US embassy cable - 89BEIJING14047

SITREP NO. 6: THE SCENE ON TIANANMEN, THE MILITARY SITUATION, POSSIBLE CENTRAL COMMITTEE MEETING, CHINESE PRESS PLAY

Identifier: 89BEIJING14047
Wikileaks: View 89BEIJING14047 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Beijing
Created: 1989-05-21 09:18:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PHUM SOCI CH
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
O 210918Z MAY 89
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO SECSTATE WASHDC NIACT IMMEDIATE 8946
INFO AMEMBASSY TOKYO IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY SEOUL IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY MOSCOW IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY LONDON IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY PARIS IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY BANGKOK IMMEDIATE
AMCONSUL HONG KONG IMMEDIATE
AIT TAIPEI IMMEDIATE
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU IMMEDIATE
AMCONSUL SHANGHAI IMMEDIATE
AMCONSUL SHENYANG IMMEDIATE
AMCONSUL CHENGDU POUCH)
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 BEIJING 14047 
 
CINCPAC FOR FPA 
 
E.O. 12356: DECL:OADR 
TAGS:  PGOV, PHUM, SOCI, CH 
SUBJECT:  SITREP NO. 6:  THE SCENE ON TIANANMEN, THE 
          MILITARY SITUATION, POSSIBLE CENTRAL 
          COMMITTEE MEETING, CHINESE PRESS PLAY 
 
REFS.:  A.  BEIJING 14038  B.  BEIJING 14039 
-       C.  BEIJING 14037  D.  BEIJING 14029 
-       E.  BEIJING 14019 
 
1.  CONFIDENTIAL - ENTIRE TEXT. 
 
2.  SUMMARY:  BETWEEN 10 AND 20,000 STUDENTS OCCUPIED 
TIANANMEN SQUARE AT NOON ON MAY 21.  THE ATMOSPHERE 
WAS FESTIVE AND THEY APPEARED CONFIDENT.  ONLOOKERS 
NEAR THE SQUARE NUMBERED BETWEEN 50,000 AND 80,000. 
ACCORDING TO A STUDENT ON THE SQUARE, 100-200 HUNGER 
STRIKERS REMAIN.  STUDENTS CONTINUE TO CONTROL MUCH 
OF CENTRAL BEIJING IN THE AREA OF TIANANMEN.  THEY 
CONTROL ACCESS TO THE CITY THROUGH AN ELABORATE 
SYSTEM OF BLOCKADES.  STUDENT ORGANIZERS APPEAR TO BE 
IN CLOSE TOUCH WITH DEMONSTRATORS MANNING THE 
ROADBLOCKS AND CAN DISPATCH REINFORCEMENTS TO WEAK 
POINTS.  THIS SUGGESTS TO US THAT DEMONSTRATORS MAY 
BE GETTING SUPPORT FROM NEIGHBORHOOD PARTY AND 
GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATIONS. 
 
3.  AT 11:00 PM, MAY 20, A POLITICAL DECISION WAS 
MADE TO MOVE TROOPS INTO TIANANMEN AT 2:00 AM, 
MAY 21.  THE ORDER WAS RESCINDED BETWEEN 1:00 AM AND 
2:00 AM, ACCORDING TO DAO BEIJING.  AT PRESENT, 
STUDENTS APPEAR TO FEAR AN ASSAULT ON THE SQUARE 
EITHER FROM BEIJING'S TUNNEL SYSTEM OR VIA MILITARY 
TRAIN INTO THE CITY. 
 
4.  IT IS POSSIBLE THAT THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE HELD A 
MEETING BETWEEN MAY 19 AND MAY 21 AT WHICH AT LEAST 
ONE MEMBER STRONGLY OBJECTED TO MARTIAL LAW.  WE HAVE 
BEEN UNABLE TO CONFIRM THIS.  PEOPLE'S DAILY COVERAGE 
OF THE EVENTS OF THE LAST TWO DAYS SUGGESTS CONTINUED 
RESISTANCE TO LI PENG IN THE MEDIA.  END SUMMARY. 
 
THE SCENE ON TIANANMEN AS OF 12:15 PM, MAY 21 
--------------------------------------------- 
5.  STUDENTS REMAIN IN CONTROL OF CENTRAL BEIJING. 
ACCORDING TO POLOFFS ON TIANANMEN SQUARE, THE NUMBER 
OF ONLOOKERS IN THE AREA ROSE BETWEEN 10:00 AM AND 
NOON.  APPROXIMATELY 50-80,000 ONLOOKERS CROWD 
CHANGAN AVENUE FROM THE BEIJING HOTEL IN THE EAST TO 
THE WEST SIDE OF THE SQUARE.  POLOFFS HAVE REPORTED 
THAT STUDENTS ON THE SQUARE ITSELF NUMBER BETWEEN 10 
AND 20,OOO.  A STUDENT GUARD ON THE SQUARE TOLD 
POLOFFS THAT BETWEEN 100 AND 200 HUNGER STRIKERS 
REMAIN.  THE ATMOSPHERE ON THE SQUARE IS FESTIVE. 
MANY ONLOOKERS STROLL ABOUT IN THEIR SUNDAY BEST. 
STUDENT DEMONSTRATORS APPEAR CONFIDENT, POLOFFS 
REPORTED. 
 
6.  THE PATTERN OF ACTIVITY ON THE SQUARE HAS 
REMAINED FAIRLY CONSTANT OVER THE PAST FEW DAYS. 
GENERALLY, THE NUMBERS OF PEOPLE AT TIANANMEN DWINDLE 
THROUGHOUT THE MORNING AND BEGIN TO RECOVER DURING 
THE AFTERNOON.  CROWDS BEGIN ARRIVING DURING THE 
EVENING BETWEEN 7:00 PM AND 8:00 PM AND PEAK IN THE 
LATE EVENING. 
 
ABOUT BARRICADES 
---------------- 
7.  AS REPORTED EARLIER, STUDENTS APPEAR TO CONTROL 
ACCESS TO THE CENTRAL PART OF THE CITY THROUGH A 
SYSTEM OF BARRICADES AROUND THE SECOND AND THIRD RING 
ROADS AND AT OTHER MAJOR ROAD APPROACHES TO THE 
CITY.  AT TIMES, WE HAVE SEEN BARRICADES OF PEOPLE OR 
VEHICLES ON THE CLOSER APPROACHES TO TIANANMEN SQUARE 
AS WELL. 
 
8.  POLOFF VISITING ONE SUCH ROADBLOCK AT THE 
INTERSECTION OF THE THIRD RING ROAD AND JIANGUOMENWAI 
AVENUE REPORTED THAT THERE ARE MORE THAN 50 BUSSES IN 
THE AREA.  FOURTEEN BUSSES BENEATH THE JIANGUOMENWAI 
AVENUE OVERPASS CONTROL PASSAGE ON THE THIRD RING 
ROAD, WHICH RUNS NORTH-SOUTH.  THE BUSSES HAVE LEFT A 
ONE LANE OPENING ALONG THE ROAD AND CAN EASILY BLOCK 
TRAFFIC BY DRIVING INTO THE LANE.  SEVERAL OTHER OF 
THE BUSSES BLOCK BOTH ENDS OF THE OVERPASS.  MANY OF 
THE REMAINING BUSSES PARKED ALONG JIANGUOMENWAI UP TO 
XIDAWANG ROAD COULD BE PULLED INTO THE AVENUE TO 
BLOCK TROOPS, ACCORDING TO POLOFF. 
 
9.  POLOFF REPORTED THAT CITY BUS DRIVERS ARE 
RESPONSIBLE FOR MOVING THEIR VEHICLES AT THIS 
BARRICADE.  ONE APPARENTLY FEARLESS DRIVER WITH WHOM 
POLOFF TALKED STATED THAT HE AND HIS FELLOWS ARE 
CONFIDENT THAT THEIR BLOCKADES WILL STOP PLA TANKS. 
(BUT WE DOUBT IT.)  HE ADDED THAT DRIVERS INTEND TO 
REMAIN AT THE INTERSECTION AND WILL NOT RETURN TO 
WORK ON MAY 22. 
 
10.  ACCORDING TO A STUDENT AT QINGHUA UNIVERSITY WHO 
SPOKE WITH AN EMBASSY FCS OFFICER PRESENT AT THE 
CAMPUS THIS MORNING, STUDENTS ON CAMPUS ARE IN CLOSE 
TOUCH WITH DEMONSTRATORS MANNING THE BARRICADES AND 
ARE ABLE TO DISPATCH REINFORCEMENTS TO WEAK SPOTS IN 
THE SYSTEM.  EMBOFFS HAVE WITNESSED LARGE CONVOYS OF 
CIVILIAN MOTORCYCLES ON CHANGAN AVENUE.  IT IS 
POSSIBLE THAT THIS IS ONE METHOD OF COMMUNICATION 
BETWEEN STUDENT ORGANIZERS AND DEMONSTRATORS. 
APPARENTLY STRONG COOPERATION AMONG WORKERS, 
STUDENTS, AND OTHERS AT THE BLOCKADES SUGGESTS TO US 
THAT DEMONSTRATORS MAY BE GETTING SUPPORT FROM 
NEIGHBORHOOD PARTY AND GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATIONS. 
 
MILITARY SITUATION 
------------------ 
11.  DAO HAS REPORTED EXTENSIVELY ON THE MILITARY 
SITUATION  (REFS. B-E).  BASED ON DAO OBSERVATIONS OF 
PLA ACTIVITIES AND ON DAO CONVERSATIONS WITH MILITARY 
PERSONNEL, AT APPROXIMATELY 11:00 PM, MAY 20, A 
POLITICAL DECISION WAS MADE TO MOVE ON TIANANMEN AT 
2:00 AM.  THE ORDER APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN RESCINDED 
BETWEEN 1:00 AM AND 2:00 AM ON MAY 21.  ACCORDING TO 
DAO OBSERVERS, TROOPS AT GUCHENG, ON THE WESTERN SIDE 
OF THE CITY, STOOD DOWN FROM THEIR TRUCKS AND BEGAN 
MINGLING WITH THE LOCAL POPULACE AT ABOUT 8:15 AM. 
IT IS RUMORED THAT AT ABOUT 6:15 AM ON MAY 21 LI PENG 
ANNOUNCED THAT THE ORDER HAD BEEN RESCINDED. 
 
12.  AS OF LATE MORNING, PLA TRUCKS CONVOYING 
SOLDIERS AT GUCHENG HAD TURNED AROUND TO PARK FACING 
IN A DIRECTION AWAY FROM THE CITY.  STUDENTS AT 
TIANANMEN SQUARE AND AT BEIJING UNIVERSITIES 
REPORTEDLY FEAR THAT THE PLA WILL ATTEMPT TO TAKE THE 
SQUARE TONIGHT VIA BEIJING'S UNDERGROUND TUNNEL 
NETWORK OR VIA A MILITARY TRAIN THROUGH BEIJING 
STATION. 
 
13.  AN AMERICAN CITIZEN REPORTED TO EMBASSY 
AFTERNOON OF MAY 21 THAT  PLA TROOPS HAD TAKEN OVER 
BEIJING'S CENTRAL RAILWAY STATION.  POLOFF WHO 
SUBSEQUENTLY WENT TO THE STATION SAW NO SIGNS OF A 
PLA PRESENCE INSIDE OR OUTSIDE OF THE STATION.  HE 
DID NOT, HOWEVER, OBSERVE THE PLATFORM AREAS, WHICH 
REQUIRE A TICKET TO ENTER.  ALTHOUGH CHINESE STUDENTS 
IN THE VICINITY OF THE STATION ASSURED HIM THAT THE 
SOLDIERS WERE THERE, THEY ACKNOWLEDGED THAT THEY HAD 
NOT THEMSELVES SEEN THEM.  ONE STUDENT ON TIANANMEN 
SQUARE REPORTED THAT TROOPS HAD ALREADY LEFT THE 
STATION. 
 
14.  AN AMERICAN STUDENT AT BEIJING UNIVERSITY 
REPORTED TO EMBASSY THAT HE WITNESSED TANKS AND PLA 
SOLDIERS AT AN INTERSECTION IN THE VICINITY OF 
BEIJING UNIVERSITY ON THE MORNING OF MAY 21. 
STUDENTS WERE CIRCULATING AMONG THE SOLDIERS, 
ACCORDING TO THE AMERICAN.  HE DID NOT SAY HOW MANY 
TANKS WERE PRESENT.  WE HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO CONFIRM 
THIS REPORT.  THE FCS OFFICER AT QINGHUA REPORTED 
WITNESSING LARGE CROWDS OF STUDENTS AT THE GATES OF 
BEIJING AND PEOPLE'S UNIVERSITIES.  HE DID NOT REPORT 
HAVING SEEN ANY PLA TROOPS IN THE VICINITY OF 
BEIJING'S UNIVERSITY DISTRICT, HOWEVER. 
 
ANONYMOUS CALLER REPORTS CENTRAL COMMITTEE MEETING 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
15.  IT IS POSSIBLE THAT THE PARTY CONVENED A CENTRAL 
COMMITTEE (CCPCC) MEETING SOMETIME BETWEEN THE NIGHT 
OF MAY 19 AND EARLY THIS MORNING AT WHICH MEMBERS 
DISSENTED WITH THE DECISION TO EMPLOY THE PLA TO 
RESTORE ORDER IN BEIJING.  AN ANONYMOUS CALLER WHO 
PHONED CONGEN SHENYANG ON THE MORNING OF MAY 21 SAID 
THAT THE PARTY HAD CONVENED A CCPCC MEETING AND THAT 
CHAIRMAN OF THE ALL CHINA FEDERATION OF LABOR UNIONS 
NI ZHIFU CONDEMNED THE DECISION TO IMPOSE MARTIAL LAW. 
 
16.  ACCORDING TO THE CALLER, NI DEMANDED AN END TO 
MARTIAL LAW AND A POSITIVE REASSESSMENT OF THE 
STUDENT DEMONSTRATIONS.  HE ALSO DEMANDED THAT THE 
GOVERNMENT HOLD TALKS WITH STUDENT LEADERS.  THE 
CALLER CLAIMED THAT NI THREATENED TO LEAD A GENERAL 
STRIKE IF THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE FAILED TO ACCEPT HIS 
DEMANDS.  THE CALLER DID NOT STATE WHEN OR WHERE THE 
MEETING WAS HELD OR IF OUT-OF-TOWN MEMBERS ATTENDED. 
 
 
PEOPLE'S DAILY COVERAGE SUGGESTS LI PENG GOVERNMENT 
HAS INCOMPLETE CONTROL OVER PRESS 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
17.  THE MAY 20 AND 21 EDITIONS OF THE PEOPLE'S DAILY 
INDICATE THAT LI PENG MAY NOT HAVE TOTAL CONTROL OVER 
THE PRESS.  THE FRONT PAGE OF THE MAY 20 EDITION 
SHOWS COVERAGE OF THE LI PENG AND YANG SHANGKUN 
SPEECHES OF MAY 19.  IT SHOWS PICTURES OF YANG AND 
LI.  HOWEVER, THE UPPER RIGHT SIDE OF THE FRONT PAGE 
DISPLAYS A LARGER PICTURE OF ZHAO ZIYANG ADDRESSING 
STUDENTS AT TIANANMEN ON THE MORNING OF MAY 19. 
BENEATH A HEADLINE STATING THAT ZHAO AND LI PENG 
VISITED THE STUDENTS, BOLDFACED CHARACTERS ANNOUNCE 
THAT "PARTY GENERAL SECRETARY ZHAO SINCERELY HOPES 
THAT STUDENTS WILL LIVE TO SEE THE IMPLEMENTATION OF 
THE FOUR MODERNIZATIONS." 
 
18.  THIS EDITION MUST HAVE BEEN PRINTED AFTER ZHAO'S 
RUMORED RESIGNATION/REMOVAL AND AFTER LI AND YANG 
DELIVERED THEIR MAY 19 CALLS FOR THE RESTORATION OF 
ORDER IN THE CAPITAL.  THE COVERAGE OF ZHAO'S VISIT 
TO TIANANMEN, AS WELL AS THE USE OF HIS FORMAL TITLE 
FURTHER CLOUD THE QUESTION OF ZHAO'S PRESENT STATUS 
AND WHEREABOUTS. 
 
19.  THE FRONT PAGE OF THE MAY 21 EDITION OF THE 
PEOPLE'S DAILY HEADLINES THE IMPOSITION OF MARTIAL 
LAW AND THE ISSUANCE OF BEIJING MUNICIPAL 
IMPLEMENTING REGULATIONS.  NEVERTHELESS, A SMALL BOX 
IN THE LOWER LEFT OF THE PAGE HEADLINED "THE FIRST 
DAY OF MARTIAL LAW" REPORTS THAT AS OF 4:30 AM, MAY 
21, HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF STUDENTS CONTINUED TO 
OCCUPY TIANANMEN SQUARE AND THAT MARCHERS STILL ENTER 
THE SQUARE DURING THE DAY.  WE READ THIS ARTICLE AS A 
SIGNAL TO PROVINCIAL READERS THAT MARTIAL LAW HAS SO 
FAR FAILED TO CONTROL THE SITUATION IN BEIJING. 
CONGENS SHANGHAI AND GUANGZHOU HAVE REPORTED THAT 
THERE IS A NEWS BLACKOUT ON EVENTS IN BEIJING IN 
THESE CITIES.  WE DO NOT KNOW IF TODAY'S EDITION OF 
THE PEOPLE'S DAILY HAS BEEN DISTRIBUTED OUTSIDE OF 
BEIJING, HOWEVER. 
 
 
LILLEY 

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