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Chinese Dissidents Meet in Paris to Revitalize Movement

July 16, 1991

PARIS (AP) _ Leading Chinese dissidents who escaped abroad after China’s 1989 crackdown on democracy began a weeklong conference Tuesday to revitalize the movement.

About 40 student leaders and activists from eight countries are attending. They hope to breathe new life into their cause, which has faltered as world attention shifted to collapsing communist regimes in eastern Europe, strife in the Soviet Union, the Gulf War, and lingering conflict in Iraq.

Another goal is to publish an authoritative account and analysis of the democracy movement that engulfed Beijing and more than 80 other Chinese cities.

The drive was shattered June 3-4, 1989, when the People’s Liberation Army shot its way through Tiananmen Square. By government count, more than 300 people died. Western diplomats say the toll was at least hundreds more.

Tuesday marked the first time so many of the dissident leaders had gathered. The conference is sponsored by the Federation for a Democratic China, founded after the crackdown to help keep the movement alive, and the House of Chinese Democracy. Both have headquarters in Paris.

″In the 40 years of Chinese history under the Communist Party, despite the hardships, hope has remained, and that is why we are all here today,″ said Chai Ling, who headed the student-led movement in its final days.

″We are here because it is our destiny,″ she said.

Yan Jiaqi, an ex-government adviser and former president of the federation, said, ″There have been more than a dozen books on what happened in 1989, but there has not been a definitive work. I hope this conference will be able to produce such a work.″

Wan Runnan, a former computer executive who supported the movement in Beijing and now is federation president, commented, ″We have made errors ... but we will learn from them.″

He quoted one of the slogans shouted by students at Tiananmen against Deng Xiaoping’s government: ″We may not be able to overthrow you, but you will not be able to outlive us 3/8″

Other former student leaders attending include Li Lu, now a student at Columbia University in New York, who wrote ″Moving the Mountain,″ a book of his experiences, and senior organizers Feng Congde, Shen Tong and Zhang Boli.

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