30 Years Ago: Chaos Among the Leaders

30 Years Ago: Chaos Among the Leaders

This year marks the 30th 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. 

From the May 25, 1989 New York Times

American analysts of China acknowledged today that they had little reliable information about the power struggle unfolding in Beijing. But they said that everything they did know suggests it will be a bitter and protracted fight in which half the leaders on one side or the other may lose their positions.

”It is clear that the whole leadership has come unglued,” said one senior analyst who has followed events in China for years. ”This is a Humpty Dumpty that can’t be put back together again.”

The worst outcome, another analyst said, would be if hard-liners around Prime Minister  succeed and use the army to put down the pro-democracy demonstrators. ”That could lead to prolonged fighting between students and the army and would undermine everything the Chinese have been trying to do for the past 10 years, scaring off foreign investment, ending the opening to the outside world,” the official said. ”It’s a pretty bleak prospect.’ [Source]

Students march through Beijing carrying placards saying “Li Peng step down” during a demonstration on May 25, 1989.

From the same paper:
– Canton’s Prosperous Students March
– China Again Cuts Off TV News Transmission
– Aspiring Party Leaders At Forefront of Revolt

And from the May 25 Los Angeles Times: “China’s Power Struggle Like a Family Spat; Elders Try to Repair Split.”

[This series was originally posted by CDT in 2009 to mark the 20th anniversary of the protests. If you have access to additional sources of original reporting, video, accounts or photos from the spring of 1989, please send them to us at cdt@chinadigitaltimes.net and we’ll consider including them in this series. Many thanks.]

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