Wed, Jan 10, 2001 - Page 1 News List

China dismisses 'Papers'

EXPOSED The Beijing government has dismissed the `Tiananmen Papers,' saying it had already reached a `correct' conclusion justifying the 1989 crackdown


Stung by newly published documents detailing Chinese leaders' squabbles over the crushing of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, China's government yesterday defended the crackdown and suggested the papers were fakes.

In the first official reaction to their weekend release in the US, China's Foreign Ministry labeled the documents apiece with previous efforts abroad to rekindle controversy over the divisive crackdown.

"Any attempt to play up the matter again and disrupt China by the despicable means of fabricating materials and distorting facts will be futile," Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao (朱邦造) said in a statement carried by the government's Xinhua News Agency.

The crackdown was "highly necessary to the stability and development of China," Zhu said, adding that the ruling Communist Party's "correct conclusion" about the July 1989 protests would not change.

Supposedly smuggled out of China by a disaffected civil servant and vetted by US-based China scholars, the documents -- dubbed the Tiananmen Papers -- purportedly contain minutes of secret high-level meetings, intelligence reports and phone conversations by party patriarch Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平).

The documents -- if authentic -- show a leadership in turmoil over the million-strong democracy protests and their suppression on June 4, 1989.

Their release threatens to aggravate ever-present strains among reformist and conservative factions in the party and reawaken debate over political change.

"The publication of these high-level decisions on the June 4 suppression will be positive, not only for a just resolution, but also for accelerating the advance of China's democratization," 111 people wounded and relatives of some slain in the crackdown said in a statement released by New York-based Human Rights in China.

Ever since the crackdown, the government has maintained that the protests were an anti-government rebellion that needed to be crushed to safeguard economic growth -- a view now supported by many Chinese who have benefited from free-market reforms.

But public resentment also lingers, especially in Beijing. Hundreds were killed and thousands arrested in the crackdown.

The actual toll is not known because the government has never allowed a credible inquiry.

Initially, the government had no comment about the documents and China's wholly state-run media did not report them. But news of the papers leaked into China via the Internet, foreign radio broadcasts and word of mouth, stirring the beginnings of debate.

Chinese Web site censors sought to silence the discussion. One message that detailed CNN's coverage of the documents was deleted within minutes of appearing on a popular chat site.

But other messages, some questioning why news of the documents was suppressed and whether they were authentic, briefly got through.

"To know whether the Tiananmen Papers are true or not, just look at them on an overseas Web site and judge for yourself ... If one has done no wrong why fear other people knowing?" one surfer said in a Web posting that was later deleted.

The papers confirm popular perceptions that Li Peng (李鵬), then the hardline premier and now chairman of the legislature, argued for the crackdown. They also reveal how communist elders led by Deng imposed martial law, ousted reformist party chief Zhao Ziyang (趙紫陽) and replaced him with Jiang Zemin (江澤民), now China's president.

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