June 5, 2012

China's Post-Tiananmen Model Is Faltering

Perry Link, Foreign Policy

AP Photo

Deng's succession blueprint, and his decision to use lethal force to quell the 1989 massacre of unarmed protestors, were both shrewd, long-term political calculations. Deng's police could have cleared Tiananmen Square using billy clubs. It had been done when the government cleared the Square of a similar large demonstration on April 5, 1976 that grew out of mourning for the death of Premier Zhou Enlai; that repression, although violent, resulted in only a few injuries and apparently no deaths. Water hoses and tear gas could have worked against the students in 1989, too, but Deng chose tanks and machine guns. His calculation that a dramatic show of force would buy him about two decades of popular docility all across China was correct.

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TAGGED: Mao Zedong, Mao Tse-tung, Deng Xiaoping, Hu Jintao, Bo Xilai, China

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