More than 100 members of the Tiananmen Mothers support group issued an open letter yesterday saying they had been disappointed by President Xi Jinping's public speeches and his reluctance to tackle political reform.
In the letter, headlined "Hope fades as despair draws near", the group said Xi "has mixed together the things that were most unpopular and most in need of repudiation" during the eras of former paramount leaders Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping . The letter was released yesterday through the New York-based group Human Rights in China.
Deng was the leader who oversaw the bloody crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in and around Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989 in which hundreds of young protesters were killed. The Tiananmen Mothers comprises parents of those victims.
"We also have not seen [Xi] criticise in the slightest or make anyone accountable for the three decades of Deng-style 'lame reform'," the group's letter said. "What we see, precisely, are giant steps backwards towards Maoist orthodoxy.
"This has caused those individuals who originally harboured hopes in him carrying out political reform to fall into sudden disappointment and despair," the letter said.
Professor Ding Zilin , the founder of the group, said they had once hoped that Xi would follow in the footsteps of his late father Xi Zhongxun , a reformist leader, and press ahead with political reform.
"We thought Xi should have the backbone, like his father, to do something for China's political reform and democratic development, but now we've found he is just following what his predecessors Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao did," Ding said yesterday. "Both Jiang and Hu each wasted 10 years; as the son of Xi Zhongxun, you shouldn't follow them.'"
Zhang Xianling , who lost her 19-year-old son, said the letter would let supporters worldwide know they "would never give up despite their disappointment in Xi".
The group, now 123 strong, has repeatedly called for Beijing to publish a full list of those who died and to compensate relatives. It has documented at least 202 individuals who has died in the "June 4 massacre".
Asked about the letter, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Beijing had long ago "reached a clear conclusion" about June 4. The successes of the past two decades "shows that the path we have chosen serves the interest of the Chinese people", he said.