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World leaders praise Deng's economic legacy


The Dalai Lama expresses regrets

February 19, 1997
Web posted at: 10:15 p.m. EST

(CNN) -- World leaders acknowledged the death Wednesday of Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping largely by focusing on his legacy of economic reform, rather than his government's political repression.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a statement, said Deng would be remembered "in the international community at large as a primary architect of China's modernization and dramatic economic development."


Deng's leadership and reforms "have improved the lives of so many of his fellow citizens immeasurably," Annan said.

French President Jacques Chirac, in a message to Deng's wife, Zhuo Lin, said the Chinese leader played a unique role in history.

"In the course of this century, few men have, as much as he, led a vast human community through such profound and determining changes," Chirac said.


Britain's Prime Minister John Major recognized Deng's contribution in negotiating the terms under which the British colony of Hong Kong would be returned to China in July 1997.

"He played a key role in the process which led to the Joint Declaration on Hong Kong in 1984 embodying his visionary concept of one country, two systems," a spokesman for Major's office said.

Taiwan, Tibet react to death

Taiwan's Presidential Office sent its condolences to Deng's family Thursday. Taiwan and China have been diplomatic rivals since the Chinese civil war split them in 1949.

"We hope in the future ... for a peaceful, cooperative, prosperous new era between the two sides of (Taiwan) Strait," Huang Kun-hui, secretary-general of the Presidential Office, said in a statement.

The Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, voiced regret that Deng died without resolving questions over Tibet.

"Deng Xiaoping had been involved in the Tibetan issue from the very beginning, all the way through right up to the end, so it seems he had the intention to resolve the Tibetan issue himself during this own lifetime," the Dalai Lama said in an interview with the Tibetan service of Voice of America radio.

Historically, Tibet had been culturally separate from China, ruled by a theocratic Buddhist elite until 1950 when China's People's Liberation Army took over the area. The Dalai Lama and tens of thousands of followers fled into exile.

The Dalai Lama, who now lives in India, passed no judgment on Deng's rule. A translation of the interview was provided by the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet.


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