Page last updated at 18:22 GMT, Thursday, 28 May 2009 19:22 UK

Tiananmen figures: Deng Xiaoping

Former Chinese premier Deng Xiaoping (01 October 1988)
Former Premier Deng Xiaoping died in 1997, at the age of 92

Despite having stepped down from most of his official roles, Deng Xiaoping was still the man in charge in China in June 1989.

The decision to crush the protest movement is believed to have been made by him and a few veteran party leaders.

This is Deng's assessment of events, using excerpts taken from a speech he gave to senior military officers just a few days after the killings.

This disturbance would have occurred sooner or later.

It was determined by both the international environment and the domestic environment.

It was bound to occur, whether one wished it or not; the only question was the time and the scale.

The major difficulty in handling it has been that we have never encountered a situation in which a handful of bad people were mingled with so many young students and crowds of onlookers.

Their goal was to establish a bourgeois republic, an out-and-out vassal of the West

We were not able to distinguish between innocent and guilty.

We were dealing not only with people who merely could not distinguish between right and wrong, but also with a number of rebels and many persons who were the dregs of society.

They tried to subvert our state and our Party. This is the crux of the matter.

If we don't understand this fundamental question, we shall not be clear about the nature of the incident.

I believe that if we work at it, we can win the support of the overwhelming majority of Party comrades for our assessment of the nature of the incident and for the measures we have taken to cope with it.

The handful of bad people had two basic slogans: overthrow the Communist Party and demolish the socialist system.

Pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square, Beijing (01 May 2009)
Hundreds, possibly thousands, of people died during the protests
Their goal was to establish a bourgeois republic, an out-and-out vassal of the West.

Naturally, we accepted the people's demand for a fight against corruption.

We even had to accept as well-intentioned the so-called anti-corruption slogans of the bad individuals.

Of course, these slogans were simply pretexts, and their ultimate aim was to overthrow the Communist Party and demolish the socialist system.

Handling this incident was a very rigorous political test for our army.

Facts have shown that the PLA [People's Liberation Army] men passed the test.

If our tanks had pressed forward through the crowd, it would have made it impossible for the entire nation to distinguish between right and wrong.

I therefore want to express our thanks to the PLA officers and men for their handling of the rebellion.

The outbreak of this incident has given us much food for thought, impelling us to reflect soberly on the past and the future.

Perhaps this bad thing will enable us to progress more steadily and even faster than before in carrying out the policies of reform and opening to the outside world, to correct our errors more quickly and give better play to our advantages.

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