Wednesday, May 28, 2008

NYT Archive 1989: Students Talk About Withdrawing

On May 28, 1989, ninth day of the martial law, New York Times reported that students seemed to be ready to withdraw from Tiananmen Square:
China's student leaders today called for an end to their two-week occupation of Tiananmen Square, in the center of the capital, but said that they would continue to hold large-scale demonstrations to press for greater democracy and the resignation of Prime Minister Li Peng.
The announcement represented a major success for Mr. Li. In effect, the Government will have evicted the students not by politically embarrassing means such as brute force, but by waiting until the square was so fetid as a result of lack of garbage collection and the students so malodorous that they chose to leave on their own.

''It is very difficult to continue our sit-in,'' a student leader, Wuer Kaixi, told a press conference. ''As leaders, we have responsibility for students' health, and the difficulties are obvious. Hygiene is extremely bad and the food is insufficient.'' The call to leave the square is only a proposal, and it must be voted on by the students who are occupying it. But most seemed ready to go, and some students are leaving even before the official pull-out date of Tuesday.
That "Tuesday" would be May 30, a date that had been seemingly agreed upon for withdrawing from the Square. The "lack of garbage collection" in the Square was getting so bad that an urgent call had been made to the United States for trash bags.

NYT also reported that most of the 15,000 students remaining in the Square were from outside Beijing. But even they, as two of them interviewed by the paper indicated, were ready to head back home.

In the government, the much anticipated return of Wan Li turned out to be a dud. He released a written statement today to support the martial law. Former President Li Xiannian went even further in his attack of Zhao Ziyang's faction.

Nichlas Kristof now found his connections in China were no longer willing to talk to him, or any foreigner for that matter. But one person did talk to his wife Sheryl WuDunn, which resulted a nice profile of a former Wall Street lawyer who was now spending nights in Tiananmen Square.

Meanwhile, large scale solidarity rally at Hong Kong continued. They had been consistently the strongest force backing the movement in Beijing. Even today, their annual memorials were by far the best attended.

No comments: