US embassy cable - 89BEIJING15491

CHENGDU STALEMATE

Identifier: 89BEIJING15491
Wikileaks: View 89BEIJING15491 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Beijing
Created: 1989-06-05 11:56:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: PINS PGOV PHUM CH
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
O 051156Z JUN 89
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0127
AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU
AMCONSUL HONG KONG
AMCONSUL SHANGHAI
AMCONSUL SHENYANG
AIT TAIPEI
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIJING 15491 
 
FOLLOWING MESSAGE TRANSMITS CHENGDU 622 QUOTE 
 
E.O.12356:N/A 
TAGS:  PINS, PGOV, PHUM, CH 
SUBJECT:  CHENGDU STALEMATE 
 
REF:  CHENGDU 619 AND PREVIOUS 
 
1.   SUMMARY:  AS OF 1600 ON 6/5, THERE IS A 
STALEMATE IN DOWNTOWN CHENGDU BETWEEN PROTESTERS WHO 
FLOOD THE STREETS AND CONTINUE TO BURN SOME VEHICLES, 
AND TROOPS WHICH HAVE TAKEN REFUGE IN THE MUNICIPAL 
OFFICE COMPOUND AND OCCASIONALLY LOB TEAR GAS 
INEFFECTIVELY INTO THE CROWD.  STUDENTS REPRESENT A 
DISTINCT MINORITY OF THE CROWDS.  MANY WORKERS SAID 
THAT THEIR FACTORIES HAVE ALREADY UNOFFICIALLY GONE 
ON STRIKE, AND THE NUMBERS OF SPECTATORS FAR 
SURPASSES USUAL LEVELS ON THE MIDDAY STREETS.  NO NEW 
CASUALTIES ARE REPORTED, BUT DEATH TOLLS FROM THE 6/4 
RIOT CONTINUE TO MOUNT.  OUTSIDE OF THE CONTROL AREA 
AROUND CHENGDU'S MAO STATUE, CITY ACTIVITY APPEARS 
NORMAL, EXCEPT THAT NO POLICE OR TROOPS ARE IN 
EVIDENCE.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2.   NO NEW FIGHTING OR CONFRONTATIONS HAVE TAKEN 
PLACE IN CHENGDU AS OF 1600 ON JUNE 5.  TROOPS FROM 
THE PEOPLE'S ARMED POLICE AND FIRE-FIGHTERS 
ESSENTIALLY ABANDONED THE DOWNTOWN AREA AROUND THE 
MAO STATUE AS WELL AS THE NEIGHBORHOOD NEAR THE STILL 
SMOULDERING PEOPLE'S MARKET AT APPROXIMATELY 0900, 
NOR ARE THE REGULAR POLICE EVIDENT ANYWHERE IN TOWN. 
THEY HAVE RETREATED TO THE SANCTITY OF THE MUNICIPAL 
GOVERNMENT COMPOUND NEXT TO THE MAO STATUE.  A FEW 
ON-LOOKERS HIJACKED A MUNICIPAL BUS, PARKED IN THE 
ENTRANCE OF THE MUNICIPAL COMPOUND TO CUT OFF EGRESS, 
AND SET IT ON FIRE AT ABOUT 1100.  THIS BURNED-OUT 
VEHICLE JOINS THE OTHER BUSES, FIRE ENGINES AND 
MILITARY VEHICLES BURNED ON 6/4.  CROWDS HAVE SET 
FIRE TO SEVERAL OTHER VEHICLES AT AN EVER-EXPANDING 
RADIUS FROM THE CENTRAL MAO STAUTE DURING MIDDAY 
6/5.  TROOPS HAVE SEVERAL TIMES LOBBED TEAR GAS FROM 
THE MUNICIPAL COMPOUND INTO THE CROWD BUT WITHOUT 
NOTICEABLE EFFECT. 
 
3.   CROWDS IN THE DOWNTOWN AREA NUMBER UP TO 10,000 
PEOPLE, MOSTLY WORKERS OR UNEMPLOYED YOUTHS.  THEY 
ARE FAR GREATER THAN WOULD BE USUAL ON A MONDAY AT 
MIDDAY, AND THEY HAVE CUT OFF ALL VEHICULAR TRAFFIC 
IN THE IMMEDIATE AREA NEAR THE MAO STATUE.  THERE ARE 
STUDENTS PRESENT, BUT THEY REPRESENT A DISTINCT 
MINORITY.  CONTRARY TO EARLIER RUMORS, THERE ARE NO 
TROOPS VISIBLE AT THE GATES OF ANY OF THE MAJOR 
CHENGDU-AREA UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES, AND FOREIGN 
EXPERTS DO NOT REPORT ANY ON-CAMPUS PRESENCE. 
OUTSIDE THE SEVERAL BLOCKS AROUND THE MAO STATUE AND 
RENMIN NANLU -- THE TRADITIONAL DEMONSTRATION SITES 
-- LIFE IN THE CITY APPEARS TO BE NORMAL, WITH PEOPLE 
GOING ABOUT THEIR USUAL WORK AND ALL BUT A FEW 
GOVERNMENT-OWNED STORES OPEN FOR BUSINESS AS USUAL. 
MANY AMERICAN FOREIGN TEACHERS AND STUDENTS ARE NOW 
ATTEMPTING TO REUTRN TO THE U.S. IN THE NEXT FEW 
DAYS, A FEW WEEKS BEFORE THE SCHEDULED COMPLETION OF 
CLASSES.  THEY REPORT THAT MANY STUDENTS HAVE ALREADY 
LEFT CAMPUS TO RETURN HOME OR TO JOIN THE PROTEST 
MOVEMENT. 
 
4.   SOME WORKERS IN THE CROWD SAY THEY HAVE ALREADY 
GONE ON STRIKE, ALBEIT UNOFFICIALLY, AND WILL NOT 
RETURN TO WORK UNTIL THE SITUATION HAS BEEN 
RESOLVED.  THE CITY GOVERNMENT ISSUED A NOTICE TO ALL 
WORK UNITS ON 6/5 REQUIRING THEM TO ORGANIZE THEIR 
WORKERS EFFECTIVELY TO PROTECT PROPERTY AND TO ENSURE 
EVENING GUARD DUTY.  THE REGULATIONS ALSO PROHIBIT 
CITIZENS FROM INTERFERING WITH THE FLOW OF POLICE 
TRAFFIC OR FROM RUSHING TO THE SITES OF FIRES OR 
UNREST.  MANY SHOPS IN THE DOWNTOWN AREA REMAIN 
CLOSED. 
 
5.   ALTHOUGH THERE HAVE BEEN NO NEW REPORTED 
CASUALTIES SO FAR ON 6/5, APART FROM ONE UNCONSCIOUS 
YOUTH RUSHED FROM THE MAO STATUE TO A NEAR-BY 
HOSPITAL WITH NO APPARENT WOUND (PERHAPS OVERCOME BY 
TEAR GAS OR THE HEAT), THE 6/4 DEATH TOLLS FROM 
APPARENTLY CONFIRMED ACCOUNTS INCREASE.  A WORKER AT 
THE WEST CHINA MEDICAL UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL SAID THAT 
HIS HOSPITAL ALONE HAD HAD SEVEN DEATHS FROM THE 6/4 
RIOT, INCLUDING TWO STUDENTS OF THAT UNIVERSITY, AS 
WELL AS 35 INJURED STUDENTS.  A SENIOR OFFICIAL OF 
SICHUAN UNIVERSITY TOLD FOREIGN EXPERTS THAT NINE 
SICHUAN UNIVERSITY STUDENTS HAVE NOW BEEN CONFIRMED 
DEAD, AND MANY MORE MISSING.  REPORTS OF GUNFIRE BY 
THE TROOPS ON 6/4 CONTINUE TO CIRCULATE AND GROW MORE 
SPECIFIC ABOUT THE TIME AND PLACE, BUT THESE REMAIN 
UNCONFIRMED. 
 
6.   THE STALEMATE CONTINUES AND THE RESTLESS CROWDS 
AWAIT EVENTUAL POLICE REACTION, PROBABLY SOME TIME 
DURING THE NIGHT.  DE WILDE.  END QUOTE. 
 
 
LILLEY 

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