Deng Xiaoping, saviour of China

One of the most remarkable figures of the 20th Century was born on August 22nd, 1904. This was Deng Xiaoping, China’s “Paramount Leader,” the one who changed the course of China’s economic development and its position in the world. His rise was not predictable.

A peasant upbringing was followed by study in Paris, conversion to Communism, then the Red Army and the Long March. He was purged twice by Mao in the Cultural Revolution, and his son was crippled for life when he was thrown from an upstairs window by Red Guard zealots. When Mao died in 1976, his chosen successor, Hua Gofeng, put on trial and imprisoned the Gang of Four fanatics, and Deng manoeuvred his way into power. He never held any of the key high offices, so they called him the “Paramount Leader.”

He was called "General Architect of the Reforms,” as he abandoned collectivism and Socialism (though he kept the words), and opened China to market capitalism and international trade. China stepped onto the world stage and became one of the fastest-growing economies. Deng famously didn’t care if the cat was black or white, as long as it caught mice; and capitalism caught mice. He called it “Socialism written in Chinese characteristics,” but to those unable to read Chinese characters, it looked like capitalism.

When the village of Xiaogang illegally abandoned collective farming, and apportioned the land to family farms, its first harvest outdid the combined totals of the previous five years. Under Mao they would have been executed, but Deng, pragmatic as ever, looked at the results and decided to do the same across China. From mass starvation and food imports, China became a net exporter of food.

Deng lifted about a million people out of subsistence poverty and above the UN-set level of non-poverty standard of living. China boomed at nearly 10 percent growth per year for two decades. His legacy is the modern prosperous China of today.

Jeremy Corbyn has praised China’s economic achievements “since 1949,” the year it went Communist. This conveniently ignores the 60 million killed by famines and purges. Its economic achievements date not from 1949, but from 1978, when Deng abandoned Socialism. Corbyn credits to Socialism the achievements that resulted from its rejection.

In science, when the evidence goes against a theory, you reject or modify the theory. Under Socialism, when that happens, you reject or modify the evidence. Deng Xiaoping changed the world immeasurably for the better. Jeremy Corbyn will not.