foreword -- Note from the Translators and Editors -- Historical Chronology: 1976-1993 -- Introduction -- The Basis of Deng Xiaoping’s Power (1976-1979) -- Mao Dies and Hua Guofeng Blocks Deng Xiaoping’s Return -- Hu Yaobang Paves the Way for Deng’s Return -- Deng First Joins and Then Breaks with the Democracy Wall Movement -- The War to Punish Vietnam Lays the Foundation of Deng’s Power -- The Critical Element in Deng Xiaoping’s Reform (1979–1986) -- The Apotheosis of Chinese Reform: The Countryside Overwhelms the Cities -- From “Promoting Proletarian Ideology and Eliminating Bourgeois Ideas” to Reforming the Political System -- The Situation in Poland and Deng’s Second Break with the Democratic Reformers -- The Chen Yun Clique and the First Alliance Against Hu Yaobang -- Deng Counterattacks on the Economic Reform Front -- Deng Breaks with the Democratic Forces for the Last Time and Hu Yaobang Falls -- The End of the Empire (1987–1989) -- Deng Xiaoping and Zhao Ziyang Enjoy a Short Honeymoon -- The Self-Isolating “New Authoritarians” -- Tragedy for Democracy in Tiananmen Square -- The Defeat of Violence and the Last Days of the Empire -- Epilogue to the English Edition