Posts tagged ‘Hu Yaobang’

Monday, June 3, 2013

June 4, 1989: the Unsinkable Boat of Stone

Tiananmen Square has a meaning to China – not just Beijing – as deep as the Place de la Bastille‘s for Paris, or that of the Alexanderplatz for Berlin. On 400,000 square meters, Tiananmen Square – according to relevant tourist information – provides space for one million people. That’s how the square has been used – for gatherings ordered by the Chinese Communist Party, when Mao Zedong proclaimed the People’s Republic, for Hua Guofeng‘s eulogy on Mao Zedong in 1976, and for military parades celebrating the People’s Republic’s 35th, 50th, and 60th birthday.

In 1997, on Tiananmen Square, a limited number of people celebrated the return of Hong Kong. The limitation had conjecturable reasons – eight years and four weeks earlier, Chinese army and police troops had quashed a student movement – that movement, too, had its public center in Tiananmen Square.

Ever since 1911, Tiananmen Square had been a place for gatherings outside the scripts of the powers that be. The first, probably, was the May-Fourth movement, sparked by the transfer of formerly German possessions in Shandong Province to Japan, rather than to China, in 1919, after World War One. Chinese intellectuals had begun to perceive their country not just as a civilization, but as a nation, interacting with other nations and falling behind internationally. In 1919, there were no celebrations. There were protests.

The May-Fourth movement has since been canonized. CCP historians see the movement as the beginning of progressive processes during the first half of the 20th century, leading to the CCP’s rise to power. But even Hua Guofeng’s eulogy on Mao, in September 1976, had been preceded by expressions of grief months earlier, in April, for the late chief state councillor Zhou Enlai. The more radical followers of Mao Zedong considered that an affront.

Personal impressions from the 1976 “Tian An Men incident” apparently made Wu Renhua, later a dissident, honor Hu Yaobang with a wreath on Tiananmen Square, in April 1989. Hu Yaobang had just passed away, and some points seem to be noteworthy:

When Hu died, he had been removed as the CCP secretary general for more than two years. Apparently, the party leadership had considered him to be too reform-minded. Expressions of grief from the population might be considered an affront by the party leaders, too, and they probably did, even if it took more than six weeks for the party to put an end to the movement of intellectuals and students in  which Wu Renhua had been taking part.

By then, the movement had long gone beyond their original motivation of honoring Hu Yaobang. Through anti-corruption protest, it had turned into a movement for democracy.

Also, Wu Renhua, then an about thirty-three years old lecturer from the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing, was part of the movement, but – according to his own account – rather going along with it, than driving it. His actual confrontational attitude towards the CCP  only built after the massacre – an outrage that he had never seemed to expect from his country’s leaders.

And even if the University of Political Science and Law played an important role in the 1989 movement, the Beijing University, the Beida, had the traditional, leading role.

Rivalries among the 1989 dissidents are nothing unusual today. Frequently, they are personal rather than political, accompanied by allegations that X is self-important, that Y is a CCP collaborator, or that Z is remote-controlled by Falun Gong – somehow unpredictable or dangerous.

June 4 has become an unsolved complex in Chinese history. Whoever studied in a major Chinese city in 1989 will know that complex. “Sure”, a Shanghainese told me in the early 1990s, “we were all protesting.” To her, however, the matter was closed with the end of the movement – ostensibly, anyway. Many Chinese people born after 1989 hardly know about the existence of the movement, and among those who do remember it, at least some consider the crackdown a rather lucky outcome: be it because they don’t think that the students were able to handle politics in 1989, be it because they see a foreign conspiracy against China’s stability and China’s rise behind the former movement.

By 2008, a trend had changed. Many Chinese people who used to feel respect for (Western) democracies had changed their mind. Frequently negative coverage by Western media on the Beijing Olympics certainly played a role here – the negative foreign echo was spread selectively, but broadly by Chinese media. Some overseas Chinese in Germany even organized a silent protest against the biased German media who had failed to spread their patriotic message and who had therefore muzzled them. Add how the mighty had fallen in the financial crisis – China’s period of growth still continued, thanks to state stimulus programs that tried to compensate for falling imports by Western economies. Criticism from abroad – that’s how the Chinese public was informed (frequently correctly) – was an expression of foreign envy. The ideas so vigorously discussed in 1989 have given way to the truculent nationalism of new generations, Isabel Hilton noted in 2009.

In 1990, Yang Lian (楊煉), a Chinese poet in exile, published this:

The darker the sky, you say that the boat is old,
the storms it bore are long gone,
it is for us to erase the Self, let the boat of stone rot away.1)

That, of course, is the last thing a boat of stone will do.

What is the role of the 1989 dissidents today? According to C. A. Yeung, an Australian blogger and human rights activist, hardly any role. Dissidents abroad, above all, appear to be out of touch with many activists inside China. This may also be true for Wei Jingsheng, an exiled Chinese who lives in Washington D.C..

Wei wasn’t part of the 1989 movement. At the time, he had been a political prisoner for some ten years. He was only released in 1993, and soon, he was re-arrested. Since 1997, he has been in America.

It requires a strong – and at times probably dogmatic – personality to resist the pressures Wei faced. No confessions, no concessions to the Chinese authorities through all the years of imprisonment. To people like Wei, “foreign interference” in China’s “internal affairs” is no sacrilege, but necessity. Such “interference” may not create space to live for open dissidents in totalitarian countries, but it does, at times, enable dissidents to survive. In that light, it was only logical that Wei attended a hearing of the German federal parliament’s culture and media committee on December 2008, about the alleged proximity of Germany’s foreign broadcaster’s Chinese department (Deutsche Welle, DW)  to the CCP. DW Staff and program should defend human rights and democracy as a matter of principle, Wei demanded.

It turned out that Wei didn’t actually know the DW programs, jeered Xinhua newsagency.  Wei didn’t disagree: “As a matter of fact, I have said from earlier on that I would not listen to the broadcast of the Deutsche Welle’s Chinese service that has been speaking on the CCP’s behalf.”

Such appearances in foreign parliaments may appear fussy, and near-irrelevant. But in 2002, Dutch author and exile observer Ian Buruma had still believed that Chinese dissidents abroad could play a big role:

Let’s say there are suddenly serious splits in the Chinese government. Things start to move rather quickly. All kinds of things are going to happen. And then, it can be that you suddenly need people who know how to operate in Washington, who know which buttons to press and [who] have contacts in Congress, and so on. And this has happened in the case of Taiwan, for example, where you had dissidents in the 60s and 70s who hung around, languished, were considered to be irrelevant until things began to change in Taiwan politically and suddenly, they were important.2)

But maybe, by now, that role has diminuished further – if Buruma’s original observations were correct. Maybe Wei Jingsheng and other dissidents, among them those who had to leave China after June 4, 1989, will play a role similar to the one Wolf Biermann, an East German exile in West Germany, anticipated for himself long before the Berlin Wall came down: at times cheering from the sidelines, providing advice once in a while, but hardly authoritatively. Only on his return to East Germany, Biermann mused, his actual exile would begin, as hardly anyone would recognize him: Dann beginnt erst mein Exil.

The actual historical events of spring 1989 are a different story, however. These days, the CCP neither condemns the events, nor does it condone them. The topic is entirely shunned.

In Hong Kong, people haven’t forgotten. After all, the June-4 crackdown came as a shock for a society that was to return to the motherland eight years and a month later. June 4 is part of tradition there. For many Hong Kong activists who demand more democratic rights for Hong Kongers themselves, solidarity with mainland activists or dissidents is part of their self-image.

The only official evaluation so far: Deng Xiaoping defends his reform policies of economic openness and political repression, June 9, 1989

The only official evaluation so far: Deng Xiaoping defends his reform policies of economic openness and political repression, June 9, 1989 (click picture for video)

In 1995, Deng Xiaoping‘s daughter Deng Rong suggested in an interview with the New York Times  that only later generations could judge the 1989 events. She didn’t know how people thought about it – but my father at least, in his heart, believed that he had no other way.

It may take years before a re-evaluation of the 1989 movements may begin. Or it may only take months. The CCP could initiate one if it feels strong enough, or the citizenry could initiate one if the party gets weaker.

Nobody inside or outside China knows what is being thought about the movement. And many Chinese may only find out what they think once it becomes a topic – when it gets unearthed, gradually or rapidly, in a controlled or spontaneous process.

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Notes

1) Yang Lian: Alte Geschichten (I-IV), Der einzige Hafen des Sommers, aus: Masken und Krokodile, Berlin, Weimar 1994, quoted by Joachim Sartorius (Hrsg): Atlas der Neuen Poesie, Reinbek, 1996, S. 67.
天空更加阴暗  你说  这船老了
一生运载的风暴都已走远
该卸下自己了  让石头船舷去腐烂
夏季  是惟一的港口

2) Jatinder Verma: Asian Diasporas, BBC (World Service), Sept 2, 2002

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Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Weeks before June 4: Struggling for the Ideological Switch Stands

[Cont. April 23, 1911

Main Link: 1989 年 4 月 24 日 星期日

Li Tieying and Li Ximing both agree with Li Peng that strict measures should be taken against the students' movement. At 8.30 in the evening, Li Peng goes to see Yang Shangkun to analyse the situation. Yang also sees a changing trend and encourages Li Peng to see Deng Xiaoping. Li Peng asks Yang to join him in a visit to Deng, and Yang agrees. During the evening, as Li Peng reads many papers and adds  comments to them, and a flow of public-security bureau, security, education commission staff etc, concerning trends among the students in all places keeps coming in, by phone and cable.

Science and Technology Daily's entering into the forbidden area of coverage receives a great echo, and from the morning on, people call this paper to tell the staff that they had written in fair words. However, vice chief editor Sun Changjiang says that they haven't done something special, and just acted in accordance with professional ethics, in their effort to carry out their duty as the media. Their [Science and Technology Daily] coverage hadn’t been particularly good; rather, he believes, that of some other papers has been particularly bad. The event is authentic, and their attitude is sincere.

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Monday, April 24, 1989

Main Link: 1989 年 4 月 24 日 星期一 (same document)

In the morning, sixty-thousand students from some 38 colleges and universities such as Beijing University, Tsinghua University, People’s University (Renmin University) begin a strike. Some students gather within the universities, conduct sit-ins, demonstrations, put up posters, and others shout slogans like “join the strike quickly”, “no end to the strike without reaching our goals”, and “walk out on lessons and exams, not on learning”.

Some students give lectures on societal issues, put up propaganda sheets, propagate “April 20 massacre”, “crying-and-begging to the non-understanding government” information, and still others take to the streets and lanes, for fund-raising and to call on “all the city’s citizens to become active in strikes”. Students from Beijing University, Tsinghua University and People’s University maintain order, and dissuade students from taking part in lessons. Some university party secretaries point out in reports to the next-upper party level that the current situation, if it lasts, will be absolutely harmful, and that one has to fear that this could take still larger dimensions as May 4 is approaching. They express their hopes that the central committee and the municipal committee issue clear guidelines, policies and instructions to end the strikes as soon as possible.

At 14:40, student committees at Beijing University and other universities hold meetings at the May-4 squares on their campuses, with some eighty percent of students attending. They prepare activities to boycott official May-4 activities and to establish autonomous students unions in Beijing and students unions of national unity all over the country. Some papers report that student delegates from Nankai University,  Nanjing University, Fudan University, Guangzhou University and other universities are also attending. Nearly two-hundred students with red armbands are maintaining order. As several members of students committees publicly push and pull each other on stage in a quarrel twice, more than six-thousand students at the meeting are abuzz. The meeting ends at 16:00 in discord, without having made any decisions. Dozens of foreign reporters have been present and recorded the event. A press conference by the preparatory committee, scheduled for 7 p.m., is subsequently cancelled.

Beijing University posts the “Recommendations to the Preparatory Committee, signed by people from Beijing University” poster, suggesting to redraw the slogans and action principles in order to get public support. The slogans should oppose corruption and bureaucracy, actions should be carried out downtown, at broad daylight, so as to broaden their influence, unified action would be needed between the universities and colleges, preparations be made for a long-term struggle, and extensive contacts be built with people from intellectual and democratic circles.

There is also another poster, under the headline “five points”, about “guaranteeing basic human rights, releasing political criminals, opposing party supremacy, checks and balances by separation of the three powers, defining a democratic constitution” and other political positions.

More than twohundred Beijing University teachers jointly call for maintaining the principles of the thirteen universities to consult the students and to have a dialog with them. A similar call comes from the China University of Political Science and Law [Wu Renhua's university]. The Beijing Students Autonomous Federation (aka Capital Autonomous Federation of University Students) calls on every student to send ten letters to compatriots all over the country. Between two- and threehundred students are to be dispatched to fifteen large cities all over the nation, such as Tianjin, Jinan, Shenyang, Changsha, Chengdu, Xi’an, Lanzhou, Shijiazhuang, Zhengzhou, Guangzhou, Taiyuan, Shanghai, Nanjing and Wuhan  to deliver speeches and to make contacts.

A peaceful petition meeting at Tsinghua University started a peaceful demonstration within the campus, at eight in the morning, with about ten thousand students participating. It’s an orderly demonstration with a length reaching two kilometers.

The Tsinghua University Students Council puts forward four principles concerning the students’ strike:

  1. to maintain the reasonable struggle and the peaceful petition
  2. to maintain unity and the power of all that can be united
  3. to adhere to the strike on lessons, not on learning
  4. to make sure that cool heads prevail among the younger students.

Educational departments from all over the country give their reactions to the State Education Commission, expressing their hope that the situation at Beijing’s universities and colleges can be stabilized soon, as it would otherwise be difficult to control the situation at universities outside the capital.

In the evening, Ren Wanding, who was responsible for the “Human Rights Alliance” time of the Xidan Democracy Wall, speaks on Tian An Men Square. He says: “the people are destitute, robbers arise from everywhere, prices are soaring, and the national economy is in crisis. If the four cardinal principles don’t vanish from the constitution, they will keep hanging over the people’s interests.”

Ren Wanding has also been to the universities of Beijing to speak there, but without much response, as the students didn’t understand him, and because they felt that his views were radical. When Chen Xiaoping and I watched him speaking in front of the dormitory of the University of Political Science and Law, there was only a sparse audience. Both Chen and I felt saddened.

In the afternoon, Li Ximing and Chen Xitong report to National People’s Congress chairman Wan Li. Wan Li was Beijing’s vice mayor prior to the cultural revolution. He suggests that the politburo’s standing committee should analyse the situation in the evening, chaired by Li Peng.

[According to this account by Wu Renhua, this meeting was held on the evening of April 24. This source seems to suggest that this happened on April 23.]

The standing committee, chaired by Li Peng, believes that a variety of events are indicating that under the control and instigation of very few people,  a planned, organized anti-party, anti-socialist political struggle is arranged before their eyes. The decision is made to form a group tasked with stopping the unrest, and requires Beijing’s party and government to stabilize the situation quickly, by winning over the majority of the masses and by isolating the minority, and by calming down the unrest. Standing committe member Li Peng, Qiao Shi, Hu Qili, Yao Yilin, as well as  – with no voting rights – Yang Shangkun, Wan Li, central party secretary Rui Xingwen, Yan Mingfu, Wen Jiabao, (not standing) politburo members Tian Jiyun, Li Ximing, Song Ping, Ding Guangen as well as people in charge at the relevant departments are attending the meeting.

In the evening, Li Peng receives a phonecall from Deng Xiaoping‘s secretary Wang Ruilin, inviting Li Peng and Yang Shangkun to his home at ten a.m. next day for discussions.

The World Economic Herald, a weekly from Shanghai, normally scheduled to appear today, has six blocks of content from a memorial forum held in cooperation with the New Observer magazine (新观察) on April 19. The 25 participants spoke highly of Hu Yaobang’s humanness, as a person of democratic open-mindedness [or liberalism - 民主开明], and of deep humanity. Science and Technology Daily vice chief editor Sun Changjiang [see above, entering into the forbidden area of coverage], Guangming Daily‘s reporter Dai Qing, and Yan Jiaqi of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences political science institute state more clearly that Hu Yaobang was forced to resign, and that he died while being treated unfairly. 300,000 copies of the World Economic Herald were printed by Saturday, some of it already at the post offices, while the remainder is stored at the printing house. But when Shanghai’s municipal party committee is informed about some of the content, it orders the postal offices to stop the dispatch of the papers, and seals the remaining copies in the printing house off. In the afternoon, the CCP municipal committee has a meeting with World Economic Herald chief editor Qin Benli in the afternoon, telling him that what is said in the account of the forum is correct, but that, as May 4 comes nearer, they fear that this could stirr the students’ emotions, add to the pressure on the government, and express their hope that the more sensitive content will be removed. The World Economic Herald does not agree with the cuts and revisions.

At the time, the World Economic Review’s Beijing office is the meeting point for democratic and liberal personalities. The office director Zhang Weiguo has strong campaigning skills and is broadly connected. Because of having led the [memorial] forum and for other reasons, he will be arrested after the June-4 crackdown.

To be continued
Continued here »

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Weeks before June 4 – Hu Yaobang’s Funeral

« An explanation of this 1989 series

» Previous post in this series

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

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Saturday, April 22, 1989

At ten a.m., the officially arranged mourning ceremony for Hu Yaobang in the Great Hall of the People is held. State chairman Yang Shangkun (杨尚昆) chairs the ceremony, CCP general secretary Zhao Ziyang (赵紫阳) delivers the eulogy. Fifteen minutes before the ceremony, Deng Xiaoping has arrived, and Zhao Ziyang, Li Peng, Wan Li, Qiao Shi and other leaders are also arriving. Beijing’s communist leaders have turned out in full strength.

There is news that Hu Yaobang’s family has refused to let the central advisory commission vice director Bo Yibo (薄一波) and central commission for discipline inspection of the CCP deputy secretary Wang Heshou (王鹤寿) attend the ceremony. Bo and Wang had been stricken by the “61 Traitors” case. After the end of the Cultural Revolution, Hu Yaobang, then the CCP central committee organization department ‘s director, had overturned the verdicts against them despite facing strong pressure [not to do so], but at the end of 1986, when Hu Yaobang was removed as secretary general, Bo and Wang, ungratefully (忘恩负义), were the main villains [people who worked against Hu]. At about 11.40 a.m., the ceremony ends, and Qiao Shi, Hu Qili, Song Ping, and head of the party’s general affairs secretariat Wen Jiabao (温家宝), with Hu Yaobang’s wife Li Zhao (李昭), accompany Hu’s coffin to Babaoshan crematorium. Babaoshan Cemetery is some 15 kilometers from Tian An Men Square, people crowd along Chang An Lu and on the buildings next to it, many wave to the car. Hu Yaobang’s son Hu Deping (胡德平) puts his two hands in front of his chest, expressing his thanks to the crowds in a traditional way. Some three-thousand police and military are deployed at Tian An Men Square and Chang An East Road.

Li Peng notes in his “June-4 diary”*) that Beijing police representatives talked with students’ delegates at 3 a.m. and asked them to move eastward on the square, so that the cars at the eastern gate of the Great Hall of the People could get through, and that the students agreed.

A request by the students to dispatch delegates to attend the mourning ceremony was declined. Yuan Zhiming (远志明), a co-author of the “River Elegy” documentary movie, and other writers and authors are on Tian An Men Square, too.

At ten, as the live broadcast announces the beginning of the ceremony, tens of thousands of students fall silent, and stand as a mark of respect. They sing along the national anthem, some are in tears, and the atmosphere is solemn and respectful. Students on Chang An Street (West) who hadn’t been able to enter the square are wearing black armbands, white flowers, and raise banners with inscriptions like “Hu Yaobang, Beijing University mourns you” and “the University of Political Science and Law pays its respect”.

Tens of thousands hope to accompany Hu Yaobang on his last path. As they learn that the car with the coffin has already left, they become excited and angry. Three demands are made in a petition:
(1) that the car with the coffin drives once around the square, (2) a dialogue with Li Peng, and (3) open coverage of the students’ mourning activities on this day.

At 12.50, Beijing University students Guo Haifeng (郭海峰), Zhang Zhiyong (张智勇), and University of Political Science and Law student Zhou Yongjun (周勇军), holding the petition [Correction, May 2: the previously written seven-point petition, in fact], kneel on the entrance stairs of the Great Hall of the People, and for a long time, there is no response. Tens of thousands of students and onlookers express deep sympathies, and once in a while, shouts are heard. A great number of military police and PLA troops encircle the entrance area, and the square is full of people. Among the comments among the crowd, there are lines such as “this is what the officials’ fear has turned into” (当官的怕学生怕成这样). The crowd begins to mock the troops, some students and other people begin moving forward, and frictions with the officers on duty occur. The pushes, back and forth, lasts for about fifteen minutes.

Nobody emerges from the hall to take the petition, which angers the students, and University of Political Science and Law, Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强), hits his own head with the megaphone he carries until blood runs across his face.

Taiwan TV coverage

Taiwan TV coverage, April 22, 1989 (click picture for video).

After 13.50, more than ten-thousand students from Beijing University, University of Political Science and Law, Bei Hang University, People’s University etc. disperse in an organized way to return to their universities. According to a leading student from Beijing University, the students’ representatives haven’t been met, and nobody was prepared for a dialog with them. To maintain the students’ safety and the national situation, they had decided to return to the university strikes.

Apart from the Beijing municipality military police on duty around the Great Hall of the People, the 13th regiment of the 3rd Capital Garrison had been dispatched to the scene. During the 1989 movement, there will be three times for them to enter Beijing, and after June-4, the central military commission will be awarded a Collective Merit Citation Class One (集体一等功).

A growing number of posters emerges on the campuses, reacting to the events of the day, emphasizing the need to work out strategies and to find effective ways of organizing petitioning, and statements like “Today’s China is too dirty, and this is the time for a great clean-up”.

Li Peng’s “June-4 diary”:

This morning, a serious clash occured in Xi’an. Criminal elements pounded the provincial government compound, the procuratorate, and the court building. Cars, garages and oil depots were arsoned and a clothing shop on a main street looted. The Shaanxi provincial party committee sent a telegram to the central government: Shaanxi police isn’t sufficient, we request support from the center. Four-thousand PLA troops are going to assist Xi’an.

To be continued, probably on Saturday.

Continued here »

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Notes

*) I heard about the “diary” in 2010, but I don’t know if that document can be considered authentic.

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Related

» April 22, 1989, Under the Jacaranda, April 22, 2012
» Cultural Revolutions, Great and Small, April 1, 2012

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Weeks before June 4 – Asserting Authority

« An explanation of this 1989 series

« Previous post in this series

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Main Link: 八九天安门事件大记 (Major Daily Events, Tiananmen 1989), by Wu Renhua.
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Friday, June 21, 1989

The authorities feel humiliated by the petitioning students at Xinhua Gate. “People’s Daily” publishes an editorial titled “How we Shall mourn Comrade Hu Yaobang”, and a Xinhua newsagency journalist’s report is titled “Several Hundred Crowd around Xinhua Gate and Create Trouble”. Many university students in Beijing believe that these comments and reports aren’t seeking the truth in the facts and that they are hard to accept.

People’s Daily’s editorial says that a small number of people act the mourners, but do in fact level illegal activities against the party and the government, and even brazenly pounded Xinhua Gate. There was no way to allow this. Whoever used the mourning of Comrade Hu Yaobang to level vandalism at the party and the government would become a historic criminal. Those of them who insisted on having their own ways would reap what they had sowed.

In the morning, University of Political Science and Law students call for a student strike. A responsible at the university informs about that three students who had taken part in mourning activities on Tian An Men Square on the evening of April 19. At about 11.30 p.m. they were about to return to the campus and encountered a large number of military police on the southern side of the Great Hall of the People. Wang Zhiyong (王志勇, see previous post) had been beaten unconscious with leather belts, and the Beijing Hospital No. 3 (北医三院) had confirmed lacerations on his head, light cerebral concussions, and eye injuries.

The strike notice demands
(1) two days of strike, on April 21 and 22 to protest the illegal police behavior;
(2) demands that the government severely punish the perpetrators1)
(3) the police must, in its report, publicly apologize for this kind of behavior, and report in accordance with the facts
(4) if item (2) and (3) are not replied to by April 23 at 5 p.m., further action will gradually be taken.

Strikes at Beijing University begin before noon, some students at the entrances to the rooms dissuade classmates from attending lessons, and a strike notice is written on some blackboards. Beijing University Student Steering Committee publishes a strike notice.

At about twelve, students at the University of Political Science and Law campus burn Xinhua newsagency’s “Safeguarding Social Stability is the Current Big Picture” and “People’s Daily’s” editorial. Small bottles are smashed2).

In the afternoon, fifty students from Tianjin arrived at Beijing University as scheduled [see previous post], as a petition delegation.

At Beijing University, Wu’erkaixi‘s  (ئۆركەش دۆلەت / 吾尔开希•多莱特) notice emerges:
(1) scrap the (official) Students’ Union’s and Postgraduates’ Union’s responsibilities;
(2) participate in the Beijing Universities’ Provisional Students’ Association;
(3) from April 22, the entire university announce a student strike and a stop to all examinations;
(4) at ten p.m., all universities take a pledge at Beijing University, and all students, without fail, must participate, prepare bread and drinks to express appreciation for fellow students from (other) universities.

In the afternoon, Chen Ku-ying (陈鼓应 / 陳鼓應), a guest professor for philosophy from Taiwan, and 143 more professors and scholars sign and publish an open letter (“Teachers’ Urgent Call”) to the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, calling for maintaining the principle of consultations and dialogue, and the restoration and development of the Three Forms of Broad-Mindedness (三宽: 宽松、宽宏、宽厚). Violence against students should not be allowed.

At about 6 p.m., an open letter to the party’s central committee, the state council, and the National People’s Congress’ Standing Committee emerges at Beijing University. It is signed by Bao Zunxin (包遵信), Bei Dao (北岛), Su Xiaokang (苏晓康) and 47 more authors and states that the students’ mourning activities’ demands are positive and constructive, and that healing the popular feelings (收拾民心) and weathering the crisis together would be a fundamentally wise policy.

Beijing Municipal government publishes a notice saying that because of the mourning ceremony for Hu Yaobang at the Great Hall of the People, Tian An Men Square needed to be evacuated by dawn, and that cars and pedestrians will not be allowed to enter the square. In fact, this is a measure to prevent the students from gathering there and to participate in the mourning ceremony. All universities in Beijing decide to let the students assemble on the square during the preceding evening, i. e. today evening.

After 8 p.m., some 40,000 students are on their way, from one university after another. It is the first united demonstration by all universities in Beijing.

The masses, in their tens of thousands, applaud the demonstrators from the roadsides. The students, their spirits high, call slogans like “Long live the people!”, “long live understanding!”, and “What are we doing? We are speaking the truth!” Hot water and cups provided by the public, along the roads.

The demonstration is tightly organized. Also along the roads, students screen the demonstration on the road from outsiders slipping in. At 22.40, the first students arrive on Tian An Men Square, and by 1.30 a.m., everyone is there. Around midnight, the numbers are somewhere between 200,000 and – according to some reports – 400,000 students and onlookers. Every university has dispatched overseers.

In the evening, a student, Zhen Songyu (甄颂育), rushes in and asks us (Wu Renhua, Liu Su and Chen Xiaoping) to help getting order into messy demonstration preparations. I’m taking to the demonstrators’ front rows, Chen Xiaoping walks behind the formation, and Liu Su keeps us connected. Late at night, Wang Juntao (王军涛), to be classified by the authorities as a vicious manipulator (literally: “black hand”, 黑手) after the end of the movement, and Zhang Lun (张伦), who has just returned from Yan’an, appear among our  University of Political Science and Law demonstrators, seeking for me. I’m meeting Zhang Lun, from Beijing University, for the first time.

In the afternoon, after reading reports from the education commission, Beijing municipal government, the public-security ministry, Xinhua, and other departments, party secretary general Zhao Ziyang makes a phonecall to politbureau member and the national education commission’s director Li Tieying (李铁映) with a proposal to keep communication with all universities and to make sure that effective measures are taken to maintain guidance and to prevent conflicts (contradictions, 矛盾) from intensifying. In the afternoon, Zhao also has discussions with permanent politbureau member Hu Qili and the secretariat of the Communist Party Central Committee secretary and politbureau member Rui Xingwen. Zhao says that the news and public opinion should emphasize some correct things, and while affirming that the students are patriotic, the importance of social stability also needs to be pointed out, and intensified contradictions be prevented.

Permanent politbureau member and chief state councillor Li Peng (李鹏), after reading the public-security ministry’s “Concerning some illegal organizations emerging at Universities” report, adds a comment to the original document: “Comrade Tieying [Li Tieying, see previous paragraph], this issue must be closely watched, and immediately be communicated to the universities in question, to curb this in accordance with the law.”

Li Peng notes in his “June-4 diary”3) that

This evening at seven, Zhao Ziyang held a standing committee meeting and discussed the wording of the eulogy for Comrade Hu Yaobang. It gives high appraisal to the life of Comrade Hu Yaobang, but according to Comrade Xiaoping’s [i. e. Deng Xiaoping] advice, it doesn’t give Comrade Yaobang the title of a great Marxist. At eight p.m., 50,000 students, in the name of taking part in the mourning ceremony for Hu Yaobang, have entered Tian An Men Square – in advance – to make sure that the measures that had been taken to keep them out next day can not be put into practice. In the evening, I kept watching the developments from [my] Zhongnanhai office. Comrade Qiao Shi, in direct command of the scene, [says that] the measures to keep the square clear cannot be carried out.

Continued here »

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Notes

1) the dominant translation would be murderersxiongshou (凶手), the term used in the strike notice quote, is basically a stronger word than just perpetrators.
2) see footnote 2 there. The smashing of little bottles, however, was most probably targeted at Deng Xiaoping.
3) I heard about the “diary” in 2010, but I don’t know if that document can be considered authentic.

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Related

» April 21, 1989, Under the Jacaranda, April 21, 2012
» Detective Li’s Diary, June 30, 2010

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Weeks before June 4 – a Trip to North Korea

« An explanation of this 1989 series

« Previous post in this series

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

Wednesday, April 19, 1989

Some two thousand students stay in front of Xinhua Gate overnight, even after three in the morning. But it is quite a reduction from the peak of the evening before, when there were more than twenty-thousand students and onlookers. At 4.20 a.m., a loudspeaker announcement warns of bad elements trying to create trouble, and wanting to use people for their own ends. This was no longer a normal mourning activity, says the message. A great number of police cars arrive, plus two buses, which take students who still stayed on at Xinhua Gate back to their campuses without incidents. In the afternoon, the slogans, besides praise for late Hu Yaobang, begin to include calls for unfolding the May-4 tradition1).

At 9 p.m., several ten-thousand people have gathered on Tian An Men Square again. Public security authorities inform the public by loudspeaker messages that wreathes may be taken to the Monument of the People’s Heroes, but not to Zhongnanhai. Around 10 p.m., police stops students from flying seven hydrogen balloons which carry the inscription “Hu Yaobang isn’t Dead”. Xinhua Gate is out of reach for demonstrations, as it has been sealed off by police.

In the evening, the Democratic Salon holds a session at Beijing University’s San Jiao Di [explanation here, underneath the seven demands]. It is initially moderated by the university’s history department student Wang Dan, and then by Wu Yunxue (武运学), as Wang Dan’s voice is getting hoarse. Ding Xiaoping (丁小平), Xiong Yan (熊焱), Feng Congde (封从德), Yang Tao (杨涛) and others give speeches. The students present at the session decide to depose the [official] Students’ Union and to establish a Steering Commission for an Autonomous Beijing University Students’ Union.

The CCP Central Committee announces that a mourning ceremony for Hu Yaobang will be held in the Great Hall of the People on April 22, at ten a.m.. The ceremony will be broadcast live by China National Radio and CCTV.

Fang Lizhi (方励之), researcher at the National Astronomical Observatories (北京天文台) at the time, is interviewed by a Hong Kong reporter on the phone. The students have the right to make demands, and to express them peacefully on demonstrations, he says. He supports the students, and so do intellectuals and public opinion in general. He has no direct links with the students; the students strife for democracy and freedom is spontaneous, with views of their own. He isn’t directly participating in their actions.

-

Thursday, April 20, 1989

At midnight, at the Democratic Salon at Beijing University, Wang Dan announces the foundation of the “Beijing University United Students’ Union Steering Committee”, which is to replace the officially-controlled Beijing University Students’ Union. The steering committee’s seven members are Ding Xiaoping, Yang Tao, Wang Dan, Yang Dantao (杨丹涛), Xiong Yan, Feng Congde, and Chang Jin (常劲, sometimes also spelled Chang Jing). The committee recommends that students from every university organize themselves and elect delegates to ensure a unified leadership for the movement.

At peak times, there are now up to fifty- or sixty-thousand people on Tian An Men Square.

Zhongnanhai is sealed off [apparently to prevent further demonstrators to get to Xinhua Gate], and loudspeaker messages at 3.45 in the morning warn the about 300 students who are still in front of Xinhua Gate that if the “small minority of people” still hold out there, the consequences will solely be their own responsibility. At about 4 a.m., military police disperses the several hundred students and forces them on buses. Some don’t want to get on the buses and for the first time, there is fighting.

Hong Kong’s Express (Kuai Bao) reports that student delegates from Beijing University, the People’Äs University and the University of Political Science and Law who had regular talks with the authorities, but there hasn’t been news from them since they had entered Zhongnanhai at two a.m.. Students are losing patience.

At 3 p.m., protests emerge at Beijing University, against the beating of a University of Political Science and Law student, Wang Zhiyong, at Xinhua Gate early that day. The student’s bloody clothes are put on display at Wang’s university.

Deng Xiaoping, in his capacity as the CCP’s central military commission, decides to call troops into Beijing to reinforce the police and military police in Beijing. Troops dispatched are from the 3rd Capital Garrison Division (Police), and from the 38th Army (belonging to the Beijing Military Region).

In the morning, vice chief state councillor Tian Jiyun (田纪云) meets party secretary general Zhao Ziyang (赵紫阳) and suggests that Zhao should change his plan to leave for a visit to North Korea on April 23. Tian is the only cadre Zhao brought with him to Beijing2), from Sichuan. Zhao says that he has thought about that, too, but he believes that to change his plans would suggest to the world outside that the political situation was unstable. He therefore sticks with his travel plan.

Students come in from Tianjin, by train, fifty on them this Thursday evening. More than one-hundred have bought train tickets and will arrive on Friday to take part in a demonstration in Beijing.

Demonstrations are reported from Anhui Province, and in Nanjing, at 10.30 p.m., more than three-thousand students leave the Nanjing University campus for demonstrations at the Jiangsu Province government buildings.

In Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, some 2,300 people charge ahead for the entrance of the provincial government building. More than 200 are arrested by military police. An official statement says that very few organized students had been among the troublemakers, and that the majority had been “young people waiting for work”3), workers, people without fixed duties, and mostly young.

Continued here »

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Notes

1) See last paragraph – a quote from the Hong Kong Standard – there. The May-Fourth movement of 1919 is canonized in Chinese history recording, as a starting point for national renewal and for patriotism, and to invoke this tradtion usually helps to add legitimacy to ones own actions.

2) 待业青年 (young people waiting for employment) remained a euphemism for youth unemployment in the 1990s. Basically, the Shaanxi provincial government communique distinguished between “good-for-nothings” and students – in the early days or weeks of the 1989 movement, there seemed to be a wide-spread reluctance among officials to condemn the students’ agenda, not only among cadres close to Zhao Ziyang. This initial sacrosanctity was possibly owing to the glorification of the May-19th movement in China’s official history records, and also to a switch in the CCP’s coalition-building, away from the peasant and working class towards the intellectuals, as (particularly explicitly) described by Chinese academic Kang Xiaoguangcited there.

3) It probably goes without saying that Zhao Ziyang, general secretary of the CCP at the time, was rather sympathetic towards the students’ movement, and certainly not willing to unleash the army on them. Wu Renhua, who wrote the Tian An Men 1989 records I’m quoting from in these posts, sees a particular degree of trust between Zhao and Tian, because they worked together in Sichuan Province, before Zhao was promoted to Beijing.

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Related

» April 20, 1989, Under the Jacaranda, April 20, 2012
» April 19, 1989, Under the Jacaranda, April 19, 2012
» Zhao Ziyang’s Memoirs, New York Times, May 14, 2012

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Friday, April 27, 2012

The Weeks before June 4 – Seven Demands

« Explanation of this June-4 series approach

« Previous post in this series

Note: I won’t be able to translate all of Wu Renhua‘s document. However, I’ll try to reflect the gist and the spirit of Wu’s account, and to keep the contents I’m reflecting here consistent.

Wikipedia provides a framework of the Tian An Men events from April to June 1989, and Diane Gatterdam is blogging on a today-in-history basis, on C. A. Yeung‘s Under the Jacaranda blog.

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

Tuesday, April 18, 1989

On midnight, more than one-thousand students leave the Beijing University campus for a demonstration, and as they reach Diaoyutai Guest House, their number has risen to three-thousand. Foreign journalists and staff from foreign embassies walk along and watch the event. At 1.30, they reach the People’s University (Renmin University) and stop for a while, as nearly one-thousand People’s University students join them. Along the walk, Tsinghua University and other students also join. By now, nearly ten-thousand people have gathered, most of them students who leave again during the demonstrations.

Beijing University demonstrators carry white silk banners of ten meters length and four meters height, with characters like “Soul of China”, “Remembering Comrade Hu Yaobang forever”, signed by “teachers and students from Beijing University and friends”. Students call, on top of their voices, “long live democracy”, “long live liberty”, “down with bureaucracy” and similar slogans, and sing the “Internationale”. The demonstrators reach Tian An Men Square at about 4.30 in the morning and gather at the Monument to the People’s Heroes. A student climbs the monument and shouts: “This action is completely spontaneous and not linked to the [official, party-controlled] Student’s Union (学生会). We have elected our own students’ representatives, who are preparing to talk with the government.”

As the day dawns, several hundreds of Beijing University students who are sitting in front of the Great Hall of the People demand to speak with leaders above the level of the NPC Standing Committee level, and present seven demands:

  1. to re-assess Hu Yaobang’s merits and demerits and to affirm their democratic, liberal, tolerant and harmonious points of view
  2. thoroughly reject the campaigns against spiritual pollution and against caipitalist liberalism, and correct injustices done to intellectuals
  3. make the salaries and all income of the country’s leaders public, act against corrupt officials
  4. permit private newspapers, remove censorship, implement freedom of speech
  5. increase spending on education, improve the treatment of intellectuals
  6. remove the Beijing municipal government’s ten rules concerning demonstrations
  7. require the government leaders to report mistakes to the National People’s Congress in a public review and put certain officials’ posts up for re-election

[For comparison, the seven demands as quoted on Wikipedia]

These seven demands had gone through discussion at Beijing University’s law faculty postgraduates’ assembly, chaired by Li Jinjin (李进进).

At 7.30, Wang Dan (王丹) of Beijing University History Faculty, notices that the number of silent protesters is diminuishing, and gives Fang Lizhi’s (方励之) wife Li Shuxian (李淑娴) a phonecall. She puts up a poster at Beijing University’s San Jiao Di [三角地, a place where most student demonstrations passed through during the 1970s and the 1980s. It is also the site of a memorial of Beijing University's 100th anniversary]. After the 9-4 incident, it is the only case the CCP establishes as a manipulative act between Fang Lizhi’s wife and the students’ movement.

At eight in the morning, General Office of the Communist Party of China (中共中央办公厅) and General Office of the State Council’s Bureau for Letters and Calls chief Zheng Youmei (郑幼枚) and others invites Guo Haifeng, Wang Dan and other students representatives to enter the Great Hall of the People and receive their petition there. Guo, Wang etc. demand that the NPC Standing Committee members emerge to have a dialog, while Zheng Youmei replies that this would require certain etiquettes. The students’ representatives state that this dialog had not been satisfactory.

At 5.30, Standing Committee member Liu Yandong and NPC delegates Tao Xiping and Song Shixiong meet the silent protesters’ delegates Guo Haifeng and others, and Guo et al submit a Petition to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee – a petition which mainly contains the seven demands.

At 6.55 p.m., more than three-thousand students from People’s University, Beijing University, Beijing Institute of Technology (北京理工大学) leave their campuses and set out for Tian An Men Square. They arrive there at 8 p.m. – first those who came by bicycle, then those who walked to the square. At 9 p.m., some ten- to twenty-thousand people have gathered on the square, and apart from the silent demonstrators in front of the Great Hall of the People, they gather in front of the Monument to People’s Heroes.

At 10.50 p.m., more than twenty [correction, 2May 15, 2013] two-thousand students and onlookers move to Xinhua Gate, the State Council’s place at Zhongnanhai, and demand a dialog with chief state councillor Li Peng. Li is paying a visit to Hu Yaobang’s family that evening, expressing his appreciation for Hu Yaobang. His family people express their wish for a simple funeral, and that the center will issue a conclusion of his work.

In the afternoon, Nanjing University and Hehai University students have applied for a demonstration permit to the Jiangsu Province Public Security Bureau, stating that more than ten-thousand students from several universities want to gather at the Clock-Tower Square at 1 p.m. on April 9. Reports about activities from Shaanxi Province are also coming in – in Xi’an, the mourning activities are said to spread from the students to society at large.

As Tuesday comes to an end, only Associated Press, among the foreign news providers, has covered activities in Shanghai, according to reference material provided to the CCP leadership. All other reports have remained focused on Beijing. According to Associated Press, the demonstrations have become more political on Tuesday, demanding answers from the government. Li Jinjin [see further above, re seven demands] is quoted as saying that the bureaucracy had got a taste of the people’s power. The students had wanted a dialog with NPC Standing Committee members in charge, and weren’t demanding an immediate response, but they [Standing Committee members] hadn’t dared to show up (今天,学生们的游行逐渐变得越来越带政治性,要求政府对他们提出的七条要求做出答复。学生代表李进进说:官僚们会尝到人民的力量。他说,学生们想同全国人大常委会负责人谈谈要求,而且不会要求立即作出答复,可他们不敢出来).

Continued here »

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Related

» April 27, 1989, Under the Jacaranda, April 27, 2012
» A Frenzy for Freedom, J. Bennett, May 1990/April 2012
» All Highly Quotable, May 20, 2010

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

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 »
____________

Note

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.

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Related

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

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Weeks before June 4 – a Desire to do Better than in 1987

The following is a rough translation, or a reflection of Wu Renhua’s 2011 document, based on his Tweets in April, May and June 2011. It isn’t complete, and not even a sentence-by-sentence translation, but I’m trying to reflect some of the mood Wu’s document contains.

It is one of many stories about the 1989 Tian An Men movement, and I’m not ruling out that it may at times conflict with other accounts.

All links added underneath were added during translation / reflection.

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

JR

« previous post in this series

Saturday, April 15, 1989

Hu Yaobang dies from a heart attack, at 7:53 in the morning, aged 73. The news spreads in Beijing during the day, before China People’s Broadcasting Service and CCTV broadcast the news in the evening. Chen Xiaoping, also from China University of Political Science and Law, informs his colleague Wu Renhua (i. e. the author of the document reflected here), and they decide to take teachers and students along to Tian An Men to lay down flowers there. This constitutes a demonstration.

Hu Yaobang’s family has turned the visitors’ room into a mourning room. Liu Shaoqi’s widow Wang Guangmei, old brothers in arms like Li Chang arrive, their heads bowed in sorrow. On that day alone, 1,300 visitors sign the condolence books, among them Li Peng, Qiao Shi, Hu Qili, Li Tieying, Wu Xuetian, Rui Xingwen, and Yang Mingfu as party functionaries, or Xia Yan, Zhang Youyu, Zhu Houze, Ping Jiesan, Li Rui, Yu Guangyuan, Hong Xiannü and other people from all walks of life. Hu’s daughter Man Mei (official name: Li Heng), who works at a religious medical center in Seattle at the time and lives in the institution’s monastery, can’t return to Beijing by her own financial means, contacts the San Francisco Chinese General Consulate for help, but is turned down there. The nuns collect money for her trip to Beijing.

By 13:30, demonstrations on Tian An Men Square are in full swing, with banners praising Hu Yaobang (“The memory of Comrade Hu Yaobang will live forever”), or criticizing the authorities with statements like “those who should not die do die; those who should die haven’t died”. After 15:00, six institutions of higher education, among them People’s University (aka Renmin University) and Tsinghua University, one after another, display mourning posters with elegiac couplets.

The those who should not die do die; those who should die haven’t died line which runs through all Chinese universities, and stems from an essay written by famous writer Bing Xin (冰心). It isn’t clear how the line spread, even though the essay hasn’t yet been published. The CCP Central Committee asks the ministry of public security (public security bureau / PSB, 公安部) and the ministry of state security (安全部) to closely watch the situation at Beijing’s universities, and particularly the situation on Tian An Men Square. From the actions on Tian An Men Square to every university, the PSB and the ministry of state security carry out monitoring from all angles and on every issue. University officials, in line with demands from the Beijing municipal CCP committee, try to guide students’ memorial activities so as to prevent people from using the opportunity to incite disturbances.

The intelligentsia is treated poorly at the time, and their thinkings depressed by  anti-liberalization1) and anti-spiritual pollution campaigns.

Intellectuals feel, in 1989, that they might have owed Hu Yaobang more support when he was removed from office in 1987, and try to do better this time. The CCP, in its own ways, learns its lesson from the 1989 demonstrations and buys the intellectuals off, with 1,800,000,000 Yuan RMB allocated to Tsinghua, Beijing University, as teacher subsidies which were spent within three years, Wu Renhua wrote in his 2011 document: “We can see from this why intellectual behavior has become that bad”.

-

Sunday, April 16, 1989

Seventeen institutions of higher education in Beijing were displaying elegiac couplets, slogans, and posters – some 500 overall. According to official statistics, “of which 80 per cent mourn Hu Yaobang in a normal way, ten per cent express dissatisfaction, and about another ten per cent attack the party and the government and incite disturbances”. By now, the short slogans have evolved into more elaborate  political comment, and political observers feel reminded of the 1976 Tian An Men Incident.

The Tsinghua Chemistry Faculty lays down its wreath at the Monument to the People’s Heroes, at its northern fence. Two People’s University (Renmin University) students put white flowers there, and students from Beifang Jiaotong University (since merged into Beijing Jiaotong University) put a banner in front of the monument, “mourning Hu Yaobang, the Friend of the Young”. Until 3.30 in the afternoon, three wreaths have emerged here, two from students and one in the name of a household. Later, they are removed by the police.

At China University of Political Science and Law, a number of young teachers – Wu Renhua, Fei Anling, Xiong Jining, Liu Bin, Xuan Zengyi, and Zhang Xiaojing – lead two students to make a two-meters wreath. Toward the evening, Wu Renhua and others put the wreath to the front of the university building, where it attracts peoples’ attention. An attached notice says that the wreath will be taken to Tian An Men Square on April 17.

A small bottle of Maotaijiu, casually added to the wreath by Wu Huaren, later becomes a major issue in investigations, Wu noted in his 2011 document.2).

Beijing University had been at the center of the movements, Wu noted. Liu Suli (刘苏里) and other academics from China University of Political Science and Law frequently went to Beijing University for discussions, and Liu and others made a white silk banner, carrying the characters “中国魂” (zhōngguó hún)3).

A memorial service is held at Fudan University’s Room 3108 in Shanghai, with some 400 people attending. From the afternoon of April 15, Fudan takes the lead, and by the evening of April 16, about ten universities in Shanghai have followed up with posters of their own. Wu Renhua’s 2011 document also notes demonstrations in Xi’an, and allegations there that Hu Yaobang had been poisoned with gas (胡耀邦被气死的).

The CCP central committee announces a solemn memorial ceremony in the Great Hall of the People, and to have the flags in all major squares lowered to half-mast, nation-wide. Hu Yaobang’s memorial services are upgraded to pacify popular feelings. All Chinese leaders, incumbent or retired (the latter including Deng Xiaoping) are scheduled to attend.

Continued here »

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Notes

1) Anti-liberalization refers to the purge which led to Hu Yaobang’s dismissal as the CCP’s Central Committee, and CCP chairman. The way Wu puts it, i. e. the way intellectuals were treated “at the time”, makes sense, as it could otherwise also refer to older campaigns, which might be traced back through all the CCP’s history.
2) 小瓶 (small bottle) is pronounced and stressed in the same way as 小平 (small peace, Deng Xiaoping’s given name). Wu wrote in his 2011 document that no such malicious pun had been intended. Rather, he had wanted to tribute the Maotaijiu to Hu Yaobang’s departed soul. Wu attributed the authorities’ interpretation of his gift to a report by Japan’s Kyodo press agency’s report on June 4, 2009.
3) A possible, but not necessarily the best translation for 中国魂 may be “Soul of China”.

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Related

» June-4 series, Under the Jacaranda, first post this year on April 15

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