Security blitz to stay until September
BEIJING'S 'state of emergency' to cover the anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre has been extended until September, say security sources.
President Jiang Zemin told senior security and army cadres of the decision at a meeting in Zhongnanhai, the Party headquarters.
It included top leaders of the Ministry of Public Security and the People's Armed Police, plus officers from the Beijing military region with the rank of army commander or above.
Since the 1989 crackdown, security has been stepped up in the Beijing region every year from late May to around June 6.
The main reason for the extension this year is the health of patriarch Deng Xiaoping.
Mr Jiang, accompanied at the meeting by General Liu Huaqing, Vice-Chairman of the Central Military Commission, made no direct reference to Mr Deng.
However, he stressed the need to maintain law and order 'in the new era' and at a time of heightened 'infiltration by hostile foreign forces'.
For the first time since martial law was lifted in 1990, the Beijing military region has become heavily involved in security matters.
Meanwhile, sources close to the Deng household said yesterday the patriarch's health had declined further.
'The frequency of Deng's lapses into unconsciousness has increased,' said a source.
'When the symptom first appeared early this year, the periods of unconsciousness lasted for 10 minutes or so. Now, it's 20 minutes or more.' The source said Mr Deng's medical team had repeated their confidence in keeping him alive till August, meaning death could come any time after that.
Beijing is awash with rumours that after having suffered a stroke on April 27, he has been in a 'vegetative state'.
'Jiang Zemin has a big say over when to disengage the life support system sustaining Deng,' a Western diplomat said.
'For the moment, however, it is to Jiang's advantage to keep him alive.' The diplomat added that Mr Jiang's control of the security apparatus in Beijing would also help him consolidate power immediately after Mr Deng's demise.
Chinese and foreign observers in Beijing have dismissed the ritualistic assurances provided by Mr Deng's offspring that the 90-year-old is still in good health.
Mr Deng's second daughter Deng Nan told Hong Kong reporters in Beijing yesterday that he could watch television and take a stroll after dinner.
'If the distance is not too far, he prefers to walk rather than ride in a wheelchair. His health is really very good,' Ms Deng said, adding that he only had the 'occasional cold'.
Ms Deng, a vice-minister responsible for science and technology, said her father still wanted to go to Hong Kong after 1997.
Apart from increasing security in the capital, the Jiang leadership has also decided to put a freeze on potentially de-stabilising political developments.
The results of investigations into the corruption cases involving the Beijing municipal leadership and the Shougang Corporation are likely to be kept under wraps till after Mr Deng's demise.
Beijing's former party secretary Chen Xitong has not been formally arrested even though the prosecutor's office has managed to collect impressive evidence of his alleged corruption.