Relations between the Libyan and the Egyptian government had been deteriorating ever since the end of Yom Kippur War from October 1973, due to Libyan opposition to President Anwar Sadat's peace policy as well as the breakdown of unification talks between the two governments. Frequent, politically-driven deportations of Egyptian migrants working in Libya also contributed to tense bilateral relations. There is some proof that the Egyptian government was considering a war against Libya as early as 1974. On the 28 February 1974, during Henry Kissinger's visit to Egypt, President Sadat told him about such intentions and requested that pressure be put on the Israeli government not to launch an attack on Egypt in the event of its forces being occupied in war with Libya. In addition, the Egyptian government had broken its military ties with Moscow, while the Libyan government kept that cooperation going. The Egyptian government also gave assistance to former RCC members Major Abd al Munim al Huni and Omar Muhayshi, who unsuccessfully tried to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi in 1975, and allowed them to reside in Egypt.
During 1976 relations were ebbing, as the Egyptian government claimed to have discovered a Libyan plot to overthrow the government in Cairo. On 26 January 1976, Egyptian Vice President Hosni Mubarak indicated in a talk with the US Ambassador Hermann Eilts that the Egyptian government intended to exploit internal problems in Libya to promote actions against Libya, but did not elaborate.[verification needed] On 22 July 1976, the Libyan government made a public threat to break diplomatic relations with Cairo if Egyptian subversive actions continued. On August 8, 1976, an explosion occurred in the bathroom of a government office in Tahrir Square in Cairo, injuring 14, and the Egyptian government and media claimed this was done by Libyan agents.[verification needed] The Egyptian government also claimed to have arrested two Egyptian citizens trained by Libyan intelligence to perform sabotage within Egypt. On the 23 August, an Egyptian passenger plane was hijacked by persons who reportedly worked with Libyan intelligence. They were captured by Egyptian authorities in an operation that ended without any casualties. In retaliation for accusations by the Egyptian government of Libyan complicity in the hijacking, the Libyan government ordered the closure of the Egyptian Consulate in Benghazi.[verification needed]
The Libyan government claimed to have uncovered an Egyptian espionage network in Libya. US diplomatic circles viewed this tension as a sign of Libyan intentions to go to war against Egypt, and one diplomat observed:
LARG [Libyan Arab Republic Government] anticipates military attack from Egypt, which it hopes to exploit and cause overthrow of Sadat.[verification needed]
Throughout 1976 the Egyptian government was concentrating troops along the Libyan border. It enjoyed the support of the US government, who viewed Libya negatively, and was promised by Washington that no move in US-Libyan relations was to be made without consultation with Cairo. Policy experts in the US and Britain assessed that Sadat was planning an attack on Libya in order to overthrow Gaddafi. Relations kept deteriorating, and in early May 1977 Sadat turned down an American request to engage in reconciliation talks with the Libyan government.
Tensions between the two countries had increased during April and May 1977, as demonstrators attacked each other's embassies. In June 1977, Libyan leader Gaddafi ordered the 225,000 Egyptians working and living in Libya to leave the country by July 1 or face arrest.
Course of the war
On the 21 July 1977 the Libyan 9th Tank Battalion carried out a raid on Sallum. The unit was ambushed in the town and subjected to a well-planned counterattack by an Egyptian mechanised division, which inflicted fifty percent casualties on the 9th Tank Battalion. The battalion subsequently retreated. A few Libyan Mirage 5 aircraft bombed nearby settlements, causing minimal damage. The Egyptians claimed to have shot down two of them with anti-aircraft fire.
Other Arab states then asked Sadat not to launch a full-scale invasion of Libya (which Sadat and his generals allegedly planned on doing on the 26 July). Sadat heeded their call and forced Libya into a ceasefire. The Egyptian Army then withdrew from occupied territory. The conflict disrupted the border trade and smuggling activities of the Bedouins.
Armistice and aftermath
Mediation by Algeria, and Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat, finally led to a ceasefire. Sadat gave his forces instructions to stop all attacks on the 24 July 1977 and agreed to an armistice. Though the fighting stopped the next day, a rift between Arab states remained. Many conservative Arab governments had sympathy for Egypt and Sadat, while leftist and pro-Soviet Arab states endorsed Libya and Gaddafi.
An editorial in The New York Times summed up an American perspective of the war by quoting a Palestinian: "If the Arabs haven't got Israel to fight, they will be fighting each other."
In August 1977, an agreement to exchange prisoners of war led to a relaxation of tension between the two states. After four days of fighting, Libyan casualties were 400 killed or wounded, while Egyptian casualties were roughly 100 killed.
Born into a peasant background in Guang'an, Sichuan province, Deng studied and worked in France in the 1920s, where he became a follower of Marxism–Leninism. He joined the Communist Party of China in 1923. Upon his return to China, he joined the party organization in Shanghai, then was a political commissar for the Red Army in rural regions and by the late 1930s was considered a "revolutionary veteran" because he participated in the Long March. Following the founding of the People's Republic in 1949, Deng worked in Tibet and the southwest region to consolidate Communist control.
Following Mao Zedong's death in 1976, Deng outmaneuvered the late chairman's chosen successor Hua Guofeng in December 1978. Inheriting a country beset with social conflict, disenchantment with the Communist Party and institutional disorder resulting from the chaotic policies of the Mao era, Deng became the paramount figure of the "second generation" of party leadership.
Deng Xiaoping at age 16, studying in France (1921)
Deng possibly has ancestry from ethnically Hakka Han family in the village of (zh), in the town of [zh], Guang'an County in Sichuan province, approximately 160 km (99 mi) from Chongqing (formerly spelled Chungking). Deng's ancestors can be traced back to Jiaying county (now renamed to Meixian), Guangdong, a prominent ancestral area for the Hakka people, and had been settled in Sichuan for several generations. Deng Xiaoping's daughter Deng Rong wrote in the book My father Deng Xiaoping (我的父亲邓小平) that his ancestry was probably but not definitely Hakka. Sichuan was originally the origin of the Deng lineage until one of them was hired as an official in Guangdong during the Ming dynasty but during the Qing plan to increase the population in 1671 they came to Sichuan again. Deng Xiaoping was born in Sichuan.
Deng's father, Deng Wenming, was a middle-level landowner and had studied at the University of Law and Political Science in Chengdu. His mother, surnamed Dan, died early in Deng's life, leaving Deng, his three brothers and three sisters. At the age of five Deng was sent to a traditional Chinese-style private primary school, followed by a more modern primary school at the age of seven.
Deng's first wife, one of his schoolmates from Moscow, died aged 24 a few days after giving birth to Deng's first child, a baby girl who also died. His second wife, Jin Weiying, left him after Deng came under political attack in 1933. His third wife Zhuo Lin was the daughter of an industrialist in Yunnan Province. She became a member of the Communist Party in 1938, and married Deng a year later in front of Mao's cave dwelling in Yan'an. They had five children: three daughters (Deng Lin, Deng Nan and Deng Rong) and two sons (Deng Pufang and Deng Zhifang).
Education and early career
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"
When Deng first attended school, his tutor objected to his having the given name "Xiānshèng" (先聖), calling him "Xīxián" (希賢), which includes the characters "to aspire to" and "goodness", with overtones of wisdom.
In the summer of 1919, Deng Xiaoping graduated from the Chongqing School. He and 80 schoolmates travelled by ship to France (travelling steerage) to participate in the Diligent Work-Frugal Study Movement, a work-study program in which 4,001 Chinese would participate by 1927. Deng, the youngest of all the Chinese students in the group, had just turned 15. Wu Yuzhang, the local leader of the Movement in Chongqing, enrolled Deng and his paternal uncle, Deng Shaosheng, in the program. Deng's father strongly supported his son's participation in the work-study abroad program. The night before his departure, Deng's father took his son aside and asked him what he hoped to learn in France. He repeated the words he had learned from his teachers: "To learn knowledge and truth from the West in order to save China." Deng was aware that China was suffering greatly, and that the Chinese people must have a modern education to save their country.
In December 1920 a French packet ship, the André Lyon, sailed into Marseille with 210 Chinese students aboard including Deng. The sixteen-year-old Deng briefly attended middle schools in Bayeux and Châtillon, but he spent most of his time in France working. His first job was as a fitter at the Le Creusot Iron and Steel Plant in La Garenne-Colombes, a south-western suburb of Paris where he moved in April 1921. Coincidentally, when Deng Xiaoping's later political fortunes were down and he was sent to work in a tractor factory in 1974 he found himself a fitter again and proved to still be a master of the skill.
In late 1927, Deng left Moscow to return to China, where he joined the army of Feng Yuxiang, a military leader in northwest China, who had requested assistance from the Soviet Union in his struggle with other local leaders in the region. At that time, the Soviet Union, through the Comintern, an international organization supporting the communist movements, supported the Communists' alliance with the Nationalists of the Kuomintang (KMT) party founded by Sun Yat-sen.
He arrived in Xi'an, the stronghold of Feng Yuxiang, in March 1927. He was part of the Fengtian clique's attempt to prevent the break of the alliance between the KMT and the Communists. This split resulted in part from Chiang Kai-shek's forcing them to flee areas controlled by the KMT. After the breakup of the alliance between communists and nationalists, Feng Yuxiang stood on the side of Chiang Kai-shek, and the Communists who participated in their army, such as Deng Xiaoping, were forced to flee. In 1929 Deng led the Baise Uprising in Guangxi province against the Kuomintang (KMT) government. The uprising failed and Deng went to the Central Soviet Area in Jiangxi province.
Although Deng got involved in the Marxist revolutionary movement in China, the historian Mobo Gao has argued that "Deng Xiaoping and many like him [in the Chinese Communist Party] were not really Marxists, but basically revolutionary nationalists who wanted to see China standing on equal terms with the great global powers. They were primarily nationalists and they participated in the Communist revolution because that was the only viable route they could find Chinese nationalism."
Activism in Shanghai and Wuhan
After leaving the army of Feng Yuxiang in the northwest, Deng ended up in the city of Wuhan, where the Communists at that time had their headquarters. At that time, he began using the nickname "Xiaoping" and occupied prominent positions in the party apparatus. He participated in the historic emergency session on 7 August 1927 in which, by Soviet instruction, the Party dismissed its founder Chen Duxiu, and Qu Qiubai became the secretary general. In Wuhan, Deng first established contact with Mao Zedong, who was then little valued by militant pro-Soviet leaders of the party.
Between 1927 and 1929, Deng lived in Shanghai, where he helped organize protests that would be harshly persecuted by the Kuomintang authorities. The death of many Communist militants in those years led to a decrease in the number of members of the Communist Party, which enabled Deng to quickly move up the ranks. During this stage in Shanghai, Deng married a woman he met in Moscow, Zhang Xiyuan.
Military campaign in Guangxi
Beginning in 1929, he participated in the military struggle against the Kuomintang in Guangxi. The superiority of the forces of Chiang Kai-shek caused a huge number of casualties in the Communist ranks. The confrontational strategy of the Communist Party of China (CCP) leadership was a failure that killed many militants against a stronger opponent. The response to this defeat catalyzed one of the most confusing episodes in the biography of Deng: in March 1931, he left the Communist Army seventh battalion to appear sometime later in Shanghai.
His official biography states that Deng had been charged by his superiors with deserting from the battle zone before fleeing to Shanghai, where there were leaders of the underground Communist Party. Although he was not punished in Shanghai, this episode in his biography remains unclear and would be used against him to question his devotion to the Communist Party during the Cultural Revolution era.
At the Jiangxi Soviet
After returning to Shanghai, Deng discovered that his wife and daughter had died during childbirth. In addition, he discovered that many of his former comrades had died as a result of the Kuomintang's crackdown against the Communists.
The campaigns against the Communists in the cities represented a setback for the party and in particular to the Comintern Soviet advisers, who saw the mobilization of the urban proletariat as the force for the advancement of communism. Contrary to the urban vision of the revolution, based on the Soviet experience, the Communist leader Mao Zedong saw the rural peasants as the revolutionary force in China. In a mountainous area of Jiangxi province, where Mao went to establish a communist system, there developed the embryo of a future state of China under communism, which adopted the official name of the Chinese Soviet Republic, but was better known as the "Jiangxi Soviet".
In one of the most important cities in the Soviet zone, Ruijin, Deng took over as secretary of the Party Committee in the summer of 1931. In the winter of 1932, Deng went on to play the same position in the nearby district of Huichang. In 1933 he became director of the propaganda department of the Provincial Party Committee in Jiangxi. It was then that he married a young woman he had met in Shanghai named Jin Weiying.
The successes of the Soviet in Jiangxi made the party leaders decide to move to Jiangxi from Shanghai. The confrontation among Mao, the party leaders, and their Soviet advisers was increasingly tense and the struggle for power between the two factions led to the removal of Deng, who favored the ideas of Mao, from his position in the propaganda department. Despite the strife within the party, the Jiangxi Soviet became the first successful experiment of communist rule in rural China. It even issued stamps and paper money under the letterhead of the Soviet Republic of China, and the army of Chiang Kai-shek finally decided to attack the communist area.
Surrounded by the more powerful army of the Republic of China, the Communists fled Jiangxi in October 1934. Thus began the epic movement that would mark a turning point in the development of Chinese communism. The evacuation was difficult because the Army of the Republic had taken positions in all areas occupied by the Communists. Advancing through remote and mountainous terrain, some 100,000 men managed to escape Jiangxi, starting a long strategic retreat through the interior of China, which ended one year later when between 8,000 and 9,000 survivors reached the northern province of Shaanxi.
During the Zunyi Conference at the beginning of the Long March, the so-called 28 Bolsheviks, led by Bo Gu and Wang Ming, were ousted from power and Mao Zedong, to the dismay of the Soviet Union, had become the new leader of the Communist Party of China. The pro-Soviet Communist Party of China had ended and a new rural-inspired party emerged under the leadership of Mao. Deng had once again become a leading figure in the party when the north ended up winning the civil war against the Kuomintang.
The confrontation between the two parties was temporarily interrupted, however, by the Japanese invasion, forcing the Kuomintang to form an alliance for the second time with the Communists to defend the nation against external aggression.
The invasion of Japanese troops in 1937 marked the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War. During the invasion, Deng remained in the area controlled by the Communists in the north, where he assumed the role of deputy political director of the three divisions of the restructured Communist army. From September 1937 until January 1938, he lived in Buddhist monasteries and temples in the Wutai Mountains. In January 1938, he was appointed as Political Commissar of the 129th division of the Eighth Route Army commanded by Liu Bocheng, starting a long-lasting partnership with Liu.
Deng stayed for most of the conflict with the Japanese in the war front in the area bordering the provinces of Shanxi, Henan and Hebei, then traveled several times to the city of Yan'an, where Mao had established the basis for Communist Party leadership. In one of his trips to Yan'an in 1939, he married, for the third and last time in his life, Zhuo Lin, a young native of Kunming, who, like other young idealists of the time, had traveled to Yan'an to join the Communists.
After Japan's defeat in World War II, Deng traveled to Chongqing, the city in which Chiang Kai-shek established his government during the Japanese invasion, to participate in peace talks between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party. The results of those negotiations were not positive and military confrontation between the two antagonistic parties resumed shortly after the meeting in Chongqing.
While Chiang Kai-shek re-established the government in Nanjing, the capital of the Republic of China, the Communists were fighting for control in the field. Following up with guerrilla tactics from their positions in rural areas against cities under the control of the government of Chiang and their supply lines, the Communists were increasing the territory under their control, and incorporating more and more soldiers who had deserted the Nationalist army.
In the final phase of the war, Deng again exercised a key role as political leader and propaganda master as Political Commissar of the 2nd Field Army commanded by Liu Bocheng. He also participated in disseminating the ideas of Mao Zedong, which turned into the ideological foundation of the Communist Party. His political and ideological work, along with his status as a veteran of the Long March, placed him in a privileged position within the party to occupy positions of power after the Communist Party managed to defeat Chiang Kai-shek and founded the People's Republic of China.
On 1 October 1949, Deng attended the proclamation of the People's Republic of China in Beijing. At that time, the Communist Party controlled the entire north, but there were still parts of the south held by the Kuomintang regime. He became responsible for leading the annexation of southwest China, in his capacity as the first secretary of the Department of the Southwest. This organization had the task of managing the final takeover of that part of the country still held by the Kuomintang; Tibet remained independent for another year.
The Kuomintang government was being forced to leave Guangzhou, and established Chongqing as a new provisional capital. There, Chiang Kai-shek and his son Chiang Ching-kuo, a former classmate of Deng in Moscow, wanted to stop the advance of the Communist Party forces.
Under the political control of Deng, the Communist army took over Chongqing in late November 1949 and entered Chengdu, the last bastion of power of Chiang Kai-shek, a few days later. At that time Deng became mayor of Chongqing, while he simultaneously was the leader of the Communist Party in the southwest, where the Communist army, now proclaiming itself the People's Liberation Army, suppressed resistance loyal to the old Kuomintang regime. In 1950, the Communist Party-ruled state also seized control over Tibet.
Deng Xiaoping would spend three years in Chongqing, the city where he had studied in his teenage years before going to France. In 1952 he moved to Beijing, where he occupied different positions in the central government.
Deng Xiaoping (far left) met with the 14th Dalai Lama (third from left) in 1954
In July 1952, Deng came to Beijing to assume the posts of Vice Premier and Deputy Chair of the Committee on Finance. Soon after, he took the posts of Minister of Finance and Director of the Office of Communications. In 1954, he was removed from all these positions, holding only the post of Deputy Premier. In 1956, he became Head of the Communist Party's Organization Department and member of the Central Military Commission.
Both Liu and Deng supported Mao in the mass campaigns of the 1950s, in which they attacked the bourgeois and capitalists, and promoted Mao's ideology. However, the economic failure of the Great Leap Forward was seen as an indictment on the ability of Mao to manage the economy. Peng Dehuai openly criticized Mao, while Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping, though more cautious, began to take charge of economic policy, leaving Mao out of day-to-day affairs of the party and state. Mao agreed to cede the presidency of the People's Republic of China (China's de jurehead of state position) to Liu Shaoqi, while retaining his positions as leader of the party and the army.
In 1963, Deng traveled to Moscow to lead a meeting of the Chinese delegation with Stalin's successor, Nikita Khrushchev. Relations between the People's Republic of China and the Soviet Union had worsened since the death of Stalin. After this meeting, no agreement was reached and the Sino–Soviet split was consummated; there was an almost total suspension of relations between the two major communist powers of the time.
Liu and Deng's economic reforms of the early 1960s were generally popular and restored many of the economic institutions previously dismantled during the Great Leap Forward. Mao, sensing his loss of prestige, took action to regain control of the state. Appealing to his revolutionary spirit, Mao launched the Cultural Revolution, which encouraged the masses to root out the right-wing capitalists who have "infiltrated the party". Deng was labelled the second-in-command of the capitalist roader faction.
Mao feared that the reformist economic policies of Deng and Liu could lead to restoration of capitalism and end the Chinese Revolution. For this and other reasons, Mao launched the Cultural Revolution in 1966, during which Deng fell out of favor and was forced to retire from all his positions.
During the Cultural Revolution, he and his family were targeted by Red Guards, who imprisoned Deng's eldest son, Deng Pufang. Deng Pufang was tortured and jumped out, or was thrown out, of the window of a four-story building in 1968, becoming a paraplegic. In October 1969 Deng Xiaoping was sent to the Xinjian County Tractor Factory in rural Jiangxi province to work as a regular worker. In his four years there, Deng spent his spare time writing. He was purged nationally, but to a lesser scale than President Liu Shaoqi.
After Lin Biao was killed in an air crash (according to official reports he was trying to flee from China after unsuccessfully trying to stage a coup against Mao), Deng Xiaoping (who had been political commissar of the 2nd Field Army during the civil war) became the most influential of the remaining army leaders. When Premier Zhou Enlai fell ill with cancer, Deng became Zhou's choice as successor, and Zhou was able to convince Mao to bring Deng back into politics in 1974 as First Vice-Premier, in practice running daily affairs. Deng focused on reconstructing the country's economy and stressed unity as the first step by raising production. He remained careful, however, to avoid contradicting Maoist ideology on paper.
Deng Xiaoping (centre) with U.S. president Gerald Ford (left), 1975
During his brief ascendency, Deng established the Political Research Office, headed by intellectuals Hu Qiaomu, Yu Guangyuan and Hu Sheng, delegated to explore approaches to political and economic reforms. He led the group himself and managed the project within the State Council, in order to avoid rousing the suspicions of the Gang of Four.
The Cultural Revolution was not yet over, and a radical leftist political group known as the Gang of Four, led by Mao's wife Jiang Qing, competed for power within the Party. The Gang saw Deng as their greatest challenge to power. Mao, too, was suspicious that Deng would destroy the positive reputation of the Cultural Revolution, which Mao considered one of his greatest policy initiatives. Beginning in late 1975, Deng was asked to draw up a series of self-criticisms. Although he admitted to having taken an "inappropriate ideological perspective" while dealing with state and party affairs, he was reluctant to admit that his policies were wrong in essence. His antagonism with the Gang of Four became increasingly clear, and Mao seemed to sway in the Gang's favour. Mao refused to accept Deng's self-criticisms and asked the party's Central Committee to "discuss Deng's mistakes thoroughly".
'Criticize Deng' campaign
Zhou Enlai died in January 1976, to an outpouring of national grief. Zhou was a very important figure in Deng's political life, and his death eroded his remaining support within the Party's Central Committee. After Deng delivered Zhou's official eulogy at the state funeral, the Gang of Four, with Mao's permission, began the so-called Criticize Deng and Oppose the Rehabilitation of Right-leaning Elements campaign. Hua Guofeng, not Deng, was selected to become Zhou's successor.
On 2 February 1976, the Central Committee issued a Top-Priority Directive, officially transferring Deng to work on "external affairs" and thus removing Deng from the party's power apparatus. Deng stayed at home for several months, awaiting his fate. The Political Research Office was promptly dissolved, and Deng's advisers such as Yu Guangyuan suspended. As a result, the political turmoil halted the economic progress Deng had laboured for in the past year. On 3 March, Mao issued a directive reaffirming the legitimacy of the Cultural Revolution and specifically pointed to Deng as an internal, rather than external, problem. This was followed by a Central Committee directive issued to all local party organs to study Mao's directive and criticize Deng.
Deng's reputation as a reformer suffered a severe blow when the Qingming Festival, after the mass public mourning of Zhou on a traditional Chinese holiday, culminated in the Tiananmen Incident of 1976, an event the Gang of Four branded as counter-revolutionary and threatening to their power. Furthermore, the Gang deemed Deng the mastermind behind the incident, and Mao himself wrote that "the nature of things has changed". This prompted Mao to remove Deng from all leadership positions, although he retained his party membership.
Re-emergence post-Cultural Revolution
Following Mao's death on 9 September 1976 and the purge of the Gang of Four in October 1976, Deng gradually emerged as the de facto leader of China. Prior to Mao's death, the only governmental position he held was that of First Vice Premier of the State Council, but Hua Guofeng wanted to rid the Party of extremists and successfully marginalised the Gang of Four. On 22 July 1977, Deng was restored to the posts of Vice-Chairman of the Central Committee, Vice-Chairman of the Military Commission and Chief of the General Staff of the People's Liberation Army.
By carefully mobilizing his supporters within the party, Deng outmaneuvered Hua, who had pardoned him, then ousted Hua from his top leadership positions by 1980. In contrast to previous leadership changes, Deng allowed Hua to retain membership in the Central Committee and quietly retire, helping to set the precedent that losing a high-level leadership struggle would not result in physical harm.
Deng repudiated the Cultural Revolution and, in 1977, launched the "Beijing Spring", which allowed open criticism of the excesses and suffering that had occurred during the period. Meanwhile, he was the impetus for the abolition of the class background system. Under this system, the CPC removed employment barriers to Chinese deemed to be associated with the former landlord class; its removal allowed a faction favoring the restoration of the private market to enter the Communist Party.
Deng gradually outmaneuvered his political opponents. By encouraging public criticism of the Cultural Revolution, he weakened the position of those who owed their political positions to that event, while strengthening the position of those like himself who had been purged during that time. Deng also received a great deal of popular support. As Deng gradually consolidated control over the CPC, Hua was replaced by Zhao Ziyang as premier in 1980, and by Hu Yaobang as party chief in 1981, despite the fact that Hua was Mao Zedong's designated successor as the "paramount leader" of the Communist Party of China and the People's Republic of China.
Important decisions were always taken in Deng's home in Zhongnanhai with a caucus of eight senior party cadres, called "Eight Elders", especially with Chen Yun and Li Xiannian. Deng ruled as "paramount leader" although he never held the top title of the party, and was able to successively remove three party leaders, including Hu Yaobang. Deng remained the most influential of the CPC cadre, although after 1987 his only official posts were as chairman of the state and Communist Party Central Military Commissions.
Deng's elevation to China's new number-one figure meant that the historical and ideological questions around Mao Zedong had to be addressed properly. Because Deng wished to pursue deep reforms, it was not possible for him to continue Mao's hard-line "class struggle" policies and mass public campaigns. In 1982 the Central Committee of the Communist Party released a document entitled On the Various Historical Issues since the Founding of the People's Republic of China. Mao retained his status as a "great Marxist, proletarian revolutionary, militarist, and general", and the undisputed founder and pioneer of the country and the People's Liberation Army. "His accomplishments must be considered before his mistakes", the document declared. Deng personally commented that Mao was "seven parts good, three parts bad." The document also steered the prime responsibility of the Cultural Revolution away from Mao (although it did state that "Mao mistakenly began the Cultural Revolution") to the "counter-revolutionary cliques" of the Gang of Four and Lin Biao.
In November 1978, after the country had stabilized following political turmoil, Deng visited Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and met with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. Deng was very impressed with Singapore's economic development, greenery and housing, and later sent tens of thousands of Chinese to Singapore and countries around the world to learn from their experiences and bring back their knowledge. Lee Kuan Yew, on the other hand, advised Deng to stop exporting Communist ideologies to Southeast Asia, advice that Deng later followed.
Thanks to the support of other party leaders who had already recovered their official positions, in 1978 the rise to power of Deng was inevitable. Even though Hua Guofeng formally monopolized the top positions in the People's Republic, his position, with little support, was becoming increasingly difficult. In December 1978, during the Third Plenum of the 11th Central Committee Congress of the Communist Party of China, Deng took over the reins of power.
Beginning in 1979, the economic reforms accelerated the market model, while the leaders maintained old Communist-style rhetoric. The commune system was gradually dismantled and the peasants began to have more freedom to manage the land they cultivated and sell their products on the market. At the same time, China's economy opened up to foreign trade. On January 1, 1979, the United States recognized the People's Republic of China, leaving the (Taiwan) Republic of China's nationalist government to one side, and business contacts between China and the West began to grow. In late 1978, the aerospace company Boeing announced the sale of 747 aircraft to various airlines in the PRC, and the beverage company Coca-Cola made public their intention to open a production plant in Shanghai.
In early 1979, Deng undertook an official visit to the United States, meeting President Jimmy Carter in Washington as well as several Congressmen. The Chinese insisted that former President Richard Nixon be invited to the formal White House reception, a symbolic indication of their assertiveness on the one hand, and their desire to continue with the Nixon initiatives on the other. During the visit, Deng visited the Johnson Space Center in Houston, as well as the headquarters of Coca-Cola and Boeing in Atlanta and Seattle, respectively. With these visits so significant, Deng made it clear that the new Chinese regime's priorities were economic and technological development.
Sino-Japanese relations also improved significantly. Deng used Japan as an example of a rapidly progressing power that set a good example for China economically.
True to his famous July 1962 pronouncement at the Communist youth league conference, "it doesn't matter whether a cat is black or white, if it catches mice it is a good cat", which had caused so much criticism, Deng, along with his closest collaborators, such as Zhao Ziyang, who in 1980 relieved Hua Guofeng as premier, and Hu Yaobang, who in 1981 did the same with the post of party chairman, took the reins of power and the purpose of advancing the "four modernizations" (economy, agriculture, scientific and technological development and national defense), and announced an ambitious plan of opening and liberalizing the economy. The last position of power retained by Hua Guofeng, chairman of the Central Military Commission, was taken by Deng in 1981.
A model reconstruction of Deng Xiaoping's 1984 meeting with UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Shenzhen
From 1980 onwards, Deng led the expansion of the economy, and in political terms took over negotiations with the United Kingdom to return the territory of Hong Kong, meeting personally with then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The result of these negotiations was the Sino-British Joint Declaration, signed on 19 December 1984, which formally outlined the United Kingdom's return of Hong Kong to China by 1997. The Chinese government pledged to respect the economic system and civil liberties of the British colony for fifty years after the handover.
Under pressure from Chinese authorities, Portugal agreed in 1987 to arrange the return of Macau by 1999, with an agreement roughly equal to that of Hong Kong. The return of these two territories was based on a political principle formulated by Deng himself called "one country, two systems", which refers to the co-existence under one political authority of areas with different economic systems of communism and capitalism. Although this theory was applied to Hong Kong and Macau, Deng apparently intended to also present it as an attractive option to the people of Taiwan for eventual incorporation of that island, where sovereignty over the territory is still disputed.
China's rapid economic growth presented several problems. The 1982 census revealed the extraordinary growth of the population, which already exceeded a billion people. Deng continued the plans initiated by Hua Guofeng to restrict birth to only one child, limiting women to one child under pain of administrative penalty. Around this time, Deng launched his first "strike hard" anti-crime campaign in August 1983. It was reported that the government set quotas for 5,000 executions by mid-November, and sources in Taiwan claimed that as many as 60,000 people were executed in that time, although more recent estimates have placed the number at 24,000 executed by firing squad within the first year of the campaign. Yet increasing economic freedom was being translated into a greater freedom of opinion, and critics began to arise within the system, including the famous dissident Wei Jingsheng, who coined the term "fifth modernization" in reference to democracy as a missing element in the renewal plans of Deng Xiaoping. In the late 1980s, dissatisfaction with the authoritarian regime and growing inequalities caused the biggest crisis to Deng's leadership.
In October 1987, at the Plenary Session of the National People's Congress, Deng was re-elected as Chairman of the Central Military Commission, but he resigned as Chairman of the Central Advisory Commission and was succeeded by Chen Yun. Deng continued to chair and develop the reform and opening up as the main policy, and he advanced the three steps suitable for China's economic development strategy within seventy years: the first step, to double the 1980 GNP and ensure that the people have enough food and clothing, was attained by the end of the 1980s; the second step, to quadruple the 1980 GNP by the end of the 20th century, was achieved in 1995 ahead of schedule; the third step, to increase per capita GNP to the level of the medium-developed countries by 2050, at which point, the Chinese people will be fairly well-off and modernization will be basically realized.
Deng did little to improve relations with the Soviet Union. He continued to adhere to the Maoist line of the Sino–Soviet split era that the Soviet Union was a superpower as "hegemonic" as the United States, but even more threatening to China because of its close proximity.
Improving relations with the outside world was the second of two important philosophical shifts outlined in Deng's program of reform termed Gaige Kaifang (lit. Reforms and Openness). China's domestic social, political, and most notably, economic systems would undergo significant changes during Deng's time. The goals of Deng's reforms were summed up by the Four Modernizations, those of agriculture, industry, science and technology, and the military.
This interpretation of Maoism reduced the role of ideology in economic decision-making. Downgrading communitarian values, but not necessarily criticising the ideology of Marxism-Leninism, Deng emphasized that "socialism does not mean shared poverty". His theoretical justification for allowing market forces was given as such:
"Planning and market forces are not the essential difference between socialism and capitalism. A planned economy is not the definition of socialism, because there is planning under capitalism; the market economy happens under socialism, too. Planning and market forces are both ways of controlling economic activity."
Unlike Hua Guofeng, Deng believed that no policy should be rejected outright simply because it was not associated with Mao. Unlike more conservative leaders such as Chen Yun, Deng did not object to policies on the grounds that they were similar to ones that were found in capitalist nations.
This political flexibility towards the foundations of socialism is strongly supported by quotes such as:
We mustn't fear to adopt the advanced management methods applied in capitalist countries (...) The very essence of socialism is the liberation and development of the productive systems (...) Socialism and market economy are not incompatible (...) We should be concerned about right-wing deviations, but most of all, we must be concerned about left-wing deviations.
Although Deng provided the theoretical background and the political support to allow economic reform to occur, the general consensus amongst historians is that few of the economic reforms that Deng introduced were originated by Deng himself. Premier Zhou Enlai, for example, pioneered the Four Modernizations years before Deng. In addition, many reforms would be introduced by local leaders, often not sanctioned by central government directives. If successful and promising, these reforms would be adopted by larger and larger areas and ultimately introduced nationally. An often cited example is the household responsibility system, which was first secretly implemented by a poor rural village at the risk of being convicted as "counter-revolutionary." This experiment proved very successful. Deng openly supported it and it was later adopted nationally. Many other reforms were influenced by the experiences of the East Asian Tigers.
This is in sharp contrast to the pattern in the perestroika undertaken by Mikhail Gorbachev in which most of the major reforms were originated by Gorbachev himself. The bottom-up approach of the Deng reforms, in contrast to the top-down approach of perestroika, was likely a key factor in the success of the former.
Deng's reforms actually included the introduction of planned, centralized management of the macro-economy by technically proficient bureaucrats, abandoning Mao's mass campaign style of economic construction. However, unlike the Soviet model, management was indirect through market mechanisms. Deng sustained Mao's legacy to the extent that he stressed the primacy of agricultural output and encouraged a significant decentralization of decision making in the rural economy teams and individual peasant households. At the local level, material incentives, rather than political appeals, were to be used to motivate the labor force, including allowing peasants to earn extra income by selling the produce of their private plots at free market value.
In the move toward market allocation, local municipalities and provinces were allowed to invest in industries that they considered most profitable, which encouraged investment in light manufacturing. Thus, Deng's reforms shifted China's development strategy to an emphasis on light industry and export-led growth. Light industrial output was vital for a developing country coming from a low capital base. With the short gestation period, low capital requirements, and high foreign-exchange export earnings, revenues generated by light manufacturing were able to be reinvested in technologically more advanced production and further capital expenditures and investments.
However, in sharp contrast to the similar, but much less successful reforms in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the People's Republic of Hungary, these investments were not government mandated. The capital invested in heavy industry largely came from the banking system, and most of that capital came from consumer deposits. One of the first items of the Deng reforms was to prevent reallocation of profits except through taxation or through the banking system; hence, the reallocation in state-owned industries was somewhat indirect, thus making them more or less independent from government interference. In short, Deng's reforms sparked an industrial revolution in China.
These reforms were a reversal of the Maoist policy of economic self-reliance. China decided to accelerate the modernization process by stepping up the volume of foreign trade, especially the purchase of machinery from Japan and the West. By participating in such export-led growth, China was able to step up the Four Modernizations by attaining certain foreign funds, market, advanced technologies and management experiences, thus accelerating its economic development. From 1980, Deng attracted foreign companies to a series of Special Economic Zones, where foreign investment and market liberalization were encouraged.
The reforms sought to improve labor productivity. New material incentives and bonus systems were introduced. Rural markets selling peasants' homegrown products and the surplus products of communes were revived. Not only did rural markets increase agricultural output, they stimulated industrial development as well. With peasants able to sell surplus agricultural yields on the open market, domestic consumption stimulated industrialization as well and also created political support for more difficult economic reforms.
There are some parallels between Deng's market socialism especially in the early stages, and Vladimir Lenin's NEP as well as those of Nikolai Bukharin's economic policies, in that both foresaw a role for private entrepreneurs and markets based on trade and pricing rather than central planning. An interesting anecdote on this note is the first meeting between Deng and Armand Hammer. Deng pressed the industrialist and former investor in Lenin's Soviet Union for as much information on the NEP as possible.
The 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, culminating in the June Fourth Massacre, were a series of demonstrations in and near Tiananmen Square in the People's Republic of China (PRC) between 15 April and 5 June 1989, a year in which many other socialist governments collapsed.
The protests were sparked by the death of Hu Yaobang, a reformist official backed by Deng but ousted by the Eight Elders and the conservative wing of the politburo. Many people were dissatisfied with the party's slow response and relatively subdued funeral arrangements. Public mourning began on the streets of Beijing and universities in the surrounding areas. In Beijing this was centered on the Monument to the People's Heroes in Tiananmen Square. The mourning became a public conduit for anger against perceived nepotism in the government, the unfair dismissal and early death of Hu, and the behind-the-scenes role of the "old men". By the eve of Hu's funeral, the demonstration had reached 100,000 people on Tiananmen Square. While the protests lacked a unified cause or leadership, participants raised the issue of corruption within the government and some voiced calls for economic liberalization and democratic reform within the structure of the government while others called for a less authoritarian and less centralized form of socialism.
During the demonstrations, Deng's pro-market ally general secretary Zhao Ziyang supported the demonstrators and distanced himself from the Politburo. Martial law was declared on 20 May by the socialist hardliner Li Peng, but the initial military advance on the city was blocked by residents. The movement lasted seven weeks. On 3–4 June, over two hundred thousand soldiers in tanks and helicopters were sent into the city to quell the protests by force, resulting in hundreds of casualties. Many ordinary people in Beijing believed that Deng had ordered the intervention, but political analysts do not know who was actually behind the order. However, Deng's daughter defends the actions that occurred as a collective decision by the party leadership.
To purge sympathizers of Tiananmen demonstrators, the Communist Party initiated a one-and-a-half-year-long program similar to the Anti-Rightist Movement. Old-timers like Deng Fei aimed to deal "strictly with those inside the party with serious tendencies toward bourgeois liberalization", and more than 30,000 communist officers were deployed to the task.
Zhao was placed under house arrest by hardliners and Deng himself was forced to make concessions to them. He soon declared that "the entire imperialist Western world plans to make all socialist countries discard the socialist road and then bring them under the monopoly of international capital and onto the capitalist road". A few months later he said that the "United States was too deeply involved" in the student movement, referring to foreign reporters who had given financial aid to the student leaders and later helped them escape to various Western countries, primarily the United States through Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Although Deng initially made concessions to the socialist hardliners, he soon resumed his reforms after his 1992 southern tour. After his tour, he was able to stop the attacks of the socialist hardliners on the reforms through their "named capitalist or socialist?" campaign.
Deng privately told Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau that factions of the Communist Party could have grabbed army units and the country had risked a civil war.[page needed] Two years later, Deng endorsed Zhu Rongji, a Shanghai Mayor, as a vice-premier candidate. Zhu Rongji had refused to declare martial law in Shanghai during the demonstrations even though socialist hardliners had pressured him.[page needed]
Resignation and 1992 southern tour
Officially, Deng decided to retire from top positions when he stepped down as Chairman of the Central Military Commission in 1989, and retired from the political scene in 1992. China, however, was still in the era of Deng Xiaoping. He continued to be widely regarded as the "paramount leader" of the country, believed to have backroom control. Deng was recognized officially as "the chief architect of China's economic reforms and China's socialist modernization". To the Communist Party, he was believed to have set a good example for communist cadres who refused to retire at old age. He broke earlier conventions of holding offices for life. He was often referred to as simply Comrade Xiaoping, with no title attached.
A patrol boat in use during Deng Xiaoping's southern tour
Because of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, Deng's power had been significantly weakened and there was a growing formalist faction opposed to Deng's reforms within the Communist Party. To reassert his economic agenda, in the spring of 1992, Deng made his famous southern tour of China, visiting Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai and spending the New Year in Shanghai, using his travels as a method of reasserting his economic policy after his retirement from office.
On his tour, Deng made various speeches and generated large local support for his reformist platform. He stressed the importance of economic reform in China, and criticized those who were against further reform and opening up. Although there was a debate on whether or not Deng actually said it, his perceived catchphrase, "To get rich is glorious" unleashed a wave of personal entrepreneurship that continues to drive China's economy today. He stated that the "leftist" elements of Chinese society were much more dangerous than "rightist" ones. Deng was instrumental in the development of Shanghai's Pudong New Area, revitalizing the city as China's economic hub.
His southern tour was at first ignored by the Beijing and national media, which were then under the control of Deng's political rivals. Jiang Zemin, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China since 1989, showed little support. Challenging their media control, Shanghai's Liberation Daily newspaper published several articles supporting reforms authored by "Huangfu Ping", which quickly gained support amongst local officials and populace. Deng's new wave of policy rhetoric gave way to a new political storm between factions in the Politburo. Jiang eventually sided with Deng, and the national media finally reported Deng's southern tour several months after it occurred. Observers suggest that Jiang's submission to Deng's policies had solidified his position as Deng's heir apparent. Behind the scenes, Deng's southern tour aided his reformist allies' climb to the apex of national power, and permanently changed China's direction toward economic development. In addition, the eventual outcome of the southern tour proved that Deng was still the most powerful man in China.
Deng's insistence on economic openness aided in the phenomenal growth levels of the coastal areas, especially the "Golden Triangle" region surrounding Shanghai. Deng reiterated the general policy that 'some areas must get rich before others', and asserted that the wealth from coastal regions will eventually be transferred to aid economic construction inland. The theory, however, faced numerous challenges when put into practice, as provincial governments moved to protect their own interests.
Death and reaction
Deng Xiaoping's ashes lie in state in Beijing whose banner reads "Memorial Service of Comrade Deng Xiaoping", February 1997
The public was largely prepared for Deng's death, as rumors had been circulating for a long time that his health was deteriorating. At 10:00 on the morning of 24 February, people were asked by Premier Li Peng to pause in silence for three minutes. The nation's flags flew at half-mast for over a week. The nationally televised funeral, which was a simple and relatively private affair attended by the country's leaders and Deng's family, was broadcast on all cable channels.
After the funeral, his organs were donated to medical research, the remains were cremated, and his ashes were subsequently scattered at sea, according to his wishes. For the next two weeks, Chinese state media ran news stories and documentaries related to Deng's life and death, with the regular 19:00 National News program in the evening lasting almost two hours over the regular broadcast time.
Certain segments of the Chinese population, notably the modern Maoists and radical reformers (the far left and the far right), had negative views on Deng. In the year that followed, songs like "Story of Spring" by Dong Wenhua, which were created in Deng's honour shortly after Deng's southern tour in 1992, once again were widely played.
There was a significant amount of international reaction to Deng's death: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Deng was to be remembered "in the international community at large as a primary architect of China's modernization and dramatic economic development". French President Jacques Chirac said "In the course of this century, few men have, as much as Deng, led a vast human community through such profound and determining changes"; British Prime Minister John Major commented about Deng's key role in the return of Hong Kong to Chinese control; Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien called Deng a "pivotal figure" in Chinese history. The Kuomintang chair in Taiwan also sent its condolences, saying it longed for peace, cooperation, and prosperity. The Dalai Lama voiced regret.
When compared to the memorials of other CPC leaders, those dedicated to Deng have been low profile, in keeping with Deng's image of pragmatism. Moreover, he was cremated and his ashes were scattered at sea, as opposed to being embalmed like Mao.
There are a few public displays of Deng in the country. A bronze statue of Deng was erected on 14 November 2000, at the grand plaza of Lianhua Mountain Park in Shenzhen. This statue is dedicated to Deng's role as a planner and contributor to the development of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, starting in 1979. The statue is 6 metres (20 ft) high, with an additional 3.68-meter base. The statue shows Deng striding forward confidently. Many CPC high level leaders visit the statue. In addition, in coastal areas and on the island province of Hainan, Deng is seen on roadside billboards with messages emphasizing economic reform or his policy of one country, two systems.
Another bronze statue of Deng was dedicated 13 August 2004 in the city of Guang'an, Deng's hometown, in southwest China's Sichuan Province. The statue was erected to commemorate Deng's 100th birthday. The statue shows Deng, dressed casually, sitting on a chair and smiling. The Chinese characters for "Statue of Deng Xiaoping" are inscribed on the pedestal. The original calligraphy was written by Jiang, then Chairman of the Central Military Commission.
In Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan, there is a six-lane boulevard, 25 metres (82 ft) wide and 3.5 kilometres (2 mi) long, the Deng Xiaoping Prospekt, which was dedicated on 18 June 1997. A two-meter high red granite monument stands at the east end of this route. The epigraph in memory of Deng is written in Chinese, Russian and Kirghiz.
A documentary on Deng entitled Deng Xiaoping was released by CCTV in January 1997 that chronicles his life from his days as a student in France to his "Southern Tour" of 1993. In 2014, a TV series commemorating Deng entitled Deng Xiaoping at History's Crossroads was released by CCTV in anticipation of the 110th anniversary of his birth.
Deng's main legacy is the modern prosperous China of today. Deng will be primarily remembered for the economic reforms that transformed China. He will also be remembered for allowing the Tiananmen massacre to happen.
^1975–1976 and 1977–1980, Europa Publications (2002) "The People's Republic of Chine: Introductory Survey" The Europa World Year Book 2003 volume 1, (44th edition) Europa Publications, London, p. 1075, col. 1, ISBN 1-85743-227-4; and Bo, Zhiyue (2007) China's Elite Politics: Political Transition and Power Balancing World Scientific, Hackensack, New Jersey, p. 59, ISBN 981-270-041-2
^Pomfret, John "In Its Own Neighborhood, China Emerges as a Leader". Washington Post, 18 October 2001. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 26 January 2002. Retrieved 18 August 2013.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link) as quoted in Taiwan Security Research
The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System was completed in 1977, and carried North Slope oil from Prudhoe Bay at the northern tip of Alaska to the Valdez Marine Terminal in Prince William Sound 800 miles to the south. The pipeline has been recognized as a landmark of engineering although the task was made slightly easier due to lessons learned from the building of the Davidson Ditch, Alaska’s first long-distance combination pipeline and ditch, built some 50 years earlier.
With the laying of the first section of pipe on March 27, 1975, construction began on what at the time was the largest private construction project in American history. More than 28,000 people worked directly on the pipeline at the peak of its construction in the Fall of 1975. Many workers from Fairbanks were hired at the local union halls making Fairbanks the major hiring location for the pipeline. Ft. Wainwright army base in Fairbanks housed workers employed on the project near the city.
Fairbanks was also the major hub for materials and pipe staged at the pipeline yard. The last weld was completed on May 31, 1977. Less than a month later, on June 20, 1977, oil from the North Slope’s Prudhoe Bay field began flowing to the port of Valdez at four miles an hour through the 48-inch-wide pipe. The oil arrived at the port 38 days later.
The completed Trans-Alaskan Pipeline system, including pumping stations, connecting pipelines, and the ice-free Valdez Marine Terminal ended up costing $8 billion and is still in production today.
The Beverly Hills Supper Club in Southgate, Kentucky, is engulfed in fire, killing 165 people inside.
The Beverly Hills Supper Club fire in Southgate, Kentucky, is the third deadliest nightclub fire in U.S. history. It occurred on the night of May 28, 1977, during the Memorial Day holiday weekend. A total of 165 people died and more than 200 were injured as a result of the blaze.
On Saturday, May 28, 1977, the Beverly Hills Supper Club was operating beyond capacity, largely due to the popularity of that evening’s Cabaret Room show, featuring popular Hollywood singer and actor John Davidson. Based on its number of exits, the Cabaret Room could safely accommodate about 600 people, according to the calculations of the Fire Marshal; on this night it exceeded capacity, with people seated on ramps and in aisles. According to later estimates based on seating charts and memories of those present, the number of people in the Cabaret Room at 9:00 p.m. on May 28 was somewhere between 900 and 1,300. Regardless of the exact number each gives, sources agree that the room was well beyond its safe holding limit.
Elsewhere in the club, patrons were eating gourmet meals. Later estimates place the total number of people in the Beverly Hills Supper Club on May 28, 1977 at approximately 3,000, substantially more than the 1,500 people fire code allowed at the time for a building with the number of exits the club had.
Near the south exit close to the main bar, opposite end of the building from the Cabaret Room, a wedding reception drew to a close around 8:30 p.m. in the Zebra Room, near the building’s main entrance; some of its guests had complained of the room being excessively warm with loud explosions from beneath the floor, and the group left the building before the end of their allotted time. The room remained vacant from their departure until a minute before 9 p.m., when an employee smelled smoke and opened the Zebra Room’s door to confirm the presence of smoke. She asked another employee to call the Fire Department while she and others grabbed any available fire extinguishers and began trying to fight the flames. Though the employees were not aware of it, their opening of the Zebra Room’s door allowed enough oxygen into the room to cause what had been a smoldering fire in the room’s drop ceiling to flashover and begin to spread rapidly. It quickly became clear that fire extinguishers were useless against the fast-growing blaze. The Fire Department was alerted to the fire at 9:01 p.m. and arrived by 9:05; as they approached, firefighters on the first emergency vehicles could already see smoke coming from the building.
As smoke began to escape the Zebra Room and drift down the hall toward other banquet rooms, patrons and employees nearest to the Zebra Room smelled it. The employees began to urge room occupants to leave the building. However, as the sprawling complex lacked an audible fire alarm, those in more isolated rooms had no way to know that there was a fire in the building until an employee walked the length of the building alerting them. Fire investigators later estimated that the fire, once it spread through the northern doors of the Zebra Room, took only two to five minutes to enter the Cabaret Room; as a result, news of the fire and the first of the smoke and flame reached the Cabaret Room, the farthest point from the Zebra Room, nearly simultaneously. By the time busboy Walter Bailey arrived in the Cabaret Room and interrupted the show to order an evacuation at 9:06 p.m., there was very little time left for the audience of around 1000 people to make their way through the room’s small number of exits. As it spread laterally, the fire also began to spread upwards, engulfing the spiral staircase that would have provided the best exit for those on the second floor of the building.
Around 9:10 p.m., power failed in the building, extinguishing the lights. Panic ensued, and even those who had been calmly moving toward exits in the Cabaret Room began to push and shove each other. The situation was made even more desperate by the fact that of the three exits in the room, two were soon blocked off by the fire, leaving the crowd to funnel through a single exit. Employees outside the exits attempted to pull guests to safety, but the crush of bodies as those behind pushed upon those in front became so solid that no amount of strength could free most of them. Many of those who escaped the crush blocking the northeast fire exit became lost trying to find other exits. The building’s confusing design often led to a set of doors opening into a bar area that funneled frantic guests into a dead end.
Firefighters, alerted that the majority of the building’s occupants were in the Cabaret Room, focused their efforts there, but even the combined efforts of every fire department in the county were simply too little, too late. Temperatures in the Cabaret Room soared into the thousands of degrees and even firefighters, weary and dehydrated, were soon unable to safely attempt any further rescues.
When I got to the inside doors, which is about 30 feet inside the building, I saw these big double doors, and people were stacked like cordwood. They were clear up to the top. They just kept diving out on each other trying to get out. I looked back over the pile of – it wasn’t dead people, there were dead and alive in that pile – and I went in and I just started to grab them two at a time and pull them off the stack, and drag them out…
—?Bruce Rath, Fort Thomas Volunteer Fire Department,
At 11:30 p.m. fire command, suspecting that the building’s roof would soon collapse, ordered all firefighters to evacuate the building. At approximately midnight, the roof did indeed implode onto what remained of the building. The magnitude of the blaze was such that firefighters did not have the flames under control until around two o’clock that morning; parts of the building continued to burn until May 30, two days after the fire began.
By the early morning of May 29, 134 bodies had been removed from the building and laid out, initially on the hillside surrounding the building and then in a makeshift morgue inside the nearby Fort Thomas Armory. By the end of June 1, 28 more bodies had been discovered, bringing the death toll up to 162. All but two of the dead were found in and around the Cabaret Room, with 125 clustered near the room’s north exit and another 34 at the room’s southern exit. Two bodies were removed from the Viennese Room. A small number of fire victims died after being rescued from the scene: one on June 25, one on July 2, and the last on March 1, 1978, nearly a year after the fire. This brought the number of verified deaths to 165.
On May 25, 1977, a long time ago in a galaxy not so far away … the first film in the Star Wars series was released in movie theaters.
What has now grown into a franchise, spanning the worlds of film, books, TV, video games, toys, and more, started when the world met characters including Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, R2-D2, Yoda, and Darth Vader in the original Star Wars film, created by George Lucas.
Star Wars was followed by two sequels: The Empire Strikes Back, released on May 21, 1980, and Return of the Jedi, released on May 25, 1983.
More than two decades after the release of the original film, the series continued with prequels Episode I: The Phantom Menace, released on May 19, 1999; Episode II: Attack of the Clones, released on May 16, 2002; and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, released on May 19, 2005.
In 2015, a series of sequels began with Episode VII: The Force Awakens, followed by Episode VIII: The Last Jedi in 2017, and Episode IX is planned for release in 2019. There are also two Star Wars anthology films, 2016’s Rogue One and Solo: A Star Wars Story, which was released today, the 41st anniversary of the original premiere.
Star Wars has built a fan base larger and stronger than the Death Star itself, that celebrate the films with a fan holiday each May 4. Fans wish each other well by saying “May the 4th be with you” on what came to be known as Star Wars Day.
Many engineers can be found among those fans. The films have inspired many tech careers and analysis of devices, including blaster fire, featured in them.
On July 21, 1977, there were the first gun battles between troops on the border, followed by land and air strikes. On July 24, the combatants agreed to a ceasefire under the mediation of the President of Algeria Houari Boumediène and the Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat.
Relations between the Libyan and the Egyptian government had been deteriorating ever since the end of Yom Kippur War from October 1973, due to Libyan opposition to President Anwar Sadat’s peace policy as well as the breakdown of unification talks between the two governments. Frequent, politically-driven deportations of Egyptian migrants working in Libya also contributed to tense bilateral relations. There is some proof that the Egyptian government was considering a war against Libya as early as 1974. On February 28, 1974, during Henry Kissinger’s visit to Egypt, President Sadat told him about such intentions and requested that pressure be put on the Israeli government not to launch an attack on Egypt in the event of its forces being occupied in war with Libya. In addition, the Egyptian government had broken its military ties with Moscow, while the Libyan government kept that cooperation going. The Egyptian government also gave assistance to former RCC members Major Abd al Munim al Huni and Omar Muhayshi, who unsuccessfully tried to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi in 1975, and allowed them to reside in Egypt.
During 1976 relations were ebbing, as the Egyptian government claimed to have discovered a Libyan plot to overthrow the government in Cairo. On January 26, 1976, Egyptian Vice President Hosni Mubarak indicated in a talk with the US Ambassador Hermann Eilts that the Egyptian government intended to exploit internal problems in Libya to promote actions against Libya, but did not elaborate. On July 22, 1976, the Libyan government made a public threat to break diplomatic relations with Cairo if Egyptian subversive actions continued. On August 8, 1976, an explosion occurred in the bathroom of a government office in Tahrir Square in Cairo, injuring 14, and the Egyptian government and media claimed this was done by Libyan agents. The Egyptian government also claimed to have arrested two Egyptian citizens trained by Libyan intelligence to perform sabotage within Egypt. On August 23, an Egyptian passenger plane was hijacked by persons who reportedly worked with Libyan intelligence. They were captured by Egyptian authorities in an operation that ended without any casualties. In retaliation for accusations by the Egyptian government of Libyan complicity in the hijacking, the Libyan government ordered the closure of the Egyptian Consulate in Benghazi.
The Libyan government claimed to have uncovered an Egyptian espionage network in Libya. US diplomatic circles viewed this tension as a sign of Libyan intentions to go to war against Egypt, and one diplomat observed:
LARG Libyan Arab Republic Government anticipates military attack from Egypt, which it hopes to exploit and cause overthrow of Sadat.
Throughout 1976 the Egyptian government was concentrating troops along the Libyan border. It enjoyed the support of the US government, who viewed Libya negatively, and was promised by Washington that no move in US-Libyan relations was to be made without consultation with Cairo. Policy experts in the US and Britain assessed that Sadat was planning an attack on Libya in order to overthrow Gaddafi. Relations kept deteriorating, and in early May 1977 Sadat turned down an American request to engage in reconciliation talks with the Libyan government.
Tensions between the two countries had increased during April and May 1977, as demonstrators attacked each other’s embassies. In June 1977, Libyan leader Gaddafi ordered the 225,000 Egyptians working and living in Libya to leave the country by July 1 or face arrest.
Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping is restored to power.
On this day in 22 July 1977, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping was restored to power after 10 years in exile.
“I don’t care if it’s a white cat or a black cat,” Deng Xiaoping once uttered, “it’s a good cat as long as it catches mice.” It was this sort of pragmatism that helped Deng to lead the transformation of China into the economic powerhouse it is today. Over the years he was a leader of the Communist Party of China, the People’s Liberation Army of China, and the People’s Republic of China. He was a military strategist, a revolutionary, and a statesman, and he was the great architect of the country’s modernisation, its opening up to the international community, and the transformation of traditional socialism into the socialist market economy.
Deng was effectively in charge of China in the years after his restoration to power, from 1978 to 1992, but only after a slow and arduous rise to the top. He was born into a family of Hakka Han ethnicity in Guang’an County, Sichuan Province, on 22 August 1904. His father Deng Wenming was a landowner, and his mother Deng Dan died when he was still a child.
In 1920, when he was just 16 years old, Deng Xiaoping travelled to France as part of the Mouvement Traivail-Etudes work-study abroad initiative. The night prior to his departure, his father asked him what he hoped to achieve and—rather prophetically—he responded, “To learn knowledge and truth from the West in order to save China.”
After crossing the oceans to Marseilles by boat, he studied at schools in Bayeux and Chatillon, and worked a number of jobs including as a fireman on a locomotive and a fitter in a Renault factory. The work was dangerous and poorly paid and it was there—he later explained—that Deng started to understand the disadvantages of capitalism, and to study Marxism.
In 1926 he travelled to the Soviet Union to study at Moscow Sun Yat-sen University, and it was there that he met his first wife. They returned to China and married but, tragically, she died only days after giving birth to their baby girl, who also died. Then in 1933 Deng’s second wife, Jin Weiying, abandoned him after he came under political attack for fighting for the Communist Party. However, after their subsequent victory, and the founding of the People’s Republic of China, his political career took off; so much so that Mao Zedong eventually started to perceive him as a threat.
After the start of the Cultural Revolution in 1966, Deng was exiled to a lowly existence as an ordinary worker in the Xinjian County Tractor Factory in rural Jiangxi Province, and his family were attacked by the Red Guards; his son Deng Pufang was tortured and thrown out of fourth-floor window, which left him paraplegic.
After Mao’s death on 9 September 1976 everything changed once more, and suddenly Deng was again the de facto leader. On 22 July 1977 he was officially restored to power—appointed Vice-Chairman of the Central Committee, Vice-Chairman of the Military Commission and Chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army—and so he was able to start the modernisation process that he so desired.
Annie is a Broadway musical based upon the popular Harold Gray comic strip Little Orphan Annie, with music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin, and book by Thomas Meehan. The original Broadway production opened in 1977 and ran for nearly six years, setting a record for the Alvin Theatre. It spawned numerous productions in many countries, as well as national tours, and won the Tony Award for Best Musical. The musical’s songs “Tomorrow” and “It’s the Hard Knock Life” are among its most popular musical numbers.
The original Broadway production opened at the Alvin Theatre on April 21, 1977 and starred Andrea McArdle as Annie, Reid Shelton as Daddy Warbucks, Dorothy Loudon as Miss Hannigan, and Sandy Faison as Grace Farrell. Danielle Brisebois was one of the orphans. It was nominated for eleven Tony Awards and won seven, including the Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Book. Replacements in the title role on Broadway included then-child actors Shelley Bruce, Sarah Jessica Parker, Allison Smith and Alyson Kirk. Replacements in the role of Miss Hannigan included Alice Ghostley, Dolores Wilson, Betty Hutton, Marcia Lewis, and June Havoc. Ann Ungar understudied and played for Dorothy Loudon in the role of Miss Hannigan. She also understudied Alice Ghostley and Dolores Wilson. The show closed on January 2, 1983, after a total of 2,377 performances, setting a record for the longest running show at the Alvin Theatre, until it was surpassed by Hairspray in 2009.
Astronomers discover the rings of the planet Uranus.
For being the third largest body in our solar system not including the Sun, there really wasn’t much info about Uranus until the invention of powerful modern telescopes. While astronomers have known of it’s existence since the 16th century, it wasn’t until 1781 that Englishman William Hershel confirmed it as the seventh planet from the sun.
Named after Zeus’s grandfather Uranus, best remembered for being castrated by his son Saturn, the hilariously named planet was only a blue blip until 1977. Astronomers using the Kuiper Airborne Observatory discovered a series of rings the circled Uranus around it’s uniquely tilted axis. This marked the second such celestial feature alongside fellow gas giant Saturn.
Years later the solar system observer Voyager arrived near Uranus and confirmed that Uranus not only had a complicated system of rings, but also 27 moons of various sizes. With a new discovery at every turn the question remains, what new wonders does Uranus have in store for us next?
The Libyan–Egyptian War was a short border war between Libya and Egypt in July 1977. On July 21, 1977, there were first gun battles between troops on the border, followed by land and air strikes. On July 24, the combatants agreed to a ceasefire under the mediation of the President of Algeria Houari Boumediène and the Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat.
In June 1977, thousands of Libyan protesters began a “March on Cairo” as they headed towards the Egyptian border. The Libyans wanted to demonstrate against the increasing likelihood that Egypt would enter into a peace treaty with Israel. On July 20, after the protest march was stopped by Egyptian border guards, Libyan artillery units fired at Egypt in Sallum.
On July 21, 1977 Libyan forces carried out a raid on Sallum. The raid was carried out by the 9th Tank Battalion and supported by a few Mirage 5 aircraft.
Anwar Sadat and his generals ordered 3 divisions to head to the Libyan border when news of the advancing Libyan tanks reached them. The three divisions quickly beat back the Libyan brigades, destroying most of their equipment. The Egyptian Air Force and 3 divisions of the Egyptian Army stormed across the Libyan border and captured some key border towns. Libyan military bases in Al Adm, Kufra and Umm Alayan were bombed.
Other Arab states then asked Sadat not to launch a full-scale invasion of Libya. Sadat heeded their call and forced Libya into a ceasefire. The Egyptian Army then withdrew from occupied territory.