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China has recently held a series of solemn, high-profile ceremonies, barely noticed by the outside world, in honor of the 110th anniversary of former leader Deng Xiaoping’s birth.

But as with most political festivities in China these days, few have bothered to reflect on what is being celebrated — and what Deng’s leadership actually meant. The truth is that, while Deng deserves appreciation for having brought China back from the abyss of Maoism, his approach — “Dengism,” or authoritarian developmentalism — is now impeding China’s prospects.

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