Film recalls Deng Xiaoping's historic visit to US in 1979

Updated: 2015-09-14 13:36

By Paul Welitzkin in New York(China Daily USA)

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As Chinese President Xi Jinping prepares to visit the United States at the end of the month, the University of Southern California's USC-China Institute will recall Deng Xiaoping's 1979 historical trip to the US with a screening on Tuesday of the documentary Mr. Deng Goes to Washington.

The 94-minute film is the first big-screen production chronicling Deng's nine-day visit, which occurred about one month after China officially established diplomatic relations with the US. After the film is shown at the Annenberg School on the USC campus in Los Angeles, a discussion will be held with the director, Fu Hongxing, and producer Lu Muzi.

"This was the first official state visit by a Chinese leader since the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949," said Clayton Dube, director of the USC-China Institute. "At this point, interest in China was very intense, and the country was about to embark on its reform era."

Dube said the film attempts to capture the excitement created by Deng's visit. It features interviews with former US president Jimmy Carter, his national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and Henry Kissinger, former secretary of state.

Film recalls Deng Xiaoping's historic visit to US in 1979

"The film is also an attempt to humanize Deng," Dube said. "He is old, and at the end of the trip he is quite ill."

Dube said Deng's title at the time of his visit was vice-premier. "That was confusing to many Americans who weren't accustomed to a leader being called a vice-premier," he said.

Deng's whirlwind visit to the US included stops in Houston, Seattle and Washington.

In Houston, he attended a rodeo and toured the Johnson Space Center.

"Deng commented that it's not every day a Chinese person can be an astronaut and a cowboy," noted Dube.

In some scenes with no historical videos, the movie uses animation to depict Deng, the first time a cartoon has been used to show the former Chinese leader on the big screen.