Written by Diane Gatterdam
Twenty-three years ago on this day Tuesday May 23nd 1989, the State Security Ministry reported on the situation in the Square, stating that only about 10,000 students were still sitting in, a majority of them from schools outside Beijing.
Martial law troops had not entered the city, and the mood among the students and onlookers was calm.
The students danced, sang, slept in their tents, or chatted in groups.
The AFS, students from outside Beijing, and the Beijing Workers Monitor Corps formed a joint coordinating organization, which announced by loudspeaker that it would keep the struggle going, maintain hygiene on the Square and send groups around the city to explain the students opposition to martial law and a demand for emergency meetings of the NPC Standing Committee and the Party Central Committee to remove Li Peng from office.
The student headquarters was now moved out the bus and back to the steps of the monument.
Around 2:00pm, four individuals threw ink-filled eggs at the official portrait of Mao Zedong on the Gate of Heavenly Peace. Students and onlooker seized the perpetrators and handed them over to Public Security. They also grabbed a foreign reporter’s camera to prevent him from taking a picture, telling him that it would not be in the interest of the student movement to have it taken.
The portrait was cleaned
During the day the Chinese Red Cross issued an urgent appeal. It asked health units to continue to station themselves in the Square to help the demonstrators and asked that garbage be cleared away to reduce the risk of epidemic disease. To alleviate crowding it suggested the student should withdraw, and the government should facilitate this, should keep open the channels of dialogue, and should carry out no future retribution.
A group of students called for the cancellation of martial law, removal of the troops, and convening the NPC Standing Committee and the Party Congress. In return, the students should withdraw from the Square, restoring normal order.
This withdrawal would not be a retreat but would advance the democracy movement to a new stage.
The proposal drew support of sixty Beida University professors.
When Yuan Mu received the report of the Red Cross’s appeal and the students’ proposal, he felt it painted the students in too favorable a light. He also asked, “What business does the Red Cross have doing the governments job?”
He passed his concerns on to Li Peng.
The demonstrations that took place on May 23erd were the largest since martial law.
Bus and subway lines had been partly restored to operation, and things were calming down in the city.
About 300,000 people marched though parts of Beijing. The marchers were student from outside Beijing and people from all professions, culture, finance, science and technology, industry, journalism, and government joined them.
The main slogans called for Li Peng’s resignation and the cancellation of martial law.
Around 4:00 pm there was a violent rainstorm that broke up some of the columns of marchers.
The Beijing Railway Station reported that about 10,000 students entered the city on May 23rd from all provinces, the largest group coming from Henan.
At 10:00 pm the State Security Ministry reported that some 30 intellectuals at a meeting in the Political Science Institute of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, issued a declaration attacking Li Peng for trying to use military force.
Wang Juntao, Wang Dan and others discussed coordination between the students and the intellectuals. Bao Zunxin read a statement called “The final battle between light and darkness” hailing the student movement as unprecedented in Chinese history and spelling the end of the Old China, and opening a new era of harmony and democracy.
Chinese students in Miami Florida march in solidarity with the Students in Beijing on this day.
The movement would have to press ahead until Li Peng was removed….