Ex-mayor says he regrets Tiananmen
THE DISGRACED former mayor of Beijing, Chen Xitong, has described the military crackdown on the Tiananmen Square democracy protesters in 1989 as an “avoidable tragedy” and says he regrets the loss of life.
In a book by a retired scholar due to be published this week, Mr Chen denies being directly responsible for the massacre, in which hundreds were killed after tanks rolled in on democracy activists in Beijing.
The remarks represent one of the most public revisions yet of what happened in 1989 by someone long seen as one of the chief backers of the military assault.
The book is a series of eight interviews with Mr Chen by the scholar Yao Jianfu, and it has been circulating among some English-language outlets in the past few days. In Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post newspaper, the 81-year-old claims he knew only little about the decisions made behind the scenes and insists he was only following orders.
“Nobody should have died if it was handled properly,” Mr Chen told Mr Yao. “Several hundred people died on that day. As the mayor, I felt sorry. I hoped we could have solved the case peacefully. Many things are still not clear, but I believe one day the truth will come out.”
Along with Beijing’s Communist Party secretary at the time, Li Ximing, who died in 2008, Mr Chen is held responsible among ordinary citizens in Beijing for getting the army to send in the People’s Liberation Army tanks on the night of June 3rd-4th.