Deng Xiaoping at age 16, studying in France (1921)
Cultural Revolution propaganda poster. It depicts Mao Zedong, above a group of soldiers from the People's Liberation Army. The caption reads, "The Chinese People's Liberation Army is the great school of Mao Zedong Thought."
Deng's name is spelled Teng Hi Hien on this employment card from the Hutchinson shoe factory in Châlette-sur-Loing, France, where he worked on two occasions as seen from the dates, eight months in 1922 and again in 1923 when he was fired after one month, with the bottom annotation reading "refused to work, do not take him back"
People in the countryside working at night to produce steel during the Great Leap Forward
Deng Xiaoping in NRA uniform, 1937
The purge of General Luo Ruiqing solidified the Army's loyalty to Mao.
Deng with Liu Bocheng (right)
Mao waved to the "revolutionary masses" on the riverside before his "swim across the Yangtze"
Deng Xiaoping with He Long (middle) and Zhu De (right) (1949)
A struggle session of Wang Guangmei, the wife of Liu Shaoqi.
Deng Xiaoping (left) met with the 14th Dalai Lama (right) in 1954
Mao Zedong and Lin Biao surrounded by rallying Red Guards in Beijing. Source: China Pictorial
Deng Xiaoping (left) with future president Li Xiannian (center) and Premier Zhou Enlai in 1963
Tiananmen Square on September 15, 1966, the occasion of Chairman Mao's third of eight mass rallies with Red Guards in 1966. Source: China Pictorial
Deng Xiaoping (centre) with U.S. president Gerald Ford (left), 1975
The remains of Ming Dynasty Wanli Emperor at the Ming tombs. Red Guards dragged the remains of the Wanli Emperor and Empresses to the front of the tomb, where they were posthumously "denounced" and burned.
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The Cemetery of Confucius was attacked by Red Guards in November 1966.
Deng Xiaoping (left) and his wife Zhuo Lin (right) are briefed by Johnson Space Center director Christopher C. Kraft (extreme right)
Anti-Liu Shaoqi rally
Deng Xiaoping billboard in Lizhi Park, Shenzhen, one of China's first special economic zones and is regarded as China's Silicon Valley
Propaganda oil painting of Mao during the Cultural Revolution (1967)
A model reconstruction of Deng Xiaoping's 1984 meeting with UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Shenzhen
Marshal Lin Biao was constitutionally confirmed as Mao's successor in 1969.
A patrol boat in use during Deng Xiaoping's southern tour of 1992
Graffiti with Lin Biao's foreword to Mao's Little Red Book, Lin's name (lower right) was later scratched out, presumably after his death.
Deng Xiaoping's ashes lie in state in Beijing whose banner reads "Memorial Service of Comrade Deng Xiaoping", February 1997
Jiang Qing (left), who was the wife of Mao Zedong and a member of the Gang of Four, received the Red Guards in Beijing with Premier Zhou Enlai (center) and Kang Sheng. They were all holding the Little Red Book (Quotations from Mao) in their hands.
Statue of Deng Xiaoping in Shenzhen
Jiang Qing
Deng Xiaoping billboard in Shenzhen, Guangdong
Deng Xiaoping became the paramount leader of China in 1978. He started "Boluan Fanzheng" that brought the country back to order, and initiated China's historic Reforms and Opening up.
Deng Xiaoping billboard in Qingdao, Shandong
A struggle session of Xi Zhongxun, the father of Xi Jinping (September 1967). Xi Zhongxun was labelled as an "anti-Party element". However, since late 2012, Xi Jinping and his allies have attempted to play down the disaster of the Cultural Revolution and reversed many reforms since the Boluan Fanzheng period, sparking concerns of a new Cultural Revolution.
Deng Xiaoping billboard in Dujiangyan, Sichuan
Quotations of Mao Zedong on a street wall of Wuxuan County, one of the centers of Guangxi massacre and cannibalism during the Cultural Revolution.
Deng Xiaoping billboard in Lijiang, Yunnan
The Cultural Revolution Cemetery in Chongqing, China. At least 1,700 people were killed during the violent faction clash, with 400 to 500 of them buried in this cemetery.
The Tibetan Panchen Lama during a struggle session.
Struggle session of Sampho Tsewang Rigzin and his wife during the Cultural Revolution.
A 1968 map of Beijing showing streets and landmarks renamed during the Cultural Revolution. Andingmen Inner Street became "Great Leap Forward Road", Taijichang Street became the "Road for Eternal Revolution", Dongjiaominxiang was renamed "Anti-Imperialist Road", Beihai Park was renamed "Worker-Peasant-Soldier Park" and Jingshan Park became "Red Guard Park." Most of the Cultural Revolution-era name changes were later reversed.
Yao Tongbin, one of China's foremost missile scientists, was beaten to death by a mob in Beijing during the Cultural Revolution (1968). This caused Zhou Enlai to order special protection for key technical experts.
Remnants of a banner containing slogans from the Cultural Revolution in Anhui.
The ballet The Red Detachment of Women, one of the Model Dramas promoted during the Cultural Revolution.
Posters from the Cultural Revolution period
Buddhist statues defaced during the Cultural Revolution.
The central section of this wall shows the faint remnant marks of a propaganda slogan that was added during the Cultural Revolution, but has since been removed. The slogan read "Boundless faith that in Chairman Mao."

Deng Xiaoping (22 August 1904 – 19 February 1997), also known by his courtesy name Xixian (希贤), was a Chinese revolutionary leader, military commander and statesman who served as the paramount leader of the People's Republic of China (PRC) from December 1978 to 1992.

- Deng Xiaoping

The term gained prominence during the era of Deng Xiaoping (1978–1989), when he was able to wield political power without necessarily holding any official or formally significant party or government positions at any given time (head of state, head of government or CCP General Secretary).

- Paramount leader

However, his right-leaning political stance and economic policies eventually caused him to fall out of favor with Mao, and he was purged twice during the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976).

- Deng Xiaoping

Following the Cultural Revolution, a rough consensus emerged within the party that the worst excesses were caused by the lack of checks and balances in the exercise of political power and the resulting "rule of personality" by Mao.

- Paramount leader

Meanwhile, tens of millions of people were persecuted: senior officials, most notably Chinese president Liu Shaoqi, along with Deng Xiaoping, Peng Dehuai, and He Long, were purged or exiled; millions were accused of being members of the Five Black Categories, suffering public humiliation, imprisonment, torture, hard labor, seizure of property, and sometimes execution or harassment into suicide; intellectuals were considered the "Stinking Old Ninth" and were widely persecuted—notable scholars and scientists such as Lao She, Fu Lei, Yao Tongbin, and Zhao Jiuzhang were killed or committed suicide.

- Cultural Revolution

In December 1978, Deng Xiaoping became the new paramount leader of China, replacing Chairman Hua Guofeng, and started the "Boluan Fanzheng" program which gradually dismantled the Maoist policies associated with the Cultural Revolution, and brought the country back to order.

- Cultural Revolution
Deng Xiaoping at age 16, studying in France (1921)

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Zhao (top left) pictured with Mao Zedong in Wuhan, January 1966

Zhao Ziyang

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Chinese politician.

Chinese politician.

Zhao (top left) pictured with Mao Zedong in Wuhan, January 1966
Zhao was hosted by US president Ronald Reagan at the White House on 10 January 1984 as part of a broader effort to improve China's relations with the West.
No. 6 Fuqiang Hutong, where Zhao lived
Zhao Ziyang's final burial site in 2019, with his son on the right.

He was persecuted during the Cultural Revolution and spent time in political exile.

He emerged on the national scene due to support from Deng Xiaoping after the Cultural Revolution.

After ousting Hua Guofeng as China's "paramount leader" in 1978, Deng Xiaoping recognized the "Sichuan Experience" as a model for Chinese economic reform.

Chinese Communist Party

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Founding and sole ruling party of the People's Republic of China (PRC).

Founding and sole ruling party of the People's Republic of China (PRC).

Site of the first CCP Congress, in the former Shanghai French Concession
Flag of the HistoryChinese Workers' and Peasants' Red Army
Mao Zedong declared the establishment of the People's Republic of China on 1 October 1949.
Chinese communists celebrate Joseph Stalin's birthday, 1949.
A temporary monument displayed in Changsha, Hunan Province, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the CCP's founding
A monument dedicated to Karl Marx (left) and Friedrich Engels (right) in Shanghai
A billboard advertising Xi Jinping Thought in Shenzhen, Guangdong
The 18th National Congress, convened in November 2012
Front cover of the Constitution of the Chinese Communist Party
Xi Jinping (second from left) with Enrique Peña Nieto (second from right), the former President of Mexico and a leading member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party
Badge given to party members

Although Mao attempted to purge the party of capitalist and reactionary elements during the Cultural Revolution, after his death these policies were only briefly continued by the Gang of Four before a less radical faction seized control.

During the 1980s, Deng Xiaoping directed the CCP away from Maoist orthodoxy and towards a policy of economic liberalization.

Because of these posts, the party leader is seen as the country's paramount leader.

Hu Yaobang in 1986

Hu Yaobang

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High-ranking official of the People's Republic of China.

High-ranking official of the People's Republic of China.

Hu Yaobang in 1986
Hu Yaobang at Yan'an in the 1930s
Hu Yaobang and his wife Li Zhao
Hu Yaobang, Zhu De, and Liao Chengzhi at the National Youth Congress in 1953 (left to right)
(from left) Zhao Ziyang, Deng Xiaoping and Li Peng at Hu Yaobang's memorial service in the Great Hall of the People, on 22 April 1989
Hu Yaobang's Former Residence.
Hu's Statue in his hometown Liuyang

Hu joined the CCP in the 1930s, and rose to prominence as a comrade of Deng Xiaoping.

During the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976), Hu was purged, recalled and purged again by Mao Zedong.

Hu Yaobang's rise to power was engineered by Deng Xiaoping, and Hu rose to the highest levels of the Party after Deng displaced Hua Guofeng as China's "paramount leader".

Li in 1954

Li Xiannian

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Li in 1954
Li in 1985
Li in the People's Liberation Army during the Civil War (1946)
Li as Vice Premier in August 1974, visiting Nicolae Ceaușescu in Romania
Li with his wife Lin Jiamei and Ronald Reagan (1985)

Li Xiannian (pronounced ; 23 June 1909 – 21 June 1992) was a Chinese Communist military and political leader, President of the People's Republic of China (de jure head of state) from 1983 to 1988 under Paramount Leader Deng Xiaoping and then Chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference from 1988 until his death.

Despite losing his job as Finance Minister in 1970, during the Cultural Revolution, he nonetheless enjoyed Zhou Enlai's protection and was the only civilian official to serve without interruption alongside Zhou throughout the 1966–1976 Cultural Revolution decade.

If Hua had been successful in his efforts to achieve supreme power, Li would have become one of the most powerful officials in China, but Li's political career stalled when Deng Xiaoping eclipsed Hua as China's "Paramount leader".