before the 20th anniversary of the bloody Chinese government crackdown on
demonstrators at Tiananmen Square, the leader ousted for opposing the crackdown
has broken his silence, with a posthumous memoir that condemns the 1989 killings
as a "tragedy."
In 1989, Zhao Ziyang was the highest-ranking leader in
the country - the chief of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
last seen in public in May of that year, pleading with student demonstrators to
leave Tiananmen Square. He knew at the time that he had lost a power struggle to
hard-line rivals. Shortly after that appearance, he was stripped of his power.
He remained under house arrest until his death in 2005.Testimony was
During the last 15 years of his life, though, he
managed to secretly record more than 30 hours of taped testimony, which were
eventually smuggled out of the country. The tapes have been condensed into
"Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Premier Zhao Ziyang," which is
being published this month in Chinese and English.
Bao Pu is a Hong
Kong-based publisher and the son of Zhao's former top aide, Bao Tong. His New
Century Press is publishing the Chinese edition of the book.
Bao says at
one point, Zhao said he never wanted to be the Party General Secretary who shot
at the people. He says hearing Zhao's voice saying those words is shocking and
impressive.Publisher: Zhao wanted to give his version of
Bao says Zhao apparently wanted to give his version of the
events, to challenge the Communist Party's official condemnation of the
Tiananmen protest as a counter-revolutionary rebellion.
Zhao had pleaded
with senior Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping not to use force against demonstrators
in Tiananmen Square, whose numbers had been growing as the weeks dragged
on.Memoir offers intimate details of tragic event
says on the night of June 3, while sitting in the courtyard with his family, he
heard what he described as intense gunfire. He said "a tragedy to shock the
world had not been averted, and was happening after all."
The gunfire he
heard was government troops firing on protesters around Tiananmen Square,
actually in the early hours of June 4. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of people,
The Chinese government has said the demonstrations were
aimed against the government, and has not indicated it is ready to change its
Meanwhile, Zhao's first person account will offer more intimate
details on the struggles within the Communist party leading up to the crackdown