Authors: Ezra F. Vogel
There are several works in English that provided me with a good start for studying the Deng Xiaoping era before I plunged into the Chinese sources, but with the exception of Sun and Teiwes they were written before the chronologies and the reminiscences on the hundredth anniversary of his birth became available. I found especially useful the works by Richard Baum, Richard Evans, Joseph Fewsmith, Merle Goldman, Roderick MacFarquhar and Michael Schoenhals, Maurice Meisner, Qian Qichen, Robert Ross, Ruan Ming, Harrison Salisbury, Frederick Teiwes and Warren Sun, and Yu Guangyuan.
Ambassador Richard Evans, a wise and seasoned British diplomat and ambassador to Beijing from 1984 to 1988, drew on his own meetings with Deng and the resources of the British government to write
Deng Xiaoping and the Making of Modern China
, a highly literate, brief overview for the educated public that is mostly about Deng's years prior to 1973. Among Western political scientists, Richard Baum has done the most detailed study of the politics of the Deng era, which he reports in
. He draws on materials from China available before his book's publication in 1994 as well as works by Hong Kong analysts. He uses Hong Kong reports with discretion, but I have chosen to rely even less on these Hong Kong sources because it is hard to trace the origins of their information and therefore to assess their reliability. In
The Deng Xiaoping Era
, Maurice Meisner, a thoughtful scholar deeply knowledgeable about Marxist theory, presents Deng in the context of Marxist
theoretical issues. In preparing
Sowing the Seeds of Democracy in China: Political Reform in the Deng Xiaoping Era
, my longtime Fairbank Center colleague Merle Goldman traces the changing intellectual currents during the Deng era, drawing not only on publications but also on discussions with many of the intellectuals, especially dissidents, about whom she writes. Ruan Ming, author of
Deng Xiaoping: Chronicle of an Empire
, was a researcher at the Chinese Communist Central Party School until he was removed by party conservatives in 1983. Finding refuge in the United States, Ruan Ming presents a passionate critique of the conservative ideologues who dragged their feet on reforms.
Qian Qichen, author of
Ten Episodes in China's Diplomacy
, was foreign minister and vice premier during much of Deng's era and has written a balanced, informative work on the foreign policies of the era. Yu Guangyuan, who helped Deng prepare the text of his speech for the Third Plenum, describes this historical turning point in
Deng Xiaoping Shakes the World
. Because I helped edit the English translation of these two volumes, I had the opportunity to have supplementary discussions with the authors, both of whom, as former officials, had worked closely with Deng.
The late Harrison Salisbury, a journalist and the author of
The New Emperors: China in the Era of Mao and Deng
, was given access to several key leaders soon after Mao's death. Although some of his descriptions, such as those of Deng's relation to third-front industries, show serious misunderstandings, he was given much better access than most journalists and he relates fresh views that were not available to others at the time.
David Shambaugh, editor of
The China Quarterly
when Deng came to power, brought together a group of scholars to assess Deng and his era shortly after Deng withdrew from power in 1992. The articles were reprinted in the book
, edited by Shambaugh.
Frederick Teiwes and Warren Sun have done the most exhaustive reading of Chinese sources of any Western scholars for the period from 1974 to 1982 in preparation for a projected three volumes. They have published the first, spanning the years 1974 to 1976. They aim to get the basic facts straight in a highly detailed way, by carefully evaluating different interpretations of various events. Warren Sun, who has been more persistent for two decades in tracing every important fact about the era than anyone I know, later spent more than two months checking through various drafts of my manuscript, correcting errors and suggesting supplementary interpretations and key works.
Joseph Fewsmith has written the best book in English on the economic
debates of the era:
The Dilemmas of Reform in China
. Robert Ross has written excellent works that examine the foreign relations issues during the period. Roderick MacFarquhar, who has spent several decades studying Chinese elite politics and the Cultural Revolution, has written a three-volume set on
The Origins of the Cultural Revolution
and, with Michael Schoenhals,
Mao's Last Revolution
, about the Cultural Revolution. I have known all these authors and talked with all of them about Deng and his era. They have been generous in supplementing what is in their publications and giving me a clearer sense of some of the important issues about which they write.
In Chinese so much has been released that even the best Chinese scholars have not been able to read all of it. Beginning in the 1990s an explosion of information became available on the Chinese Internet. I have been assisted by many research assistants, but particularly by Ren Yi and Dou Xinyuan. Ren Yi's grandfather, first party secretary of Guangdong province Ren Zhongyi, was the great reform leader of Guangdong. Dou Xinyuan, who served for many years in the Economic Commission of Guangdong, combines personal experience with a scholar's determination to get at deeper truths within historical documents. Ren and Dou each spent over a year working full-time to help me cover vast amounts of material and to try to think through how Chinese people in various positions felt and acted. Yao Jianfu, an official in the Rural Development Institute under Zhao Ziyang, also spent several weeks going over my drafts of the chapters on economics.
The Chinese Internet is an extraordinary source for tracing names, dates, and the like, but beyond these specific issues it is often difficult to distinguish fact from fantasy or interesting storytelling. When articles on the Internet present important information without detailing the source, I have tried to track down the original sources, or at least compare them with other sources before using them. In doing so, I have found that
in particular is a very useful English-language website on Chinese officials who are still alive.
There are a great many reminiscences by officials who worked with Deng. The three-volume collection
Huiyi Deng Xiaoping
(Remembering Deng Xiaoping) is one of the best, though a similar series is the three-volume collection
Deng Xiaoping: Rensheng jishi
(Record of the Actual Events in the Life of Deng Xiaoping). Two excellent journals that contain many articles by those who worked with Deng are
Bainianchao. Yanhuang chunqiu
is edited by former high-level officials who are knowledgeable and reform-minded. A different view can be found in the book
Shierge chunqiu, 1975–1987
(Twelve Springs and Autumns, 1975–1987), written by the conservative
official Deng Liqun and published in Hong Kong, as well as in Deng Liqun's unpublished talks at the Contemporary China Research Institute (Dangdai Zhongguo Yanjiusuo), the research center he founded that has paved the way for many of the histories on post-1949 events.
There are also many accounts, often written by able Chinese journalists, of all the key figures of the era, including Chen Yun, Gu Mu, Hu Yaobang, Wan Li, Ye Jianying, and Zhao Ziyang, that provide varying perspectives. The best journalist's account of Deng is Yang Jisheng,
Deng Xiaoping shidai: Zhongguo gaige kaifang ershinian jishi
(The Age of Deng Xiaoping: A Record of Twenty Years of China's Reform and Opening). Official histories, like
Chen Yun zhuan
(Biography of Chen Yun), are carefully edited and based on documentary sources. Zhu Jiamu's book on Chen Yun (Zhu Jiamu, Chi Aiping, and Zhao Shigang,
), although brief, benefits from Zhu's five years' service as an assistant to Chen as well as careful research. In addition to the
Deng Xiaoping nianpu
, there are also official chronologies
for Chen Yun, Zhou Enlai, Ye Jianying, and a number of other officials who worked closely with Deng.
Another valuable resource is the national history
of China since 1949, seven volumes of which have already appeared, with three more forthcoming. Written by mainland scholars, including Gao Hua, Han Gang, Shen Zhihua, and Xiao Donglian, among others, this monumental work is being published by the Research Centre for Contemporary Culture, the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The volumes set a new standard of objective overall scholarship for the era.
The Chinese government has greatly increased the scope of what people can write about, but some works by well-informed insiders on the mainland are still considered too controversial to be published in Beijing. Hong Kong publishing, however, is much more open, so many of these books have been published in Hong Kong. Some of the most informative are those by Deng Liqun, Hu Jiwei, Yang Jisheng, Zhao Ziyang, and Zong Fengming. Among the reformers who have written their reminiscences is Hu Jiwei, former editor of the
(People's Daily), who authored
Cong Hua Guofeng xiatai dao Hu Yaobang xiatai
(From the Fall of Hua Guofeng to the Fall of Hu Yaobang).
Although chronologies of Hu Yaobang have not been published in the mainland, his mainland friends have published two lengthy two-volume chronologies in Hong Kong. One, edited by Sheng Ping, is
Hu Yaobang sixiang nianpu
(A Chronology of Hu Yaobang's Thought) and a second, edited by Zheng Zhongbing, is
Hu Yaobang ziliao changbian
(Materials for a Chronological
Record of Hu Yaobang's Life). There is also a three-volume biography by Zhang Liqun and others—
Hu Yaobang zhuan
(A Biography of Hu Yaobang)—that remains unpublished. Hu's friends have collected four volumes of recollections,
(Remembering Yaobang), which have been edited by Zhang Liqun and others and published in Hong Kong. And on the mainland, Hu's daughter, under the name Man Mei, published
Sinian yiran wujin: Huiyi fuqin Hu Yaobang
(Longing without End: Memories of My Father, Hu Yaobang).
Zhao Ziyang, while under house arrest after 1989, found a way to record in his own words an account of his history and personal views, a work that has been translated into English as
Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Premier Zhao Ziyang
, and edited by Bao Pu, Renee Chiang, and Adi Ignatius. After 1989, the outside person with whom Zhao spoke the most is Zong Fengming, who wrote
Zhao Ziyang, Ruanjinzhong de tanhua
(Conversations with Zhao Ziyang while under House Arrest). Zhao did not authorize the reminiscences by Zong, but he authorized and personally reviewed three recorded, highly focused conversations with journalist Yang Jisheng, published in
Zhongguo gaige niandai zhengzhi douzheng
(Political Struggle in the Period of Chinese Reform). These works, including some very critical of some of Deng's activities, offer valuable alternative perspectives to those given in the mainland publications.
I have also viewed Chinese documentaries showing Deng giving speeches, meeting people, visiting various sites, and relaxing with his family. At my direction, research assistants translated materials from the Russian.
In addition to general works on much of the Deng era, I have made use of many more specialized materials on specific subjects covered in this volume (see materials in English, Chinese, and Japanese that are included in the online bibliography and glossary at
Apart from various short trips to China, when I was in Beijing for longer periods—five months in 2006, one month in 2007, several weeks in 2008, one month in 2009, and several weeks in 2010—I had an opportunity to interview in particular three categories of knowledgeable people: party historians, children of top officials, and officials who worked under Deng. Except for several English-speaking Chinese who preferred to speak in English, the interviews were conducted in Chinese without an interpreter. In particular, I have benefited from extensive interviews with Zhu Jiamu, Cheng Zhongyuan, Chen Donglin, and Han Gang, all outstanding historians specializing in party history. I also conducted interviews with two children of Deng
Xiaoping (Deng Rong and Deng Lin), two children of Chen Yun (Chen Yuan and Chen Weili), and two children of Hu Yaobang (Hu Deping and Hu Dehua). In addition, I have interviewed children of Chen Yi, Ji Dengkui, Song Renqiong, Wan Li, Ye Jianying, Yu Qiuli, and Zhao Ziyang. They are all bright, thoughtful people. Discreet and filial, they shared concrete reminiscences that gave a flavor of their parents and their parents' colleagues.
The former officials I interviewed range from those who are great admirers of Deng Xiaoping to severe critics who feel both that Deng did not fully support Hu Yaobang and the intellectuals and that he tragically missed opportunities to push for political reform. Some are well-known officials who had worked with and under Deng, including former foreign minister Huang Hua, former president Jiang Zemin, former deputy head of the Organization Department of the party Li Rui, former vice premier Qian Qichen, and former first party secretary of Guangdong Ren Zhongyi. All of these officials had retired, allowing us to have a more leisurely conversation than would have been possible while they were still working.
I also benefited from interviews with a talented group of retired officials who worked under Deng, some of whom now write articles for the journal
, including Du Daozheng, Feng Lanrui, Sun Changjiang, Wu Mengyu, Yang Jisheng, and the late Zhu Houze. Some are occasionally criticized or warned for their outspoken comments, but generally they have been given freedom to express their views. In addition, I had a chance to interview scholars at research centers and universities in China. Scholars tend to be not as well informed on inner-party workings as those who served in the government and party under Deng, even if they are party members, but they often have had opportunities to know key people and some have read broadly and researched available documents with great care.