Political tensions simmer as China prepares to cremate Deng
February 23, 1997
Web posted at: 11:45 a.m. EST (1645 GMT)
In this story:
BEIJING (CNN) -- China prepared Sunday for final funeral rites for deceased
amid hints of
political infighting among Communist foes.
(Mike Chinoy reports: 220 K / 20 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
Chinese soldiers in ceremonial green uniforms with yellow and
red piping practiced carrying an empty transparent coffin at a
cemetery for Communist veterans in western Beijing.
Eulogies praising Deng's economic reforms that lifted tens of
millions of Chinese out of poverty gushed from state-run
media, along with photographs of Deng and his chosen
successor, President and Communist Party Secretary
Deng, who died Wednesday evening at age 92, will be cremated
Monday, following a small private ceremony at a Beijing
An estimated 10,000 of Communist China's elite are to honor
Deng at a memorial service Tuesday in Beijing's Tiananmen
Square. No international heads of state have been invited
because Deng, who retired in 1990, was officially a private
citizen with no higher title than "comrade."
Deng's family has asked that his ashes be
displayed during the memorial service in a casket covered
with the red Communist flag before being scattered at sea.
In a sign that old rivalries are beginning to resurface,
President Jiang has reportedly refused to allow former
Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang to attend the memorial
service -- an order in defiance of Deng's family.
Zhao, to the angst of Communist hard-liners, had sided with
students in ill-fated 1989 pro-democracy protests. Zhao has
remained under a virtual house arrest for the past several
(Mike Chinoy reports: 275 K / 25 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
Also excluded from the memorial service list is China's top
conservative ideologue, Deng Liqun, who openly criticized the
patriarch for making a 1992 tour of southern China that
jump-started a faltering economy. He was not invited at the
Deng Liqun, who is not related to the paramount leader, was the head of China's propaganda for several years under Deng Xiaoping and had been personally loyal to him for years.
Meanwhile, authorities have tightened security throughout the
nation, especially around Beijing's Tiananmen Square, where
government troops crushed pro-democracy movements in 1989
that left hundreds, if not thousands, of demonstrators dead.
Chinese sources said the military had been placed on high
alert since Deng's death and were prepared to use force in
dealing with potential ethnic unrest or any other threat to
"The government is very worried about any upsurge of protests
or dissent during this very delicate period immediately after
Deng's death," CNN's Mike Chinoy said from Beijing.
In the capital, extra patrols circled main streets and stood
at intersections. Plainclothes police confiscated flowers
from people headed toward a memorial for revolutionary heroes
in the center of Tiananmen Square, where flags flew at
The government also ordered discos, karaoke lounges and other
entertainment spots to close during the six-day mourning
period that ends with Tuesday's memorial.
But despite signs of political jockeying at the top and
increased security concerns, for most of China's 1.2 billion
people, the fourth day of official mourning passed
In Shenzhen, the southern boom town near Hong Kong that
Deng's reforms created, hundreds of people on Saturday laid yellow flowers beneath a billboard bearing his likeness.
Thousands of mourners streamed to Deng's birthplace, the
isolated Paifang Village in the hills of southwestern Sichuan
province. And throughout the nation, mourners packed state
bookstores to buy posters and biographies of the late leader.
"I hope God will take care of him," one worshipper said at a service in Beijing.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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