I Like to Remember You As Smiling.. (News Photo)
Tiananmen slips into China media
Jonathan Watts in Beijing
Wednesday January 14, 2004
China's 15-year long news blackout on the Tiananmen Square massacre slipped for a few hours yesterday when People's Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist party, reported for the first time on its website that the authorities had carried out a "violent crackdown" on pro-democracy student activists.
But the acknowledgement of guilt appears to have been the result of careless internet plagiarism rather than a change of policy on the bloody suppression in June 1989, when tanks and troops killed hundreds, possibly thousands, of demonstrators who had been calling for political reform.
The criticism of the government's handling of the Tiananmen protests was at the end of an obituary for the pop diva Anita Mui. The piece, on the English language website for People's Daily, was lifted from the Hong Kong media based on reports by Associated Press.
In the final paragraph the story notes: "Mui also was active in charity work. In 1989, she was part of a fundraising effort for China's pro-democracy student movement, which mainland authorities crushed with a violent crackdown in Beijing's Tiananmen Square."
Staff at People's Daily initially refused to comment but insisted that the story contained no errors. Two minutes later, however, the paragraph disappeared and the story was attributed to the China Daily, another state-run publisher.
A People's Daily spokeswoman later said: "It was just routine editing. We have no policy to remove articles on the subject of Tiananmen Square."
Last night China Daily's website still appeared ready to publish the surprisingly candid criticism of one of the Chinese communist party's most shameful episodes.
Anita, You would be proud to know