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
On the morning of April 20 Tian Jiyun, one of Zhao Ziyang’s most trusted friends and lieutenants, went to see Zhao, hoping to get him change the date of his scheduled visit to North Korea on April 23.
Tian Jiyun: “Comrade Ziyang, the situation in Beijing and other cities is extremely tense. Can’t you put off your visit to Korea?"
Zhao Ziyang: “I’ve thought about that, too; but to postpone a state visit would lead foreigners to speculate that our political situation is shaky, so I’m going to stick to the schedule."
In the afternoon an urgent document from Yang Shangkun’s office at the Central Military Commission reached Zhao Ziyang. Deng Xiaoping, in order to ensure the security of Beijing and of the Tiananmen area, had directed that two divisions and two regiments from the 38th Army of the Beijing Military District, about 9000 soldiers, be dispatched to reinforce the police in maintaining order in the capital and in escorting comrade Hu Yaobang’s hearse to Babaoshan Cemetery. The document was signed by Yang Shangkun and Zhao Ziyang approved it.
April 22: ZHAO’S THREE PRINCIPLES
Accounts drawn from Materials for the fourth Plenum of the thirteenth Central Committee, “Remarks of comrade Zhao Ziyang," Secretariat of the Fourth Plenum of the CCP Thirteenth Central Committee,June 23-24, 1989
Zhao Ziyang:"First, now that the memorial service is over, we should firmly prevent the students from demonstrating and should get them to return to classes immediately. Second, we should use legal procedures to punish severely all who engage in beating, smashing, and robbing. Third, the main approach to the students should be one of persuasion, and to do this we can hold multilevel dialogues"
Deng Xiaoping: “Good."
Zhao Ziyang:"While I’m away, comrade Li Peng will be responsible for managing the work of Party Central. If anything happens, he will report to you."
Other Politburo members urged Zhao to hold a meeting to discuss how to handle the demonstrations. Zhao said there was no time for a meeting, but he repeated his three points to Yang Shangkun, Li Peng, Yao Yilin, Li Ximing and others.
Zhao Ziyang:"I just discussed three suggestions for handling the student movement with comrade Xiaoping, and he agreed with them. Let me explain them again to you comrades.
“First, now that the memorial service is over, social life should be brought back to normal. We should firmly prevent the students from going into the streets and demonstrating, and we should get them to return to classes as soon as possible.
“Second, we must at all costs avoid any incident of bloodshed, because if such an incident should occur it would give some people the pretext they are looking for. But we should use legal procedures to punish severely all who engage in beating, smashing, and robbing.
“Third, we should actively adopt a policy of persuasion toward the students and hold multilevel, multichannel, multiformat dialogues with them."
Yang Shangkun:"I support Ziyang’s opinion."
Zhao Ziyang (to Li Peng):"While I am away, you will be in charge of the daily work of Party Central."
Li Peng:"I agree with the three-point opinion that comrade Ziyang has just expressed. If there is any major event, we will quickly inform you."
Zhao thus gave clear instructions on handling the student movement before his departure, even though he did not call for a Politburo Standing Committee meeting.
While these events were taking place inside the Great Hall, a peaceful but vast, self-organized gathering involving tens of thousands of students was taking place outside in the Square and along both sides of Chang’an West Boulevard, where Hu’s cortege was to pass. The details were reported to Party Central by the Public security Ministry.
During the official ceremony the students observed a solomn silence. Afterward they presented a petition demanding (1) that the coffin be driven once around the Square so the students can pay their respects one last time; (2) that Li Peng hold a dialogue with the students; and (3) that the news of the day’s student activities be published in the newspapers. Otherwise, they threatened, they would storm the Great Hall. At 12.50 P.M. three student representatives knelt on the steps to the Great Hall, the one in the middle holding up a large paper containing seven demands. As their wait for someone to emerge to accept the petition lengthened, the onlookers began to talk among themselves in sympathy. Some shouting and shoving broke out between civilians and the miltary and PAP troops guarding the Great Hall. Some onlookers threw shoes, but student monitors got control of the crowd and kept the peace. Some staff members from inside the hall came out and spoke with the kneeling students. About 1.30 P.M. the three students, still holding up the scroll listing their demands, came down the steps and rejoined the crowd. Shortly afterward the student ranks started to move back to their respective campuses, with the intention, according to some, of starting a boycott of classes.