Tuesday, June 3, 2008

NYT Archive 1989: Military On The Move

On the eve of the massacre, New York Times on June 3, 1989, found time to publish a profile of the student leader Wang Dan, describing him as "an intellectual lacking charisma or oratorical skill". But it also anointed him as the most influential leader, over the more charismatic Wuer Kaixi and Chai Ling:
''I have one regret,'' Mr. Wang said. ''I failed to persuade the elite intellectuals to give us direct support.'' Intellectuals should have been more involved in helping to lead the movement, he says.
Mr. Wang believes that the intellectuals joined too late, and he suggests that one of the results of this is that the students did not have coherent goals.
''I think that the student movements in the future should be firmly based on something solid, such as the democratization of campus life or the realization of civil rights according to the Constitution,'' Mr. Wang said. ''Otherwise, the result is chaos.''

Indeed, Wang Dan had been spending most of his time with intellectuals during the entire movement that his fellow leaders and students did not really know where he was most of the time.

In the streets of the capital, this day was marked by small-scale troop movements and confrontations with city residents:
Tens of thousands of Beijing students and workers surged onto the streets early this morning to turn back more than 2,000 troops who were marching toward Tiananmen Square.
It was the biggest outpouring of citizen support for the demonstrating students in more than a week, and it seemed possible that it would rekindle the student movement and present a new challenge to the Government.
The confrontation underscored the fragile and volatile nature of the situation in Beijing just when the turmoil here seemed to be subsiding after seven weeks of demonstrations by students and workers for democracy and against corruption.

Tear gas was used at Xinhuamen, where residents sieged on a convoy of trucks carrying weapons. The atmosphere in the city became extremely tense.

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