Tian'anmnen Movement of 1989: A Tragic End

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The University of Hong Kong
Department of Politics and Public Administration

CCCH9009 Short Paper

By Chan Shing Ho Johnny (UID:2010007173)

Question: In your view, why is the Tian'anmnen Movement of 1989 eventually ended in a tragic way? Use enough information to support your argument.


186, 207, 221?
Power Struggle between the pro-democratic and pro-conservatism One of the reasons that led to such a tragic end for Tian'anmen Movement is the power struggle between the two camps of leaders, pro-democratic (Former General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, Zhao Ziyang) and pro-conservatism (Deng Xiao Ping). In 2009, a memoir was published based on audiotapes recorded by Zhao Ziyang, called Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Premier Zhao Ziyang, he mentioned that he “didn’t want to be a General Secretary who opens fire on the people.” From this, we could clearly tell by that time, Zhao differed in opinion from Deng and other conservative leaders, like Li Peng on how to handle the student movement, i.e. whether to pursue a peaceful or a military solution. http://blog.foolsmountain.com/2009/06/03/tiananmen-1989-a-need-for-dialogue-20-years-later/ One very crucial turning point that we know is that by that time, the CCP General Secretary made a scheduled official visit to North Korea, which turned out to be a bad decision at the time of turmoil; this was because on April 26th CCP Central issued an editorial on "People's Daily" in the absence of Zhao Ziyang, which was titled "Uphold the flag to unambiguously oppose any turmoil", denouncing that the patriotic student movement as a turmoil ignited by an "extremely small handful of opportunists". http://www.alliance.org.hk/64/6420/?page_id=521

According to Wu Jiaxiang, a former aide and a leading political scientist in Beijing, Zhao Ziyang, before leaving for North Korea on April 21st, had instructed that "no politburo meeting should be held in his absence" but other CCP leaders, likle Yang Shankun & Li Peng immediately convened a "CCP Expanded Poliburo Meeting", then reported to Deng Xiaoping with meeting opinions, and then borrowed Deng Xiaoping's mouth in stating that CCP "should not fear bloodshed". And in Zhao Zhiyang's self account, recorded by Yang Jisheng, he claimed that it was li Ximing & Chen Xitong who contacted Wan Li on the night of April 21st in request of convening a commissar meeting; that Wan Li relayed the info to Li Peng. Later, according to ________, Li Peng convened the meeting on the night of 24th, reported it to Deng Xiaoping on 25th, and was authorized to relay Deng's opinions to communist cadres; and that Li Peng took advantage of the occasion to draft a newspaper commentary for publication on April 26th. By the time Zhao returned to China after the scheduled visit, he found it was just too late to remedy the situation as hostilities between the government and the people have been greatly aggravated.

Other than the mis-communication over the People's Daily's editorial, we may gain further insights into the power struggle between the party leaders by taking a look at a previous document obtained by CNN and written by Bao Tong, a close aide to Zhao Ziyang, describing in detail the events leading up to the crackdown on student protests in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. September 25, 1989

Comrade Hu Yaobang died on April 15, soon after which the student demonstrations began. I was extremely worried. Comrade Xiaoping pointed out in his speech on April 25 that the overwhelming priority in China is stability - I completely agreed with his point; I also wanted to maintain stability and prevent turmoil. Specifically, I wanted to make an effort to reduce tensions and to avoid precipitating the tension into clashes. The People's Daily April 26th editorial, in my view, was harsh in language and lacked analysis and persuasiveness; I had my reservations about it. On May 19 and 20, the Central Committee...
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