The Chinese general who said no at Tiananmen Square

June 6th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The NY Times reports:

On a spring evening in 1989, with the student occupation of Tiananmen Square entering its second month and the Chinese leadership unnerved and divided, top army commanders were summoned to headquarters to pledge their support for the use of military force to quash the protests.

One refused.

In a stunning rebuke to his superiors, Maj. Gen. Xu Qinxian, leader of the mighty 38th Group Army, said the protests were a political problem, and should be settled through negotiations, not force, according to new accounts of his actions from researchers who interviewed him.

“I’d rather be beheaded than be a criminal in the eyes of history,” he told Yang Jisheng, a historian.

Although General Xu was soon arrested, his defiance sent shudders through the party establishment, fueling speculation of a military revolt and heightening the leadership’s belief that the student-led protests were nothing less than an existential threat to the Communist Party.

If only there had been a few more brave men like him who refused to say yes to killing peaceful protesters.

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9 Responses to “The Chinese general who said no at Tiananmen Square”

  1. kowtow (8,932 comments) says:

    The troops on the ground had started to go over to the students too.That would have frightened the leadership.

    What became of the brave general?

    What became of the tank commander who didn’t drive over tank man?

    So many questions of our close trading “partner”?

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  2. louie (96 comments) says:

    I see according to the latest left wing rewrite of history, the protests were all about child poverty and income inequality. Cunliffe will be claiming credit soon I expect. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-04/how-the-tiananmen-square-massacre-unfolded/5496454

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  3. Andrei (2,653 comments) says:

    Things like that would never happen in the land of the free, no way.

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  4. JMS (367 comments) says:

    Things like that would never happen in the land of the free, no way.

    There were government inquiries into that bloody event. And the dead are remembered in memorials.

    Compare that to how criminal communist regimes cover up and deny their crimes.

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  5. David Garrett (7,698 comments) says:

    Andrei: Thanks for that reminder that atrocities and terrible escalations can happen on both sides of the ideological divide..

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  6. Odakyu-sen (851 comments) says:

    Erect a statue to that general.

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  7. cha (4,132 comments) says:

    The (independent) National Security Archive has a shed load of Defense Intelligence Agency cables about the crackdown. Grim reading.

    http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB473/

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  8. Fentex (1,130 comments) says:

    I recall at the time rumours that some Chinese units dispersed about Beijing were unarmed for fear of their uncertain loyalties.

    Chinese leadership is always fearful of internal strife, it drives a lot of their policies after a long history of battles severing the country into distinct kingdoms.

    IIRC It was the more prosperous regions surrounding Hong Kong and profiting from commerce to the west whose loyalties were most suspect at the time.

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  9. stephieboy (3,513 comments) says:

    Andrei, I see by reference to Kent State you seem to be trying to suggest that Tiananmen Square is a parallel event.?At least with Kent state there is open and ongoing media and public debate about the tragedy.Not so in the PRC where the infamous massacre has deliberately ended down the Orwellian memory hole ,rather like those Journalists your Putin and the Kremlin have murdered.
    BTW , how many died at the square vs Kent state.?

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