Mostly retired officials and teachers, they arrived at No 6 Fuqiang Hutong, Zhao’s former residence, yesterday afternoon to pay respects to the renowned reformer, who became party head at its 13th national congress in 1987 but was ousted in 1989 for sympathising with student democracy advocates who occupied [an area of Beijing].
Mourners arrived with flowers, pictures of Zhao and a large banner reading: “Cherish the memory of the 13th; look forward to the 18th.”
Zhao was General Secretary in 1989 during the [tragedy-that-must-not-be-named], during which he tried to encourage conciliation and ordered the news media to cover the unrest openly. When Deng Xiaoping called an emergency meeting of the Politburo Standing Committee to endorse martial law, Zhao cast the lone dissenting vote.
Zhao’s last public appearance was an emotional appeal to the students in [a square in Being] to end their hunger strike and enter a dialogue with the government. After the tanks rolled in, Zhao was purged from the Politburo by hardliners such as Li Peng, who accused him of fomenting the protests for his own political gain. Zhao was kept under house-arrest for 15 years until his death in 2005 at the age of 85.
Despite numerous calls over the years for Zhao to be rehabilitated (as part of a wider reassessment of the [tragedy-that-must-not-be-named]), the Party has largely removed him from the historical record, including airbrushing him from old photos.
Join Shanghaiist for the Hairy Crab & Sex Museum Tour on Nov 3-4! Click below image to find out more: