Zhao's funeral still delayed by wrangle
The family of former Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang and authorities are still divided over arrangements for the deposed leader's funeral and are wrangling over details that could hold up the ceremony for several more days, according to one of his sons.
Even if an agreement was reached, it would not be feasible to hold the funeral today or tomorrow, said Zhao Erjun, one of Zhao's four sons.
He declined to be specific about the points of contention, saying only that they were details considered important by the family.
However, in a sign that the differences might be resolved soon, sources said the authorities yesterday stepped up security at the Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery, the main burial site for China's revolutionary heroes, and started decorating its VIP hall. Zhao is expected to be buried at the cemetery after a 'farewell ceremony'.
There has been widespread speculation that the family has been demanding a 'fair' assessment of Zhao's life, refusing to settle on a mixed verdict recognising his contribution as a pioneer of economic reforms as well as his 'error' in splitting the party in 1989 over the student protests in Tiananmen Square.
The scale of the funeral is also contentious. Zhao served two terms as premier and was general secretary of the Communist Party before being stripped of power. He lived under house arrest for 151/2 years.
Zhao died in a Beijing hospital on January 17, aged 85.
The Zhao family set up a makeshift mourning hall last week for friends and neighbours to pay their respects. More than 3,000 visitors have signed a condolence book.
Flowers were sent by the families of some former senior leaders, including children of former president Yang Shangkun, sons of the late party elder Marshal Ye Jianying, and Qi Xin, wife of another late party elder, Xi Zhongxun, and mother of incumbent Zhejiang Party Secretary Xi Jinping .
The list of names sparked speculation that there was an internal rift in the party over the assessment of Zhao's contributions. By extending sympathy to the family, they were seen as quietly defying the party line.