The Tiananmen Papers: the Chinese leadership’s decision to use force against their own people – in their own words
Edited by Andrew J. Nathan and Perry Link (compiled by Zhang Liang)
Ch.1: April 8-23: The Student Movement Begins
April 15-17: initial reaction at home and abroad
From the time of Hu’s death to the morning of April 17, some fifty reports flowed into Party Central and the State Council from local governments, the two security ministries and the Xinhua News Agency describing responses to the death among officials and ordinary people…Over the same period, Xinhua and other agencies provided top officials with over one hundred reports on foreign reactions… Most foreign media anticipated that the loss of Hu would have no impact on Chinese politics. But the Japanese Kyodo and Jiji news agencies both raised the possibility that against a background of widespread feelings against inflation and corruption and student demands for more democracy, popular mourning activities could develop into a challenge to the government, especially if the government tried to brush them off too lightly.
On April 17 student mourning activities began to spread from the Beijing campuses into the Tiananmen Square…Party Central and the State Council had ordered the Public Security and State Security Ministries to keep close watch on the students…At dawn on April 18 several hundreds students from Peking University and People’s University started a sit-in in front of the Great Hall of the People and demanded to be received by a leader of the rank of NPCSC member or higher. They announced seven demands of the government:
- affirms as correct Hu’s view on democracy and freedom;
- admit that the campaigns against spiritual pollution and bourgeois liberalization had been wrong;
- publish information on the income of state leaders and their family members;
- end the ban on privately run newspapers and permit freedom of speech;
- increase funding for education and raise intellectuals’ pay;
- end restrictions on demonstrations in Beijing; and
- hold democratic elections to replace government officials who made bad policy decisions.
In addition, they demanded that the government-controlled media print and broadcast their demands and that the government respond to them publicly.
A standoff prevailed throughout the day. At 8 a.m. and again at 5.30 p.m. lower ranking officials met with student representatives Guo Haifeng and Wang Dan. But the students were not satisfied…by 10.50 p.m. about two thousand students and onlookers had moved from Tiananmen to the Xinhua Gate of Zhongnanhai. The crowd was disorderly, and traffic along Chang’an Boulevard was obstructed.
[to be continued]