Updated 2:12 PM EST, Wed, Jan 29, 2020

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China CCTV begins airing 48-part series about former leader Deng Xiaoping

A woman rides a tricycle past a giant poster of late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in Beijing.

(Photo : Reuters photo)

A super-sized 48-part TV documentary about former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping now is running on China Central Television, CCTV. The series discusses the diminutive leader who began systemic reforms now reverberating across China in great length to say the least.

Outside producers and TV content importers are watching the series to see how much censorship is taking place and if the series is a harbinger of new types of content. Although adhering to current political thinking, state media has thrown out hints the groundbreaking series will go beyond current content limits about "sensitive figures," including controversial former leaders Hu Yaobang, the reformist leader whose 1989 death helped spur Tiananmen Square protests, and Zhao Ziyang.

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Chinese propaganda movies have become a staple in the country and moneymakers as well. They've also exhibited advanced production techniques and slick production values. "Founding of a Great Republic" was a notable hit.

Hollywood has joined the pro-Chinese trend with what many are calling highly favorable views of China in the new blockbuster hit "Transformers: Age of Extinction." The movie has earned more than $290 million in China, the second-largest world film market.

Back to Deng, the iconic figure who was a top leader until being caught up in the Cultural Revolution, discredited and then resurrected, leading the nation into economic reforms following Mao Zedong's death. China president from 1978 to 1989, Deng opened up the economy and set the standard for three decades of economic development. On the flip side, he also was responsible for the crackdown on Tiananmen Square protestors in 1989.

The TV docu-series called "Deng Xiaoping at History's Crossroad" apparently only covers Deng's life from 1976 through 1984. Analysts say it's tied into current anti-corruption campaigns now in play by the Xi Jinping regime that is promising continuing economic reforms.

Every film and TV show is seen first by Chinese censors to ensure content is acceptable. Politically sensitive material has been banned in the past. Controversial events also have been subject to censorship and changes.

The USD$20 million Deng documentary was sent to government leaders and academicians to get their thoughts before it aired. Some film critics who received one of the 10,000 preview copies said the series didn't stray that far from current political thinking about former Chinese leaders.

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