Deng Xiaoping at age 16, studying in France (1921)
Jiang in December 2002
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"
Graduation photo of Jiang, taken in 1947.
Deng Xiaoping in NRA uniform, 1937
Jiang in 1962
Deng with Liu Bocheng (right)
Jiang Zemin with U.S. President Bill Clinton in 1999.
Deng Xiaoping with He Long (middle) and Zhu De (right) (1949)
Jiang Zemin with his wife and George W. Bush with his wife in Crawford, Texas, 25 October 2002.
Deng Xiaoping (left) met with the 14th Dalai Lama (right) in 1954
Jiang Zemin's inscription engraved on a stone in his hometown, Yangzhou
Deng Xiaoping (left) with future president Li Xiannian (center) and Premier Zhou Enlai in 1963
Deng Xiaoping (centre) with U.S. president Gerald Ford (left), 1975
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Deng Xiaoping (left) and his wife Zhuo Lin (right) are briefed by Johnson Space Center director Christopher C. Kraft (extreme right)
Deng Xiaoping billboard in Lizhi Park, Shenzhen, one of China's first special economic zones and is regarded as China's Silicon Valley
A model reconstruction of Deng Xiaoping's 1984 meeting with UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Shenzhen
A patrol boat in use during Deng Xiaoping's southern tour of 1992
Deng Xiaoping's ashes lie in state in Beijing whose banner reads "Memorial Service of Comrade Deng Xiaoping", February 1997
Statue of Deng Xiaoping in Shenzhen
Deng Xiaoping billboard in Shenzhen, Guangdong
Deng Xiaoping billboard in Qingdao, Shandong
Deng Xiaoping billboard in Dujiangyan, Sichuan
Deng Xiaoping billboard in Lijiang, Yunnan

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

As the involvement of the "Eight Elders" in Chinese politics steadily declined, Jiang consolidated his hold on power to become the "paramount leader" in the country during the 1990s.

- Jiang Zemin

The term has been used less frequently to describe Deng's successors, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping, who have all formally held the offices of General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (party leader), President of the People's Republic of China (head of state) and Chairman of the Central Military Commission (commander-in-chief).

- Paramount leader

At the age of 95 years, 350 days, Jiang is the longest-living paramount leader in the history of the PRC, surpassing Deng Xiaoping on 14 February 2019.

- Jiang Zemin

Officially, Deng decided to retire from top positions when he stepped down as Chairman of the Central Military Commission in November 1989 and his successor Jiang Zemin became the new Chairman of Central Military Commission.

- Deng Xiaoping

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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

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.

CCP general secretary Jiang Zemin succeeded Deng as paramount leader in the 1990s and continued most of his policies.

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 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.

Following Zhao's dismissal, Jiang Zemin replaced Zhao as General Secretary of the CCP and successor of Deng Xiaoping.

Leadership core

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Recognized as central to the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.

Recognized as central to the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.

Four individuals so far have been given this designation: Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, and Xi Jinping.

The leadership core operates as part of the Leninist-inspired framework of democratic centralism, and is intended to represent a vital center rather than a hierarchical peak, which differentiates it from the role of paramount leader.

Hu in November 2011

Hu Jintao

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Retired Chinese politician who served as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from 2002 to 2012, President of the People's Republic of China (PRC) from 2003 to 2013, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) from 2004 to 2012.

Retired Chinese politician who served as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from 2002 to 2012, President of the People's Republic of China (PRC) from 2003 to 2013, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) from 2004 to 2012.

Hu in November 2011
Hu's birthplace, Jiangyan, Jiangsu
Hu Jintao in 1960
Hu Jintao with Leaders of the BRICS countries, from left, Singh, Medvedev, Rousseff and Zuma in April 2011
Hu with George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush in Beijing, 10 August 2008
Hu talks with U.S. President Barack Obama at the 2009 Pittsburgh G-20 Summit

Hu was the paramount leader of China from 2004 to 2012.

He moved up to First Secretary of the CCP Central Secretariat and Vice-president under Jiang Zemin.

Influential sponsors from the older generation promoted his rapid rise, including Song Ping, Hu Yaobang, Deng Xiaoping, and Jiang Zemin.

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.

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".

He was a strong supporter of Jiang Zemin's rise to power, and during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, Li was one of the hardline Party elders who pushed for a strong response to the demonstrations and supported Premier Li Peng's desire to use military force to suppress the protests.