Zhaos Ghost Haunts Tiananmen Anniversary

May 19, 1989. Zhao Ziyang addresses the student hunger strikers through a megaphone at dawn, in one of the buses on Tiananmen Square in which protesters sheltered. Photo: AFP/Files

HONG KONG—As pro-democracy activists in China, ordinary people in Hong Kong and Chinese communities overseas mark the 16th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, they will also be remembering Zhao Ziyang, the Communist Party general secretary who lost everything in 1989 and died earlier this year.

"Zhao Ziyang was the only person among the top Chinese leadership who had sympathy for the students' point of view," U.S.-based democracy activist Wang Min told RFA's Mandarin service.

Zhao Ziyang was the only person among the top Chinese leadership who had sympathy for the students' point of view.

"In the year of his death, we will be remembering this man, as well as remembering the anniversary of June 4. He will be fairly judged by the Chinese people." More about Zhao's death

Calls for a re-assessment of the crackdown

Zhao's ghost has lingered since his tightly controlled funeral in January, surfacing in recent days with the accusations of spying against Hong Kong journalist Ching Cheong, China correspondent for Singapore's Straits Times newspaper. More about Ching Cheong

His former aide, Bao Tong, usually an outspoken critic of Beijing, appears to have been cut off from contact with the outside world entirely this year. Bao has written major eulogies to his former boss and political mentor. Read some of Bao Tong's writings

Some Chinese activists overseas point to growing dissatisfaction among ordinary people with rampant official corruption among Communist Party officials, and a widening gap between rich and poor, which has left many in extreme hardship. Veteran Chinese dissident Liu Binyan on social instability

California-based painter and activist Lin Muchen pointed to a growing trend among Party members and youth leaguers to resign their membership.

Activists, relatives protest tight security

"The resignation movement is really a recognition on the part of ordinary people, Party members included, that the crimes of the Chinese Communist Party are really too great to be forgiven now," Lin told RFA.

"The Party really has no positive value to speak of now, only negative value."

The crimes of the Chinese Communist Party are really too great to be forgiven now.

China's growing body of petitioners—ordinary people who have pursued complaints of official wrongdoing, often for years with no result—were among those who tried to pay their respects to Zhao after his death in Beijing following 15 years of house arrest. Petitioners attempt to mourn Zhao

Zhao's death also prompted a wave of tributes on RFA's listener call-in programs. Read our coverage

Zhao was deeply and publicly mourned in Hong Kong, which still enjoys greater freedom of expression than mainland China. Hong Kong will mark the 16th anniversary of the June 4 bloodshed with a traditional vigil in the city's Victoria Park Saturday. Last year's ceremony

Original reporting in Mandarin by C.K. in Los Angeles, and RFA's Mandarin service, directed by Jennifer Chou. Produced and translated for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie.


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