In 1989, then Chinese Premier Li Peng (
The report, in an article entitled The Tiananmen Papers, was released in New York Friday. It is based on what the journal describes as an "unprecedented trove of hitherto secret documents" that were smuggled out of China by "a representative of reform elements within the Communist hierarchy."
The documents include minutes and recordings of key meetings of the Chinese leadership during the Tiananmen crisis.
The documents show that Li "manipulated information to lead late supreme leader Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) and the other elders to see the demonstrations as an attack on them personally and on [China's] political structure."
At a critical meeting between Communist Party elders and the party's Standing Committee on June 2, two days before troops entered Tiananmen to put down the demonstrations, Li launched into a tirade against the KMT and the US government.
"As soon as the turmoil started, KMT intelligence agencies in Taiwan and other hostile forces outside China rushed to send in agents disguised as visitors, tourists, businessmen, and so on," he is quoted in the official minutes as saying. "They have tried to intervene directly to expand the so-called democracy movement into an `all-out' movement against communism and tyranny.
"They have also instructed underground agents to keep close track of things and to collect all kinds of information. There is evidence that KMT agents from Taiwan have participated in the turmoil in Beijing, Shanghai, Fujian and elsewhere. ... It is becoming increasingly clear that the turmoil has been generated by a coalition of foreign and domestic reactionary forces and that their goals are to overthrow the Communist Party and to subvert the socialist system," Li said.
The report says that he also claimed that the New York-based Chinese Alliance for Democracy was a tool of the US against China, and collaborated with the pro-KMT Chinese Benevolent Association to funnel money and other support to the demonstrators.
Li also used intelligence and police agencies to get information to persecute liberal officials and intellectuals later on, the report says.
The documents also show that it was late supreme leader Deng and a group of seven other retired or semi-retired "elders" who made the key decisions and were the ultimate authority, outranking the Standing Committee of the Communist Party Politburo.
It was Deng -- who said he feared a civil war if the student demonstrations were allowed to continue -- who ordered that martial law be declared and that the People's Liberation Army be brought in to crush the movement.
The editors of the journal, which is published by the US Council on Foreign Relations, believe "there are convincing grounds to assume that the documents are credible," wrote Columbia University scholar Andrew Nathan (黎安友) in an introduction to the report. Nathan, who has close ties with the exiled Chinese dissident community in the US, was one of three scholars who spent months studying the documents and grilling the person who smuggled them out.
The documents show that the party leadership at first tried to deal with the students to settle the demonstrations without escalation, but that the hardliners, headed by Li, finally held sway. The article shows how Li engineered the removal of party General Secretary Zhao Zhiyang (趙紫揚), a moderate who tried to compromise with the demonstrators.
At one point, Li told the standing committee, "I think Comrade Zhiyang must bear the main responsibility for the escalation of the student movement, as well as for the fact that the situation has become so hard to control."
The record also shows that it was Deng and the elders who picked Jiang Zemin (
On the night of May 27, 1989, Deng and the elders met for five hours to pick Jiang, according to the minutes of the meeting.
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