Saturday, October 4, 2008

"Hello Xiaoping" in 1984

1984 was a pinnacle year of Deng Xiaoping's reform. Everything was going well and the future looked extremely promising in China. The October 1 of that year was the 35th anniversary of the People's Republic of China, not a conventional year for a major celebration, which usually occur every ten years. But the biggest commemoration was planed for that year, complete with grandiose military reviews and people parades. The unofficial reason for the celebration? It was also Deng Xiaoping's eightieth birthday.

It was during that parade that a group of young students from Peking University unfurled a banner greeting the top leader of the country: "Hello Xiaoping".

Caught by surprise, Deng Xiaoping smiled and waved from the review stand atop the Tiananmen Gate.

The literal translation of the name Xiaoping is "little ordinary''. In Chinese tradition, it was a term of endearment to refer one's peer or younger folks as "little something''. However, such terms were never applied to an older or respectable figure. Certainly, there was no denying that the spontaneous gesture from these students was genuine and heartfelt. To this young generation, the 80-year-old Deng Xiaoping was not an old statesman, but one of them.

How time would change within another decade.

Danwei translated a recent interview by The Beijing News with a student who had masterminded the banner in 1984 and a reporter who took a picture of it and got it published in the official press. It was a nice piece of time capsule for a brief and happy moment in history.

1 comment:

huanghai said...

I rememered seen an article on China Youth Daily in late 80s talking about a student with last name Zeng who involved in this. He was a undergraduate student in Biology Dept. Later he fell from a mountain when he was working during summer for panda protection project. The article was on the 4th page. It also mentioned several names of his classmates involved in the event. Somehow, I did not see that name shown in the list of the review article.

On a separate note, I might have meet a student named Chang Sheng mentioned in the article at Stanford Univ. in 1990. He was studying biology and was from Beida.