I wrote my book “Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievements” first of all to refute Tiananmen butcher Li Peng’s argument in his book of self-defense that China owes the massacre for its prosperity decades later.
Time is changing. Li Peng will perhaps remain stubborn and stick to his impudent argument, but the number of people supporting his view has kept falling sharply. Hong Kong media, including Singtao Daily and SCMP, recently reported that Chen Xitong, is now trying hard in his recent memoir to make people believe that his role in the massacre has been exaggerated. Chen Xitong is another Tiananmen butcher who previously had the highest rate of exposure in public to show off his contributions to the massacre.
First, Chen denies that he was the chief commander of the massacre by playing with words. He was perhaps not formally assigned the job, but as Beijing mayor, he was obviously in charge of the operation then. That is why Li Peng regarded him as that in Li’s book.
Second, Chen alleged that the report he delivered to the NPC Standing Committee on the Massacre in his capacity as a state councillor and Beijing Mayor was not drafted by him, and that he was only responsible for “reading it.” Officials of his rank seldom write their speeches themselves. His speech was so important an attempt to justify the massacre that it was certainly prepared by the Party’s best penmen, and checked repeatedly by top leaders. The fact that he was chosen to read such an important report for the Party proved his important role in the massacre, and his pleasure in being chosen to play that role.
Third, Chen denies that Deng Xiaoping was affected by his exaggeration of the threat of the student movement and finally decided to give the order of suppression. He is playing with words again. He cannot deny he indeed tried to mislead Deng by exaggerating the threat but tries to make people believe his words did not play such a decisive role, as Deng had other sources of information. It is common sense that the top leader has quite a few sources of information, such as the departments of state security, public security and military information and the official media. But information direct from Beijing, the site of the movement, certainly played a vital role.
Chen cannot deny that he intended to urge Deng to deal with the movement using troops, by exaggerating the threat. At that time, he believed that he would be regarded as a hero in the Party’s history for saving the Party’s rule from collapse. Seeing the trend of development both at home and abroad, he regrets now as he realises that it is impossible for the Party to maintain its hard-line attitude towards the movement. Sooner or later, the Party has to admit is errors or the Party will not be able to maintain its survival.
He now alleges that, if handled in a more appropriate manner, it was possible to avoid bloodshed in the incident. However, he failed to mention what the manner should be, and whether he had made any efforts to handle the incident in that manner. In fact, in directing the massacre, he never told the 300,000 troops to just arrest the protesters by their overwhelming number, but ordered them to use live fire.
SCMP quotes publisher Bao Pu’s words that regard the memoirs as rare historical materials on the situation, and believes the book can reopen debate about June 4 ahead of the 23rd anniversary of the crackdown. I do not think so. In fact, there is nothing worth debate about June 4. Its nature and success are very clear now. The book at best provides us with evidence that those who have tried to justify the massacre are surrendering. Except Li Peng, no one wants to be regarded as a Tiananmen butcher in Chinese history.Read SCMP’s report