Sunday, May 3, 2009

This Day in 1989: May 3, Government Rejects Students Petition, Students React

In the morning of May 3, 1989, State Council Spokesman Yuan Mu publicly rejected the dialogue ultimatum by the Beijing Students Autonomous Federation at a press conference. He said the government would neither be threatened nor recognize the "illegal" student organizations.

As a response, Beijing Students Autonomous Federation announced their plan for a demonstration next day, seventieth anniversary of the May Fourth Movement. The class strike on college campuses that started after Hu Yaobang's funeral on April 22 is showing signs of weakening. Some small colleges had already resumed classes. At other schools, student marshals were sometimes needed to picket against students who wanted to go to classes. But in the rush of planning for the demonstration, Beijing Students Autonomous Federation officials debated but failed to make a formal resolution on this issue.

In the meantime, a new Dialogue Delegation was formally established that evening to seek and prepare for a formal dialogue with the government. Delegates came from various colleges including Shen Tong and Xiong Yan from Peking University. Most other delegates, however, were graduate students who appeared to be older and mature. They elected Xiang Xiaoji and Shen Tong as the co-organizers. Shen Tong advocated for this organization to keep a healthy distance from the Beijing Students Autonomous Federation and the ongoing movement so that they would be more acceptable to the government.

Also in that afternoon, General Secretary Zhao Ziyang made his first public speech since the movement at the occasion of the official commemoration meeting of the May Fourth Movement. He stroke a conciliatory tone toward the ongoing situation.

In the evening, dozens of young reporters from the official media decided to hold their own rally the next day to demand press freedom.

Days of 1989

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