Monday 19 August 2019

PM branded 'Butcher of Beijing' dies at 90


Former Chinese premier Li Peng (Ng Han Guan/AP)
Former Chinese premier Li Peng (Ng Han Guan/AP)

Michael Martina

Former Chinese premier Li Peng, reviled by rights activists and many as the 'Butcher of Beijing' for his role in the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, has died, state media reported yesterday.

Mr Li, who was 90, died on Monday in Beijing, Xinhua reported, more than three decades after his government authorised a bloody suppression of student- led pro-democracy protests in the early hours of June 4, 1989.

His death comes as China grapples with a widening political crisis in Hong Kong, which has presented Beijing with the most serious popular challenge to its governance since the Tiananmen demonstrations.

Along with then-paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, Mr Li was seen as an unapologetic hard-liner responsible for ordering the assault that crushed weeks of demonstrations.

His declaration of martial law over parts of Beijing on TV in the weeks before tanks and troops swept the square of protesters made him one of the most prominent faces of the crackdown.

The death toll given by officials days after the crackdown was about 300, but rights groups and witnesses say the figure could run into the thousands. The topic is taboo in China.

Irish Independent

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