From Asia Times Online: “For Chinese communist leaders, a paper political epitaph is historically more durable than a gravestone – and more powerful: it has the ideological strength to make or break reputations and those of entire innocent families. It is a political document and legacy handed down from generation to generation of communist leaders and cadres, often visiting the sins – and the perceived sins – of the fathers on the sons. What’s on paper is far more powerful than what’s carved in stone.
And so it will be with Zhao Ziyang, the economic and political reformer who supported peaceful students in Tiananmen Square in June 1989, pleaded with them to go home and be safe – and then condemned the massacre of hundreds or more who stood up for their principles. He was placed under house arrest in an old courtyard house in Beijing, and died in a hospital in the city on Monday at the age of 85. There were fears – so far unrealized – that popular support for Ziyang could erupt into popular unrest in a nation already beset by tensions, such as the inequitable distribution of wealth and the yawning gap between the relatively few rich and the vast numbers of poor. ”