Sunday, June 15, 2008

NYT Archive 1989: Zhao Ziyang's Crime

On June 14, 1989, New York Times reported what the government had laid on Zhao Ziyang, according to an internal document:
Mr. Zhao was last seen on May 19, talking with student leaders on Tiananmen Square, and there has been almost no official mention of him since then. He is believed to have been stripped of his powers and he may be under house arrest, but it is not clear whether he retains his title.
The documents that criticize Mr. Zhao and are now circulating among high officials make three specific complaints. First, they assert that he helped organize the student mourning of the former party leader Hu Yaobang, whose death on April 15 was the catalyst for the movement. Second, they say that his words and actions encouraged the student movement. Third, they accuse him of violating party discipline, by making unauthorized statements about the party leadership.
The last item is probably a reference to his disclosure on national television, during his meeting on May 16 with Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the Soviet President, that there was a formal policy of consulting Mr. Deng on all important matters.
Any reports about "internal documents" or insider information should automatically be taken with a big chunk of salt, as such reports are notoriously unreliable.

It is strange how Zhao Ziyang could be accused for helping organize student mourning of Hu Yaobang. Not only that there has not been any evidence supporting it, it is also unpractical for him to do so.

It is also curious that his biggest "crime" was not on the list: that he had "split the party" by refusing to go along with the martial law.

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