Zhao Ziyang on his deathbed

I wonder what this will mean for our friends in the CCP? The deaths of folk heroes tend to be a big deal for the Chinese people, though with today’s economy I can’t imagine another widespread student rebellion taking shape.

Update: It’s true, he’s dead.

Update: An expat in Beijing offers a good overview of this topic here.

The Discussion: 24 Comments

As with anything else, it’s tough to say what the CCP will do before something actually happens. That’s just the nature of the beast.

But if we were betting I’d say the CCP will have wisened up some by this point.

When he dies, they’ll embrace him–US$5, any takers?

January 15, 2005 @ 3:35 pm | Comment

You are actually betting on Hu and Wen’s political wisdom, for that you can be right.

Not many people could work with Zhao Ziyang and Li Peng as their right hand man. Wen Jiabao did (not at the same time) and served both well. But even marster of survivial like Wen will find it thorny this time.

January 15, 2005 @ 6:45 pm | Comment


bet on the death of a country’s hero.

When you show off your smart regard, intelligent comment, and crap like such, do you realize your being is as cheap as five dollars?

Didn’t mean no offense, though.

January 15, 2005 @ 8:28 pm | Comment

Zhao Ziyang Drama Continues

The Peking Duck catches up on Zhao Ziyang. Following up on last week’s entry here, let me link in this brief story from RTHK which provides some additional details to the AP story the Peking Duck links to.
Human rights activists in Hong Kong issued a sta

January 15, 2005 @ 9:11 pm | Comment

Where would China be right now if Zhao hadn’t been replaced with Jiang?

January 15, 2005 @ 10:05 pm | Comment

Zhao Ziyang’s candle burns low

Richard of The Peking Duck says “with today’s economy I can’t imagine another widespread student rebellion taking shape.” He’s a more experienced China hand than I. It’ll be interesting to see if the China’s robust economic development has affected t…

January 15, 2005 @ 11:26 pm | Comment

Fair enough.

January 16, 2005 @ 4:25 am | Comment

Actually, what I had previously posed was a question and not a rhetorical statement.

My guess is that if Zhao had remained in power, China’s economic reforms may not have progressed as far as it presently has. This is true especially for Shanghai and surrounding areas that have benefited disproportionately under the rule of Jiang and the “Shanghai gang”. However, I think China would have been much further ahead politically.

Considering the present plight of China’s peasantry and especially the massive numbers of blue-collar workers laid off from China’s state owned enterprises in the decaying rust belt of the Northeast, Zhao’s eventual funeral could be a very dangerous period for China’s present regime indeed. Is it more than coincidence that the Falun gong movement is also centred in Manchuria? Let’s hope that the new Hu/Wen leadership will avoid their own Tiananmen.

January 16, 2005 @ 3:26 pm | Comment

zhao dead

January 16, 2005 @ 6:38 pm | Comment

Time to gather in the square to commemorate his death?

January 16, 2005 @ 7:32 pm | Comment

FS9, God knows, he deserves it as much as anyone ever has.

January 16, 2005 @ 7:42 pm | Comment

If Zhao had remained in power after 1989, China’s reforms would not have slowed down. Quite the contrary, Zhao had been the key designer of many of the reforms of the 1980s. The 1990s were so good economically precisely because of the actions taken in the 1980s. Zhao certainly would have continued the pace of reform. And let’s not forget, when Jiang assumed office he was weak and scared and hesitant to push economic reform too far. It was only when Deng took his “southern tour” in1992 that Jiang got the economic reform religion. If Zhao had survived politically, China’s economy would be just as strong as it is today, and the country would likely be experiencing some degree of political liberalization. Zhao may not have been a real democrat but his greatest legacy will be that he refused to kill his own people in 1989.

January 16, 2005 @ 7:55 pm | Comment

Richard and all,

I’m not sure if this is the right place to put it. But I laffed my ass off …


Kinda put things in perspective, doesn’t it? LOEFL

January 16, 2005 @ 7:56 pm | Comment

I guess, despite different political position, many people will agree Zhao could be China’s Gorbachev.

For western media, that certainly is a praise. For many chinese, well, the feeling is mixed. He did show more humanity at that critical moment, but, thanks God, he did not do what Gorbachev did to his motherland.

At this moment, Zhao’s legacy was damaged by his former political advisors, who have become supporters for Taiwan independence. That is simply stupid political suicide. How can they convince average chinese to support them?

January 16, 2005 @ 8:09 pm | Comment

I read this morning in the China Daily that his health had “stabilised”. Now he’s dead. Don’t these propaganda departments realise how stupid they look?

Will his death prompt mass outpourings of grief and calls for more democracy? The western media would like us to believe so. I don’t know, but I doubt it..

January 16, 2005 @ 8:44 pm | Comment

I too doubt anything like the mass movement in 1989 will happen this time. The affection people had for the rather remote and bureaucratic Zhao Ziyang doesn’t come anywhere close to that of the charismatic Hu Yaobang. And while Hu died only 2 years after being removed from power, when he was still fresh in people’s memories, it has been more than 15 years since Zhao’s purge and a lot has happened in those 15 years. Also making a mass movement unlikely is the fact that Chinese people today are far more cynical about politics and politicians than in 1989 when many people still believed in the old Maoist ideas about mass movement and the power of the people. If there’s anything to watch for, it’s at Zhao’s funeral. It’d be interesting to see what sort of eulogy is delivered and who shows up to pay their respects.

January 17, 2005 @ 12:46 am | Comment

If Zhao was so popular among the public, the CCP should have at least made him an honorable title within the party to improve the CCP image, instead of putting him in exile. The same is true to the respectable Zhu Rongji. The CCP party system is too rigid.

January 17, 2005 @ 12:55 am | Comment

And speaking of potential reformers, whatever happened to Qiao Shi? He really lost out after Jiang consolidated his power. Qiao is a very interesting figure – high up in the internal security aparatus, went on to head the National People’s Congress and became a real advocate of the rule of law. I have an interview he did with New Perspectives Quarterly that was quite something – it very directly stated his views on the need for greater democracy, a rule of law and that the CCP had to subordinate itself to a system of law as well (and not just on paper). I thought it unfortunate that he lost out in the power struggle and am not sure what his status is now.

January 17, 2005 @ 1:05 am | Comment

I just received the following from a high level government official at State Concil:


The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. (Matthew 4:16)

Since what you have been through, those sorrow and solitude
now is no longer our relief;

For the sake of the peace and love
justice and equality
Lord, thy will be done in earth.


January 17, 2005 @ 2:04 am | Comment


If it is meant to be a tribute to Zhao from you, it is actually a very nice and respectful thing to do. However, knowing that you had also said such horrible things to Bingfeng in the past. It’s kinda giving me a nauseatic feeling.

January 17, 2005 @ 3:49 am | Comment


i think that most chinese leaders share the same goals as Qiao Shi has, but their tactics are different.

January 17, 2005 @ 4:43 am | Comment

This site contains interesting and probably accurate odds on what will probably happen for the funeral (scroll to the bottom of “Monday”).

January 17, 2005 @ 9:00 am | Comment

Like his predecessor Hu Yangbang, Zhao has been one of the last human beings with conscience inside the Communist Party. If his disvow of his party’s time-honored veneration for violance ensures his place alongside FW de Klirk, then his 15-year ordeal surely has promoted him to the rank of Nelson Mandela.

Zhao’s legacy of non-violance is remarkable especially in China’s brutal political context. His former political advisors apply it to China-Taiwan relations and thus pay a lasting tribute to him.

January 18, 2005 @ 8:40 am | Comment

I feel too dark to see anything now, who can help us?

January 20, 2005 @ 7:21 pm | Comment

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