Wed, Jan 17, 2001 - Page 8 News List

Tiananmen key in power struggle

By Wang Dan 王丹

In the 11 years since the 1989 Tiananmen Square Incident caused a media uproar in the West, related issues have received serious attention in the mainstream Western media on only two occasions. One was in 1995 when the media reported that Chai Ling (柴玲) had spoken of "anticipating bloodshed" (期待流血). The other was at the the 10th anniversary of the Tiananmen Incident in 1999. This year Tiananmen is a hot topic once again. Newspapers and television stations have uniformly given headline status to reports about the publication of The Tiananmen Papers. An interpretation of the book requires analysis on two different levels.

The first is the historical level. Since the Tiananmen democracy movement broke out, a large volume of writings, including related memoirs and analytical essays, has appeared. The only major gap has been that of official Chinese government documents. The book has somewhat made up for this. It is a positive contribution to our overall understanding of the 1989 democracy move-ment. As far as the content of the documents is concerned, how-ever, there is little new, behind-the-scenes information. Generally speaking, such things that the documents do reveal -- for instance, Zhao Ziyang (趙紫陽) advocating the promotion of democracy, Li Peng (李鵬) and Wang Zhen (王震) arguing firmly for the use of military force to suppress the movement, and Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) fearing that he would be put under house arrest -- were all more or less perceived at the time. So now we simply have further confirmation. Thus, on this level, the papers aren't really ground-breaking in nature.

But what has really concerned the media is the significance of the book on the pragmatic level. One might refer to it as the "The Tiananmen Papers' phenomenon." This phenomenon reflects the following facts:

First, the documents in the book are highly classified. They could not have been obtained and compiled by low-level officials nor a single person. This proves that a serious split exists within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Whoever arranged the exposure of these documents may come from one of three groups. The first is the Hu Yaobang (胡耀邦) and Zhao Ziyang faction, which is losing influence; the second is the children of senior policy- makers; and the third is the reform faction at the upper levels of the party. Regardless of who is pulling the strings, their actions reflect the fact that the third-generation leadership collective, with Jiang Zemin (江澤民) at its nucleus, does not enjoy unshakable authority within the party and is unable completely to control the domestic political situation.

Second, the process by which this book was published is a tightly guarded secret. The author used the pen name "Zhang Liang" (張良) and concealed his face when being interviewed by Mike Wallace of the US TV network CBS. However, given the Chinese government's high level of criminal reconnaissance expertise, the small circle of people who had contact with the documents, and the fact that "Zhang Liang" revealed his accent when he was interviewed, it would not be difficult for the government to find out who is responsible or at least who might have divulged the classified information. What is worth noting is that "Zhang" and those behind him must have considered the possibility of being discovered, but they still decided to go ahead. Obviously they have someone backing them. This clearly indicates that the intensity of the internal power struggle going on in the Chinese government far exceeds what the

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