Written by Diane Gatterdam
Twenty-three years ago on this day Sunday April 23rd 1989, the day after Hu’s funeral, student representatives from 21 universities met at Yuanmingyuan (The Old Summer Palace) and formalized a new independent student organization that would press their cause forward. The students called it “The Provisional Student Planning Committee”.
They elected Zhou Yongjun their chairman. Zhou was one of the three students who, on the steps of the Great Hall, presented the students’ demands the day before in Tiananmen Square.
In addition to Wu’er Kaixi and Wang Dan, a twenty-three year old women named Chai Ling, a psychology major was elected to the new steering committee.
The students also set up three teams in charge of public speeches, soliciting donations and maintaining order.
In some schools students had taken over the campus public-address systems and also occupied the broadcast stations. At Beida, students set up a news center.
The next day they would call for the resignation of Premier Li Peng and a boycott of classes at all Beijing Universities.
Major protests were now spreading to all the provinces. More than 10,000 students from Nankai University, Tianjin University and other schools in Tianjin carried out the largest demonstrations the city had seen in ten years.
The protest were led by students that had return to Tianjin after attending the memorial services in Beijing and they used the protest posters to expose what had happened there. Students marched four abreast in a column stretching more that a mile.
The foreign media reported that the students were determined.
The Associated Press reported that Chai Ling said, “There will be no end date for our boycott”.
Reuters said “Activists at Peking University were determined not to let their demands for freedom and democracy end in defeat because of lack of organization, as had happened with the student movements in the 1980’s. They have set up a news center aimed at countering official propaganda.”
The Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun likened the student movement to the anti-system uprisings in Czechoslovakia and Hungary.
The most ominous report came from the Kyodo News Agency who said that student leaders had urged workers to strike. The agency predicted that if the workers did indeed join the movement, it would shake the Communist Part to its roots.
Zhao Ziyang again instructed Hu Qili and Rui Xingwan to have the positive side of the student demonstrations emphasized in the press reports.
That afternoon he left for North Korea. Sending him off at the Beijing Railway Station were LI Peng and others.
Going to North Korea at this time would prove to be a huge mistake….