Changes at Top Are Hinted as Leaders Meet in Beijing

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the nationwide, student-led democracy movement in China, and the subsequent June 4th military crackdown in Beijing. To commemorate the student movement, CDT is posting a series of original news articles from 1989, beginning with the death of Hu Yaobang on April 15 and continuing through the tumultuous spring. The full series can be read at Twenty Years Ago Today: Tiananmen Square Student Movement..

From the May 24, 1989 New York Times:

As hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated in Beijing and Shanghai for the ouster of Prime Minister Li Peng, China’s top leaders met in secret in the capital on Tuesday and appeared to make significant progress in breaking the political deadlock.

Early this morning, there were signs that Zhao Ziyang, the Communist Party leader, who was stripped of his powers late last week after he urged a moderate line toward students demonstrating for democracy, might be making a comeback.

There were also hints in official news reports that Mr. Li might be in political trouble, and military troops began to withdraw from some of their positions in the capital. Zhao Gets Good Press

The most striking sign of a change in the power struggle came early this morning when news organizations for the first time in several days referred to Mr. Zhao and identified him as still being the General Secretary of the Communist Party.

Also from another article in the same day’s New York Times:

Not many Chinese follow Italian politics, so perhaps it was a bit surprising for People’s Daily to carry a small front-page article Sunday on the resignation of the Italian Government.

But in China, where subtlety is a way of journalism as of life, the message was obvious: China’s Government should think about resigning as well. Such hints are still as much a part of Chinese newspapers as ink and paper, but the last few weeks has seen a minor revolution in what newspapers can publish.

As a result, the hints are getting ever bolder, and sometimes newspapers even make their point outright. In a dramatic contrast to the press coverage before the student demonstrations began more than five weeks ago, China’s news organizations can now cover events that the Government would perhaps rather hush up.

Some say a semi-independent press may be the democracy movement’s greatest achievement and a significant spur to further liberalization.

Also, from the same paper, “Chinese take Umbrage At Attack on Mao Portrait.

May 24, 2009 12:01 AM
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Categories: 1989