Posts tagged ‘Hu Yaobang’

Monday, March 27, 2017

Populism in China (1): The Downfall of Bo Xilai

There is no Weltinnenpolitik yet, but there are cross-civilizational trends.

The City of Red Songs

There would be no second chance. Gerhard Schröder, former chancellor of Germany, was in a hurry in June 2011, on the sidelines of a forum in southwestern China’s metropolis of Chongqing. He was therefore lacking the time to attend one of the red-song nights that were customary there. But he still pleased his interlocutors with a German proverb: Where people sing, you can settle down – wicked people sing no songs.

In full, the red-songs custom advocated by Chongqing’s party chief Bo Xilai was Singing revolutionary songs, Reading classic books, telling stories and spreading mottos. There would be nine more months of that before Bo Xilai was toppled by his CCP comrades.

A Hudong article explained the activity at the time. It was a mass concept, started in Chongqing in 2008, which was greeted with enthusiasm there, and elsewhere in China. The concept wasn’t outdated, because

if a country and a nation have no correct thought and advanced culture, it will lose its backbone. The current deep changes of the economic system, the structure of society, and the profound adjustment of interest patterns must be reflected in the ideological field. There is diversity in peoples’ minds, and although the mainstream is positive and healthy, while some peoples’ material life conditions have improved, spiritual life is somewhat empty. To change that condition, and to ensure a safe passing of the torch in the cause of the party and the country, the red flag must be righteously upheld, the ideology of Marxism must be consolidated in its guiding position within the ideological field, and the attractiveness and the cohesive power of socialist ideology must be strengthened.

一个国家和民族没有正确的思想、先进的文化,就会失掉主心骨。当前,经济体制深刻变革、社会结构深刻变动、利益格局深刻调整,必然反映到意识形态领域。人们的思想日趋多元多变多样,虽然主流积极健康向上,但一些人物质生活改善了,精神生活却有些空虚。为了彻底改变这种状况,保证党和国家的事业薪火相传,必须理直气壮地举红旗,不断巩固马克思主义在意识形态领域的指导地位,增强社会主义意识形态的吸引力和凝聚力。[Links within these lines omitted.]

According to the HuDong article, CCP politbureau member and Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai (薄熙来) had deplored the phenomenon of young people who sang decadent songs (唱 .. 靡靡之音, chàng mímí zhī yīn), who were reading “fast-food” kinds of literature (读 .. 快餐文化, dú kuàicān wénhuà), told “low and vulgar stories” (讲 .. 低俗故事, jiǎng dīsú gùshì), and “spread pornographic or dull scripts/pieces” (传 .. 黄段子、灰段子, chuán huáng duànzi, huī duànzi).

So, apparently, there were dirty songs, too. Maybe things weren’t as simple as Schröder had believed. At least one  reader and forum commenter of China’s Huanqiu Shibao didn’t trust Schröder’s expertise and wrote:

OK, listen [to the red songs], you won’t comprehend them anyway. It will be as if you were listening to folk songs.

听吧,反正听不懂,就当听民歌了

The “Chongqing Model” was controversial, at least in the perceivable medial public of China. The party elite wasn’t entirely in love with Bo’s pretentious neo-Maoism. A vice president of Law School at China University of Political Science and Law was quoted by the English-language party mouthpiece “Global Times”:

There have been 104,000 “Red Song Concerts” in Chongqing, with 80 million participants. It cost 1,500 yuan ($231) per person for onsite renting and costume expenses, 210 million yuan in total. Adding in the offwork compensation and transportation the final cost is 270 billion [sic – probably means million – JR] yuan. Why don’t they use the money for health insurance?

Bo Xilai’s “Populism”, 2007 – 2012

At the grassroots, however, Bo’s leadership style appears to have worked (maybe it still does). The Chongqing Model wasn’t just about folklore, red or otherwise.

Chongqing (Sichuan province) residents set off firecrackers today, celebrating the execution of the provincial-level city’s former chief justice Wen Qiang (文强), cqnews.net reported in July 2010. The Wall Street Journal explained:

Wen Qiang was put to death following the rejection in May by China’s Supreme Court of an appeal of his conviction on charges including bribery, shielding criminal gangs, rape and inability to account for millions of dollars in cash and assets, according to Xinhua news agency. Xinhua didn’t say how Mr. Wen was executed.

Punching black crime and uprooting vice (拳打黑除恶) was the name of the campaign that cost Wen his life – according to the historical records as Bo would have it, he and his police chief Wang Lijun not only battled against gangs, but infiltrated cadres, too.

The now defunct website Chinageeks published an English translation of Zhang Wen, a former chief editor of the Xinhua magazine Globe:

Bo Xilai and the “northeast tiger” Wang Lijun entered Chongqing and started a war and began a “battling corruption and evil” movement that has gradually begun to spread nationwide and worldwide. This action is in line with the people’s wishes, and at the same time, also in line with what central authorities wish.

At first, the public opinion was very one-sided; no one could find any fault with Bo. The controversy and difference of opinions came with the case of Li Zhuang. Proponents of the democratic rule of law questioned and criticized the legality of Chongqing [court] proceedings, but Bo Xilai’s supporters hold that punishing lawyers who defend “bad people” is appropriate.

Bo Xilai’s wife Gu Kailai is a high-level lawyer who has been working for many years. The two have been together for many years and Bo himself was once the head of the Ministry of Commerce, and thus often negotiated international legal issues with foreign opponents. Because of this, Bo Xilai should have a solid conception and knowledge of the law.

But in the end, in the Li Zhuang case, the organs of justice in Chongqing left a bad impression that they might violate legal procedures. Precisely because of this, some people’s opinions on Bo Xilai changed dramatically. I myself once wrote an essay expressing pity that Bo Xilai hadn’t turned out to be the sort of high-quality modern politician [we had hoped].

Chongqing was a small pond for a big fish – Bo Xilai appeared to have hoped for a permanent seat in the CCP’s central politburo, but landed the job as party secretary of Chongqing instead. Chongqing wasn’t an insignificant city, but it was far from where central Chinese power was. Only an alernate politburo membership linked him to Beijing. From 2008, his Maoist song events raised nationwide attention, and even beyond China – Henry Kissinger apparently leapt at the chance Schröder had missed.

In 2011, Bo Xilai started his second campaign for a permanent seat at the CCP’s top table. While the Economist found Bo’s style refreshing, it noted nervously that

The region’s party chief, Bo Xilai, is campaigning for a place on the Politburo Standing Committee in next year’s leadership shuffle. He looks likely to succeed. Like every other Chinese politician since 1949, he avoids stating his ambitions openly, but his courting of the media and his attempts to woo the public leave no one in any doubt. Mr Bo’s upfront style is a radical departure from the backroom politicking that has long been the hallmark of Communist rule and would seem like a refreshing change, were it not that some  of his supporters see him as the Vladimir Putin of China. Mr Bo is a populist with an iron fist. He has waged the biggest crackdown on mafia-style gangs in his country in recent years. He has also been trying to foster a mini-cult of Mao, perhaps in an effort to appeal to those who are disillusioned with China’s cut-throat capitalism.

Bo didn’t appear to aim for the top job as secretary general, the Economist noted, as that position appeared to have been reserved for Xi Jinping. Indeed, Xi succeeded Hu Jintao as party secretary general in autumn 2012, and as state chairman in March 2013.

Bo Xilai’s plans didn’t work that smoothly. In November 2011, a British citizen, Neil Heywood, died in a hotel in Chongqing. Given that Chinese courts don’t work independently from the party, the circumstances of his death can’t be considered resolved. A Chinese court found Gu Kailai, Bo Xilai’s wife, guilty of killing Heywood, and after only one day in court, she got a suspended death sentence.

The BBC‘s China editor Carrie Gracie tried to shed light on the circumstances of Bo Xilai’s rise and fall, and the role Heywood’s death played in the latter, but didn’t find too many interlocutors. Instead, she presented a Rocky Horror Picture Show of elite power struggles with Chinese characteristics. Bo Xilai as the avenger of the common man, a crashing, media-savvy scourge of organized crime, who addressed the public directly, without party media filtering. That hadn’t happened since Mao’s days – “think Donald Trump”.

With support from local police chief Wang Lijun, who fancied leading roles in martial-arts television, too, Bo had exercised a regime that labeled opponents as mafiosi and not only jailed them, but expropriated them too, in favor of Chongqing’s budgets.

It isn’t contested that Bo Xilai and Wang Lijun prosecuted the real or supposed gangsters’ advocates, too, with questionable means. Gracie quotes one of these advocates, Li Zhuang (see above, Zhang Wen’s criticism of Bo Xilai), as Li describes how he was arrested by Wang Lijun personally:

The scene was so over-the-top, loads of police cars surrounding the plane, riot police in helmets and camouflage, armed with submachine guns. I asked, “Why the big show? Is it Obama’s state visit or are you capturing Osama Bin Laden?”

We were surrounded by a huge scrum of reporters. He wanted to show his authority on camera. He was in a trench coat, hands in his pockets. He said: “Li Zhuang, we meet again.”

There were admirers of Bo and Wang, there were critics and enemies, and there were people who detested the two. But at the grassroots, the fans appeared to be numerous. According to Gracie, there are still many.

Making inconvenient lawyers disappear was no unique feature of Bo Xilai, however. The party leadership with Xi Jinping at the core has been proving for years that to them, the rule of law is a theroretical nicety they may or may not care about.

Gracie reduces the causes of conflict between the noisy polit-soloist Bo Xilai and the basically “collectivist” leadership in Beijing on a personal rivalry between princeling Bo and princeling Xi.

Certainly, top politicians’ egos can hardly be overestimated, and when they are Chinese, ostentatious modesty shouldn’t fool anyone.

But Xi alone wouldn’t have gotten Bo under control. Neither with the sudden Neil-Heywood scandal – that became known as the Wang-Lijun incident in China after the police chief fled into the next US consulate and being passed on to the central authorities from there (but only after having spilled the beans). Nor otherwise.

The question suggests itself if Bo Xilai’s career wasn’t finished in summer 2011 anyway, given wide-spread disapproval among the party elite, of his egotistic leadership style in Chongqing.

“Unity is strength” was one of the “red songs” Bo Xilai had them sing in Chongqing (above: October 8, 2009). But it wasn’t only the Xi faction that saw a lack of just that on Bo’s part. Bo was putting himself forward, and that had been a taboo during all the post-Mao years.

He didn’t denigrate his leading comrades – appearances like that of Donald Trump as a campaigner, cursing fellow members of his political class, would have been inconceivable. But putting himself into the limelight (and casting it away from others) amounted to the same thing, by Chinese standards. Besides, given his anti-corruption renown, sanctimonious as it may have been, could have threatened his “comrades”. A tribun within their ranks – that couldn’t work.

Xi Jinping and his predecessor Hu Jintao are said to be rivals. But within the Hu camp, Bo’s populism didn’t seem to resonate either. On the contrary: Wen Jiabao, chief state councillor (aka “prime minister”) during the Hu Jintao era, had been a tireless, even if unsuccessful, advocate of political reform, way beyond economics or technology.

At a press conference in March 2012, after the closing ceremony of the annual “parliament” plenary sessions, Wen warned that China wasn’t immune against another cultural revolution. That John Garnaut, an Australian correspondent in Beijing, got the opportunity to talk with Hu Dehua, one of Hu Yaobang’s sons, may also count as an indication that the comparatively liberal factions in the party leadership were at least as sick of Bo Xilai’s revolutionary operas, as were the Xi supporters.

Garnaut, two weeks after Wen’s press conference, in an indirect account of his conversation with Hu Dehua*):

Hu Dehua told his father how pessimistic he felt about his country’s future. Hu Yaobang agreed that the methods and ideologies of the 1987 anti-liberalization movement came straight from the Cultural Revolution. But he told his son to gain some historical perspective, and reminded him that Chinese people were not joining in the elite power games as they had 20 years before. He called the anti-liberalization campaign a “medium-sized cultural revolution” and warned that a small cultural revolution would no doubt follow, Hu Dehua told me. As society developed, Hu Yaobang told his son, the middle and little cultural revolutions would gradually fade from history’s stage.

From there, everything went fast. Still in March, Bo was dismissed as Chongqing’s party chief. He also lost his alternate membership in the politburo. In summer 2012, his wife Gu Kailai got her commuted death sentence, and in September 2013, Bo was sentenced to life in prison – based on the usual charges for unrigged politicians: corruption.

Is there a Chongqing Heritage?

At first glance, Bo Xilai’s “populism” or “Maoism” is finished. But Bo counted as a champion of many Chinese from the political left. A comment in German weekly Die Zeit, in September 2013, saw the verdict against Bo as a signal from the top that resistance against economic reform was futile.

To assess Bo Xilai’s political heritage objectively. The CCP may be beyond the era when beaten opponents were airbrushed from all photos and records. But the question about how publicly or privately-owned China’s economy should be might impose itself with any questions about Bo Xilai, and the now seven-member standing committee of the politburo can’t use such questions.

A political scientist of Beijing University, He Weifang (贺卫方), hinted at problems in assessing the Chongqing Model’s performance, from 2007 to 2012:

It is generally believed that the so-called “Chongqing Model” is mainly shaped by three aspects: “red culture” on the political level, “targeted actions against dark and evil forces in Chongqing“, and the reduction of the income gaps between the poor and the rich. The most criticized aspects are the former two, although there is support for the two of them in Chongqing and elsewhere. The third aspect isn’t that controversial. However, all data published concerning the efficiency of the measures taken to narrow the income gap are actually issued by the Chongqing authorities, and therefore lacking neutral assessment. Also, we can see that the whole process is strongly government-led, whose focus isn’t on creating a market logic of equal opportunities. If this approach will or will not lead to mistakes in financial policies, including the rural land policies‘ impartiality, is also questionable. And then there are concerns about life today being lead on future earnings, short-term inputs being made to curry favor with the public, which may come at high future costs.

答:一般认为,所谓的重庆模式主要由三方面内容构成:政治层面上的红色文化,执法层面上的“打黑除恶”以及民生方面的缩小贫富差距。最受诟病的是前两者,虽然在重庆和其他地方,似乎也有一些人人对于“唱红”和“打黑”表达支持。第三方面内容相对较少争议。不过,那些举措究竟对于缩小贫富差距产生了怎样的效果,目前得到的信息都是由重庆当局发布的,缺少中立的评估。另外,我们可以看到整个过程是在政府强势主导下进行的,其重点并非创造机会均等的市场逻辑。这种做法是否会带来财政决策中的失误,包括重庆所推行的农村土地政策的公正性,都是大可怀疑的。还有寅吃卯粮的隐忧,短期内的高投入讨好了民众,但是却需要未来付出巨大的代价。

If Bo Xilai was a populist, one of Donald Trump’s kind, or Putin’s, or Neil Farage’s, or whoever, one has to ask oneself how much influence he has maintained over Chinese politics to this day. After all, populists like Geert Wilders aren’t ineffective, merely because they can’t lay their hands on the imperial regalia.

When looking at European populism – that’s only a snapshot, of course -, one can get the impression that populists may not be elected, but they do leave marks on politics, from Merkel’s Willkommenskultur back to the traditional Christian Democrats’ policies, and Britain’s Brexit, implemented not by its original proponents, but by Theresa May, who had used to be a lukewarm supporter of Britain’s EU membership.

Populism is hardly ever the common peoples’ business, but that of the elites. The battles are fought within the political class, as observed by Hu Yaobang in the late 1980s. That is about as true in Europe. However, these battles within the superstructure may create or intensify certain trends in the public mood – and once policies have moved sufficiently into the “populist” direction, the support for these parties wanes, and the electorate turns back to the long-established parties. After all, Joe Blow doesn’t want to look like an extremist.

When Xi Jinping announced China’s new role as a guardian of free trade at the Davos forum in January, German Handelsblatt China correspondent Stephan Scheuer hailed the party and state leader’s “dressing-down for populists”. In Davos, Xi had become “a pioneer of fair-minded globalization”.

What could be beginning to show in China is a comparatively strong Maoist component in propaganda, as long as this doesn’t come at the cost of China’s privileged, and as long as this doesn’t require substantial reallocation of means or wealth to poor classes of population, or laggard regions. But whenever the name “Bo Xilai” should appear in any token event, the exorcists will be just around the corner.

Advertisements
Friday, November 20, 2015

CCP commemorates 100th Anniversary of Hu Yaobang’s Birthday

The complete standing committee of the CCP’s politburo attended a symposium in commemoration of former CCP secretary general Hu Yaobang (胡耀邦). The BBC‘s Mandarin service wrote today (around 11:00 UTC) that Chinese news agency Xinhua published a curt report and a photo of the symposium in the Great Hall of the People. According to the BBC, the symposium was a smaller event than what the outside world had expected. A publication of selected works by Hu Yaobang is reportedly under preparation, including 77 written pieces by Hu Yaobang from 1952 to October 1986: articles, speeches, reports, instructions, letters und Vorwörter prefaces – some of them published for the first time. Hu Yaobang was forced to “resign” as the party’s secretary general early in 1987. However, different from his successor Zhao Ziyang (赵紫阳) who was deposed in the wake of the 1989 students Tian An Men Square protests, Hu retained his politburo standing committee membership until his death in April 1989 – a death that actually sparked the 1989 students movement.

Hu Yaobang is frequently described as a just political leaderwith ideals, and as careful political reformer, or as a liberal of sorts, at least by the standards of a dictatorship.

According to a (more detailed) Xinhua article published at 11:49 UTC today, party secretary general Xi Jinping (习近平) praised Hu Yaobang in the glowing terms that are usual on occasions like today’s. He described practical-mindedness and pragmatism in seeking the people’s benefit as an outstanding characteristic of the former leader, and tried to harness the remembrance for his recently launched “four comprehensives” (四个全面) project.

While liberalism was certainly no issue, Xi praised Hu’s honest, self-disciplined, sublime demeanour (廉洁自律的崇高风范), or in other words, Xi made Hu an icon for “style”, rather than for content. Hu Yaobang’s image seems to be something the current leadership does not want to do without.

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.

____________

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

____________

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.

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

____________

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

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 »

____________

Notes

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

____________

Related

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

____________

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Weeks before June 4 – Asserting Authority

« An explanation of this 1989 series

« Previous post in this series

____________

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

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 »

____________

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.

____________

Related

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

____________

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

____________

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 »

____________

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.

____________

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

____________

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.

____________

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 »

____________

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

____________

%d bloggers like this: