Chen Xitong, who served as mayor of Beijing during the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown before he was dismissed from his post in 1995 and then sentenced to jail on corruption charges in what many saw as the result of a power struggle with then President Jiang Zemin, has challenged the charges against him in a series of interviews to be published in Hong Kong. From Reuters, which reports that Chen’s story is likely to attract parallels to the downfall of former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai:
“This was the worst miscarriage of justice involving a high-level leader since the Cultural Revolution, or since 1989 – it was an absurd miscarriage of justice,” Chen says of the corruption and abuse of power charges that brought him a 16-year jail term in 1998. Chen won medical parole in 2004.
Although Chen’s assertions about 1989 and his own downfall appear likely to draw dispute, they suggest how, as with Bo, charges against ousted Chinese leaders are often near impossible to separate from broader political contention.
“In a power struggle, any means possible – any low-handed means – will be used, and the objective is to seize power,” Chen said, while denying accusations of scheming and disloyalty against President Jiang that accompanied his downfall.
“But I didn’t take part in any power struggle, no matter what they think,” he said of his unidentified accusers.