Wednesday, April 29, 2009

This Day in 1989: April 29, First Dialog between Leaders and Students

One of the biggest demands by students in their demonstration was to have an equal dialogue with the government. Indeed, dialogue with the masses was a pronounced policy by the government advocated by General Secretary Zhao Ziyang during a Party Congress a year and half earlier. on April 27, as the biggest demonstration was going on, students had heard the announcement that government welcomed opportunities to dialogue with them.

On April 29, 1989, a dialogue did take place, hosted by the State Council Spokesman Yuan Mu. However, it felt more of a press conference than a dialogue as Yuan Mu controlled the scene by dishing out partly-line answers. Students were not allowed to follow up. Most of the attendees were hand-selected delegates from official student union leaders anyway, they were not ready to provide much of a real challenge. Wuer Kaixi had received an invitation but refused to enter when his request as a representative of the Beijing Students Autonomous Federation was denied. A couple of emerging leaders of the independent movement did attend.

But the one who got the most attention was a graduate student by the name of Xiang Xiaoji from University of Political Science and Law. Xiang Xiaoji raised sharp questions and protested the format of the dialogue. With a live broadcast, his performance impressed many students.

Also on this day, a lonely student leader from Nanking University showed up at Peking University. Li Lu had arrived at Beijing a couple of days ago and was working his way into the leadership circle. With much difficulty, he finally hooked up with Chai Ling, then in charge of the secretarial work of the Preparatory Committee at Peking University. The two became trusted friends immediately.

Days of 1989

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