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Hong Kong marks 110th anniversary of Deng Xiaoping’s birth

Friday marks the 110th anniversary of the birth of late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, and a national-level exhibition is being held in Hong Kong to commemorate his legacy at a time when the city is undergoing fierce debate on electoral reforms.

HONG KONG: Friday marks the 110th anniversary of the birth of late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, and a national-level exhibition is being held in Hong Kong to commemorate his legacy at a time when the city is undergoing fierce debate on electoral reforms.

The late paramount leader, who died in 1997, still casts a large shadow over Hong Kong. Deng had led reforms that transformed China into a market economy, helping to lift millions of Chinese out of poverty. He had also implemented the "one country, two systems" policy for post-colonial Hong Kong and Macau.

Deng's two daughters and former Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa attended the three-day exhibition. It features some 400 pictures from various periods of his life, together with some historical relics like the wheelchair he used in his later life.

Hong Kong's Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing praised Deng's “one country, two systems” solution as a creative masterpiece. " His warning was not to think that Hong Kong affairs can only be governed by Hong Kong people and that if the central government does not interfere, everything will be good,” said Tsang.

The reminder comes at a time when Beijing has emphasised its "comprehensive jurisdiction" over Hong Kong in a controversial White Paper issued in June. The paper also referred to judges as "administrators" who had to be "patriotic" in carrying out their job. Reports say Beijing is now studying ways to soften the impact of the White Paper.

Deng promised Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy, which is written into Hong Kong's basic law, or its constitution. And because Hong Kong has kept its capitalist system and way of life, the city has thrived as a global financial centre.

Deng had also presided over the clampdown on the pro-democracy movement in 1989 - something that Hong Kongers have not forgotten. Andrew Leung, Independent China Specialist , said: "A lot of the controversy in Hong Kong seems to focus on China perhaps being frozen at the time of Tiananmen Square. They didn't realise that China is changing - a lot of the negative feelings against the Communist regime, from the corruption, abuse of power, impacts the psychology in Hong Kong, especially the younger people."

That is why the latest exhibition on Deng's life and times is timely. The Communist Party is in overdrive this week to commemorate Deng's birth anniversary. Organisers of the exhibition hope that by looking back at history, some guidance for the future may be learnt. 

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