11/17/2015, 00.00
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Party celebrates reformist Hu Yaobang, but no reversal on official condemnation

Former Secretary had reversed official verdict on millions of people who fell in campaigns wanted by Mao Zedong, opened China to the world and made transition from state to market economy. Accused of tolerating "bourgeois liberalization", he was purged: Following his death, in 1989, riots broke out in Tiananmen Square. One hundred years after his birth, the CPC prepares to commemorate him "to exploit his good image."

Beijing (AsiaNews) - The Chinese Communist Party will pay tribute to the former Liberal leader Hu Yaobang, whose death sparked the Tiananmen Square protests, on the centenary of his birth. So far there are no official details of the celebrations, but according to several academics there will be no reversal of the official verdict that in 1987 purged him from leadership for "having made “grave mistakes” of tolerating “bourgeois liberalisation".

His son Hu Dehua said that events in memory of the former Secretary will be held in his native home in Liuyang, Henan, and that for November 20 there will be a formal ceremony in Beijing. Hu declined to say which Communist officials will participate in this second commemoration. In 2005, then Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and Vice President Zeng Qinghong attended a commemoration marking 90 years after his birth.

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 broad minded and tolerant, so that after the president’s death he committed himself to rehabilitating the victims of political persecution (campaigns against the right in 1957, the Cultural Revolution in 1966-1976).

Even Deng Xiaoping was among his "rehabilitated”.  After he seized power in 1978, Hu - along with Zhao Ziyang and Xi Zhongxun (father of the current president Xi Jinping) - set the stage for the economic reforms that have transformed China from a Stalinist state economy to a market economy. From 1981 to 1987 he was Secretary of the party and work for the opening and modernization of China. Among his most forward looking proposals was one which distinguished the State from the Party and the Party from the business world. 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 giving rise to the democratic movement choked with the Tiananmen massacre .

This connection between his death and the Tiananmen massacre has shrouded his memory in silence. He was  restored to public prominence only in 2005 on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of his birth. The first official article in his favor dates to 2010, in the People's Daily. The current leader Xi Jinping, despite having repeatedly expressed support for Hu, from the day of his confirmation as head of the "Fifth Generation" has stopped talking about him, just as he stopped talking about reforms.

To mark the centenary articles on the reformist leader have reappeared. Hu Zhizhi, his great-grandson, the wrote a long commentary in the China Youth Daily on the legacy of Hu Yaobang, later picked up by the official website of the Communist Party. Even the official newspaper of the Communist Party, the People's Daily, published excerpts from the book written by his daughter which recounts Hu’s anti-corruption campaign of the eighties

However, academics believe that this celebration will not change the official government verdict. Chen Daoyin, a professor from Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, said that Hu Yaobang’s actions restored the trust of millions of people in the Party: "With these commemorations the government wants to exploit his popularity and good image. He played a crucial role after the disasters of Mao. But his reputation will not be restored".

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