Unrest Across China

Canton: Bridges blocked

Changchun: Demonstrations

Chengdu: Shops burned and looted, “300 died in protest.”

Dalian: Demonstrations

Harbin: Demonstrations

Hefei: Demonstrators defy troops.

Lanzhou: Tens of thousands block roads, hold up troops.

Nanjing: “Military forces moving in.”

Shanghai: Situation “worst for 40 years.”

Shenyang: Mourning students take to streets.

Wuhan: Train lines cut.

Xian: Roads blocked, troops poised to move in.

False Slanders Against the Chinese Students and Workers

Around the world, Stalinist governments and their official news agencies echoed the lies of the Chinese bureaucracy.

For example, the East German Communist Party newspaper, Neues Deutschland, on June 7th, wrote of the Chinese leadership’s victory over the “counter-revolutionary element.”

This was echoed by the official youth paper Junge Welt, which printed the picture of a soldier’s body under the headline “See the handiwork of the counter-revolutionaries who are endangering socialism in China.”

The state news agency ADN described the wave of mass protest against the massacre which swept China in these words: “A number of people, not understanding the real situation, are twuing to hinder the soldiers from carrying out orders.”

Support for the repression was also given by Fidel Castro’s government in Cuba, which, according to the British Guardian (6/6/1989): “blamed the bloodshed on counter-revolutionary elements.”

A Programme for Workers’ Democracy

In 1917 Lenin, leader of the Russian revolution, outlined the fundamental conditions for the inception of workers’ democracy which, he explained, is the basis for the socialist transformation of society:

  • All officials to be elected and subject to immediate recall;
  • No official to earn more than a skilled worker;
  • Workers to rotate administrative duties, to combat the growth of a bureaucratic caste;
  • No standing army but an armed people.

None of these conditions exist in China, the USSR or other Stalinist states. They remain central objectives of the political revolution to end bureaucratic rule and establish workers’ democracy in these countries

The Marxists today would also call for:

  • An end to the one-party state, for the freedom to form political parties;
  • For the formation of independent trade unions;
  • For elected committees of workers, students, peasants and soldiers to take over control of production and every part of the state.

Chronology of Events

1919, May 4th: Demonstration of 3,000 students on Tiananmen Square, Beijing, against terms of Versailles treaty and in favour of “Democracy and Science”.

1921: Formation of Chinese Communist Party by youth from “May 4th Movement” who, inspired by example of Russian revolution, began the task of building workers’ movement in China as the only basis for national liberation.

1925-27: Revolutionary movement of the Chinese working class, CCP, under influence of Stalinist policies of Communist International, abdicated leadership to “National Democratic” Kuomintang movement, led by Chiang Kai-shek, which proceeded to murder their Communist “allies” and smash the workers’ movement. Following destruction of workers’ movement CCP turned to guerilla struggle in the countryside.

1944-9: CCP led by Mao Zedong came to power at the head of a guerilla army. Although committed to “100 years of Capitalism”, forced to carry through nationalisation of means of production as only basis on which national independence could be sustained. But, without the conscious active participation of the working class, power was from the start in the hands of a bureaucratic Stalinist dictatorship.

1958-60: “Great Leap Forward”. Attempt to develop industry in China by means of extreme centralization. Failed, and led to eclipse of Mao by reforming bureaucrats such as Deng Xiaoping and Liu Shaoqi.

1966-76: “Cultural Revolution”. Movement of youth, mobilised in “Red Guards” by Mao to remove reforming “capilalist-roaders” within bureaucracy and promote policy of rigid centralisation, autarky and collectivisation of agriculture. Movement of Red Guards eventually had to be put down by army.

1976: Death of Mao consolidated position of reform wing led by Zhao en Lai, Hua Guofeng and Deng Xiaoping. “Gang of Four” led by Mao’s widow Jiang Quing put on trial for excesses of “Cultural Revolution.”

1978: “Democracy Wall Movement”. Mass movement of youth, especially students, initially encouraged by Deng, against “leftist” wing of bureaucracy and for democracy. However, movement went beyond control of “reforming” bureaucrats and threatened whole of bureaucracy. So Deng suppressed it, jailing 200.

1986, December – 1987, January: New movement of students. Hu Yao Bang, General Secretary of CCP, forced to resign by Deng as scapegoat for slowing down of economy as decentralising reforms loose their steam.

1987, November:CCP 13th congress. Deng “semi-retires”, appointing reformist Zhao Ziyang as General Secretary. Congress extends “reform” programme, but also marks beginning of regrouping of “conservative” centralist bureaucrats, lead by Li Peng.

1988, June: Murder of student at Beijing University sparks student protests, reflecting increasing discontent, especially in urban areas where reform policies led to inflation rates officially put at 21% (unofficial figure 31%).

1989, January: Student riots against African students.

April 15th: Hu Yaobang died, allegedly during heated debate in Politbureau, strengthening position of “conservative” wing of bureaucracy against Zhao Ziyang.

April 17th: 100,000 students demonstrate in Tiananmen Square in memory of Hu and supporting democracy.

April 21st: Students again demonstrate and keep control of Tiananmen Square over-night.

April 22nd: Demonstrations continue in Tiananmen Square alongside Hu’s funeral in Great Hall of People.

April 24th: Students in Beijing begin classroom strike.

April 27th: 50,000 students march to Tiananmen Square in defiance of authorities, drawing supporting crowd of 1 million.

May 2nd: Student Leaders ride bicycles to government and party offices throughout Beijing to demand that authorities negotiate with them.

May 4th: Students march to Tiananmen Square, crowd in square grows to 100,000. Students march in 10 other cities.

May 13th: 1,000 students begin hunger strike in support of demands for televised debate between students and government and other democratic reforms. Later another 2,000 students join hunger strike.

May 15th: Gorbachev arrives in Beijing, occupation of square now permanent.

May 16th: Gorbachev and Deng meet at Great Hall whilst demonstration, now of 250,000 continues in square outside. Protests in Shanghai and five provincial capitals.

May 17th: A million demonstrate in Beijing. Protests in seven other cities.

May 19th: Troops begin to move into Beijing. Three and a half hour televised debate between students and authorities in Shanghai.

May 20th: Declaration of Martial Law. Only Zhao opposes decision by politbureau. Mass mobilisation of students and workers organising blockades prevents troops from moving on Square. Hunger strike called off, but occupation continues. Demonstrations in 20 cities.

May 21st: Demonstrations continue. Military commanders in Beijing criticise declaration of Martial Law. One million demonstrate in Hong Kong. Widespread rumours of Li Peng’s resignation, later proved to be false.

May 24th: “Reformist” chairman of National Peoples Congress, Wan Li, cuts short visit to USA to try and rally moderate forces. However, Li Peng wins support of army leadership.

May 25th: Demonstrations start to decline in size.

May 28th: Decline in movement in China, and consolidation of position of conservative wing of bureaucracy continues. But largest ever demonstration in Hong Kong and demonstration in Portuguese colony of Macao.

June 4th: Troops recapture Tiananmen Square, killing and wounding thousands. A week of mass protests, demonstrations and strikes follows across China.