China ex-premier's memoirs defend 1989 bloodshed

Fri Jun 4, 2010 8:35am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Benjamin Kang Lim and Chris Buckley

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's revered reformist leader Deng Xiaoping said the government had to "spill some blood" to quell student-led protests in 1989, according to newly published memoirs of the watershed events by former premier Li Peng.

Deng's commanding role in the armed crackdown that remains taboo in Chinese politics 21 years later is described in new memoirs by Li, the hardline head of China's government, which faced the student-led movement that erupted across China in 1989.

The standoff culminated in a June 4 sweep against protesters centered on Tiananmen Square, who were galvanized by calls for democracy and a purge of corrupt officials. Troops mobilized under a martial law proclamation killed hundreds of protesters and bystanders, according to witnesses and rights groups.

"The measures for martial law must be steady-handed, and we must minimize harm, but we must prepare to spill some blood," Deng told officials on May 19, according to the memoirs.

Li's account, suppressed from publication by current leaders, removes the veil imposed on decisions preceding the crackdown. It will be issued by a Hong Kong publisher, which sent an advance copy to Reuters on Friday, the anniversary of the crackdown.

Chinese dissidents and families of victims continue to mourn and denounce the use of tanks and guns against the protesters.

Beijing has never issued an official count of those killed and current leaders reject any discussion of the "disturbance."

Around the anniversary dissidents and families of victims are held in their homes by police.   Continued...

<p>A man stands passively to block a column of army tanks on Changan Avenue east of Tiananmen Square in Beijing in this June 5, 1989 file photo. REUTERS/Arthur Tsang/Files</p>