Former Chinese Communist Party Leader Dies at 87

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Hua Guofeng, who succeeded Mao Zedong as China's Communist Party leader for a short period before being brushed aside by economic reformers 30 years ago, died in the Chinese capital Wednesday afternoon, state media reported. He was 87.

Although analysts say Hua was not an overtly popular figure and has lived outside the spotlight for decades, funeral arrangements could create a sensitive issue for the party's current leadership, especially since the world's attention is focused here on Beijing's hosting of the Olympic Games.

At the same time, since most of the party's internal machinations are shrouded in secrecy, the death of a current or former leader often is seen as an opportunity for reflection and dissent about how the nation is run.

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