Second commentary backs Beijing on Zhao

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 May, 2009, 12:00am

A second commentary on the memoirs of ousted Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang says the party's verdict on the late reformist leader was an 'ironclad case' and 'historically indisputable'.

The commentary by the semi-official Hong Kong China News Agency (HKCNA) attacked Zhao, ruling out any attempt to reverse the party's verdict on him and analysing his 'mistakes'.

Tuesday's commentary attacked western media for trying to pressure Beijing to overturn its verdict on the June 4 Tiananmen Square crackdown. The second commentary was released in the same way - it appeared in three Beijing-friendly newspapers in Hong Kong as well as the city's edition of the China Daily, but not its mainland edition.

Analysts said that given the HKCNA's ambiguous semi-official status, the articles might only reflect the viewpoints of some officials, and not the party leadership as a whole.

Paul Lin, a Taipei-based political commentator who taught Communist Party history on the mainland from 1955 to 1976, said the articles might be a sign of an internal power struggle, suggesting there are some voices within the party calling for a revision of its verdict on Zhao.

'Once there is debate within, some would use the overseas media to launch attacks on what they call hostile foreign forces,' Mr Lin said.

Poon Siu-to, a Hong Kong-based commentator, said that if the articles reflected the party leadership's viewpoint, they would be published by the People's Daily and Xinhua.

The strongly worded commentary, signed by Zhong Zhengping, which is probably a pseudonym, rebuffed Zhao's claim in his recently released memoirs that he was the real vanguard of the mainland's reform and opening-up policy.

It ridiculed some western political commentators' conclusion from the memoirs that Deng Xiaoping was the 'godfather', but that on a day-to-day basis Zhao was the chief architect of reform.

'To Chinese people, the attempt to remove the laurel wreath they have given to Deng and put it on Zhao's head is nothing but a joke,' the article said.

It defended the two main accusations made in the party's verdict on Zhao: that the former leader was guilty of 'supporting unrest' and 'splitting unrest'.

It said Zhao's ambivalent attitude during the protests was the signal there were two voices in the party, which 'had the actual effect of supporting the unrest'. Zhao's refusal to implement the Central Committee's decision to crack down militarily on protests 'was nothing other than 'splitting the party''.

In his memoirs, Zhao said: 'I told myself that no matter what, I refused to become the party general secretary who mobilised the military to crack down on students.'

The article said the verdict on Zhao could not be overturned even after 20 years of growth. The verdict 'could not be reversed, and any attempt to do so would only be a wild goose chase', the article said.

Both commentaries accused western media of 'ballyhooing' Zhao's memoirs on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown with the intention of trying to force Beijing to overturn its June 4 verdict and adopt western-style democracy.

The commentary said the publication of Zhao's memoirs was apparently designed to induce Chinese people to repeat the mistakes of 20 years ago.

'In political games, if you cannot change your opponents, you have to wait for them to make mistakes. China would not commit such stupid mistakes as Zhao made and would never allow the dreams of those waiting in the west to come true.'