In Beijing, the Government leaders could see the challengers directly, when more than 70,000 university students rallied on Saturday in central Tiananmen Square, defeating the authorities' attempts to seal off the center of the capital. The students mourned Mr. Hu by shouting demands for more democracy as the nation's leaders held their own official memorial service next door.The students' triumph over Government attempts to block the rally was a significant embarrassment for China's leaders, who called out thousands of army troops and the police to shield themselves from the students.The authorities apparently had planned to clear the square, but they changed their minds in the pre-dawn hours after tens of thousands of people began camping there to be sure that they would not be kept out by a police cordon to be set up later.The authorities concluded that the students were too numerous to dislodge by peaceful means, according to a Chinese journalist familiar with the Government's thinking. He added that security forces regarded the student demonstrations as among the most serious challenges they have faced.
The students left the square Saturday afternoon, and most said they were too exhausted after being up all night to think of whether there would be further demonstrations. But there were indications that the unrest would continue, though not at the same level.The students said they would boycott classes until May 4, the 70th anniversary of nationalist demonstrations that are among the most famous episodes in recent Chinese history.
Meanwhile, a violent incident broke out in the western city of Xian:
A week of growing anti-Government protests turned violent for the first time on Saturday, spreading to the central Chinese city of Xian, where protesters attacked the provincial Government headquarters, injuring 130 officers and burning 20 houses, the official New China News Agency reported this morning.The rioting, which included an attack on foreign tourists, continued for about 12 hours, the agency said. The volatile situation in Xian presented the Government with the substantial new challenge of controlling major unrest not only in Beijing but in other cities.