Taipei Times: How did you become aware of the existence of the tapes in the first place?
Bao Pu (鮑樸):
Shortly after Zhao Ziyang’s (趙紫陽) death in January 2005, in the
mourning process, people were prone to talk about his legacy. To our
surprise, we learned this set of tapes existed. The first person who
actually came forward was Zhao’s close friend and one of the persons
who initiated the recording process. His name was Xiao Hongda (蕭洪達),
who was the deputy director of the central disciplinary commission. He
and Yao Xihua (姚錫華), former chief of the Guang Ming Daily, and Du
Daozheng (杜導正), former director of the General Administration of Press
and Publications, basically had in their possession different portions
of the tapes. We got involved in collecting the tapes. Of course, the
cooperation had to remain secret and the process took as long as
TT: So there was no doubt that the tapes were genuine?
There was no doubt. First of all, the source of the tapes. Two, we have
access to all these people who worked closely with him, including my
father [Bao Tong, 鮑彤]. They have never in their minds doubted this was
not Zhao’s voice. Thirdly, Zhao was a public figure and his voice was
already in the public domain, some of the recordings, particularly the
one when he was speaking to the students in Tiananmen Square on May 19
, was widely distributed and that was [spoken] live. We also
released auto clips [of the tapes] and so far no one has come forward
to challenge their authenticity.
TT: Did you have any difficulties while working on the publication?
The only difficulty was that communication was slow. We were limited to
a certain way of communication, you know. For example, we could not
pick up the phone and call, could not e-mail. In today’s world, if you
write off electronic communication, you really do not have much choice.
TT: You mentioned before that you were followed.
Right. Less than two weeks before the news broke [about the release of
the English edition in May] … some of the English press [in the US]
were given an advance copy that they handed to experts for advance
review and they were planning a big news event. It was during that
process, I think, that the [Chinese] authorities were alerted and they
knew I was involved because my name was on the cover. I suspected it
was the advance news planning that triggered the response from the
authorities. They started following me. I must emphasize that, of
course, I don’t have direct evidence and these people have never
identified themselves. But from my past experience, because when I am
in Beijing I am followed, I know. I don’t think that incident was
particularly unusual … [but] I almost expected it. I anticipated there
would be whole lot worse, so I am sort of surprised. It seems they
didn’t react as quickly or as forcibly as I anticipated.
think these tapes have their own strength, their own rights and their
own power. It is very, very close to established facts. Even if they
[the authorities] have all the power in the world, they cannot refute
what happened, this version of the truth, and I think that’s really why
so far we haven’t seen any direct attack on this publication.
The Tiananmen Massacre is considered taboo in China. Will people in
China have access to this book, or is it banned as in the case of the