02/22/2007, 00.00
CHINA
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The ‘butcher of Tiananmen’ publishes his diaries but ‘forgets’ 1989 protests

Li Peng, former National People's Congress chairman and premier at the time of the student anti-corruption and pro-democracy protests, releases his memoirs from the time. He criticises liberal Zhao Zhiyang and offers questionable recollections about Deng Xiaoping.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The ‘butcher of  Tiananmen’ has published his fifth personal diary, which covers the period 1983-2003, without a single word about the student movement or the violent repression he ordered.

Li Peng, former National People's Congress chairman and premier, titled his book Market and Adjustment. In his ‘walk down memory lane,’ Li ignores his pivotal role in the student protests of 1989; instead, he criticises then Communist Party Secretary Zhao Zhiyang, a liberal, outlining how Zhao only paid lip-service to trying to tame runaway inflation.

"From his remarks, [I felt] he hardly made any self-criticism” for failing to deal with the inflation problem, Mr Li wrote. “[I]t is inevitable that [he would] make mistakes again.”

Although he was never officially charged with any crime, Zhao was never rehabilitated by the Communist Party for his pro-student sympathies.

In the new book, Mr Li reveals how former leader Deng Xiaoping blamed himself for not encouraging Shanghai to develop faster and earlier.

He recalled an anecdote in which Mao’s former successor told city leaders: “I am very glad now that you guys [party leaders] have agreed to let Shanghai develop faster.”

According to some critics however these ‘memoirs’ are just an attempt to discredit Deng’s legacy. The anniversary of Deng’s death falls in a few days and the current government plans to have low key celebrations.

Li’s memoirs do however honour Shanghai and its clique founded by Jiang Zemin, a force that still has to be reckoned with.

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