Zhao Ziyang was only laid to rest after nearly two weeks of wrangling between his family - determined to defend his place in history - and the authorities, who insisted on treating him as a leader who made 'serious mistakes'. In the end, the Zhao family was resigned to a wretched funeral, with no hint of any reassessment of the nature of the student-led pro-democracy movement of 1989, which ended in the bloody crackdown on Tiananmen Square and the downfall of Zhao. His death came at a time when China, to all appearances, had cast off the shadow of the Tiananmen incident which led to diplomatic isolation and international censure. Its rising economic power has attracted huge investment. Foreign countries have, in the interests of doing business, come to accept that the government's response was necessary to ensure China's economic progress. But what happened in 1989 still mattered, judging from the fearful reaction of the authorities to Zhao's death - muzzling the media, putting dissidents under house arrest, controlling mourners to stop them paying tribute, and demonstrating extreme caution on the day of the funeral. The authorities were worried that public mourning would turn into protests against the government, not only over the crackdown but also over present-day grievances such as rampant corruption and social injustice. Twice in the history of the People's Republic, grieving over a leader's death has unleashed strong emotions and sparked mass rallies. The memorial for Zhou Enlai had to be suppressed in 1976 and mourning for Zhao's predecessor, Hu Yaobang , in 1989 evolved into the Tiananmen Square protest. How the authorities continue to handle Zhao's death will send a powerful message about the ability of the current leadership under President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao to come to grips with legacy issues which may not have the urgency of a sudden crisis but are capable of unleashing strong emotional forces. If not handled properly, they could affect confidence and undermine the moral authority of the ruling elite. When Zhao died on January 17, rank-and-file members of the Communist Party were told to uphold the verdict on Zhao reached by the Politburo in June 1989 and refrain from further discussion. But many veteran party members openly snubbed the ban. 'There was a general feeling that one should show compassion for a departed comrade,' said a veteran party member, noting that the treatment of Zhao should have been more dignified. Writer Dai Qing said the party missed an opportunity to use Zhao's death to bring about a reconciliation, without which the moral authority of the communists would forever be questioned. 'No regime can justify opening fire on peaceful demonstrators,' she said. The populist slogans of the current leadership sounded hollow when the party refused to own up to the mistakes of its past, she added.