'Aloof Li Peng mishandled Tiananmen'

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 May, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 May, 1999, 12:00am

National People's Congress Chairman Li Peng should be held responsible for mishandling of the pro-democracy movement, leading to the 'condemnable' June 4 military crackdown, a former director of Hong Kong's Xinhua office said yesterday.

'Mr Li, who [as premier at the time] was entrusted to negotiate with students' representatives to diffuse the crisis, was taking a very aloof attitude in dialogue and had ultimately pushed the students to a more confrontational stance,' Xu Jiatun said in an interview with Hong Kong Cable TV.

'The students and the public are the masters of the Communist Party, but Mr Li was not listening to their views.' He said it was even worse that the Communist Party resorted to guns and tanks to silence its masters.

Mr Xu said that at a meeting with disgraced party boss Zhao Ziyang during the student demonstrations in May 1989, Mr Zhao had expressed optimism over the protests, saying they would have a positive impact on the country's reform and modernisation drive.

Mr Xu, who defected to the United States after the 1989 crackdown, has joined the chorus of appeals for a reversal of the official verdict that the demonstrations were a 'counter-revolutionary rebellion'.

He angered authorities in Beijing in 1989 when he failed to condemn Hong Kong protesters demonstrating against the crackdown.

Meanwhile, 90 activists in the northern city of Xian have applied for official permission to hold a candle-light vigil to mark the 10th anniversary of the massacre.

'Five of us went to hand in our application to the Xian city public security bureau,' the US-based Human Rights in China quoted the dissident, Lin Hai, as saying.

The application requested permission to hold a commemoration on the evening of June 4.

Following the demonstrations in 1989, Beijing introduced the National Demonstration Law, requiring all citizens wishing to stage protests to apply with local police five days in advance.

Regarding his application, Mr Lin said: 'One official I spoke to told me that maybe our application would not be approved, but that we would get a formal response next Monday.' Yesterday, 50 dissidents who applied to hold a similar gathering in eastern Hangzhou city had their application rejected by local authorities, the Hong Kong-based Information Centre of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China reported.