04/16/2013, 00.00
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Beijing commemorates reformist Hu Yaobang, but won't pursue his path

The former Communist Party Secretary was known for his commitment to political and economic reform. His death, following a purge in 1989, prompted Tiananmen Square protests. Rehabilitated only in 2005. Yesterday state media, print and on the internet, recalled the reformer’s commitment. But Xi Jinping no longer speaks of his example.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - For the first time in 24 years, a Chinese Communist Party newspaper and some state websites commemorated the death of former national leader Hu Yaobang, a well-known reformist whose death led to the first demonstrations that resulted in the Tiananmen massacre. The Shanghai newspaper Liberation Daily yesterday published an article by Zhou Ruijin - the former newspaper editor - in praise of Hu's political and reformist efforts. At the same time, the text also recalls the commitment of Xi Zhongxun, a companion of Hu's and father of the current Communist Party secretary Xi Jinping.

Born November 20, 1915 into a poor peasant family, Hu participated in the Long March with Mao Zedong. But unlike the Great Helmsman, he was considered to be tolerant and wide ranging views, so that after the death of President he was determined to rehabilitate the victims of political persecution (campaigns against the right-wing in 1957, the Cultural Revolution in 1966-1976).

Among his "rehabilitated" was even Deng Xiaoping. After they took power in 1978, Hu - along with Zhao Ziyang and Xi - paved the way for economic reforms which were to transform China's Stalinist State economy to a market economy. From 1981 to 1987 he was party secretary and worked for the openings and modernization. Among his more advanced proposals was one to distinguish the state from the party and the party from the world of business. Thanks to him, the Chinese were able to begin to communicate more freely with the rest of the world.

But conservatives, accusing him of "polluting" the minds of the people, forced him to resign from the Secretariat in 1987. His death, on April 15, 1989, brought together millions of people which gave birth to the democratic movement brutally choked with the Tiananmen massacre.

It is this connection between his death and the Tiananmen massacre that brought down the veil of silence on his memory. He was only rehabilitated in 2005 on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of his birth. The first official article in his favor dates back to 2010, in the People's Daily. The current leader Xi Jinping, despite having repeatedly expressed favorable views regarding Hu, from the day he was confirmed at the helm of the "Fifth Generation" has stopped talking about him and about reforms.

The text published yesterday reads: "As we remember Hu Yaobang, we should, just like him, have the determination to reform and the courage to innovate. If Deng Xiaoping was the chief architect of China's reform and opening, then Hu Yaobang deserves to be called its chief engineer. "

Hu Dehua, son of the late politician, had written an open letter to the new government demanding political and social reforms "along the lines of those proposed by Hu Yaobang," but he never questioned the one-party dictatorship. He told the South China Morning Post: "Today, you need even greater wisdom, courage, magnanimity and compassion. We hope they will continue to reform and liberalize. We hope the leaders will solve these problems, otherwise they would become even more serious".


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