Xi Jinping will make Shenzhen the venue of his first inspection trip as new Communist Party General Secretary, echoing Deng Xiaoping‘s 1992 southern tour, according to the South China Morning Post (paywall).
A Shenzhen propaganda official said Xi’s proposed visit would follow in the footsteps of Deng and express the new leader’s “determination to further deepen China’s reform”.
The southern tour taken by Deng Xiaoping in 1992 enabled the former Paramount Leader to shore up support for his economic reforms in the south after his power in Beijing had waned due to the 1989 [incident] enabling a resurgence in the left wing of the Party. During his tour, Deng stressed the importance of economic reform and criticised those who would stand in its way.
Deng’s tour, while more commonly associated with Shenzhen, was instrumental in the revitalisation of Shanghai as an economic zone, including the development of Pudong. Shanghai’s Liberation Daily was also one of the first newspapers to come out in support of Deng’s reforms, which were still largely opposed in Beijing.
According to former National People’s Congress deputy Ng Hong-man, Xi Jinping chose Shenzhen for his first tour in order to pay tribute to Deng and his own father Xi Zhongxun’s commitment to reform. Xi Zhongxun was instrumental in establishing the experimental economic zones which drove Deng’s reformist program.
Zhang Lifan, political analyst formerly with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, pointed to the contrast between Xi Jinping’s choice of destination and his predecessor’s. Hu Jintao chose Xibaipo as the destination of his first trip, a historically important site which once served as the headquarters of the Communist Party and the People’s Liberation Army in the 1940s, but hardly indicative of any commitment to reform. Zhang said that Xi’s trip to Shenzhen will be a chance for the leader to present himself as a legitimate reformist heir to Deng Xiaoping.