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Chinese mark late leader's birthday

(Xinhua)

13:08, August 23, 2011

GUANG'AN, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- A large crowd paid respect to late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping on Monday in his hometown of Guang'an, located in southwest China's Sichuan Province, to mark his 107th birthday.

"Fourteen years after his death, Deng's heritage still has an impact on China," said local official Bai Ping.

"His hometown has undergone great changes in terms of economic and social development. His former residence has become a top tourism destination," Bai said.

Bai led hundreds of villagers in presenting flowers and bowing to a bronze statue of the leader in a public square in downtown Guang'an.

Wang Hua and his friends from neighboring Chongqing Municipality drove to Guang'an to pay their respects to the late leader.

"I make the trip every year on this date," Wang said. "By paying respect to my hero, I've learned to cherish every day of my life."

Noted actor Pu Shuxian, who played Deng in a recently aired TV show, came from Sichuan's Renshou County to leave flowers at the statue.

"It's not enough just to mimic his accent," said Pu. "I must also follow his mind and actions to show my respect for him."

On Monday morning, Su Xiaoyong, a motel manager in Guang'an's village of Paifang, burned incense in front of a portrait of the leader mounted on his living room wall.

"His opening-up policy pulled us out of poverty. We'll always be grateful to him," Su said.

Deng, who launched China's reform and opening-up drive in the late 1970s, was born on Aug. 22, 1904 and died on Feb. 19, 1997.

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