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Last Updated: Friday, 18 November 2005, 05:22 GMT
China ends silence on reformist
General Secretary Hu Yaobang salutes as he reviews a military parade in this file photo taken in Sept. 1981.
Hu Yaobang was sacked for allowing too much reform and protest
China is publicly marking for the first time the birthday of ex-Communist party leader Hu Yaobang, whose death sparked the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

Hu was a popular party figure sacked in 1987 by then ruler Deng Xiaoping for failing to stamp out student protests.

The low-key ceremony 90 years after his birth is a move which the BBC Beijing correspondent says signals the start of his rehabilitation.

She says the timing is significant, a day before US President Bush arrives.

The BBC's Louisa Lim says Chinese President Hu Jintao may be hoping to burnish his reputation as a reformer ahead of the American leader's visit.

Earlier this week Mr Bush called on China to implement democratic reforms and grant political freedoms.

No re-evaluation

The event is being held two days before the 90th anniversary of Hu Yaobang's birth.

15 April: Reformist leader Hu Yaobang dies
22 April: Hu's memorial service. Thousands call for faster reforms
13 May: Students begin hunger strike as power struggle grips Communist Party
15 May: Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev visits China
19 May: Zhao makes tearful appeal to students in Tiananmen Square to leave
20 May: Martial law declared in Beijing
3-4 June: Security forces clear the square, killing hundreds

Several senior Communist party figures, including Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, Vice President Zeng Qinghong and top anti-corruption official Wu Guanzheng attended the meeting.

According to Reuters news agency, 10 liberal intellectual friends invited to the memorial by Hu's family were told to stay away.

However the decision to hold the event does not mean China's leaders are re-evaluating the events of 1989, our correspondent adds.

China has repeatedly refused to give a full account of what happened in Tiananmen Square.


As general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party in the early 1980s, Hu Yaobang was a key reforming figure as the country emerged from the repression of the Cultural Revolution.

He was particularly popular for his openness, and for rehabilitating thousands of people who had suffered during the 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution.

His death in 1989, two years after his sacking, led to demonstrations of support and calls for faster change in protests that converged on Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

On 3-4 June 1989, hundreds of the demonstrators were killed around the Square as the government sent tanks to quash the protests.

Hu Yaobang has not been publicly recognised by the government since the Tiananmen Square events, observers say.

China to mark reformer's birth
15 Nov 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Chinese reformer Zhao Ziyang dies
17 Jan 05 |  Asia-Pacific
China's students changed by Tiananmen
20 Jan 05 |  Asia-Pacific


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