One per­sonal meet­ing that lasts a life­time

China Daily (Canada) - - FOCUS - By HUANG ZHILING in Guang’an, Sichuan huangzhiling@chi­

For the past two weeks, Deng Yuzhi, 82, has been re­vis­it­ing an im­por­tant part of his life.

At 8 pm sharp, Deng will tune in to State broad­caster China Cen­tral Tele­vi­sion’s lat­est TV se­ries Deng Xiaop­ing at His­tory’s Cross­road.

Like au­di­ences across the coun­try, Deng Yuzhi has been com­pletely mes­mer­ized by the 48-episode drama on late leader Deng Xiaop­ing’s ex­pe­ri­ences between Oc­to­ber 1976, when the “cul­tural revo­lu­tion” (196676) ended, and 1984, when the pol­icy of re­form and open­ing-up was im­ple­mented.

The drama is part of na­tion­wide ac­tiv­i­ties mark­ing Deng Xiaop­ing’s his­toric con­tri­bu­tions to China, amid the 110th an­niver­sary of his birth, which falls on Fri­day.

But the com­mem­o­ra­tion is more per­sonal for Deng Yuzhi.

“He ex­pe­ri­enced that im­por­tant pe­riod and met Xiaop­ing in per­son af­ter the ‘cul­tural revo­lu­tion’,” the oc­to­ge­nar­ian’s wife Zhang Xian­qiong said.

Deng Yuzhi was chief of the gen­eral of­fice of the Guang’an county com­mit­tee of the Com­mu­nist Party of China in Sichuan prov­ince on Feb 1, 1978 when the CPC Sichuan pro­vin­cial com­mit­tee asked him to take a re­port on the county’s agri­cul­tural and in­dus­trial out­put in 1977 to Chengdu, the pro­vin­cial cap­i­tal, where a leader of the CPC cen­tral com­mit­tee would read it.

Deng Yuzhi and two col­leagues spent 17 hours in a mini­van trav­el­ing to Jin­niu Ho­tel in Chengdu, which is in western Sichuan, from their moun­tain­ous county in the east­ern part of the prov­ince.

“We had a pleas­ant sur­prise — the leader read­ing the re­port was Xiaop­ing, a na­tive of Guang’an. We were very ner­vous be­cause we had never met such a high­rank­ing of­fi­cial be­fore,” Deng Yuzhi said in his study in down­town Guang’an.

But Deng Xiaop­ing, then vice-chair­man of the CPC Cen­tral Com­mit­tee, was ami­able and all smiles when he met the three peo­ple from his home county where he had never re­turned af­ter leav­ing at 15.

“Af­ter we took the seats in a re­cep­tion room (in Jin­niu Ho­tel), Xiaop­ing asked about the county’s grain out­put. He said it had been poor sev­eral years be­fore,” Deng Yuzhi said.

“Be­cause of rad­i­cal poli­cies, floods and droughts, the county’s grain out­put in 1975 plunged by more than 36 mil­lion kilo­grams from that of the pre­vi­ous year. In 1976, the county with more than 1 mil­lion peo­ple had slightly more than 100 kilo­grams of rice per capita. In other words, each per­son had less than 300 grams of rice a day.

“Tens of thou­sands of peo­ple fled the county as beg­gars and hun­gry farm­ers peeled tree bark for food in the spring of 1976,” he said.

When he told Deng Xiaop­ing the county’s grain out­put was 308 mil­lion kilo­grams in 1977, the leader said it was not enough — peo­ple had slightly more than 150 kilo­grams of grain per capita in a year.

Deng Xiaop­ing ad­vised the county to in­tro­duce new seeds which could raise the out­put by 50 or 100 kilo­grams per mu (0.07 hectare).

“Xiaop­ing said seeds would de­gen­er­ate if they were planted for two years, and na­tions of the world were all in­tro­duc­ing new seeds. He also sug­gested wa­ter con­ser­vancy pro­jects for the county,” Deng Yuzhi said.

Fol­low­ing the leader’s ad­vice, the county man­aged in 1982 to in­crease its grain yield to 500 kilo­grams per mu for the first time.

Deng Yuzhi is one of a few sur­viv­ing peo­ple who have met Deng Xiaop­ing and min­gled with his rel­a­tives, ac­cord­ing to Yuan Xian­feng, deputy sec­re­tary of the CPC Guang’an com­mit­tee.

He was familiar with Deng Xiaop­ing’s youngest un­cle Dan Yix­ing. To sup­port his farmer un­cle in Guang’an, Deng Xiaop­ing had 10 yuan ($1.6), a con­sid­er­able sum at that time, sent to him each month.

Soon af­ter the found­ing of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China in 1949, Deng Xiaop­ing brought his step­mother Xia Bo­gen to live with him. When Xia died in 2001 at 103, she had lived with the Dengs for 51 years. “Xiaop­ing treated the el­derly well,” Deng Yuzhi said. “He was a role model for the younger gen­er­a­tion.”

Deng Yuzhi

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