Written by Diane Gatterdam
Twenty-three years ago on this day Monday April 24th 1989, messages of support from students’ parents and other recorded speeches were now being broadcast from facilities that the students set up themselves from building 28 at Beida.
Beginning around 2 pm, about 80 percent of all Beida students trickled into what they called “May Fourth Square”. 200 wearing red armbands on which “Beida monitoring team” was written in ink. Everyone entering the May Fourth Square had to wear a school Badge or show identification as a student, worker or reporter.
The students represented nearly every department in the university. Some carried banners identifying their departments.
Several dozen Foreign Journalists were very active on the scene interviewing and making video and audiotapes.
A student representative of the planning meeting took the microphone and delivered an opening statement. The main message was:
“ We have come together today for the common goals of democracy and science. Seventy years ago our predecessors on this sacred ground spoke about democracy and science and today seventy years later it is still hard going for both. Devastation is still everywhere in our land. But today we have finally stood up and are determined to keep going, relying on our quickened blood to keep going and never look back.”
The next student talked about pulling together students wishes for democracy and working on implementing an indefinite boycott of classes, an effort that had seen some initial success as it was thought that 39 Universities and over 700,000 students were already boycotting classes on April 24th.
That same day Deng Xiaoping gave this very telling speech:
Deng Xiaoping’s speech before the Mayor of Beijing April 24th 1989
This is not an ordinary student movement, this is turmoil.
We must take a clear stand, adopt effective measures, and not let them succeed in their aim.
These people have been influenced by Yugoslav, Polish, Hungarian, and Soviet liberalism. Their aim is to overthrow the Communist government and to make the future bleak for China.
We must act swiftly. We should not be afraid of others cursing our mothers or of international reaction. There can only be true democracy when China is developed and modernized.
**The Four Cardinal Principles are absolutely necessary. Comrade Hu Yaobang was too weak, and had failed to carry them out. He quit the Anti-Spiritual Pollution Movement only 20 days after it had begun. If he had persisted, turmoil such as this would never have occurred.
Among the four principles, there is one calling for upholding the people’s democratic dictatorship. We now need to implement this principle. Of course, we shall do so properly.
The turmoil must not reach the high schools, it is important to maintain stability there. They will incite the younger students and make trouble. The worker are stable, but there is some potential for instability. The peasants present no problem.
This turmoil is a planned conspiracy. These people want to destroy China’s bright future. Their targets are the Party’s leadership and the socialist system.
Dialogue with them is possible, but it must be conducted properly, Otherwise, it would only fuel their egos. We must avoid bloodshed, but it may not be possible to avoid it entirely.
The turmoil now at hand is nationwide and must not be underestimated. We shall publish a strong editorial and strive to strengthen legislation. Unfortunately, we have lost much time. Now they are using their constitutional rights to struggle against us. But we have ten regulations in Beijing that we will use to contain them. We must prepare for a nationwide struggle and suppress this turmoil. Otherwise, there will be no peace under heaven.
I have told George Bush that if China permitted demonstrations, with so many people, it would be far too chaotic. We could never get anything done.
They are using the same old tactics used by troublemakers during the Cultural Revolution. If they succeed, all the work we have done toward reform will come to a halt, almost overnight.
Now 60,000 students are boycotting classes in Beijing, while 100,000 are not. We should support these 100,000 and win over most of the others 60,000. The workers, peasants, and the cadres all support us. The other parties existing under our system are good too.
And, we have several million PLA soldiers!
Comrade Yaobang made mistakes, but now that he is dead we speak of his good side…
He did many good things, such as supporting the reforms, but this does not mean that he is without mistakes. He was weak and yielded to the bourgeois liberal trend. His economic policies were also wrong. If we had adopted his plan, inflation would be much worse than it is now.
The honor given to his memorial service was more than sufficient. Some people wanted us to call him a “Great Marxist.”
None of us deserves that honor. You should not use it for me when I am dead.
We must quickly put an end to this turmoil. The more the Poles gave in, the greater their turmoil became. The opposition is very powerful in Poland, and there is Solidarity.
In the past, we have not sufficiently emphasized the four Cardinal Principles and adherence to the people’s democratic dictatorship.
We cannot do without them.
Have they not come in Handy now?