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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 10:24, December 22, 2004
Deng Pufang: Carrying forward humanitarianism (I)
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Photo:Deng Pufang
Deng Pufang
Editor's Notes: He comes from a special family, but he has always lived a simple and plain life; he was once subject to inhuman treatment, but he has been devoted himself to the promotion of humanitarianism; he is one of China's 60 million disabled persons, but he is also a pioneer and guide in the cause of China's handicapped people. Beginning from December 15, People's Daily (Overseas Edition) will relay in two parts the text of the exclusive interview with Deng taken place on December 4 as appeared in a CCTV broadcast program.

  • December 3 every year is an unusual day for Deng Pufang, because the annual World Disabled Day always pushes him and the China Disabled Persons' Federation he led into the limelight. As the eldest son of China's second-generation leader Deng Xiaoping, the name of Deng Pufang has been closely tied with the country's welfare cause for the disabled.

    Reporter: They say your name is of special origin. Is it really given by Marshal Liu Bocheng?

    Deng: Yes. I needed a formal name before going to school in Chongqing. At that time the two families of Liu and Deng lived together and their children played together. So my father asked General Liu to give me a name.

    Reporter: But your father himself could do this.

    Deng: But, you know, Marshal Liu is a man of great learning. Because my infant name was "Pangpang" ("pang" means plump), Marshal Liu added "u" to "p" and capped "ang" with "f", and put the two together to give me the name "Pufang" which means "plain and upright". He personally consulted the dictionary before he did this. This name gives me a life-long influence.

  • Born in wartimes, little Deng Pufang followed his father to move from place to place, until the Deng family settled down in Beijing in the early days of the founding of P.R. China in 1949. Just as his name suggests, Deng continued to live a plain life as a child of an ordinary family despite the fact that his father was a state leader.

    Deng: When I was studying in the "August 1" primary school, there was a bad tendency among students--comparing rankings of their fathers, saying: someone's father is a regimental commander; someone's a senior commander and someone's a general. When asked what my father was, I said I didn't know, or he was nobody. This gave me the feeling that it seemed we were inferior to others.

    Reporter: Is it that your parents particularly asked you not to argue with others about such things?

    Deng: No, my father didn't say anything about his official ranking, nor did my mother tell me my father's post. We never asked about this. It was not until studying in grade five when I was 11 that somebody told me secretly "your father is finance minister", I asked "really?" At that time my father was acting concurrently as finance minister. I remember that one day when I was in middle school, my bike broke down. I had not a penny in my pocket, so I borrowed money from my teacher to buy a bus ticket. Later the teacher asked me, why, as son of the General Secretary, you didn't have a single penny in your pocket? All my trousers were patched at that time, When I had my new trousers on, I didn't know where to put my legs.

    Reporter: For a long time after you entered middle school, your classmates, even your teachers didn't know you were son of Deng Xiaoping?

    Deng: That's the case. I stayed six years in the No. 13 Middle School, and in senior grade two, a Youth League cadre of our class wondered if they should invite my father to write an inscription for the class activity. So he asked another League member to talk to me, since my father was the General Secretary (of the Communist Party of China, or CPC). That classmate exclaimed, Oh, he is son of the General Secretary! We had been classmates for five or six years but he never knew it. At that time I didn't think it as anything, for I was the same as others, nothing special.

    Reporter: Did your father set any special demands on you? Didn't he tell you not to say anything about your family background to others?

    Deng: My father didn't, but my mother did say that, she hoped we wouldn't mention that. We didn't feel it necessary to say what my father was, either, and we intentionally avoided mentioning it when filling in forms.

    Reporter: Why you did so?

    Deng: I couldn't figure out what my parents thought about this. But as I recall it now, I think maybe they hoped that we could live in a normal environment. I benefited significantly from this point, from childhood up to grown-up, I lived, played and studied together with a group of ordinary children, without any feelings of estrangement. Isn't this great?

    Reporter: But at that time it was impossible for you to imagine the subsequent twists and turns in your life, wasn't it?

    Deng: Of course not. It was a society filled with ideals at that time, in which we were educated to establish an outlook on life and a communist world outlook. When I took the college entrance examination, I applied for majoring in nuclear physics of technical physics department, longing for working in deep mountains after graduation.

  • Deng Pufang's revolutionary ideal, however, didn't come true as he wished. In 1966, when Deng was in his fourth college year, the Cultural Revolution started. His father Deng Xiaoping soon became a central target of attacks. Deng Pufang, as well as his elder sister Deng Lin and younger sister Deng Nan, all got severely criticized and kept under control at their respective schools, for the rebellion factions attempted to extract from them "evidence of crime" against their father.

    As Deng Xiaoping's eldest son, Deng Pufang bore the brunt of those vicious attacks. He suffered brutal persecutions, was labeled as a counterrevolutionary and was disqualified from being a probationary Party member. In August 1968, Deng Pufang, who could no longer endure maltreatment and humiliation, chose to throw himself down a building. He has since then refused to recall the nightmare and this is the first time he revealed to the media that phase of history.

    Reporter: Finally, what kind of pressure gave you unbearable pain?

    Deng: after a long time of interrogations, probably, I felt that I was a person who would not tell lies but could not tell the truth. I hoped that I was a man of dignity, but if I were a counterrevolutionary, there would be no future and hope for me. I'm a person eager to do well and, frankly speaking, I was quite revolutionary at that time. But when you realized that, yourself, an earnest revolutionary, was treated as a counterrevolutionary, you would be fatally frustrated. So when I heard them calling me counterrevolutionary, I thought it was the end of me.

    Reporter: When you resorted to extremity you must be firmly determined to die?

    Deng: Yes, that's it. At that moment I was pretty sure that an end had come to me, your career, whether as a revolutionary or a counterrevolutionary, had ended. There was no way before you. Recalling that now, I realize that I was still young at that time, but I was not flexible enough.

    Reporter: Where did they send you after you got injured?

    Deng: To the No.3 Beijing Hospital first, and, after staying a couple of days there, without undergoing operation, I was transferred to the Hospital of Peking University.

    Reporter: Why no operation?

    Deng: There certainly would be no operation on a counterrevolutionary like me.

    Reporter: How many days did you stay in the first hospital?

    Deng: I don't remember. I had a dizzy mind at that time.

    Reporter: Were you conscious?

    Deng: Probably I came round once after injury, but fainted again, when I came to again I found myself in hospital.

    Reporter: When did you get treatment?

    Deng: I was given no medical treatment, and was just lying there.

    Reporter: Just lying?

    Deng: Yes.

    Reporter: When did you really feel the need to live on after you finally came to?

    Deng: Never. When I finally came around I was utterly dejected. Life and death made no difference for me. As we Chinese often say, nothing is more lamentable than a loss of heart, I was just in such a state in which one feels no pain when he has a loss of heart.

  • The lack of timely treatment has irremediably paralyzed Deng Pufang from the chest down. Six months later, he was sent to a welfare home in suburban Beijing. At that time, the couple of Deng Xiaoping had been transferred to Jiangxi to work in the countryside. This turned out to be the hardest time for Deng Pufang.

    In June 1971, upon repeated requests of Deng Xiaoping, the central authority finally agreed to send Deng Pufang to Jiangxi, where he felt deeply his father's love.

    Reporter: How many years hadn't you seen your parents?

    Deng: Three or four years probably!

    Reporter: Didn't your father say anything when seeing you after three or four years' separation, especially when you departed you were a healthy lad?

    Deng: No, he said nothing. He just looked at me, speechless. I don't remember seeing him weeping, but I knew he was weeping at heart, tears or even blood.

    Reporter: How did you spend your days in Jiangxi?

    Deng: At that time, I was no longer a Party member, and I was actually jobless.

    Reporter: Your physical conditions didn't allow you a job even if you were given one.

    Deng: No. My parents still hoped that I could do something, so did I myself. I tried to teach myself the skill of fixing radios or cameras at an army factory. But workers there were poor and there were scarcely any such things for me to repair. So I began reading books at home, and I could read a pile in a week.

    Reporter: Who looked after you? And how?

    Deng: My mother did most of the work, and my grandma helped. For a heavier task, such as rubbing me down, my father did it.

    Reporter: But he was already 69 then.

    Deng: Yes, an old man indeed. At that time my mother suffered from serious high blood pressure, and my grandma was even older, so my father became the robust labor in the family.

    Reporter: The tragedy on you must cause great pain to your parents, could you see it?

    Deng: I couldn't. He must be sad, but he wouldn't show it.

    Reporter: As a state leader, he couldn't afford time to take good care of his children.

    Deng: But he never mentioned these things even after the Cultural Revolution ended. I always believe I've never done anything unfair to others, except for my parents, in my life.

    Reporter: Why?

    Deng: Because what I did inflicted great pain on them, I feel terribly sorry for them. They took good care of me and educated me meticulously. But I brought them much pain in return.

    Reporter: But your fate is linked with their political fate.

    Deng: Of course, all of us are linked up, and isn't it the case with my brothers and sisters? But it's me who gave them the greatest pain.

    (To be continued)

    By People's Daily Online

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