US embassy cable - 89BEIJING14054

SITREP NO. 8: TIANANMEN SQUARE CROWDS GROW TO 300,000 OR MORE ON THE EVENING OF MAY 21; GOVERNMENT DENIES LI PENG HAS ORDERED THE PLA TO ATTACK STUDENTS EARLY ON MAY 22.

Identifier: 89BEIJING14054
Wikileaks: View 89BEIJING14054 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Beijing
Created: 1989-05-21 17:13:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PHUM SOCI CH
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
R 211713Z MAY 89
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO SECSTATE WASHDC NIACT IMMEDIATE 8956
INFO AMEMBASSY TOKYO IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY MOSCOW IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY LONDON IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY PARIS IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY BANGKOK IMMEDIATE
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
AIT TAIPEI IMMEDIATE
AMCONSUL HONG KONG IMMEDIATE
AMCONSUL SHANGHAI IMMEDIATE
AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU IMMEDIATE
AMCONSUL SHENYANG IMMEDIATE
AMCONSUL CHENGDU
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BEIJING 14054 
 
CINCPAC FOR FPA 
 
E.O. 12356:  DECL:OADR 
TAGS:  PGOV, PHUM, SOCI, CH 
SUBJECT:  SITREP NO. 8:  TIANANMEN SQUARE CROWDS GROW 
TO 300,000 OR MORE ON THE EVENING OF MAY 21; 
GOVERNMENT DENIES LI PENG HAS ORDERED THE PLA TO 
ATTACK STUDENTS EARLY ON MAY 22. 
 
REF:  BEIJING 14053 AND PREVIOUS 
 
 
1.  CONFIDENTIAL - ENTIRE TEXT. 
 
2.  SUMMARY:  ACTIVISTS AND ONLOOKERS RETURNED TO 
TIANANMEN SQUARE IN LARGE NUMBERS ON THE EVENING OF 
MAY 21 AMID WIDESPREAD RUMORS THAT PLA TROOPS WOULD 
ATTACK THE SQUARE IN THE EARLY HOURS OF MAY 22.  BY 
2100 (LOCAL TIME), THE CROWD HAD GROWN TO OVER 
300,000.  THERE WERE AT LEAST 50,000 ACTIVISTS IN THE 
SQUARE, WITH MORE ARRIVING EVERY MINUTE.  THE 
GOVERNMENT DENIED CLAIMS BY STUDENTS THAT PREMIER LI 
PENG HAD ORDERED THE ARMY TO MOVE INTO THE SQUARE AT 
O500 ON MAY 22 AND KILL OR CAPTURE ALL THE STUDENTS 
THERE.  STUDENTS HAD A BUS IN POSITION TO BLOCK THE 
POSSIBLE EMERGENCE OF TROOPS FROM THE WEST EXIT OF 
THE TRAIN STATION, AND WERE USING LARGE CONTINGENTS 
OF ACTIVISTS TO BLOCK MAJOR INTERSECTIONS NEAR 
TIANANMEN SQUARE.  MEDIA SOURCES REPORTED THAT THREE 
AIDES TO ZHAO ZIYANG HAVE BEEN ARRESTED, AND THAT THE 
MILITARY HAS TAKEN CONTROL OF PEOPLE'S DAILY AND 
CCTV.  EARLIER IN THE DAY, FOREIGN NEW AGENCIES 
PREDICTED THAT THEIR LINES WOULD BE CUT SOON.  THEY 
ARE USING TRAVELLERS TO GET VIDEO MATERIAL OUT OF THE 
COUNTRY.  END SUMMARY. 
 
 
TIANANMEN CROWD NUMBERS 300,000 AT 2100 
--------------------------------------- 
 
3.  AT 1900 ON MAY 21, THE CROWD AT TIANANMEN WAS 
RELATIVELY LIGHT, NUMBERING ABOUT 150,000 TO 
200,000.  ABOUT 50,000 OF THAT NUMBER WERE ACTIVISTS 
ON THE SQUARE.  STUDENTS WERE SPREADING THE WORD OF 
"LI PENG'S THREE POINTS" (SEE BELOW), CALLING ON 
ONLOOKERS TO SUPPORT THEM WHEN THE SOLDIERS ARRIVED 
EARLY ON MAY 22.  STUDENTS TOLD EMBOFFS THAT THE 
CROWD WOULD INCREASE IN NUMBER AFTER NIGHTFALL, IN 
EXPECTATION OF THE ARMY'S ARRIVAL.  BY 2100, THE 
CROWD HAD GROWN TO ABOUT 300,000.  ACTIVISTS WERE 
BEING FERRIED IN BY TRUCKS, BUSES, AND CARS. 
ONLOOKERS WERE BICYCLING INTO THE TIANANMEN AREA. 
AT 2100 ONE OF THE OUTER GRANDSTANDS AT THE 
NORTHWEST CORNER OF THE SQUARE WAS FULL. 
 
 
GOVERNMENT DENIES ATTACK ORDERS HAVE BEEN GIVEN 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
4.  ALL THROUGH THE DAY ON MAY 21, STUDENTS IN THE 
SQUARE WERE SPREADING THE WORD THAT THE ARMY HAD 
RECEIVED ORDERS FROM THE GOVERNMENT TO ATTACK THE 
STUDENTS AT O500 (LOCAL TIME) ON MAY 22.  STUDENTS 
CLAIMED THAT SYMPATHETIC SOURCES IN THE GOVERNMENT 
HAD INFORMED THEM THAT TROOPS HAD BEEN INSTRUCTED BY 
PREMIER LI PENG TO CLEAR THE SQUARE, "EVEN IF 200,000 
STUDENTS WERE KILLED."  PRISONS WERE BEING CLEARED TO 
HOUSE STUDENTS, STUDENTS SAID, AND CLEAN-UP CREWS 
ALERTED TO TIDY UP THE SQUARE AS SOON AS THE STUDENTS 
WERE REMOVED.  CNN REPORTED THIS INFORMATION ON MAY 
21, CITING STUDENT SOURCES.  AT 2230 ON MAY 21, THE 
GOVERNMENT ISSUED A DENIAL THAT ANY SUCH ORDER HAD 
BEEN GIVEN.  THE GOVERNMENT'S STATEMENT, REPEATED 
SEVERAL TIMES OVER RADIO AND TELEVISION, RECOUNTED 
EACH ELEMENT OF THE ALLEGED "ORDER" AS DESCRIBED BY 
THE STUDENTS AND DENIED THAT ANY PART OF IT WAS 
TRUE.  CITIZENS WERE WARNED TO BEWARE OF RUMOR 
MONGERS. 
 
 
THE CROWD'S MOOD:  STUDENTS PREPARED TO DIE 
------------------------------------------- 
 
5.  EMBOFFS SPOKE TO QINGHUA UNIVERSITY STUDENTS WHO 
WERE GUARDING ONE EXIT FROM THE QIANMEN SUBWAY.  THE 
STUDENTS, EXPECTING TO BE ATTACKED IN THE EARLY 
MORNING HOURS OF MAY 22, SAID THAT THEY WOULD NOT 
USE VIOLENCE AGAINST THE SOLDIERS.  THE YOUTHS SAID 
THEY WERE PREPARED TO DIE TO STOP THE ARMY FROM 
CLEARING TIANANMEN SQUARE OF STUDENTS.  THE 
ONLOOKERS AND STUDENTS SEEMED ENERGETIC AND 
DETERMINED IN THE MID-EVENING HOURS OF MAY 21. 
 
 
TRAIN STATION:  WEST EXIT BLOCKED 
--------------------------------- 
 
6.  AS NOTED SITREP 7, THERE ARE CONFIRMED REPORTS 
OF A TROOP TRAIN AT THE TRAIN STATION.  STUDENTS ON 
THE SQUARE TOLD EMBOFFS THAT THEY HAD SENT 
EMISSARIES TO INVESTIGATE THE SITUATION AT THE 
BEIJING TRAIN STATION.  BETWEEN 2130 AND 2145, 
EMBOFFS SAW AN EMPTY BUS BLOCKING THE WEST EXIT OF 
THE TRAIN STATION, THE MOST DIRECT ROUTE TO THE 
SQUARE FROM THE STATION.  EMBOFFS ESTIMATED THAT UP 
TO SIX THOUSAND STUDENTS WERE IN THE VICINITY OF THE 
TRAIN STATION.  THE TRAINS APPEARED  TO BE RUNNING 
NORMALLY DURING THE DAYLIGHT HOURS OF MAY 21. 
EMBOFFS MET A WORKER IN THE SQUARE WHO HAD ARRIVED 
BY TRAIN FROM NANJING THE AFTERNOON OF MAY 21.  THE 
WORKER HAD SEEN SOLDIERS CARRYING  RIFLES AND 
AMMUNITION ON HIS TRAIN, BUT HE SAID THAT THEY WERE 
FEW IN NUMBER.  AT 2200, EMBOFFS WITNESSED ORDINARY 
TRAVELERS EMERGING FROM THE BEIJING STATION, 
CARRYING LUGGAGE. 
 
 
CHONGWENMEN BLOCKADE:  STUDENTS TAKE THE LEAD 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
7.  EMBOFFS INTERVIEWED STUDENTS AT CHONGWENMEN 
INTERSECTION, WHICH WE BELIEVE IS TYPICAL OF OTHERS 
NEAR THE TIANANMEN AREA.  SIX TO EIGHT THOUSAND 
STUDENTS WERE PRESENT AT THE INTERSEOCTION.  A 
STUDENT FROM XIAN WAS DIRECTING THE CROWD, ABOUT 
HALF OF WHOM WERE STUDENTS.  IN ADDITION TO THE 
CROWD IN THE INTERSECTION, THERE WERE LARGE NUMBERS 
OF PEOPLE BEYOND THE BLOCKADE.  IN TALKING WITH 
PEOPLE AT THE INTERSECTION, EMBOFFS WERE TOLD THAT 
ALTHOUGH LOCAL PARTY COMMITTEES WERE NOT INVOLVED 
MANY PARTY MEMBERS WERE.  THE PARTICIPANTS TOLD 
EMBOFFS THAT THEY BELIEVED THAT THE MILITARY WAS 
GOING TO ADVANCE ON THE STUDENTS IN THE EARLY 
MORNING HOURS OF MAY 22. 
 
 
ZHAO AIDES REPORTEDLY ARRESTED 
------------------------------ 
 
8.  A FOREIGN MEDIA SOURCE QUOTED A CHINESE 
JOURNALIST TO TELL EMBOFF THAT THREE AIDES TO 
GENERAL SECRETARY ZHAO ZIYANG HAVE BEEN ARRESTED. 
THE AIDES WERE IDENTIFIED AS BAO TONG, WU JIAXIANG, 
AND CHEN XIAOLU. 
 
 
PRESS PROBLEMS 
-------------- 
 
9.  UPI AND OTHER AGENCIES EXPECT TO "HAVE THEIR 
PLUGS PULLED" ON THE NIGHT OF MAY 21.  ONE NETWORK 
WAS THREATENED MAY 20 WITH HAVING ALL OF ITS IDD 
PHONES CUT OFF, BUT MANAGED TO AVERT THIS THROUGH 
NEGOTIATION.  THE NETWORKS ARE ALL USING TRAVELLERS 
TO GET VIDEO MATERIAL OUT OF THE COUNTRY; THE USE OF 
SATELLITE FOR REPORTING IS OUT OF THE QUESTION, AND 
CCTV FACILITIES ARE NOT AVAILABLE TO FOREIGN TV 
NETS.  RUMORS ABOUND THAT THE MILITARY HAS TAKEN OVER 
CCTV AND THAT CENSORSHIP OF THE PRINT MEDIA IS IN 
EFFECT.  A U.S. NETWORK SOURCE REPORTED THAT 75 
MILITARY OFFICIALS IN CIVILIAN CLOTHES TOOK CONTROL 
OF THE PEOPLE'S DAILY ON THE MORNING OF MAY 21.  NONE 
OF THESE REPORTS HAVE BEEN CONFIRMED. 
 
 
LILLEY 

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