Tiananmen Square crackdown

'Li Peng Tiananmen book blocked'

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 March, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 March, 2004, 12:00am

Former premier is reportedly told he cannot publish his account of the pro-democracy crackdown in 1989

The Communist Party has blocked publication of a book by former premier Li Peng examining the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators, according to Hong Kong-based magazine Yazhou Zhoukan.

The 300,000-word manuscript, titled The Key Moment, reportedly details how leaders in the central government were divided over what to do about the protests.

Mr Li reportedly wrote that when 100,000 students gathered at Tiananmen Square on April 22, 1989, demanding the chance to deliver a petition to the then-premier in person, he did not mean to ignore the protesters, a move which enraged the crowd.

Mr Li wrote that he was at the Great Hall of the People, unaware that the students were told that he would meet them at 11.45am.

Mr Li has been widely criticised for his role in the bloody crackdown, with many people holding him personally responsible. By explaining how he was unaware of certain developments, Mr Li may be trying to redirect some of the blame and improve his public image.

Last autumn, Mr Li, 76, was believed to have sent the manuscript together with dozens of photos to the Politburo to obtain feedback, Yazhou Zhoukan reported.

Months later, despite repeated phone calls in which Mr Li expressed willingness to revise the memoir's contents, he was told that he could not publish the book. Yazhou Zhoukan sources who read the manuscript said the first half presents Mr Li's diary for a few months before and after June 4, 1989.

The behind-the-scenes rationale underlying policy decisions made during that time is revealed through Mr Li's recounting of conversations with other leaders.

If the Yazhou Zhoukan report is accurate, it will be the second time Mr Li has written about the Tiananmen incident. His first personal account of the crackdown was in his book published last year.

In United will paints magnificent tableau: Li Peng's diary on Three Gorges, Mr Li revealed that he was admitted to hospital after June 4, 1989.

The report comes at a time when there is debate over whether the party and government should re-evaluate what happened in 1989.

Retired PLA doctor Jiang Yanyong wrote a letter to National People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference delegates prior to their annual session earlier this month calling on the Communist Party to rehabilitate the student-led movement as a patriotic campaign. In response to a reporter's question about Dr Jiang's letter during the NPC, Premier Wen Jiabao, said unity and stability were of 'overriding importance' to the country and the Communist Party.