China ex-censor claims key Tiananmen memoirs role

Thu May 21, 2009 7:51am EDT
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By Chris Buckley and Benjamin Kang Lim

BEIJING (Reuters) - A former senior Chinese censor has claimed a major role in recording purged leader Zhao Ziyang's memoirs that decry the quelling of pro-democracy protests in 1989, adding to calls for the government to repent the crackdown.

Du Daozheng, reformist chief of the General Administration of Press and Publications in the late 1980s, said he was one of four retired officials who helped Zhao secretively record his memoirs before his death under house arrest in 2005.

Zhao's recollections, published abroad and sure to be banned in mainland China, challenge the ruling Communist Party's verdict that the student-led protests centered on Tiananmen Square in Beijing were a counter-revolutionary plot, and he calls the armed crackdown that ended them on June 4 two decades ago a tragedy.

In a statement explaining his role in making the memoirs, Du said it was time to rehabilitate Zhao, ousted in 1989 by Party conservatives who accused him of siding with the protesters.

"At the major historic juncture of June 4, Zhao Ziyang acted responsibly to the Chinese nation, to history and to ordinary people," Du said in the statement, which will appear in the Chinese-language version of Zhao's memoirs to be published in separately administered Hong Kong this month.

Zhao's name remains taboo in mainland Chinese media and the government says his rift with Party conservatives over the protests was a "grave error," Du notes.

"In history, of course none of this can stand," Du said in the statement provided by Bao Pu, the son of a former senior aide to Zhao and also publisher of the Chinese version of the memoirs.

Du has joined a small but bold undercurrent within China openly urging the government to renounce the 1989 crackdown, when hundreds of demonstrators and bystanders died as troops and tanks surged down Beijing streets on the night of June 3-4.   Continued...

<p>A man stands in front of a convoy of tanks in the Avenue of Eternal Peace in Beijing, June 5, 1989. REUTERS/Arthur Tsang</p>