Written by Diane Gatterdam
Twenty-three years ago on this day Sunday April 30th 1989, Zhao Ziyang returned from North Korea, and was meet at the train station by Li Peng, Qiao Shi, Tian Jinun and Wen Jiabao. Zhao told them he wanted to hold a meeting of the Politburo Standing Committee the next day to analyze the student movement and discuss strategy.
On April 29th and 30th Universities in Beijing were calmer than elsewhere in the country. Students in most schools were still boycotting classes, and student leaders had turned their attention to planning their next moves. Many students were eagerly anticipating the upcoming anniversary of May 4th.
The student movement had become the international issue of greatest concern to the western media.
From April 16-30th:
-The New York Times carried 18 articles or editorials on China.
-The Washington Post – 16
-The Baltimore Sun – 13
-Three major television networks in the United States each gave the April 27th demonstrations 2 minutes of air-time.
-The press in other western countries behaved similarly
All the press coverage was slanted toward the students and the media noted the Party’s “Loss of control.” Images of smiling policemen, students climbing on Military vehicles to explain democracy to the soldiers and citizens donating cash to the demonstrators created a favorable impression.
The Western media exaggerated the significance of the movement, treating it as a result of a deep popular dissatisfaction with the government.
Western media urged the government to avoid repression, to accept the Student’s criticisms, and undertake democratic reforms. ABC television called the Chinese Government a “Paper Tiger.”
The negative Western press response to the April 26th editorial helped mobilize Chinese Students abroad to go to Chinese embassies to protest the editorial.
A Washington Post editorial expressed hope for the collapse of Communism in China!
Both Wang Dan and Wu’er Kaixi went underground on this day and in their absence students elected Feng Congde to be the interim chairman of the Student Federation.
A decision was also made to form a new Dialogue Delegation to seek and prepare for a formal dialogue with the government.
The fake dialogue made them even more determined to pressure the government to talk with genuine student leaders.