November 29, 1978 – China Gets Giddy – Russia Reshuffles – Boris And Natalia Katz Head West.
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November 29, 1978 – News was about China on this day. Veteran observers were calling it “the new age of China”, Chinese youth were demonstrating support in droves for party chairman Deng-Xao Ping and premier Hua-guo Feng in Tiananmen Square, chanting Democratic slogans throughout the streets of Beijing. Reports from China said that party leaders were diverting the tide of criticism away from the late Chairman Mao and into demands for greater democracy and more independent thought. According to numerous recent visitors to China, the present government seemed convinced that allowing more public debate of issues was necessary to the new economic Great Leap Forward, aimed at making China a modern industrialized nation within 20 years. Deng himself met with some visiting Japanese politicians and told them that an important meeting was going on in Beijing to discuss the economic modernization plans and also the rehabilitation of some of the higher ranking people that Mao purged over the years.
Meanwhile, over in Moscow; things were more secretive behind the Kremlin walls, but on this day they were all out on display as news of the dramatic reshuffling of the Politburo became public. Leonid Brezhnev was greeted with enthusiastic applause as he and his colleagues walked into the meeting hall during the opening of Parliament. Kremlin watchers were interested in this session, mostly because of the lineup of new leaders being introduced. 67 year-old Konstantin Chernenko, a Brezhnev associate with unusually rapid rise with in the party ranks over the previous two years, leading many to believe that Chernenko was now one of the top-five leaders of the country and a possible successor to Brezhnev.
And finally, Boris and Natalia Katz were on their way to the U.S. to get medical help for their one year-old daughter. They flew out of Moscow earlier in the day after one final scare; Soviet Customs Authorities first confiscated and then returned the special milk supplement needed to keep their daughter alive until she could receive treatment for her digestive ailment. The Katz’s, Soviet Jewish dissidents finally reached Vienna where Maurice Katz expressed relief to be in the West.
And that’s a small slice of what happened, this November 29, 1978 as reported by The CBS World News Roundup with Neil Strawser.