Deal with protesters defused tensions in Shanghai

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 August, 2013, 5:20am

A series of conciliatory speeches by Zhu Rongji in June 1989 most likely defused a tense situation in Shanghai in the days following the military crackdown in Beijing, according to a newly published collection of speeches the former premier made while city mayor and party boss.

According to Zhu, student leaders in Shanghai offered to call off their protests, including blocking traffic, on two conditions - that the municipal government did not order the military to remove the protesters and that none of them would be prosecuted after the pro-democracy movement ended.

After consulting comrade Yang Di (then a Shanghai party secretary), we responded straight away that we had no plan to bring in the military in the first place

"After consulting comrade Yang Di (then a Shanghai party secretary), we responded straight away that we had no plan to bring in the military in the first place.

"Regarding their second condition, we told them that as long as they stepped back from the brink of the precipice, we will let bygones be bygones," Zhu told municipal cadres on June 7.

The book revealed three speeches by Zhu made to party officials between June 5 and 7.

Zhu also delivered public speeches on government-run television and radio stations in the days after the crisis in Beijing.

He made it clear on several occasions that the municipal government would not order in the military, would refrain from using police force and would rather use worker "volunteers" to maintain law and order in city, according to the book.

Zhu appeared to have achieved his goal of defusing the situation in Shanghai by reassuring citizens that the military would not be called into the city.

City officials then deployed hundreds of worker "volunteers" to remove commandeered buses blocking major intersections and to patrol the streets.

Zhu was effectively left in command in Shanghai after his direct boss, the then municipal party chief Jiang Zemin , was summoned to Beijing in late May by leader Deng Xiaoping to replace the disgraced party general secretary Zhao Ziyang , who was condemned by party hardliners for sympathising with protesters.

The reformist Zhu appeared to try to limit the damage of the crackdown in Beijing by saying that Shanghai was in no need of further initiatives.

"We don't need to put forward any more slogans," Zhu said, adding that Shanghai should concentrate on achieving three goals - "maintaining social stability by preventing the city from falling into chaos; restoring normal life with normal traffic; and opposing riots, maintaining law and order and securing safety."

Zhu also succeeded in resuming the industrial production in Shanghai, then a major industrial base in the country as a result of a successful campaign led by him and the municipal government.

Zhu was promoted to Beijing and became the vice-premier in 1991. He later became premier from 1998 to 2003.