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Poems, Philosophy, Exhibits Mark Deng’s 92nd Birthday

August 22, 1996

BEIJING (AP) _ Deng Xiaoping turned 92 today, and China honored its paramount leader with a poem, essays and other tributes to the man credited with bringing prosperity to this nation after decades of turmoil.

Deng, believed to be in poor health, has not appeared in public in more than two years. There were no public events to celebrate his birthday.

But the state-run media marked the occasion, praising the man dubbed the ``Great Architect″ of China’s economic reforms with essays on his philosophy and a report on a 3,000-line poem, ``Ode to Deng Xiaoping.″

``Without Deng, my generation and I would not have what we have today. And modern-day China would not be as prosperous and glorious as it is,″ Gui Xinghua, author of the ``Ode,″ told the state-run Xinhua News Agency.

Like millions of other intellectuals, the 49-year-old Gui spent part of his youth as a farm laborer in the countryside during the 1966-1976 ultraleftist Cultural Revolution.

Deng has remained China’s most influential political figure despite having relinquished his last official title in 1990.

The government rarely comments on Deng’s health or whereabouts, and he has not appeared in public since early 1994. He has Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative brain disorder, and is thought to be living in quiet retirement in his heavily guarded Beijing home.

His eldest son, Deng Pufang, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that his father’s health is ``good.″ He spoke in Brazil, where he was on a trip in his capacity as president of China’s Disabled Persons Federation.

Last month, Deng Pufang triggered speculation Deng was on his deathbed when he defended his father’s legacy from critics on the party’s right and left in a stinging speech to the Chinese Federation of the Disabled.

Deng eschewed the personality cult that characterized the last years of his predecessor Mao Zedong’s rule, preferring to exercise his power behind the scenes. In light of this, the government-controlled media tends to limit its comment on Deng to publishing theoretical essays and reports on books, exhibits and other works about him.

Today, several official newspapers carried essays on the study of ``Deng Xiaoping Thought″ _ collections of his pronouncements on the Chinese form of market-oriented socialism.

The Liberation Army Daily, a newspaper run by the military, one of Deng’s power bases, ran a commentary eulogizing his strategies for developing China.

``Deng always placed the spirit of searching for truth and stressing results at the center of his strategic designs, doubtlessly reflecting the urgent hopes of hundreds of millions of people,″ the commentary said.

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