Chen Xitong: The Tiananmen massacre could have been avoided
In a book that is about to be released, the former mayor of Beijing accuses the internal struggles for power as the cause of the massacre of thousands of students. His career was halted by Jiang Zemin in 1998, for the struggle between the "Shanghai clique" and "Beijing". A similar fate to that of Bo Xilai and Chen Liangyu.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Chen Xitong, mayor of Beijing during the massacre of 4 June 1989 in Tiananmen Square, said it was "an unfortunate tragedy that could have been avoided" and claims he had only a small hand in allowing the army "cleanse" the square with tanks and killings against pro-democracy movement.

This and other statements which shed more light on the bloody episode are present in a book that is being published in Hong Kong by New Century Media, titled "Conversations with Chen Xitong," written by the scholar Yao Jianfu.

In a preview of the text the South China Morning Post quotes from the former mayor of Beijing, usually regarded as a tough guy who drove Deng Xiaoping to send tanks against students.

"''Nobody should have died if it was handled properly," he says. "Several hundred people died on that day. As the mayor, I felt sorry. I hoped we could have solved the case peacefully." According to Chen, the massacre of 4 June "stemmed from the internal [power] struggle at the top level and led to a tragedy nobody wanted to see. "

Chen said that he had no special responsibility for the massacre and that he only obeyed the orders given him from above.

After the massacre Chen was promoted to party secretary of Beijing and included in the Politburo. 30 June 1989 he made an official report on the incident, condemning the demonstrations as a "counter-revolutionary rebellion". But he said he did not write a single word of that report: "I faithfully read the text that they prepared for me, to the last punctuation mark."

Chen Xitong's career ended in 1998, when he was accused of corruption and jailed for 16 years in Qingcheng prison, the same place where many leaders were imprisoned for Tiananmen. In 2006 he was released because of his physical condition, having suffered from cancer of the colon. According to Chen, his fall was due to former president Jiang Zemin and the "Shanghai clique", lined up against "the clique of Beijing."

In the book - which consists of eight interviews recorded last year - Chen likens his fate to that of Bo Xilai and Chen Liangyu. The first, party secretary of Chongqing, was removed from power with his wife on charges of corruption and suspicion of murder in March, the second, former party secretary in Shanghai, was accused of corruption in 2006, expelled from Party in 2007 and sentenced in 2008.