Deng Xiaoping and Grandchildren Plant Trees on Festival for the Dead
BEIJING (AP) _ China’s top leader, Deng Xiaoping, went with his two grandchildren Sunday to plant cyprus trees in the Temple of Heaven Park in the annual ceremony coinciding with the Qing Ming festival honoring the dead.
″I have taken my granddaughter with me to plant trees for six years already,″ Deng said. ″I am also bringing along my grandson today.″
The children are aged seven and one, according to the official news agency Xinhua. Deng is 82.
Xinhua said 170 trees were planted by Deng, Premier Zhao Ziyang, National People’s Congress Chairman Peng Zhen and members of the Communist Party’s ruling Politburo and policy-setting Central Committee.
Overall, Xinhua said, 1.5 million trees were planted in Beijing.
Leaders of the comunist revolution that ousted the Nationalist Chinese in 1949 were honored at the Monument to the People Heroes at Tiananmen Square.
Half the square, Beijing’s largest, was blocked off for an official ceremony in which children’s groups participated. Thousands of spectators were later allowed to place white paper flowers at the monumument honoring the dead.
The Qing Ming festival has been politically sensitive since rioting broke out in 1976 when hundreds of thousands of people staged a mass demonstration to honor the late Premier Chou En-lai and protest the radical regime of the ″Gang of Four.″
There were rumors in Beijing for several days that there might be a resurgence of student protests at the square on Sunday, but no disturbances were reported.
Pro-democracy student demonstrations spread to more than a dozen cities in December and early January, prompting a major crackdown on what conservative communist leaders called bourgeois liberalization - favoring Westernization and capitalism over socialism.