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
Ch.1: April 8-23: The Student Movement Begins
The Leaders’ vigilance
[In the afternoon of April 17,] Li Tieying reported separately to Zhao Ziyang and Li Peng on some of the campus memorial activities for Hu Yaobang around the country. He said that He Dongchang had alerted him to some worrisome trends and that the State Education Commission (SEC) would immediately issue an instruction on how to deal with them.
Zhao Ziyang said that the students’ patriotism should be affirmed, although any inappropriate methods should be pointed out to them, and that they should be instructed to take the broad view and let reason be their watchword. Li Peng said that the problem should be nipped in the bud…
The SEC issued its promised notice on April 18, [ordering] provincial education departments and officials to “carry out painstaking thought work to strengthen guidance of students…and to keep a clear head in dealing with certain people with ulterior motives who would use this occasion to attack the Party and the government."
Foreign reports forwarded to Beijing on April 17 and 18 all concentrated on events in Beijing…the reports stressed the confrontational nature of students’ demands. Reuters quoted some diplomats and China analysts as predicting that the authorities could not prevent the spread of the student movement and might eventually have to use force to suppress it.
April 19-22: Laying Siege to the Xinhua Gate
Combined excerpts from State Security Ministry, “the Situation on the scene at Xinhua Gate", report to Party Central and State Council duty offices, 11.51 p.m. April 19; and State security ministry, “the situation on the scene at Xinhua Gate," report to Party Central and State Council duty offices, 6.08 a.m. April 20.
After 11 a.m. on April 19 students carried wreaths to Tiananmen Square. Along the way more than a thousand students carried banners and shouted slogans such as “Yaobang will not die!" “Down with dictatorship!" “Down with autocracy!" “The people loved the people’s secretary, and the people’s secretary loved the people!" “Keep the May fourth tradition alive!"
Many people gave speech in front of the Monument to the People’s heroes.
By nightfall roughly 20000 people, including three to four thousand students, had congregated in the square and placed fifty-five wreaths and twelve funeral banners in front of the monument. Beijing Public Security summoned 1000 policemen from precinct stations to maintain order in the square.
In the evening the Beijing government broadcast a “public notice" directing that starting at 5 a.m. on the 20th, Public Security would cordon the monument off and require the people approach it and lay their wreaths in a civilized manner. The youth League was to organize 300 university students to receive people presenting wreaths.
By 9 p.m. more than 1000 students from eight departments at the Central Institute of Finance had returned to their campus.
Public Security announced that wreaths should be placed in front of the Monument and not sent to Zhongnanhai.
Around 10 p.m. students from Central Academy of Drama entered the Square carrying helium balloons bearing the message, “Yaobang will never die." Police ordered the balloons removed. At 11.10 p.m. more than 800 Qinghua Univ. students left their campus to show their support for the students at Xinhua Gate, but police blocked them.
That night two or three thousand students gathered at Xinhua Gate…the students shouted, “Li Peng come out! Li Peng come out!" and made six failed attempts to break through the police lines.
At 11.40 p.m. a Beijing Public Security vehicle arrived to broadcast proclamations from the city government. At 1 a.m….fewer than 300 students remained in front of Xinhua Gate.
From 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. these students maintained a confrontational position before the police cordon, but no major conflict occurred. To ensure normal operations in the capital, the Beijing government decided to declare temporary martial law and to bus the students back to their campuses after persuading them that this was best. More than a hundred students were unwilling to broad the buses, and this led to scuffle with police, one student, after being forced onto a bus, shouted, “Down with the Communist Party!"
Because forcible measures were used, it is possible that students may undertake larger-scale actions in response.
[to be cont’d]