The Political Struggle for Tiananmen
The hunger strike had an extraordinary effect. Public sympathy went overwhelmingly to the students, who, by risking death, had captured the high moral ground from a political leadership that seemed more concerned with preserving their power and providing business opportunities for their relatives than with "serving the people."1 Order in the city was disrupted as traffic around the square was halted and some cars and buses were commandeered. Support for the hunger strikers was also expressed in other cities, where some hunger strikes were also initiated.2 The government was under great pressure to ensure that no harm would come to the hunger strikers, as the Central Committee ordered the Beijing Party Committee to mobilize hospital staff against such a possibility. But the divided leaders confronted a massive problem: how to terminate the hunger strike while reestablishing their authority, which was now rapidly eroding, even among workers. The latter now joined the demonstrations in force.3 From the start of the hunger strike, conservative leaders worked behind the scenes to decide upon a response, which soon included a decision to impose martial law and send military forces into the capital (see part VII).____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Beijing Spring, 1989:Confrontation and Conflict: the Basic Documents. Contributors: Michel Oksenberg - Editor, Lawrence R. Sullivan - Editor, Marc Lambert - Editor, Qiao Li - Author, H. R. Lan - Translator, Jerry Dennerline - Translator. Publisher: M. E. Sharpe. Place of publication: Armonk, NY. Publication year: 1990. Page number: 267.
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