40m yuan to be spent on reformist's birthday
More than 40 million yuan will be spent by the central and provincial governments to commemorate the 90th birthday of Hu Yaobang in his hometown, in another sign by Beijing that it plans to rehabilitate the late reformist.
The expansive activities in the remote village of Cangfeng in Hunan province will be held alongside an unusual ceremony at the Great Hall of the People on November 20, seen as a move by President Hu Jintao to burnish his dented reformist credentials.
The money would go on repairs to Hu Yaobang's childhood home in Cangfang as well as building an exhibition hall, a 3,000 square metre plaza and a road connecting the village with the city of Liuyang , relatives said.
Villagers in Cangfang were eagerly preparing for the commemorative activities, after 16 years of silence since Hu Yaobang passed away on April 15, 1989.
His death was a direct trigger of the ill-fated pro-democracy movement in 1989, when students flocked to Beijing's Tiananmen Square to mourn the reformist leader, who resigned in 1987 after party hardliners accused him of allowing 'bourgeois liberalism' - western values - to spread unchecked. But he retained his seat in the party's elite Politburo.
Hu Dezi , Hu's nephew and director of the Hu memorial home, confirmed yesterday that the central and Hunan provincial governments had together provided more than 40 million yuan for the project.
He said that with builders working around the clock, the exhibition hall, designed by architects from Tsinghua University, was expected to open on November 20.
Staff are busy gathering Hu Yaobang memorabilia from around the nation to display in the hall, along with a section of his Beijing office and living quarters.
The central government has not publicly commemorated the birth or death of Hu Yaobang since he died.
Earlier reports said President Hu recently decided the party would officially mark the 90th anniversary of Hu Yaobang's birth on November 20 at the Great Hall of the People, but the verdict that the Tiananmen protests were counter-revolutionary would not be changed.
'Actually, I knew President Hu's decision two or three years ago,' said Hu Dezi, emphasising that the family had been waiting for this day for more than 16 years.
'I still insist that my uncle did not make any mistakes. I stress that the 90th anniversary of his birth is not a ceremony about redress, but a celebration of rehabilitation.'
Hong Kong's Wen Wei Po reported that China Central Television would televise the November 20 celebrations live.