08/12/2004, 00.00
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A divided leadership celebrate centenary of Deng's birth

Beijing  (AsiaNews/SCMP) -  Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao will visit the home town of late leader Deng Xiaoping in Sichuan in the coming few days to officiate at celebrations of the centenary of his birth.  However, the mainland's two most senior leaders will not appear together in Guangan , according to local officials.

Mr Jiang, who was succeeded two years ago by Mr Hu as general secretary of the Communist Party but remains chairman of the Central Military Commission, will unveil a statue of Deng in a memorial park. The bronze statue will be the centrepiece of the park, which is next to the former residence of Deng, who died in 1997.

Mr Hu, who is also China's president – designed as the core of the Fourth Generation Leadership by Deng - will preside over the opening of an exhibition in the former residence at a different date.

Officials said the schedule for the two leaders' visits was tentative and declined to say when either would be in Guangan. Neither is expected in Guangan on August 22 - Deng's birthday.

Several state leaders and members of Deng's family had already visited Guangan. Official media, however, only reported a visit by Premier Wen Jiabao last week. At least three members of the Politburo Standing Committee - Wu Bangguo , Zeng Qinghong and Jia Qinglin - have already visited Guangan, according to sources. Deng's three daughters - Deng Lin , Deng Nan and Deng Rong - also visited Guangan recently.

The conversion of the former residence into an exhibition hall began three years ago and has cost about 20 million yuan (around 2,5 million US).

Deng Xiaoping, who took power a short time after Mao's death, is considered the father of China's economic reforms. He succeded in liberalizing the economy and many aspects of the society, but he never questioned the Party's monopoly on power. In 1979 he started giving permission for churches and temples to reopen after the Cultural Revolution hurricane. But under his leadership control of the official church and persecution of the underground churches continued unabated.

In 1989, while still in power, he allowed the army to crash the Tiananmen movement, justifying it as the only way to save the nation.

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