China Allows Low-Key Funeral for Reformist Zhao Ziyang

By Becker, Jasper | The Independent (London, England), January 29, 2005 | Go to article overview
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China Allows Low-Key Funeral for Reformist Zhao Ziyang


Becker, Jasper, The Independent (London, England)


THE CHINESE government is preparing to hold a low-key funeral for the pro-reform leader Zhao Ziyang amid tight security at a Beijing cemetery where many of China's most honoured revolutionaries have been interred.

The funeral at Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery will "bid farewell to the remains" of Zhao, denying him the state funeral sought by his supporters who had pressed for the same honour bestowed on the late paramount leaders Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. The scaled-down funeral ends a long deadlock between Zhao's family and government officials over the arrangements to bury the ousted leader who died in a Beijing hospital on 17 January, aged 85.

Zhao, a former party and government leader, had been under house arrest since challenging the party's decision to send in troops to crush the student-led demonstrations in Tiananmen Square on 4 June 1989.

Passes for the ceremony have been issued and Zhao's widow, Liang Boqi, who is in ill health, will not attend. To avert protests, the police are guarding the cemetery and have stepped up security on Tiananmen Square, the hub of the protests which led to Zhao's removal.

Ding Zilin, whose teenage son was killed in the Tiananmen Square massacre and who has since compiled a list of victims, has been put under house arrest, as have several other democracy campaigners. Beijing police earlier in the week detained the organiser of a planned 5,000-strong memorial march from Qinghua University to Zhao's home in the centre of the city.

Xu Liangying, a retired academic with knowledge of the wrangle, said "Zhao's family has decided to stand by his deeds during the Tiananmen protests while the government want them to admit he committed a mistake in 1989.

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