"The Truth About the Beijing Turmoil"

Edited by the Editorial Board of The Truth about the Beijing Turmoil
Beijing Publishing House, 1990


In 1989 when spring was passing to summer, a shocking turmoil happened in Beijing, which has attracted the close attention of people at home and abroad. Influenced by foreign media, people have many questions, guesses and misunderstandings. What really happened in China? What is the situation now like in Beijing? This album, with its abundant pictures, will help our readers understand the whole story of and truth about the turmoil and the present situation in Beijing.

This turmoil was not a chance occurrence. It was a political turmoil incited by a very small number of political careerists after a few years of plotting and scheming. It was aimed at subverting the socialist People's Republic. By making use of some failings in the work of the Chinese government and the temporary economic difficulties, they spread far and wide many views against the Constitution, the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and the People's Government, preparing the ground for the turmoil ideologically, organizationally and in public opinion. The former general secretary of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party Zhao Ziyang supported the turmoil and thus has unshirkable responsibility for its formation and development. The various political forces and reactionary organizations abroad had a hand in the turmoil from the very beginning. Some newspapers, magazines and broad-casting stations, especially the Voice of America, fabricated rumours to mislead people, thus adding fuel to the flames.

When Hu Yaobang suddenly died on April 15, a handful of people, thinking that their time had come, stirred up a student upheaval on the pretext of "mourning" for Hu Yaobang. The student unrest had been taken advantage of by the organizers of the turmoil from the very beginning. In violation of the Constitution, laws and regulations, some people put up big-character posters everywhere on the college campuses, preaching bourgeois liberalization and calling for the overthrow of the Communist Party and the legal government. They held many rallies, made speeches, boycotted classes and organized demonstrations, all without permission; they stormed the seat of the Party Central Committee and the State Council; they forcibly occupied the Tiananmen Square on many occasions and organized various illegal organizations without registration for approval. In Changsha, Xi'an and other cities, some people engaged in grave criminal activities such as beating, smashing, looting and burning stores, and even broke into the compounds of provincial govern-ment seats and set fire to the motor vehicles there.

In view of this turmoil, the People's Daily issued, on April 26, an editorial exposing the nature of the turmoil. Even under this circumstance, the Party and the government exercised great restraint towards the students' extremist slogans and actions and had all along given due recognition to the students' patriotic enthusiasm and reasonable demands. At the same time, the Party and the government warned the students not to be made use of by a handful of people and expressed the hope for solving the problems through dialogues and by normal, democratic and legal procedures. However, on May 13, the illegal student organization started a general hunger strike involving over 3,000 people and lasting for seven days. Party and government leaders, on the one hand, went to see the fasting students at Tiananmen Square and met with students' representatives on many occasions, asking them to value their lives and stop the hunger strike, and on the other hand, they lost no time in organizing on-the-spot rescue teams and providing all kinds of materials so as to relieve the suffering of the fasting students. Thanks to efforts of the government and other quarters. not a single student died in the hunger strike. But all this failed to win active response.

On the contrary, some media, taking the cue from a small number of people, wrongly guided the public opinion, escalating the turmoil and throwing Beijing and even the whole country in a serious anarchic situation, something that cannot be tolerated in any other country. In Beijing, demonstrations were held continuously, slogans insulting and attacking leaders and openly calling for overthrowing the government could be heard and seen everywhere. The traffic was seriously congested and difficulties were created for Beijing's production and daily supplies. The police was unable to keep normal social order. Gorbachev's schedules in China were also seriously hampered. The small handful of people attempted to take the chaos as an opportunity to seize political power and threatened to "set up a new government in three days."

On May 19, the Party Central Committee held a meeting attended by cadres from the Party, government and military institutions in Beijing, At the meeting, Premier Li Peng and President of the People's Republic of China Yang Shangkun announced the decision to adopt resolute measures to stop the turmoil. But Zhao Ziyang, then general secretary of the Party Central Committee, refused to attend this important meeting.

On May 20, Li Peng signed a martial law order as empowered by Clause 16 of Article 89 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China. The martial law was to be enforced at 10 a.m. on the same day in parts of Beijing. The small handful of people took fright and coerced those residents who were in the dark about the truth to set up roadblocks at major crossroads to stop the advance of army vehicles and prevent the martial law enforcement troops from getting to designated places according to plan. Besides, they threatened to mobilize 200,000 people to occupy Tiananmen Square and organize a nation-wide general strike. Using the funds provided by reactionary forces at home and abroad, they installed sophisticated communication facilities and illegally purchased weapons. They gathered together hooligans and ruffians to set up terrorist organizations such as the "Dare-to-Die Corps" and the "Flying Tiger Team," and threatened to kidnap or put Party and government leaders under house arrest. They offered high prices in recruiting thugs and fabricated rumours to deceive people.

All the facts proved that, no matter how tolerant and restrained the government was, such people would not give up their wild scheme; on the contrary they threatened to "fight to the end" against the government.

On the evening of June 2, a handful of people bent upon inciting a riot used a traffic accident to spread rumours and mislead people, lighting the fuse of a rebellion. In the small hours of June 3, rioters set up roadblocks at every crossroad, beat up soldiers and armed police, seized weapons, ammunition and other military materials. Mobs also assaulted the Great Hall of the People, the Central Propaganda Department, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Radio, Film and Television and the west and south gates of Zhongnanhai. the seat of the Party Central Committee and the State Council. At about 5 p.m., the illegal organizations distributed kitchen knives, daggers and iron bars, to the crowd on Tiananmen Square and incited them to "take up weapons and overthrow the government." A group of ruffians banded together about 1,000 people to push down the wall of a construction site near Xidan and seized large quantities of tools, reinforcing bars and bricks, ready for street fighting. They planned to incite people to take to the streets the next day, a Sunday, to stage a violent re-bellion in an attempt to overthrow the government and seize power at one stroke.

At this critical juncture, the martial law troops were ordered to move in by force to quell the anti-government rebellion. At 6:30 p.m., on June 3, the Beijing municipal government and the headquarters of the martial law enforcement troops issued an emergency announcement, asking all citizens to keep off the streets and stay at home. The announcement was broadcast over and over again. At about 10 p.m., the martial law troops headed for Beijing proper from various directions. The rioters, taking advantage of the soldiers' restraint, blocked military and other kinds of vehicles before they smashed and burned them. They also seized guns, ammunitions and transceivers. Several rioters seized an armoured car and fired guns as they drove it along the street. Rioters also assaulted civilian installations and public buildings. Several rioters even drove a public bus loaded with gasoline drums towards the Tiananmen gatetower in an attempt to set fire to it. At the same time, rioters savagely beat up, kidnapped and killed soldiers and officers. On the Chang'an Avenue, when a military vehicle suddenly broke down, rioters surrounded it and ferociously crushed the driver with bricks. At Fuchengmen, a soldier's body was hung heel over head on the overpass balustrade after he had been savagely killed. At Chongwenmen, another soldier was thrown down from the flyover and burned alive. Near a cinema, an officer was beaten to death, disembowelled and his eyes gouged out. His body was then strung up on a burning bus.

Over 1,280 vehicles were burned or damaged in the rebellion, including over 1,000 military trucks, more than 60 armoured cars, over 30 police cars, over 120 public buses and trolley buses and over 70 motor vehicles of other kinds. More than 6,000 martial law officers and soldiers were injured and scores of them killed.

Such heavy losses are eloquent testimony to the restraint and tolerance shown by the martial law enforcement troops. For fear of injuring civilians by accident, they would rather endure humiliation and meet their death unflinchingly, although they had weapons in their hands. It can be said that there is no other army in the world that can exercise restraint to such an extent.

The martial law troops, having suffered heavy casualties and been driven beyond forbearance, were forced to fire into the air to clear the way forward. During the counter-attack, some rioters were killed, some onlookers were hit by stray bullets and some wounded or killed by armed ruffians. According to reliable statistics, more than 3,000 civilians were wounded and over 200, including 36 college students, were killed.

At 1:30 a.m. on June 4, the Beijing municipal government and the martial law headquarters issued an emergency notice asking all students and other citizens to leave Tiananmen Square. The notice was broadcast repeatedly for well over three hours over loudspeakers. The students on Tiananmen Square, after discussion among themselves, sent representatives to the troops to express their willingness to withdraw from the square and this was approved by the troops. Then at about 5 a.m., several thousand students left the square in an orderly manner through a wide corridor in the southeastern part of the square vacated by the troops, carrying their own banners and streamers. Those who refused to leave were Forced to leave by the soldiers. By 5:30 a.m., the clearing operation of the square had been completed.

During the whole operation not a single person was killed. The allegations that "Tiananmen Square was plunged into a bloodbath" and "thousands of people were killed in the square" are sheer rumours, and the true state of affairs will eventually be clear to the public.

After the decisive victory in quelling the riot, order in the capital was basically restored to normal and the situation throughout China soon became stable. The measures adopted by the Chinese government to stop the turmoil and put down the rebellion have not only won the acclaim and support of the Chinese people, but they have also won the understanding and support of the governments and people of many other countries. The Chinese government has announced that it will unswervingly carry on the policy of reform and opening to the outside world, the policy of developing friendly cooperation with different countries of the world on the basis of the five principles of peaceful coexistence, and the policy towards Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan. We will continue to strive for the realization of the socialist modernization. We are fully confident of our future.

(pp. 3-5)

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