The Weeks before June 4 – Towards the Sun

Main Link: 八九天安门事件大记 (Major Daily Events, Tiananmen 1989), by Wu Renhua.

« previous post in this series, and an explanation of my approach to regiving Wu Renhua’s document

Monday, April 17, 1989

From the afternoon on, larger-scale activities than before to mourn Hu Yaobang spread from the university campuses to Tian An Men Square. In big and medium-sized cities nationwide, mourning activities are also becoming larger. At about 1 p.m., more than 600 teachers and students from China University of Political Science and Law move towards Tian An Men Square, along the Second Ring Road, led by young teachers like Chen Xiaoping, Xiong Jining, and Wu Renhua. It is the first demonstration by the 1989 popular movement. More details [in Chinese] here.  Some of the participating China University of Political Science and Law students later become a backbone of the students’ movement, like Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强), Xiang Xiaoji 项小吉, head of the Beijing Universities’ Students’ Dialog Delegation), Zhou Yongjun (周勇军, Beijing Students Autonomous Federation chairman), the Students Autonomous Federation’s first secretary Wang Zhixin (王志新, listed by the Ministry of Public Security as one of the 21 student leaders), Wang Zhiqing (王志清, also listed as one of the 21 student leaders by the public security ministry, and unaccounted for ever since the end of the June-4 movement).

At 5 p.m., there are nine wreathes in front of the Monument to the People’s Heroes, signed by a number of students from Beihang University (aka Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics), teachers and students from Beijing University, teachers and students from Beijing Normal University, by all post-graduates from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and by a cadre from the China University of Political Science and Law.

By 7 p.m., some two- to three-thousand people have assembled at the Tian An Men Square monument, and mostly students read out memorial speeches. After midnight, there are still between two- and three-hundred students who don’t want to leave the place.

In Shanghai, more than one-thousand (mostly) Fudan University students have moved to the government buildings and demanded talks with city leaders. They disperse by about 4 a.m. next morning. The authorities, led by Shanghai party secretary Jiang Zemin, issue a notice, stipulating that memorial activities for Hu Yaobang have to be conducted within the respective work units (danwei), to safeguard normal work and studies, stability and unity. The notice also calls for vigilance, concerning bad elements who could seize the opportunity to instigate disturbances. On Monday evening, more than one-thousand students from Tianjin’s Nankai University also leave their campus for a demonstration, singing the Internationale, the national anthem, plus the military anthem of the PLA (我们的队伍向太阳)1), and calling slogans like “Down with dictatorship”, “long live democracy”, and “long live liberty”. Demonstrations are also reported from Hunan Province.

At People’s University (aka Renmin University) in Beijing, the “Some Suggestions from Beijing University, Tsinghua University, People’s University, and Normal University” document emerges, with the following main content:

  • making Tian An Men Square the focus of elegiac couplet and wreaths
  • the establishment of a new, democratic order
  • review of major mistakes that emerged during the ten years of reform, and
  • the removal of those responsible for the mistakes from office.

The Hong Kong Standard, in a news report headlined “Hu Yaobang’s death believed to revive reformist faction”2), writes that

The movement for democracy and human rights is growing by the day, and following the May-Fourth 70th anniversary, its momentum will only expand further […] The students from Beijing’s universities, in their activities to mourn Hu Yaobang, may spontaneously organize activities to make demands for broadening democracy.

Continued here »


1) PLA performing the song on August 1, 2007 (video), lyrics in English (“Facing towards the Sun”, Wikipedia).
2) The Standard (HK) most probably published this report in English – the above is my English translation from the way Wu Renhua quoted the report in Chinese.



» “Our Opportunity had Arrived”, Under the Jaracanda, April 17, 2012
» Hu is Popular, April 17, 2010


5 Responses to “The Weeks before June 4 – Towards the Sun”


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