Deng Xiaoping’s Duke Law Alumnus Grandson Named County Official

The grandson of late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, a Duke University law school graduate who later worked for U.S. law firm White & Case LLP, was named deputy head of a county in southern China, the People’s Daily website said.

Deng Zhuodi, in his late 20s, will oversee economic development, law, agriculture, poverty alleviation and major projects in Guangxi province’s Pingguo county, today’s report said, citing local media. Pingguo is part of the city of Baise, where Deng Xiaoping helped lead a Communist uprising in 1929 against the Nationalist government.

Deng Zhuodi’s appointment illustrates the influence of China’s so-called princelings, the descendants of the founding fathers of Communist China. Chinese President Xi Jinping, the son of a top party official, held a party post at the county level in northern China’s Hebei province early in his career.

A county official in Pingguo confirmed that Deng Zhuodi had been in his post for several months. The official, reached by telephone, asked not to be identified, saying the details aren’t public information.

The descendants of the Communist revolutionaries are part of an elite network that has gained access to education abroad and jobs in finance and government, Bloomberg News reported on Dec. 27.

“In the 80s and 90s, princelings went into business,” said Bo Zhiyue, a senior research fellow at the East Asian Institute at the National University of Singapore. “But starting a few years ago you see signs that these people are turning back to politics.”

Economic Opportunities

The younger Deng was born in 1985 while his grandfather oversaw the country’s economic opening that lifted China out of poverty and created opportunities for princelings to get rich. Deng Xiaoping died in 1997.

Deng Zhuodi is the son of Deng Xiaoping’s younger son Deng Zhifang, who earned a physics Ph.D. at the University of Rochester in the 1980s before returning to China to work in property.

“Deng Zhuodi gives the impression of having great knowledge and ability, yet is low-key, modest, careful and diligent, and never gives media interviews, local officials and citizens say,” People’s Daily said.

A bridge player like his grandfather, Deng Zhuodi received a degree from Duke’s law school in 2008, according to the school’s alumni web page. He went on to work at White & Case.

— With assistance by Michael Forsythe, and Fan Wenxin

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