SCMP Tuesday, January 9, 2001


Beijing slams 'fabricated' Tiananmen Papers

REUTERS in Beijing

Beijing said on Tuesday ''The Tiananmen Papers'' purporting to reveal the internal debates which led to the bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protests in central Beijing were fabricated.
In the first official reaction to the book's publication in the United States last week, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao said mainland leaders decided correctly to crush the student-led protests.
''Any attempt to play up the matter again and disrupt China by the despicable means of fabricating materials and distorting facts will be futile,'' the official Xinhua news agency quoted Mr Zhu as saying.
''The Tiananmen Papers'' reproduces what are said to be secret transcripts of meetings of top Chinese leaders before they sent in troops and tanks to crush protests around Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989, killing hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people.
The papers could sully the reputations of Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Communist Party number two Li Peng, whose support for the crackdown helped their political careers, according to the book's editor and China watchers.
Some analysts believe the transcripts were leaked as part of a succession struggle ahead of the Communist Party's 16th congress in 2002.
Mr Jiang is expected to step down as general secretary of the party then but seek to be the power behind the throne, as supreme patriarch Deng Xiaoping was in 1989, when he was the final decision maker despite being officially retired.
Transcripts in the book include Deng talking about the possibility of house arrest for the leadership and open squabbles on how to deal with the situation between then party boss Zhao Ziyang and Premier Li Peng.
Hardliner Mr Li is now parliament chief and number two in the Communist Party hierarchy. The reform-minded Mr Zhao, who wanted to resolve the problem in talks with the student-led protesters, was ousted and is still under house arrest in Beijing.
The papers allege that Mr Li played a key role in advocating the use of force.
They quote him as saying in meetings that US and Taiwan intelligence agents were advising and helping the democracy movement in order to overthrow the Communist Party.
The New York-based Human Rights in China welcomed the book's publication and said it provided ample evidence against Mr Li.
''This glimpse of the inner workings of China's senior decision-making process allows us to assign responsibility for the bloody attack on peaceful democracy supporters,'' a statement quoted Xiao Qing, the group's executive director, as saying.
It also said a group of 111 June 4 victims and family members had renewed calls for the government to investigate the massacre and bring Mr Li to trial in China.
But Xinhua quoted Mr Zhu as saying the Party ''had already made a correct conclusion about the political disturbances that took place in Beijing at the end of the Spring and the beginning of the Summer in 1989 and that the conclusion would not change''.
The decisions taken were ''highly necessary to the stability and development of China'', he said.
The official verdict on the often chaotic Tiananmen protests was that they constituted a counter-revolutionary rebellion which justified the use of force.
The transcripts also describe how Mr Jiang was voted in as next party leader by Deng and party elders instead of by the politburo standing committee, in violation of the Chinese constitution - an allegation that could be politically damaging.
The ''Tiananmen Papers'', published by Public Affairs Books of New York, was compiled under the pseudonym Zhang Liang and edited by Andrew Nathan, political science professor at New York's Columbia University and Perry Link, professor of Chinese at Princeton.
The editors say the transcripts were smuggled out of China by reformist members of the party and appear to be credible.
The world reacted in horror to what has become known widely as the Tiananmen Square massacre and it remains an event which haunts China's image abroad.
But Mr Zhu said that developments over the past decade proved that the decisive measures taken at the time were ''highly necessary to the stability and development of China''.
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