PEKING — The Chinese Communist Party on Monday summarily fired Fang Lizhi, the physicist and university vice president who had become the hero of the recent wave of student demonstrations for democracy, saying that he had "defamed the party's leadership."
In addition, Fang's boss, Guan Weiyuan, was dismissed as president of the Chinese University of Science and Technology, in Hefei. The party accused him of neglecting "ideological and political work."
This morning, the Communist Party announced broad new restrictions on the Chinese press, saying that all Chinese publishing units must "resist bourgeois liberalization."
"Publishing is an ideological and cultural front of socialism," said Wang Daming, deputy head of the party's propaganda department. "It must adhere to the four principles--the socialist road, the people's democratic dictatorship, the Communist Party's leadership and Marxism-Leninism and Mao Tse-tung thought."
The official New China News Agency account appeared to suggest that the head of the propaganda department, Zhu Houze, who had tolerated an unprecedented degree of freedom of expression from intellectuals in the Chinese press, has been replaced or that his authority has been undermined.
The firings of the two university officials were the first official actions to be announced by the regime in what is expected to be an extensive purge in the wake of the student unrest. Chinese sources reported last week that Fang would be expelled from the party, but it was not clear until Monday that he would lose his job at the university as well.
On Monday, the capital was awash in speculation that the shake-ups being ordered by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping will reach to the very highest levels of the party leadership.
Rumors About Hu
The Peking correspondents of two Communist Party newspapers in Europe reported rumors that Deng had fired his top-ranking aide, party General Secretary Hu Yaobang. A foreign Communist Party member working for a Chinese agency also said he heard that Hu has been ousted and that an official announcement is to be made today.
Tanjug, the Yugoslav Communist Party newspaper, and L'Unita, the organ of the Italian Communist Party, said that Hu will be replaced as party chief by Premier Zhao Ziyang. In turn, they said, Li Ruihuan, the young, reform-minded mayor of the city of Tianjin, will become premier.
Hu, 71, who has served as party general secretary since 1980, was said to have been forced out in the face of criticism by conservatives in the party. Deng was said to have sacrificed his top aide in an effort to salvage the general outlines of his economic reform program and open-door policies.
Lack of Confirmation
There was no confirmation Monday of these reports, and the New China News Agency carried a dispatch late in the day officially listing Zhao as the premier.
But some Peking-based diplomats said the reports of Hu's ouster are plausible. They noted that Hu has not been seen for two weeks and that on Sunday a group of Japanese officials scheduled to meet with Hu were suddenly told that he was "too exhausted from overwork" to see them.
There was no mention of Hu in any official Chinese newspaper Monday. By contrast, the party organ People's Daily gave extensive coverage to a long ideological essay by an aide to Premier Zhao. Until now, questions of ideology have been the responsibility of the party general secretary, not the premier.
"It seems to me to be ominous," one Western diplomat said Monday. "If (Hu) was sick, why wouldn't they just say so?"
Wave of Unrest
The decision to fire the two university officials in Hefei was announced by the party Central Committee and the State Council, China's leading party and government bodies.
The recent wave of student unrest started Dec. 5 when students at the University of Science and Technology demonstrated to protest undemocratic procedures in an election for a local People's Congress. Fang, 50, who is an astrophysicist, supported the students, saying he thought they had a legitimate grievance.
The official announcement Monday said that Fang "attempted to shake off the party's leadership and depart from the socialist road in running his school." It said that over a long period of time he has "made many erroneous statements of bourgeois liberalization."
Guan, the university president, was said to have "committed a serious error by turning a deaf ear to the words and deeds of bourgeois liberalization." The two men were held responsible for the student unrest at the university, and therefore elsewhere in the nation.
There were indications in the official announcement that all professors at the university who voiced support for Fang are now being required to disavow him or to write self-criticisms.