01/31/2005, 00.00
CHINA-HONG KONG
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Anti-government criticism does not end with Zhao's burial

Family criticises the authorities for the way they handled the funeral. The diocese of Hong Kong criticises the Territory's Legislative Council and signs an editorial in memory of the late leader.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Two days after Zhao Ziyang's funeral the late leader's legacy still troubles the government and raises questions among the population.

Hundreds of people were forcefully turned away from Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery, where they had gather to honour the late leader, after the authorities had locked the place.

Zhao's family slammed the authorities for taking over funeral arrangements for the former Communist Party leader. Not only did they select who could come but they also prevented the family from decorating the funeral hall. An anonymous source said they were even forbidden from putting up calligraphy scrolls of eulogies which traditionally spell out the family's feelings for the deceased. Their read: "Advocating democracy and conscience, your family is proud of you. You are gone, you are free at last, but your spirit will live on forever".

In an interview with Sound of Hope International Radio, Zhao's daughter answered the many questions with one reply: "There is no point in talking about it".

Despite its heavy-handedness, the ruling Communist Party failed to present a united front. Whilst party leaders did not send signed wreaths as tradition demanded and party media failed to hail the late leader as a 'proletarian revolutionary' or 'fighter for communism', some actually went to pay their respects. Jia Qinglin, ranked fourth in the Party's hierarchy, went to the funeral and expressed his condolences to the family.

Vice President Zeng Qinghong confirmed that he did visit Zhao Ziyang on his death bed on January 17. Mr Zeng, who is in Venezuela to attend a signing ceremony for several accords with the South American country, said he did not get to speak with the former Secretary of the Communist Party because he was already in a deep coma. Still he agreed with China's news agency Xinhua's assessment that Zhao's made "serious errors" during Tiananmen.

Zhao's legacy remains controversial in Hong Kong as well. In an editorial published in the Sunday Examiner, the diocese of Hong Kong criticised Rita Fan, President of the Territory's Legislative Council, who did not allow its members to hold a minute of silence to honour the late leader.

The editorial piece pays homage to Zhao reminding its readers of his crucial role in the Sino-British negotiations that made "Hong Kong what it is today".

"History will be the judge of Zhao Ziyang", the article read, but "we remember him because he showed us human dignity and the value of conscience. He was brave to break through the bonds of the Communist Party and he chose to cast aside power and authority without allowing them to swallow the truth."

In the photo, Wang Yannan, Zhao Ziyang's daughter, can be seen standing before her father's portrait.

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