23 Year Remembrance of Tiananmen Square – May 27th 1989, Beijing China

Written by Diane Gatterdam

Twenty-three years ago on this day Saturday May 27th 1989, a summit meeting of movement leaders and intellectuals was held outside the Square.

Chai Ling finally relented and agreed that the student’s cause would be best served by leaving the Square. It was decided that before making the strategic retreat back to their university campuses to continue a struggle in “a new form”, protesters should hold one last face-saving rally on May 30th.

As soon as news of this agreement reached the Square, the out-of-town students were upset and said that the plan was a “sell-out”.

They urged the protesters to remain until the Standing Committee of the National Peoples Congress met in June 20th.

Li Lu grew agitated. “It’s too dangerous,” he yelled. “If we leave, they’ll stop the NPC. Beijing will be under army control. We won’t be able to demonstrate. They’ll surround the colleges and block the exits. They’ll throw us in jail. You’re talking defeat. They’ve given us nothing we asked for. All our hopes will be gone!”

Li Lu turned angrily to Wang Juntao. “What’s going on here?” he snapped. “The Capital Joint Liaison Group has no power to make a decision like this.”

Rumors that blacklists were being prepared by the government and the threat of long prison terms made many students reluctant to give up the protection that their togetherness in the Square gave them.

Lu Li wondered, he was 23 and how many years would he spend in prison, and that student leaders like him may be sentenced to 15 to 20 years. They would be over 40 years old when they would come out.

Pressured by Li Lu and others, Chai Ling began to reconsider her position to leave the square. She broke down in tears.

Later that day, a press conference was held in the Square to announce a ten-point statement decided at the early meeting. All the students, old and new, attended, as well as the intellectual groups.

People were grabbing pens and added new wording to the ten-point statement, then someone else would cross them it out again.

By the time Wang Dan read the statement at a press conference that evening, the paper was a mass of illegible scribbles.

When Wang Dan reached the eighth point, he paused for a moment, then softly read on, “It has been proposed to the Capital Joint Liaison Group that the students evacuate Tiananmen Square on May 30.”

He then walked away from the microphone and handed in his resignation.

Pandemonium broke out.

Another emergency conclave, another rewrite. When the students final emerged, the document had been rewritten again stating:

“Unless a special meeting of the National People’s Congress is convened in the next few days, the occupation of the square will continue until June 20.”

After the press conference Li Lu, Chai Ling, Feng Congde and Zhang Boli met and summed up the work they had done in the past few days.

Corruption had emerged among the middle level students leaders. Some were power hungry. Others were not responsible. Zhang Boli would examine the work and the people at the broadcast station and make some decisions.

They also decided to start a broadcasting “Free Forum” two hours during which anyone could say anything.

On the night of May 27th Deng Xiaoping held a meeting at his house with the other senior leaders and determine that Jiang Zemin would be Zhao Ziyang’s successor and CCP General Secretary.

A most important item happened a few days earlier, 8 art colleges had offered to build a statue which was to be called “The Goddess of Democracy”. The student headquarters had given them 7,000 Yuan for supplies and the artists were now working on it.

They decided to set up a Democracy University under the statue.

Though they couldn’t yet launch a frontal attack on the government, they could make Tiananmen Square the fount of democracy in China, a college to cultivate talented people and leaders, a base for a future democracy on the in the country….

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