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Dear Yang Rui of CCTV’s “English language” aka “international” channel, CCTV-9, the most intelligence-insulting, dumbest f—ing TV channel in the world:
In light of your current troubles in the People’s Republic of China, and also considering your extraordinary talent for being stupid on TV under the pretense of journalism, I hereby invite you to escape to the USA for political asylum.
My fiancee Hypatia de la Pink will be waiting for you with a dish of Chinese-made Italian-noodle-for-Foreigner, at the Kit Kat Klub (KKK) in Chinatown, Idaho, USA, third booth from the left.
Written by Diane Gatterdam
Twenty-three years ago on this day Monday May 22nd 1989, the waiting game between the students and the government dragged on and the morale of the students started to plummet, and a growing number of students began to abandon the Square.
After 6 weeks of occupation, the Squares hundreds of acres were heaped with deepening piles of trash and garbage.
It’s makeshift shelters tattered and the buses in which the student had been living, were filthy and inhospitable. In the now, ninety-degree heat, the latrine situation had gone from bad to worse.
The Square looked and smelled more like a squatters camp than the headquarters of an idealistic political movement.
Deng Xiaoping’s son Deng Pufang was rumored to have dispatched representatives to the square to warn of another military assault and council protesters to retreat quickly if the wished to avoid bloodshed.
Fearing that the hard-liners would be harsher that ever after their embarrassing failure, and after 2 days of martial law, Wu’er Kaixi made an impassioned speech on the Square urging the students to retreat to the embassy area a dew blocks away for safety.
Although Wu’er Kaixi had been expelled from the Beijing Students Autonomous Federation earlier, most people still regarded him as the public face of that organization.
Wang Chaohua had been working hard in the last couple of days to resurrect the organization as the student leadership.
Wu’er Kaixi left the square and moved to the Jimen Hotel, about ten kilometers west of the Square, which became the new center of activity because many of the intellectuals had moved there.
Wu’er Kaixi and Wang Dan spent most of the their time there now.
The intellectuals were interested in helping set up a secret publishing system to combat the government propaganda should there be a crackdown. They thought that the government would not last more that a few days if people among the country were told about its use of violence against the peaceful students.
Canadian reporters called Shen Tong, as they wanted to interview the student leaders, and when he went to their offices to make arrangements he saw a well-known Chinese television journalist working as a translator there which meant the reporters both Chinese and foreign were continuing to work despite the martial law order.
After suggesting that they interview Wang Chaohua, he went to the Square to look for her, but was told she had left with Wu’er Kaixi and the other Federation students.
While in the Square Shen Tong saw six yellow jacket high tech helicopters, which had been used in the massacre in Tibet, flying overhead dropping leaflets warning the student to evacuate. Everyone was shocked and angered by the loud sounding blades sputtering overhead, and after reading the government leaflets, the students pointed at the helicopters and shouted obscenities.
“I am worried about the square,” Shen Tong said, most of the students left there now are from outside the city. The hunger strikers who monitor the place told me that more than 70% are from out of town. They have no place to go, no plans at all.”
During the day, former hunger strike leaders returned and Zhang Boli suggested that they needed to form a new leadership. He persuaded Wang Chaohua to take her Federation off-site for reorganization and promised her that she would regain the leadership in 48 hours with a stronger Federation.
Meanwhile, he engineered the formation of a “Provisional Headquarters” and installed Chai Ling as the Commander-in-Chief. Indeed, the new headquarters would look exactly the same as the defunct Hunger Strike Headquarters, with Li Lu, Feng Congde, and Zhang Boli acting as the main deputies to Chai Ling.
The student leaders now permanently split.
Beneath the surface appearance of inactivity, the army was busy. Having learned how difficult it would be for unarmed troops to reach Tiananmen Square by way of a frontal assault, military commanders began covertly funneling bands of uninformed soldiers into key locations.
At the same time, undercover operatives were dispatched around Beijing to gather intelligence about the student morale, the locations of barricades, the activities of the new workers federation and the general mood among the populace.
Deng Xiaoping who had made no public appearances since Gorbachev’s departure, was reported to have flown to Wuhan to gather up 200.000 fresh troops and set up a command center in Central China just in case control of Beijing was lost.
His new strategy was to mobilize detachment for all of China’s seven military regions, thereby reducing his reliance on any one group army in which an insubordinate commander might complicate his plans.
The Beijing Government and Martial Law Headquarters issued a joint announcement on May 22, describing chaotic conditions in Beijing and making five requests of the public:
Military headquarters issued a letter to all officers and soldiers, extending regards and seeking to boost their morale.
May 22 was also the day that Zhao Ziyang, who still did not know that the Party elders had decided to dismiss him, returned to his office after his three-day leave.
He found no documents to read and no work to do. He had already been cut off from all news of the student movement, martial law, and everything else.
At the same time the Standing Committee of the Politburo has sent out telegrams summoning important provincial leaders to Beijing to hear about Zhao’s dismissal….
Written by Diane Gatterdam
Twenty-three years ago on this day Sunday May 21st 1989, it was clear that most of the troops had been prevented from reaching the heart of Beijing and this news gave a great sense of euphoria to the students in the square. Just before dawn students played Schiller’s “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony over the their public address system at the monument.
Once again the brave people of Beijing held the soldiers at bay on the outskirts of the city.
At day-break, hundreds of thousands of festive people spilled into the streets and milled joyfully though the Square congratulating each other, trading news and passing out leaflets.
But in the student headquarters the mood was different. The situation was critical.
Reports said that the army’s inability to enter the city had infuriated Li Peng, Yang Sangkung and the other old officials. If the army could not enter the city, those at the top would lose face, and a coup against them would be possible.
To show that they were in firm control, they ordered the army to be in the square by 1:00am.
Helicopters circled in the air: several hundred more were reported nearby. Civilian planes stopped flying. All underground transport closed, and the underground trains were used for moving army units.
Over 3,500 soldiers had already gathered in the railway station close to Tiananmen Square, ready to come into the Square that night.
Zhangnanhai received reports detailing unprecedented levels of protest among Chinese students overseas. In the US the Association of the Chinese Students and Scholars went to the Chinese consulate in New York to deliver an open letter urging China to block the impending military crackdown on the student movement.
Two strangers introduced themselves to Li Lu as a professor at the Air Force and a former paratrooper. Both had taken part in the suppression of the Tiananmen Incident in1976, but now they stood on the side of the students. They told him how the Square had been cleared that time, and that there was a big network of tunnels that lead in all directions from the center of the city and leaders could go and in and out at will.
An influx of new supply came to the Square via Hong Kong donations from groups there. Red and Blue tent, food, and other necessities were handed out. The Square became a sea of red and blue.
Chai Ling, Li Lu, Feng Congde and other hunger strike leaders had now taken over as the only student leaders on the Square, the Federation student leaders went back to Beida.
Chai Ling called a meeting that afternoon and discusses preparations for a compete defeat, and if that happened there would be arrests and killings.
They talked about how they would organize more strikes and soon have to go underground. They talked about setting up code names, passwords, and liaison places and would first run to an area within 100 kilometers of Beijing and then further the next day.
After this meeting things became silent as they realized that that they would soon be experiencing life as wanted criminals.
When leaving Li Lu again meet up with his girl friend who had come for Tianjin to find him. He was happy to see her and gave her a long kiss. Chai Ling suggested that they get married right then and there on the square.
The mock wedding was broadcast over the loudspeakers and the students celebrated as a symbol of hope and happiness.
That night the students were expecting the army to move in a 1:00am.
Student leaders had an emergency conference where they agreed that apart from a few key personnel, all would leave and go underground. Lu Li chose to stay, although his new wife was forced to leave with Chai Ling.
As 1:00am came and went the government announced of the loudspeakers that the army would come and clear the Square at 5:00am.
As the students woke, and still no movement by the government on the Square…..
Written by Diane Gatterdam
Twenty-three years ago on this day Saturday May 20th 1989, it was a hot, sultry day, and the day that Beijing was placed under martial law.
All forms of public protest would be banned, all journalist prohibited from entering the martial law area of jurisdiction and troops would be authorized to handle the situation “forcefully.”
Li Peng’s statement was met by choruses of booing and chanting in the square- “Down with the government, down with Li Peng.”
With the 2 million people that poured into he streets the night before, the troop transports were confronted by barricades constructed out of traffic-lane dividers, public buses, booths from street markets, dumpsters, and concrete sewer pipes, as well as throngs of ordinary people.
Pyjama-clad patients from one hospital were reported to have left their sick beds in order to form a human blockade. Some people went so far as to lie down in the middle of the street to prevent convoys from passing.
Columns of troop trucks and supply vehicles were soon halted and backed up for miles.
Meanwhile thousands of Beijinger’s returned to the Square itself to provide psychological support and to bring food, drinks, clean clothing, wet gauze for face masks in case if the troops fired tear gas, and even a new generator for the students’ sound system.
Thousands of workers streamed into the Square as a general strike was called by the Autonomous workers Union.
Several hundred editors and reporters took to the streets under a People’s Daily banner, distributing copies of an “extra” edition of the paper as they went.
The students met in their different fractured groups to talk about the next step.
Both Shen Tong and Chai Ling gave speeches reminding the students that this was a non-violent protest, as Helicopters fly over the Square.
The student leaders from the hunger strike also had now taken off their headbands and badges and all had “student bodyguards” following them everywhere. Chai Ling also started to wear a doctor’s coat.
Students take an oath in the Square to defend it.
Rumors were running rampant in the Square about the troops and their movement and students were waiting scared that any moment the troops would take the Square.
Troops had been reported to have entered the Forbidden City, the Museum of History and the Great Hall of the People (all three surround the Square). Student were talking about plain-clothes soldiers mixing in with the students on the Square. It now was difficult to just walk into the Square as student marshals were posted in the Square checking student credentials. Even some of the leaders had to fight their way in.
Zhao Hongliang from the Beijing Autonomous Federation of Workers
Reports reached Li Peng and other leaders that the Beijing Autonomous Federation of Workers had organized hundreds of motorcyclists into a “Flying Tiger Group” to provide students and citizens in the Square and around the city with news about martial law and related topics. The report said that “this so-called Flying Tiger Group” had been formed by lawless people in society, “we must use resolute measures to disband it or the consequences could be catastrophic.”
As the night progressed, crowds in the Square waited anxiously for news.
Just after midnight student loudspeakers came to life. “Students! The people of Beijing have stopped the advance of the PLA at the Hujialau intersection!” A few seconds went by as the true impact of the momentous news began to dawn on the exhausted students in the Square. Then a joyous roar of triumph went up all around.
In Shanghai students were still holding a hunger strike at the main government building and set up the Statue of Liberty in front of the main door.
In China’s provinces, 132 cities held demonstrations across the county.
Written by Diane Gatterdam
Twenty-one years ago on this day Friday May 19th 1989, at 4:00 am in the morning, Zhao Ziyang, who for so many years had faithfully followed the dictates of the Party decided to break Party discipline, and what turned out to be his last public appearance before he was put under house arrest, came out on the Square to talk with the students.
Without permission from either the Poliburo or Deng, left for the Square. He was so fatigued from the previous day that when he finally got there, he hardly seemed to know what to do.
As he stepped from his chauffeur-driven car, his face was as gray as his Mao suit.
To his annoyance he realized that he had been followed by Li Peng, whose appearance in the Square seemed ridiculous as Li was so thoroughly despised by the students.
With Li behind him like a shadow, Zhao walked toward the fleet of city buses in which the hunger strikers were living.
Students groggily sat up to see what the commotion was and realized that Party’s General Secretary and the Premier were outside, some assumed that the government had at last yielded to their demands, and began applauding and reaching out the window to shake Zhao hand.
Zhao boarded the trash-strewn bus and started to talk with the students. Awkwardly, Li also tried to make small talk with the students, but sensing how unwelcome he was, or fearful that he would be compromised on camera by a breach of Party discipline, he mysteriously departed after only a few minutes.
Moving to the doorway of the bus as crowds of excited students gathered around, Zhao began to speak through a small orange-colored battery powered bullhorn.
“I just want to say a few words to you students, I have come too late.” Too late, he said as tears welled up in his eyes.
“But you have finally come,” said one student.
“I am sorry, fellow students, I don’t come to ask you to excuse us. All I want to say is that because your fast has entered the 7th day, students are now physically very week, and this situation simply cannot go on.”
As Zhao spoke, a video cameraman caught the faces of the several headbanded hunger strikers around him.
Like Zhao, their faces looked gray, their eyes were hooded with exhaustion and lips chapped from lack of sleep.
“I know your fasting is aimed at winning satisfactory answers to the demand you have put forward to the government and the Party. I think that satisfactory answers are obtainable. You should understand however, that resolution of such problems is complicated, and more time is needed. But since you hunger strike reaching the 7th day, you must not persist.”
He made one more appeal for them to leave the Square.
“I know that you comrades all have the best of intentions to do something beneficial for the country, but if this strike continues and get out of control, the consequences could be very serious.”
It was obvious that Zhao knew this was his final farewell. His tone was made desperate by his awareness that whatever happened to him, if the student did not relent, they would soon confront troops.
“Are you going to give up you lives?” he finally asked, “please think about this in a rational way.”
The students crowed around him asking him to sign notebooks, umbrellas, t-shirts, what ever they had.
This appearance in the Square won him popular sympathy, but it was clear that this trip ended any chance he still had of surviving with the Party leadership.
Beijing woke up to see Zhao’s appearance in the Square with the students on TV.
Rumors swept through the capital that troops that were on the outskirts of the city would move in.
Not only were the student and the intellectuals in a state of rebellion but that day Han Dongfang and the Beijing Autonomous Worker’s Federation (BAWF) called for a general strike.
A report was sent to Zhongnanhai from the Railway Ministry that a total of 56,888 students had entered the city on 165 trains between May 16th and May 19th, most of them demanding rides without tickets. Some students blocked the tracks in Wuhan and Fuzhou.
Shen Tong, Wu’er Kaixi, Wang Dan, Xiang Xiaoji and Wang Chaohua were summoned to the United Front Department. When they got there was a nice meal and it was almost a party atmosphere very relaxed.
For the first time in weeks, many of the students in the room were well fed and reclining on comfortable sofas, and Wu’er Kaixi was making everyone laugh.
The students decided that they had to end the fast and so they went back to the square where they looked for Chai Ling.
Chai Ling would only come out of the bus after a meeting began to discuss how they would tell the student they were ending the strike.
She immediately got into a heated argument with Wu’er Kaixi, she was upset about who would announce this news and while they were arguing, Wang Chaohua and Shen Tong walked to the broadcast station at the monument and made the announcement.
The students in the leadership command bus were not happy about this.
It was past 9:00 pm when Chai Ling called a press conference and announced that the hunger strike was ending and becoming a peaceful sit-in.
Her husband Feng Congde was hysterical when he heard the hunger strike was ending and he and Chai Ling got into a huge fight and had to be pulled apart by Li Lu.
That night Li Lu also spotted his girlfriend from Nanjing, Zhao Ming who came to find him.
Although the citizens of Beijing did not know it, at dusk on the evening of May 19th an extraordinary joint meeting of officials from the Central Committee, the State Council, the Beijing Municipal Government and key military commanders was convened in the cloistered confines of the Beijing Military Region headquarters.
With the exception of Zhao Ziyang, every high-ranking Party, government and military leader was there.
When their deliberation finally ended around 10:00 pm, loudspeakers in the Square crackled to life, and the shrill vice of Li Peng reverberated out to the fasting students.
At the same time, the regular television programming was interrupted and a grim-faced Li flickered onto Beijing screens.
“Comrades, anarchy is becoming more and more serious, law and discipline is being violated” he began.
“If we do not promptly bring this standoff to an end and instead just let things go on a situation that no one wants to see develop will very likely emerge.”
Shaking his fist in the air, Li asserted, “It’s becoming clearer and clearer that an extremely small handful of people want to achieve their political goal of negating the socialist system. Undermining the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, overthrowing the government and totally negating the people’s democratic dictatorship through turmoil.
If they should achieve their goals, reform and the open door policy, our democratic legal system and socialist modernization will go up in smoke, and China will undergo a historical reversal.”
“As a result”, said Li, “the government has decided to take decisive and firm measures in order to put a swift end to the turmoil, to protect the leadership of the Party, and to protect the socialist system.”
The crowd in the Square went berserk! People started waving their fists shouting “Down with Li Peng”
The students started puncturing the tires on all of the buses and removing the steering wheels so the army could not come and drive them out.
(THE NEXT MORNING MAY 20TH BEIJING WAS PUT UNDER MARTIAL LAW!)
On the evening of May 19th as troops in the suburbs began moving in, groups of hundreds of people on motorcycles calling themselves the “Flying Tigers” sped around Beijing sounding the alarm.
Given the absence of a real communications network, their warnings were crucial in turning out tens of thousands of people of all ages, and from all walks of life to block major arteries leading into the Square.
Some observers estimate that by dawn on the May 20th as many as 2 million citizens had taken to the streets……
You can see the Video of Zhai Ziyang speaking to the students in the Square here:
Could this be the distant cousin of Ivan’s fiancee, Hypatia de la Pink?
Tolerance smells like burning churches. Somebody nailed the word “hate”
to the Church’s fence along with other…how shall we say…”hostile” signs and rainbow balloons were attached to it.
…the church has received a number of menacing, obscenity laced phone calls, including one threatening to burn the church down.
Written by Diane Gatterdam
Twenty-three years ago on this day Thursday May 18th 1989, Mikhail Gorbachev leaves Beijing and with his exit went the protection the student had with him in the city. This student revolt was most embarrassing for the leaders, they truly ”lost face.”
CNN reporter- “We came here to cover a summit and we walked into a revolution.”
Around noon the sky darkened and torrential rain began to pour down, creating an atmosphere of eeriness. The heavy rain turned the area in front of Tiananmen Gate into a swamp of soggy, sinking rubbish.
Despite the Red Cross having brought in a fleet of buses, hungers strikers looked puffy and sick. Not only were they wet, but they had not taken a shower, shaved, brushed the teeth or changed their clothes, much less had a good nights sleep in 6 days.
Despite the downpour tens of thousands of workers and people continued to flow into the Square. The workers Autonomous Union was also growing across the street from the square.
When the Chinese people turned on their television sets that morning they saw their leaders in yet another unscripted TV appearance, this time trooping through a hospital ward full of bedridden students like generals reviewing wounded troops.
It was the kind of drama that would have astonished any viewing audience. Clearly, no one was more surprised to see this “show of compassion” than the patients themselves, awakened in the middle of the night by blinding klieg lights.
Zhao was clearly reaching out the students in sympathy, but Li seemed only to be going through the motions.
But even more shocking then this hospital visit, was the evening CCTV broadcast of a face–to-face real life drama/dialogue with the leaders and students in the Great Hall of the People. Zhao Ziyang was no were to be seen.
Li Peng played the lead role, sitting stone faced in an overstuffed armchair wearing a buttoned up gray Mao suit that was accessorized with nothing but nerdish grey hushpuppies. He was supported by Beijing’s hard-liners.
On the students side, Wang Dan in a leather jacket and hunger strikers head band, and just out of his hospital bed wearing striped pajamas after fainting in the Square, and a oxygen bag, Wu’er Kaixi.
(It doesn’t get better than this!)
(ONE OF MY FAVORITE MOMENTS, WU’ER KAIXI, A MAN AFTER MY OWN HEART!)
Eyewitness from student leader Wu’er Kaixi:
Right after I left the hospital, Wang Chaohua said to me, “Kaixi, let’s go and meet Li Peng.”
Ironically the meeting was held in the Xinjiang Room- (Kaixi is Uyghur, from Xinjiang an autonomous region of China in the northwest) in the Great Hall of the people.
“Upon entering, I saw nearly a company of fully armed soldiers guarding the meeting room. I greeted the soldiers and walked right in. I also wanted to slight Li Peng, so I didn’t stand up until he was in front of me. He stretched out his hand, and then I offered mine.
Before he turned around, I had already sat down. My anger only increased at the sight of the man. Since April 22, we had been pleading for a meeting with Li Peng, and it was not until May 22 exactly one month later, that a meeting was allow.”
“Li Peng told us that he had come “in a little late.” I interrupted him and said, “Not a little to late, but much too late.” He knew this was true and didn’t reply. I was really very upset, thinking that for to long China’s leaders have continued to behave as emperors who could lord over us.”
Chinese some times say, “To be met by the premier is the happiest moment in one’s life.” It is so difficulty for the Chinese to give up their habit of thanking the “Emperor” for his noblesse oblige.
I didn’t feel thankful to Li Peng. I felt that our respect for him should depend on his abilities, not on his official title.
People throughout the country were able to see for themselves how a 21-year-old man spoke as an equal, and spoke critically no less, to the premier of the nation.
We had the guts to do so because we had the truth on our side. People liked what we said because in it they heard an expression of their own anger at the government.
If Zhao Ziyang had been there, I would have said the same thing. If Deng Xiaoping had come, we would have been even harsher in our criticism.
At the end of the meeting I told Li, “You are not sincere at all.” The Government obviously does not want to talk to us either. Therefore, there is no point in our sitting here anymore.
My heart suddenly began to race. I feel back onto the sofa and tried to grab the oxygen bag, but I couldn’t reach it. I didn’t lose consciousness, I just felt faint and extremely weak. Then Wang Dan said, “Kaixi, lets go.”
I said, “Carry me out of here.” A stretcher came and carried me out, and I was immediately rushed to the hospital.”
(YOU CAN READ THE ENTIRE TRANSCRIPTS OF THE MEETING IN THE NEXT BLOG POST)
Also that day, published in the Beijing Youth News, results of a poll showing that 95% of those surveyed felt that the student movement was “ Patriotic” and 80% believed that the demonstrators would ultimately compel the government to give in and initiate democracy.