Remembering Hu Yaobang: Mysteries And Wild Hopes

A commentary by Bao Tong
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china-hu-and-zhao-sept-82.jpg Hu Yaobang (L) and China's former premier Zhao Ziyang (R) in Beijing in a file photo.

The celebration of the 100th anniversary of Hu Yaobang's birth was doubtless attended by President Xi Jinping and all seven members of the Politburo standing committee. The honor and courtesy they showed him will bring comfort to many.

But there is a mystery that has yet to be cleared up. This former premier presided over the reversal of millions of miscarriages of justice, and his good deeds should illuminate the annals of history.

He was elected general secretary by the [1982] 12th Party Congress in accordance with the party's constitution, but just four years later he had been toppled by certain forces, according to goodness-knows-which clause in the party charter.

This is a mystery that was unfathomed at the time and remains unfathomable today.

Another mystery that is as deep as the heavens are wide is this: 26 years ago, students and citizens, roused by the troubles of the day and mourning the early death of this statesman of generous spirit and great personal integrity, held a spontaneous memorial and outpouring of grief on Tiananmen Square.

It's not clear what law they broke, but this was designated 'rioting and unrest' by [Deng Xiaoping,] the chairman of the Central Military Commission at the time.

A fully armed and bloody suppression followed; another mystery that is as forbidden to shed light on today as it was back then.

If [the ruling Chinese Communist Party] isn't interested in the rule of law nor in strict self-governance, then it should tell the world and be done with it.

They shouldn't try to brush such a huge issue under the carpet and muddle on through somehow.

The lives of an entire generation have been poured away by this lawlessness. But surely history will allow the admission of an error? The truth shouldn't be concealed from the people any longer.

They must make an honest and serious account to the people of the lessons they have learned, so that we can work together to ensure that this never happens again.

Surely it's not too much to hope that they will take responsibility for such a major event.

Translated by Luisetta Mudie.

Bao Tong, political aide to the late ousted premier Zhao Ziyang, is currently under house arrest at his home in Beijing.


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