Premium What Deng says

It may have gone somewhat unnoticed, but it is not without relevance.

Deng Pufang, Deng Xiaoping's eldest son, was addressing the China Disabled Persons' Federation, of which he is honorary chairman. Pufang"s role is particularly significant not due to his family ancestry, but also because he had to use a wheelchair since1968 when he was seriously injured as he fled a mob in fury during the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution.

Last month he recalled key aspects of his father's legacy in a speech that has only now came to light. Firstly, he argued, the reforms and opening process that began 40 years ago are irreversible. On the other hand, he emphasized Deng Xiaoping's dictums, such as the need to "seek the truth through the facts" and keep the mind sober.

At a time when Beijing has taken a much more assertive approach in its affirmation as a global power - which has resulted in a greater perception of China as a threat in several countries - Deng Pufang also stressed that one must stay firm and steady in the path towards peace and development. This comes against the backdrop of an ever-uncertain external environment. Amidst this background one should focus primarily in tackling internal problems. It was again the father's voice echoing in dissonance with what has prevailed in the past five years in Zhongnanhai. It is becoming clear to many inside and outside China that this form of power projection has counterproductive effects that need to be corrected. On the eve ofthe40th anniversary of the beginning of the process that has transformed the country and the world, it is worth revisiting the advice of the architect of the reforms. Not just by paying lip service, as it seems be done done by the current leadership which has strated deviating from this path in a rather hasty way.

Everything becomes more challenging in world increasingly polarized by the likes of Trump, Duterte and now also Bolsonaro, populist leaders who threaten the pillars of multilateralism and as a result peace and development.

However in Beijing is crucial to resist the hubris, maintain a balanced approach and, amid these dangerous and uncertain times, to revisit the path correctly paved by Deng Xiaoping. The recent Sino-Japanese rapprochement, mirrored by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe"s visit to Beijing last week - the first by a Japanese head of government in seven years - is step in the right direction. We need more of this.