REVELATIONS

Thirty years after the massacre, a book reveals the transcripts of the speeches of party leaders before the military intervention on the protesters: “We all agree”

by Guido Santevecchi, correspondent in Beijing

“We must kill those who must be killed, condemn those who must be condemned,” said the old revolutionary and vice-president Wang Zhen in the hall of an imperial building in Zhongnanhai, a few dozen meters from Tiananmen Square. The massacre had already been completed and the Party leaders were discussing how to deal with it.

Everything was decided behind the ruby red walls that shield from view Zhongnanhai, the headquarters of the communist power, once an imperial garden next to the Forbidden City. Deng Xiaoping was there with his fellow comrades when in mid-April 1989 the first groups of citizens began to flow into Tiananmen Square to accumulate (under the Monument for the Heroes of the People) flowers and poems in memory of Hu Yaobang, the former Party secretary ousted for liberalism who had died of a heart attack on April 15th. It was in Zhongnanhai that martial law was declared on May 18, when the movement now called for reforms, the end of corruption and censorship, and the departure of the “old” clinging to power even after retirement. It was from Zhongnanhai that the order was given to the soldiers to “clean up” the square on the night between 3rd and 4th June: the massacre with machine guns and tanks.

Thirty years later, the censorship continues to cancel any memorial attempts in Beijing. But in Hong Kong, which maintains its semi-democratic autonomy, a book has just been published with the — so far secret — transcripts of the speeches given by the members of the Politburo in those days.

The Last Secret: the final documents from the June Fourth crackdown is based on transcriptions preserved and filtered by an official present at the discussion. It is not known how many were the participants in that meeting of the Politburo, extended to the “old ex-managers” who still maneuvered behind the scenes, the ones that the students had hoped to let go of the scene forever. There are 17 entries. All began by proclaiming: “I completely agree”, “I absolutely support” Comrade Deng Xiaoping’s decision to mobilize the army “to end anti-party riots and counter-revolutionary acts”.

Wang, who was asking for sentences and executions , was supported by Xu Xiangqian, former Grand Marshal of the Liberation Army: “The facts have proved that the confusion and the riots are due to the connection between internal and foreign forces, the result of the revival of the bourgeoisie that its objective was the establishment of a vassal anticommunist regime of Western powers “.

The million students and citizens who had been in Tiananmen Square for fifty days were branded by Peng Zhen, former president of the Central Committee of the People’s Congress, as “a small group that, collaborating with foreign forces, wanted to break down the cornerstones of our Country”. A theme taken up by many: “Forty years ago the US Secretary of State Dulles said that the hope of restoring capitalism in China was placed in the third and fourth generation born after our Revolution: we must not allow the prophecy to come true”.

Corriere della Sera, June 1, 2019