BEIJING — China's senior leader Deng Xiaoping today laughed about foreign reports of his death and said China is unafraid of Western sanctions in the wake of the June crushing of pro-democracy unrest.
Deng, 85, also told Japanese lawmaker Masayoshi Ito that among the politicians he most respected were former President Richard M. Nixon, Henry A. Kissinger and Japan's former Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka. All three men led the way in improving their countries' relations with China.
The meeting at the Great Hall of the People was the second for China's reclusive leader in three days.
He appeared in public for the first time in three months Saturday when he held talks with Chinese-American physicist T. D. Lee.
Deng's re-emergence after the long absence has, for the moment, dispelled speculation that he is gravely ill with cancer.
The nationally televised evening news showed Deng walking unaided to meet Ito, whom he called "an old friend" as the two shook hands.
Deng told Ito that criticism of China by the Paris summit of seven non-communist industrialized nations in July was "based on lies and distortions" and "too superficial."
"China is not afraid of sanctions, which will rebound on those imposing them in the long run," he said.
Deng added that China had noticed "some difference" in attitude between Japan and the other six countries.
Japan joined Western nations in condemning Beijing's killing of demonstrators and an ensuing wave of arrests in June, but its criticism was less harsh. Tokyo put a freeze on new financial aid to China.