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Zhao Loses Last Post in Purge

June 30, 1989

BEIJING (AP) _ China today completed its purge of disgraced former Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang, removing him from his last government post for what senior leader Deng Xiaoping called ″serious mistakes.″

Zhao, who sympathized with students seeking democratic reforms, was ousted as vice chairman of the State Central Military Commission by the Chinese legislature. Deng engineered Zhao’s formal removal as party leader last weekend.

Deng wrote in a letter to the National People’s Congress that ″since Comrade Zhao Ziyang has committed serious mistakes, I proposed his dismissal,″ the official Xinhua News Agency said.

President Yang Shangkun, who spent his career in the military, was reportedly seeking Zhao’s post of senior vice chairman, second only to Deng in the military hierarchy. Yang has extensive contacts among the military leadership, and he was a strong supporter of the martial law decree announced by Premier Li Peng in May.

Zhao fell out of favor with Deng last month for opposing martial law and the crackdown on the student-led democracy movement.

He was swept out of his posts with several other moderates, who were replaced by officials backing the suppression of dissent. Zhao was replaced as party general secretary by Jiang Zemin, a former mayor of Shanghai who quickly put down protests in his own city.

Zhao, 69, was last seen when he made a tearful speech to students on a hunger strike in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on May 19.

Martial law was imposed in Beijing the next day. On June 3-4, the Chinese army swept into Tiananmen Square.

Beijing Mayor Chen Xitong told Congress today that more than 200 civilians, including 36 college students, were killed. He also said dozens of soldiers died, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Earlier, the government said 200 to 300 people, about half of them soldiers, had died in the military crackdown. Chinese witnesses and Western intelligence had estimated about 3,000 people were killed.

Chen also reported that 3,000 civilians were injured, in addition to 6,000 soldiers and police.

He said more than 1,000 army trucks, 60 armored cars, and 120 buses sustained $350 million in damages.

The Congress opened its session Thursday, hailing the Communist Party’s violent suppression of the democracy movement as ″legal, correct and necessary.″

Today, China renewed attacks on foreign countries it said were trying to isolate it for suppressing the movement.

State media said Premier Li dismissed international criticism of the crackdown.

″China has also noticed an anti-China ... current,″ Li told the foreign minister of Sao Tome and Principe, an island nation off West Africa. ″Under the banner of human rights, these people have made unwarranted accusations of China for its quelling of the counterrevolutionary rebellion and punishment of criminals according to law.″

President Yang told a visiting delegation from Bolivia on Thursday that he hoped the world ″will understand that the suppression of the rebellion represents a reasonable act in handling our internal affairs,″ the state-run China Daily reported.

″No ruling party or government will allow the subversion of itself,″ Yang said.

The government also lashed out Thursday at the European Economic Community for making ″presumptuous accusations″ against China.

The 12-nation EEC on Tuesday condemned what it called the ″brutal repression taking place in China.″ It called for an embargo on arms sales and urged the World Bank to postpone new loans.

The United States, Canada, Japan, Australia and other countries have already taken similar steps against Beijing.

In Washington, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 418-0 Thursday to endorse the cutoff of military aid already ordered by President Bush. But it also voted to suspend trade and development programs, ban the sale of police equipment and limit transfer of high-technology and nuclear materials.

The House provision is part of a foreign aid bill that the Senate still must consider.

China has faced increasing isolation within the international community as authorities continue to arrest people who supported the mass protests for greater political freedom that began in mid-April.

Since the military crackdown, at least 1,800 people have been arrested and 27 executed.

Update hourly