8

Deng’s China

The arrest of the Gang of Four led to widespread celebration in China, not so much because the Chinese people knew a great deal about each member, but because it seemed to portend a final stop to the endless and exhausting mass movements that Mao and the radicals so loved to promote. In the summer of 1977 all four members were expelled from the party. Meanwhile, Deng Xiaoping was making a comeback. In early 1977 he was allowed to go back to Beijing, and he quickly emerged as the party’s dominant personality, effectively shunting Hua Guofeng aside. It simply did not matter any more that Mao had apparently designated Hua as his successor; people were fed up with Mao and his antics. Deng was soon leading the charge against the radicals and moved, along with the fellow moderate Hu Yaobang, to purge the party of its extremists. The pendulum had swung the other way, and now the radicals who had joined the party during the heady days of the Cultural Revolution were subject to summary expulsion. Deng and his supporters then launched an enormously popular program of reform in China.

Deng detested the personality cult that Mao and his devotees had fostered, and he quickly dismantled it. Huge statues of Mao were pulled down all over China, and Deng rejected all attempts to create a similar personality cult around himself. Deng wanted to change China, but he

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