Senior Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping described himself Tuesday as a "setting sun" and said he has largely completed the task of lining up his successors, a decade after he ascended to supreme power.
The remarks, at a meeting with visiting Brazilian President Jose Sarney, constituted a rare acknowledgment by Deng that one of his chief aims has been to assure a smooth transfer of power after his death and avoid the chaotic struggles of the Mao Tse-tung era."Communist Party General Secretary Zhao Ziyang is our man in charge," the 84-year-old leader told Sarney during a photo session before the meeting at the Great Hall of the People.
"I am a setting sun," said Deng, who emerged in 1978 as China's paramount leader after winning the fierce struggle for power that followed Mao's death in 1976.
Deng, dressed in a gray Mao suit and looking pale and tired as the two leaders sat in overstuffed armchairs, said he would leave Beijing in a few days to spend six weeks at the seaside resort of Beidaihe, about 165 miles northeast of the capital.
"If I can swim, then that will prove that I am still healthy," laughed Deng, the architect of China's radical economic reforms.