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Tiananmen Square Document 4: Student Demonstrations Update, 1986

The cable notes how the recent spate of demonstrations provoked criticism from the Chinese government who warned that the adoption of "overly energetic methods" to express views could affect stability and interfere with societal functions. (December 24, 1986)
December 24, 1986
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Demonstrations again occurred in late-1986, and Embassy reports were increasingly fearful that Chinese authorities would crack down on the students and set back the pace of political reform. The cable notes how the recent spate of demonstrations provoked criticism from the Chinese government who warned that the adoption of "overly energetic methods" to express views could affect stability and interfere with societal functions. The cable also reports the views of several different sources, whose identities remain classified, warning about the possible repercussions for the cause of freedom in China if the students do not proceed more cautiously. One source reportedly told U.S. officials that "the senior leadership was fully focusing on the demonstrations," and that "they had multiple sources of information, including both party and government channels." Another source, in a dinner conversation with U.S. Ambassador Winston Lord, warned that "opponents of political liberalization in the leadership would use the protests to underline the dangers of democracy." The document warns that if the demonstrations become too strident, and particularly if they are staged in Beijing, "then the entire affair could become a net liability for reform with seriously negative policy consequences." "A severe crackdown," the cable ominously concludes, "would be inevitable."

To access the document, please click here.

Original source: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB16/documents/index.html#d4

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