Deng Says His Open-Door Policies Will Not Change : Hails ‘Great Wall of Iron and Steel’
Senior leader Deng Xiaoping appeared today for the first time since mid-May to praise troops who crushed student-led protests as “China’s great wall of iron and steel” and proclaim his open-door economic policies “will not change.”
As Deng emerged there were signs that China’s hard-liners are already moving to round up the leaders of the pro-democracy movement. In Shanghai, however, student activists said they will try to regroup in China’s biggest city.
Looking old and tired and with his speech halting and indistinct, Deng, 84, was shown on television flanked by Premier Li Peng and President Yang Shangkun.
Deng’s appearance seemed designed to quash a widely held belief that China was without leadership and heading for civil war.
Deng praised and mourned troops who died putting down what he called a “counterrevolutionary rebellion” in Beijing on Sunday.
As Many as 7,000 Deaths
Witnesses of the carnage say hundreds, probably thousands, of civilians were killed when troops and armor stormed through barricades and machine-gunned unarmed demonstrators, crushing China’s democracy movement in Tian An Men Square.
Officials say about 300 civilians and troops died. Some diplomats estimate that the death toll may have been as high as 7,000.
Deng was shown giving a speech to top military and civilian leaders in his first public appearance since May 16, when he met with Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev.
“A very small number of people started to cause chaos which later developed into a counterrevolutionary rebellion. Their aim was to overthrow the Communist Party and the socialist system,” a television commentator quoted Deng as saying.
“They wanted to transform the People’s Republic of China into a bourgeois republic,” Deng said.
No Shift in Strategy
The veteran leader of China’s 1 billion people, who launched capitalist-style reforms 10 years ago but did not match them with political change, was quoted as saying the party’s policies were correct.
China’s open-door policy of reforms would continue, he said.
“Our basic direction, our basic strategy and policy will not change,” Deng said.
Deng, who will turn 85 in August, had been widely rumored to be near death with prostate cancer.
On television he looked ill and unsteady.
But Beijing radio described him as “glowing with health and radiating vigor and high spirits.”
Tanks and Troop Carriers
After Deng’s speech, tanks roared out of Tian An Men Square, possibly to show that the situation there was under control.
Diplomats said they believe that a regiment of about 100 tanks has been occupying the square since Sunday.
A Western resident counted about 40 tanks and more than 20 armored troop carriers passing his window heading east from the square and said: “I can’t see the end of them.”
After the vanguard of about 40 tanks rumbled past, residents counted another 18 and a total of about 22 armored personnel carriers. The convoy was accompanied by military buses, jeeps and command cars.
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