Retalls (2.6.19)

(…) The party’s response to the 1989 crisis has shaped the course of Chinese history for three decades, (...). But what was said during the meeting has never been revealed (...) Now, these newly leaked speeches shed light on what happened after the crackdown, making clear the lessons party leaders drew from the Tiananmen crisis: first, that the Chinese Communist Party is under permanent siege from enemies at home colluding with enemies abroad; second, that economic reform must take a back seat to ideological discipline and social control; and third, that the party will fall to its enemies if it allows itself to be internally divided (...) The speeches offer a remarkable behind-the-scenes look at authoritarian political culture in action—and a sign of what was to come in China as, in later decades, the party resorted to ever more sophisticated and intrusive forms of control to combat the forces of liberalization. Reading the transcripts, one can see serving officials closing ranks with the elderly retired officials who still held great sway in the early post-Mao period. Those who had long feared that Deng’s reforms were too liberal welcomed the crackdown, and those who had long favored liberal reforms fell into line. (...) The speeches also make clear how the lessons taken from Tiananmen continue to guide Chinese leadership today: one can draw a direct line connecting the ideas and sentiments expressed at the June 1989 Politburo meeting to the hard-line approach to reform and dissent that President Xi Jinping is following today. The rest of the world may be marking the 30-year anniversary of the Tiananmen crisis as a crucial episode in China’s recent past. For the Chinese government, however, Tiananmen remains a frightening portent. Even though the regime has wiped the events of June 4 from the memories of most of China’s people, they are still living in the aftermath (...)