09/01/2022, 12.51
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Beijing remembers Gorbachev as 'tragic' figure, not to be imitated

Chinese authorities offer condolences, but the former Soviet leader is held responsible for the end of a great empire. Many in China believe he made a huge mistake in trusting the West. Deng Xiaoping considered him an 'idiot'. Shortly after his visit to Beijing in May 1989, the regime ordered the Tiananmen massacre.


Beijing (AsiaNews) - They offered condolences for his death, but the Chinese authorities consider Mikhail Gorbachev a "tragic figure" who led to the fall of the Soviet Union, the ideological mother of Communist China.

The Foreign Ministry said yesterday that China 'mourns' the passing of the last Soviet leader on 30 August,  and remembered him for his 'positive contributions to the normalisation of relations' between Beijing and the USSR. These words are more circumstantial than sincere, similar to those expressed by Xi Jinping following the recent death of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a proponent of the geopolitical containment of China, and therefore disliked by the Chinese leadership.

The true nature of China's sentiments towards Gorbachev was revealed by the Global Times. Citing a couple of academics and other anonymous 'observers' at home, the regime's nationalist megaphone portrays a leader guilty of  a 'naive' and 'immature' pandering to the US and the West, his greatest fault being his misjudgement of the international situation and his propelling the domestic economic order towards chaos.

The Global Times goes on to say that the parable of Gorbachev and the USSR is a cautionary tale for others on attempts to dialogue with the West: a position shared by Putin's Russia, which has expressed itself in similar terms in 'mourning' the Soviet statesman.

As pointed out by many analysts, immediately after coming to power in 2012 Xi reiterated several times that the end of the Soviet Union must serve as a reminder for the future of China and the survival of the Chinese Communist Party: in essence, according to Xi, the openings made by Gorbachev to the West are not an example to follow.

The Chinese president's negative judgment echoes that of Deng Xiaoping, the former 'little helmsman' of China, pioneer of the national economic miracle from 1980 onwards: according to one of his sons, Deng considered Gorbachev an 'idiot'. 

The former General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party was in Beijing when street protests broke out in May 1989. His visit to China would not have the same impact as his visit to East Germany the following October, which led to the replacement of local communist leader Erich Honecker - a Stalinist, opposed to democratic openings - and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

In contrast to the East Germans, Deng chose repression to safeguard the Party's power: on 4 June 1989, the Chinese leadership ordered the massacre in Beijing of thousands of students and citizens demanding freedom and democracy in the country.


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