SMOOTH LEADERSHIP TRANSITION
Deng eventually asked for early retirement, which Yan Jianqi believes was "one of the greatest contributions Deng made to the Party and to the country."
In March 1986, Deng first revealed that he was considering retiring from the top positions. Later in the same year, he reiterated on several different occasions that he advocated the abolishment of a life-long tenure system for the Chinese presidency and the establishment of a retirement mechanism.
When he eventually resigned from his last post as the chairman of the CPC Central Military Commission, Deng said, "I wish I could live like a common person, have a simple life and walk around the street."
"He was the first top person in the Party to take the lead in retirement, despite all kinds of pressures and objections. I still remember some of the newspapers' front-page headlines such as 'Comrade Xiaoping can not leave us', but he made it," Yan said.
"It's an important step forward in reforming China's political system, which promoted the peaceful transition of leadership to the new generation in later years," Yan said.
China also saw former president Jiang Zemin give up the top job in China's military in September 2004 and hand over his last post to Hu Jintao, which completed a historic orderly leadership transition to a younger generation.
Hu replaced Jiang as the Party chief in 2002 and as president in 2003.
Observers believe that such a peaceful leadership succession has guaranteed a good political environment for China's economic development and other political reforms.
"In the past 10 years, the legislation work has advanced at an unexpectedly fast speed, with various fruits of reform and opening-up timely enshrined in laws, and the anti-corruption fight is supported by a increasingly comprehensive institutional frame," Yan said.
So far, China has enacted more than 400 laws, 800 administrative regulations and 8,000 local ordinances.
Last year alone, China's anti-graft fight led to the downfall of a number of high-profile corrupt officials, including Shanghai's former Party chief Chen Liangyu, the highest ranking Communist official busted in a corruption probe in a decade.
However, the growing wealth gap, environmental degradation and endemic corruption remain major concerns.
Deng said that rapid economic development would bring no less problems than before, Yan said, adding that more conflicts will emerge in China after two decades of reform and opening-up.
"Deng Xiaoping said that the beginning of the 21st century would be a key period for our nation, which would require us to shoulder more duties and tasks," Yan said.