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The Relationship between Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping, 1952-1966
Before the Cultural Revolution, Head of State and first Party Vice-Chairman, Liu Shaoqi and Party General Secretary, Deng Xiaoping, were both in Mao Zedong’s good graces, and entrusted by him to handle the Party centre’s daily affairs. Mao was a crucial factor affecting Liu and Deng’s interaction. Deng showed respect and support for Liu based on the perception that Liu was Mao’s successor; Liu also highly valued Deng due to his special relationship with Mao. In most cases Liu and Deng had similar views of important Chinese Communist Party policies, and would follow Mao without hesitation when he expressed his views explicitly. Liu and Deng worked together to successfully figure out ways to cope with the economic difficulties that occurred in the wake of the Great Leap Forward. However, there was some important but easily overlooked divergence between their ideas about how to run the Socialism Education Movement. Nevertheless, within the so-called First Front leadership, Liu and Deng had a good mutual working relationship resulting in mutual trust and respect despite their superior and subordinate status. In addition, although Liu and Deng were purged simultaneously after the Cultural Revolution. Mao treated them in very different ways. Deng was much luckier than Liu who was not only expelled from the Party but also persecuted to death. Their different political fates may be related to their different positions in the First Front and the different strategies they adopted when they interacted with a suspicious Mao.
The Journal of History