The Associated Press

BEIJING (AP) - Zhuo Lin, the widow of late Chinese paramount leader and economic reformer Deng Xiaoping, died Wednesday from an unspecified illness in Beijing. She was 93.

Zhuo died after medical treatment failed, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing the Communist Party's central committee. The report did not specify the illness.

Zhuo was the third wife of Deng, who led China's Communist Party and guided the country's capitalist economic reforms in the 1980s. They married in 1939 and had five children, who apparently survive her. Deng's first wife died in childbirth in 1930 and second wife divorced him when he was in political trouble in 1933.

Deng was purged three times in his nearly 50 years in the party's upper ranks. He never held the posts of head of state or head of government, but nevertheless succeeded Mao Zedong as China's paramount leader from 1978 to the early 1990s. He died in 1997.

The central committee said Zhuo, who was born in southwestern Yunnan province in 1916 and joined the party in 1938, was an excellent party member and a "time-honored loyal communist fighter," Xinhua said.

Zhuo was not politically active and most of her public appearances were limited to ceremonial occasions. In 1997, months after Deng died, Zhuo and daughter Deng Nan attended festivities in Hong Kong marking the return of the British colony to Chinese rule, as a tribute to Deng's role in winning back the territory.

While Deng put an end to the "iron rice bowl" - lifetime jobs for all é─ţ he ruled with an iron fist. The military suppression of the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests - believed to have taken place on his final ordersá killed hundreds, perhaps thousands, and put a blot on the economic progress Deng had achieved.