Deng Xiaoping was a cunning politician who came to power through his ability to accurately appraise Mao Zedong's state of mind. Deng was becoming disillusioned with Mao's policies, and when he became China's absolute ruler in 1978, he embraced post-Mao reforms. Unfortunately, Deng lacked the kind of hands-on control that was necessary to follow through on his economic modernization program.
Deng possessed a reformist drive, but he was also a ruthless dictator who launched a massive purge that sent almost one million people to labor camps, and execution, on the grounds that they were "rightist sympathizers". Deng was drawn to power, but he did not have any real political convictions other than holding on to power.
This report prepared by Nathaniel Ford