Monday, May 25, 2009

This Day in 1989: May 25, Yang Tao Proposes "Empty Campus" Plan

It was the sixth day of the martial law. Most of the military that had been blocked and surrounded on their routes in the suburbs for days had now withdrawn to make camp in the far outskirts of the city. The government seemed to have paralyzed and left the capital for the students.

Despite the determination displayed by the new leadership the day earlier, the hottest topic debated in the students' camp was whether it was time to leave the Square and what the exit strategy would be. On May 25, 1989, Yang Tao, a student leader from Peking University who had stayed away from Tiananmen Square to work on logistic support, proposed a new idea to the now sidelined Beijing Students Autonomous Federation. He suggested that all students leave Beijing en mass and leave the city empty for the martial law troops.

At Tiananmen Square, Feng Congde volunteered to look after the financial situation and found wide-spread mismanagement and graft in the floods of donated money. Even worse, he realized that the students were running a huge deficit in supplying food for the "citizens of the People's Republic of Tiananmen Square." The deficit was covered by IOUs signed by student leaders and honored by the local business owners. But the situation was not sustainable.

As a measure of transparency, Feng Congde decided to post daily financial report at the Square.

Days of 1989

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