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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chinese Wake Up To Life After Deng

BEIJING -- Ten thousand people will be invited to the funeral of Deng Xiaoping on Tuesday in China's Great Hall of the People, and his eyes will be donated for transplant and his organs for research.

Deng's family, in keeping with his wishes, requested that there be no solemn bowing before his corpse. His ashes will be scattered at sea rather than saved, and foreign leaders will not attend his funeral, the high-level Communist Party committee overseeing the arrangements said Thursday.

Deng, one of the last leaders of the Communist revolution, died Wednesday night of a lung infection and Parkinson's disease. He was 92. Increasingly frail, he was last seen in public three years ago.

The first test of Deng's legacy will be whether his handpicked successors, party General Secretary Jiang Zemin and the other, younger technocrats installed in the 1990s, will withstand the political maneuvering sure to follow his death.

The 459-member funeral committee headed by Jiang declared a six-day period of mourning. It said a "memorial meeting," to be attended by 10,000 people, would be held Tuesday at Beijing's Great Hall of the People, the cavernous building where all major state functions are held.

At the start of the ceremony, at 10 a.m. local time, sirens will sound throughout the nation for three minutes.

The memorial will be broadcast live, and party offices around the country are to make arrangements to allow all Chinese to watch or listen, the committee said.

In announcing the arrangements, the committee released a letter Deng's widow, Zhuo Lin, and his five children sent to Jiang on Feb. 15.

"The last thing that we do for Comrade Xiaoping should embody his spirit and character, and our grief should be expressed in the simplest, most solemn way," the letter said.

The family noted Deng's request that his organs be used for research and his eyes for transplant.

Messages of condolence and praise poured in from around the world.

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

Russian President Boris Yeltsin said Deng had made a great contribution to "removing the vestiges of the past from Russian-Chinese relations" and pushed the former rivals to an "equitable and trustful partnership."

But unlike the aftermath of death of Deng's mentor, Mao Tse-tung, Beijing did not grind to a halt Thursday in an outpouring of grief -- a testimony to the changes Deng brought China.

The roads filled with cars and bicycles as the city bustled off to work. Young, well-dressed Chinese, products of an era shaped by Deng's insistence that making money and trying to get ahead are perfectly acceptable, said they were too busy to be interviewed.

As on any normal day, hundreds of people gathered on Tiananmen Square at dawn to watch soldiers hoist the red, five-starred Chinese flag before a giant portrait of Mao. It was only when the flag was lowered to half-staff that the crowd sensed something had happened.

"It's a big loss for China. Even though life in China is hard, under Deng things improved," said a man who identified himself only as Mr. Li, a 64-year-old retired official. "It feels as if something is missing."

Praise for Deng spanned all generations. Older Chinese remember the destitution and political turmoil they endured before Deng took power. Younger Chinese who grew up under his market reforms appreciate the affluence and opportunities they have brought.

Having installed a collection of hand-picked Communist functionaries to take his place, Deng exercised power from behind the scenes after retiring from his last official post in 1990. But his increasingly frail health eventually ended his direct involvement in day-to-day politics.

Over the past two years it became clear that Jiang, 70, was firmly ensconced at the center of the collective Communist leadership that has succeeded Deng.

But behind the facade of party unity lie factional rivalries and disagreements that are sure to surface now that Deng is no longer around to constrain them.

A meeting of China's national legislature next month, the return of Hong Kong to Chinese rule on July 1 and a party congress to reshuffle top posts in the fall will provide chances for the politically ambitious.

The younger aspirants lack Deng's clout, especially with the all-important military and the few remaining powerful party elders.

Successors will have to continue to manage by building consensus among influential constituencies.

Deng's slow withdrawal from power gave Jiang plenty of time to put in place his own backers in the powerful military and police, who stand prepared to quash all opposition or dissent. Most dissidents are in exile or imprisoned in labor camps.

There were no signs Thursday that leaders had sent large numbers of troops or police around the city. Uniformed guards in green padded coats, carrying AK-47 rifles, stood watch outside the alley to Deng's home near the palace where China's emperors ruled for 500 years.

Deng's successors face grave economic and social problems, the unintended consequences of his successful reforms.

State industries are moribund and crime rates have soared, partly due to the growing gap between rich and poor. More than 100 million rural laborers are idle, and many are flooding into cities looking for work.

Beijing has found it increasingly difficult to enforce control over the vast countryside, having loosened the economic ties that bound local governments and party officials to the center.

By breaking the "iron rice bowl" of lifetime employment, opening the country to foreign investment and allowing family farming, Deng enabled peasants and workers to afford such luxuries as televisions, refrigerators and washing machines for the first time. Many city residents now own private cars and mobile phones.

"The generation above us had a tough life. But our generation has been luckier, and that's because of Deng," said Johnson Chiu, a 17-year-old student munching on a burger and fries at a McDonald's in downtown Beijing.