You cannot talk about the growth and development of modern China without mentioning the name “Deng Xiaoping”.
While he is undoubtedly a national hero in China, many also see him as the chief architect of China’s economic reformation. Either way, the historic contributions of the iconic Deng Xiaoping to the country is undeniable.
Born on the 22nd of August 1904 in Sichuan Province, China, he was the first-born son of a landowner, Deng Wenming. Deng Xiaoping’s childhood was not entirely rosy as he lost his mother at a young age, leaving him with his three brothers and three sisters.
Although his childhood could be considered typical, he would go on to become a leading pioneer of China’s economic reformation and one of the most influential figures of the 20th century.
We take you through 8 interesting facts you might not have known about the life of Deng Xiaoping. Here we go!
Deng Xiaoping Facts
1. He was only 4 feet and 11 inches tall
In some parts of China today, tall people are considered to be more educated, more sophisticated, and good marriage partners. Deng Xiaoping was only 4 feet and 11 inches tall Had he been alive today, he would not have been qualified enough to make a reasonable living in the private and public sectors. Even establishments that he helped to create as the architect of modern China, would reject him, an interesting fact about Deng Xiaoping.
Certain sections of the country believe that one of the low points of Deng’s political reforms in the 1980s and 1990s was increased discrimination based on appearance.
2. He was an avid swimmer
In his time, Chinese communist leaders used swimming to show how healthy and fit they were to rule. Deng just like many of his counterparts would often disregard the pleas of his physicians and go out to swim despite his old age.
Deng reportedly spent the summer after the 1989 Tiananmen massacre in Beidaihe, a usual getaway spot for political leaders back in the day. He was 85 at the time and according to him, he swam outside “for an hour a day”.
3. Deng loved to smoke cigarettes
Deng was a chain-smoker who loved expensive Panda cigarettes. This led to him having a grave voice and brown-stained fingers, a fun fact about Deng Xiaoping. Panda Cigarettes produced premium cigarettes just for him and he often offered them to visiting dignitaries.
Deng was far from alone, of course, in his love for cigarettes. Mao Zedong and other leaders in the communist party often enjoyed smoking too and have been photographed numerous times with cigarettes in their hands.
Chinese leaders today are banned from smoking in public, buying cigarettes with public funds, or offering cigarettes while performing official duties.
4. He had a spitting habit
During the 1950s in China, there was hardly a more ingrained habit than spitting. From the common people to powerful leaders, such habits were common. Deng was renowned for spitting.
Even the famous Margaret Thatcher was shaken after her first meeting with Deng Xiaoping in Beijing’s Great Hall of the people in 1982. Deng reportedly spat several times into a spittoon placed near his chair as the future of Hong Kong was being discussed.
5. Deng’s favorite dish was called the “Double Taste Fiery Pot”
China has always been a food-fanatical country since the days of the emperors. A banquet then may include exotic delights such as fatty dog soup, leopard fetus, and many more.
Deng Xiaoping was a native of Sichuan province and he enjoyed a dish called ‘Double Taste Fiery Pot’, which seasoned a fish from the Yangtze River so that it is spicy on one side and salty on the other, an interesting fact about Deng Xiaoping.
6. Deng’s historical life has been adapted into a tv series and a film
In 2014, “Deng Xiaoping at History Crossroads” first episode aired on Chinese television on the 8th of August, marking the 110th anniversary of Deng Xiaoping’s birth. It was a biopic series made to celebrate the life of the architect of China whose reforms helped transform the country’s economy.
The series had 48 episodes and was estimated to cost around 120 million yuan ($18 million) for production. In 2002, a biopic film depicting Deng Xiaoping’s return to power in 1976 was also released.
7. He loved playing bridge
The game of bridge was a very significant part of Deng Xiaoping’s life. Deng learned how to play bridge in France. In 1981, for the first time, a bridge award was presented to a leader of one of the world’s rising powers. It was the Charles Goren award for the bridge personality of the year and its recipient was Deng Xiaoping.
Deng’s interest in bridge has set an example for others on how to find common ground in the most trivial platforms and build a strong international relationship.
8. He was once a factory worker
1969 was perhaps one of the most trying times for Deng Xiaoping. During the Cultural Revolution, Deng was caught and placed under house arrest in Beijing for two years and was sent to Jiangxi province where he worked in a tractor repair factory and was confined to a school for infants, a crazy fact about Deng Xiaoping.
Deng’s ordeal has long been claimed to be a gracious attempt to preserve his life by Mao. Deng’s son, on the other hand, wasn’t as lucky. He was paralyzed after reportedly being pushed from a window in his attempt to escape the members of the Red Guards.
Just like every good story comes to an end, Deng Xiaoping’s incredible adventure came to a halt on the 19th of February, 1997. He reportedly died from complications caused by Parkinson’s disease and lung infection.
Deng will be remembered for a lot of things, but his most invaluable achievement would be the contributions he made that led to high economic growth and increased standards of living for the people of China. The great world power we know today may not have such prominence had it not been for the acts of people like Deng Xiaoping. He may be gone, but his legacy lives on.
I hope that this article on interesting facts about Deng Xiaoping was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Historical People Page!