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Showed Much Restraint, China Brags : Premier Doubts Critic Nations Would Have Been 'So Tolerant'

June 19, 1989|From Associated Press

BEIJING — Premier Li Peng said today that none of the nations criticizing China's suppression of dissidents would have shown as much restraint, and he honored as martyrs three soldiers killed in the crackdown.

"For more than 50 days our government, army and party were restrained," Li told the families of the dead soldiers at Communist Party headquarters, apparently referring to the weeks preceding the June 3-4 crackdown.

"Some countries have attacked us, abused us and created rumors," he said. "Can their governments be so tolerant? You won't find one that is."

1,000 Arrested

Since troops attacked central Beijing to crush seven weeks of protests, more than 1,000 people have been arrested and at least 11 have been sentenced to death.

Western intelligence sources and Chinese witnesses say up to 3,000 people were killed in the crackdown. The government says fewer than 300 died, half of them soldiers.

Since declaring martial law May 20 in Beijing, Li has emerged as the chief spokesman for the government's hard-line position against the student-led movement for greater freedoms and an end to government corruption.

Meanwhile, a special session of the national legislature headed by a more moderate official was postponed today.

Wan Li, the chairman of the National People's Congress, had scheduled a congress session beginning Tuesday "to discuss issues of people's common concern and prompt the government to improve its work."

Wan, who has a reputation as a moderate, called the session before the June 3-4 crackdown. Some students had hoped it would approve some of the democratic reforms they were demanding.

No New Date Set

But the congress press office said the session was postponed because Beijing had not yet returned completely to normal. No new date was set.

The legislature may be waiting until the Communist Party holds an anticipated Central Committee meeting to formally oust party General Secretary Zhao Ziyang. Zhao reportedly has been stripped of his power for opposing the crackdown.

He and party propaganda chief Hu Qili are the only top officials believed purged. Wan has supported the crackdown publicly.

The government announced it was expelling the sixth foreign reporter in the last 10 days. The official New China News Agency said Joseph Kahn, a part-time reporter for the Dallas Morning News, was given 72 hours to leave.

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