Former Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary and Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang died a year ago after being under house arrest for the last 16 years. Since then, authorities have been attempting to obstruct the frequent memorial services for Zhao via continuous surveillance and police intervention. In January, Li Jinping, who has established a memorial hall for Zhao at his own house in Beijing, was arrested and has been out of contact with his family for three days. Qi Zhiyong and at least five others who had planned to attend the ceremony are also being detained by the police.
January 17, 2006 marks the one-year anniversary of Zhao's death. Zhao's daughter, Ms. Wang Yennan said that Zhao's descendants will be present and that the service will be open to the public. Zhao's family will also greet visitors at the door if notified in advance.
Zhao Ziyang Was under House Arrest for 16 Years
Zhao Ziyang was detained at his house in Fuqiang Hutong, Beijing by the CCP till his death, for opposing the shootings during the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Many people, including his daughter, recalled that Zhao's former one-story residence used to be surrounded by wire fences with a watchtower and a searchlight situated west of the courtyard. The searchlight was later taken down after protests from neighboring residents. Furthermore, across the narrow lane from Zhao's house is the Beijing Security Bureau, where authorities could peer directly into Zhao's courtyard.
During Zhao's detention, the majority of his life's activities took place in the study or the back yard. Authorities put tight restrictions on Zhao's visitors and only few of his closest relatives or friends could visit.
Several Beijing residents have heard many stories of Zhao refusing to apologize to authorities and repeatedly giving up the chance to return to the political arena. Li Jinping confirmed that Zhao's relatives are in financial difficulty because authorities specifically hinder their business developments and other activities.
Zhao Defended Morality and Justice for Sixteen Years
In regards to reports about Zhao having rejected the many requests made by Deng Xiaoping and the authorities to apologize in exchange for a reinstatement between 1989 and 1996, Zhao's daughter stated that the authorities stopped making such requests after 1990. Ms. Wang also presented evidence that the Zhao family was harassed by the authorities.
During 2005, Zhao Xin, a democracy activist in Beijing, had a four-hour talk with Zhao's son and daughter, during which Zhao Xin recollected Zhao having said, “I have written countless self-criticisms but the Great Cultural Revolution has allowed me to see everything clearly. This time, I will never apologize.”
In regards to Zhao refusing to apologize to the authorities, Wang felt that her father was defending his own beliefs of pursuing democracy, standing on the side of the majority of people, and not doing things against the course of history and Mother Nature. Wang said, “He was very clear that if he had chosen to apologize, his situation would have changed immediately. If he had, at any time, given up on his beliefs, he would have been treated much better. We were all also very clear about this.”
Wang felt very confident and proud of her father's choice.
Continuous Support and Praise for Zhao from China and Abroad
Zhao Xin stated, “Think about it, there are some people who would do anything just for personal gain, but Zhao was the Chinese Premier for eight years and Secretary General for two. He had already reached the highest position in China, yet he was able to look at everything lightly and give up everything and not carry any regrets, all to maintain basic morality and conscience. To have suffered for sixteen years in defense of the country was an extremely difficult thing to do.”
Thirty minutes after news of Zhao's death was posted on Sina.com, numerous people posted their condolences on the website. On the People's Daily website, the number of visitors to the site's “China Cross Talk” forum increased rapidly. All sorts of ideas to memorialize Zhao appeared on the website. On average, there were about two thousand messages every hour but they were all quickly removed from the website.
Recently, Su Shaozhi, former director of the Marxism Institute of the Academy of Social Sciences of China and currently living in exile overseas, and Chen Yizi, former director of the Institute for Economic and Structural Reform, established a foundation in New York to commemorate Zhao Ziyang and Hu Yaobang, the former General Secretary of the CCP. The foundation praised the contributions made by Zhao and Hu on China's democratic reform. The Chinese people have named the two as “China's Conscience and Minds for Reform.”Chinese Communist Regime Continues to Prevent Memorial Activity for Zhao
For the past year, Beijing resident Li Jinping has set up a memorial for Zhao. He was detained by the authorities on January 8 but released after two days. On January 13, he was again taken away by police and his family does not know where he is. On the afternoon of January 16, his mother said the authorities had not let them know of his whereabouts or place a call to him. The police have also stationed a police car outside his mother's house.
Currently, several Beijing citizens such as Qi Zhiyong, Hu Lia and Liu Jingsheng, who are planning to attend the memorial activities for Zhao, are still under surveillance by the authorities. Qi Zhiyong said he would not stop his remembrance activities and he has also been wearing a badge featuring Zhao Ziyang's likeness for the last few days.
Despite arrests on January 9 and a heavy police presence at Li's house, many people still came to pay their respects. When questioned, some of them said that they had nothing to fear.