On the Death of Deng XiaoPing

Deng Xiao Ping will be fondly remembered in the West as the man who brought China back from the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution, who restored stability and who brought great economic advancement to that troubled country. However, Deng will also be remembered, perhaps wrongly, as the man who crushed political dissent.

It needs to be recalled that Deng Xiao Ping personally appointed the two great political reformers, Hu Yao Bang and Zhao Zi Yang. The troops moved into Tianamen Square on June 4, 1989 only when it became apparent that the government itself was about to fall in a matter of days if something was not done.

Since then, everybody has just been waiting for Deng Xiao Ping to die. It has been a long wait. That is the reason why the death of a 93 year old man who officially "retired" from all positions in the government in 1987 is likely to have a powerful and explosive impact in the days and weeks ahead.

Momentous change is about to take place in China. I do not know if it will happen in the next two days, or in two weeks or in two years, but it is going to happen very soon. What will happen? Will China break up into parts, as many believe? The outsiders find this to be unlikely, but it is to be remembered that throughout its history, China was never united until Mao consolidated power in 1949. There is little holding China together now. We can only hope that China will remain peaceful and not become another war torn Yugoslavia or another lawless Russia.

Like so many others, I have been sitting and waiting for Deng Xiao Ping to die for a long time. The China which I think that country is capable of becoming is the closest thing to paradise which I could imagine. One need only look at the examples of Hong Kong and Singapore to see the economic power which the free enterprise system can bring. If China were to become a country where I, as a Westerner, could move around freely, engage in any kind of business activity in which I want to engage, live where I want to live, say what I want to say and see whom I want to see, I would forget about America and move there in a minute. However, China has not been that country in the past. The only reason I never wrote my book about my experiences in China and my playing Chinese chess there is that I wanted to be allowed to go there again.

Even without writing that book, I am not entirely sure that I can.

Sam Sloan

Ismail Sloan being awarded the title of "First Foreigner of Chinese Chess", in Beijing, China in 1988.

Contact address - please send e-mail to the following address: Sloan@ishipress.com