BEIJING, June 3, 1989 (UPI) - In its first statement on the bloody military crackdown across Beijing, the government early Sunday branded the student-led pro-democracy movement a ''counter-revolutionary rebellion'' trying to overthrow the government and the socialist system.
The only official statement, issued by the Beijing Government Martial Law Headquarters, came in an announcement broadcast over local television at the height of savage battles between tens of thousands of city residents and thousands of heavily armed troops supported by tanks and armored personnel carriers.
''Tonight a serious counter-revolutionary rebellion took place. Thugs frenziedly attacked People's Liberation Army troops, seizing weapons, erecting barricades, beating soldiers and officers in an attempt to overthrow the government of the People's Republic of China,'' said the statement read by a Beijing Television announcer.
''For many days, the People's Liberation Army has exercised restraint and now must resolutely counteract the rebellion. All those who refuse to listen to reason must take full responsibility for their actions and their consequences,'' the statement said.
After reading the statement, the announcer presented a news bulletin that said that thousands of armed police and soldiers had been injured and an unspecified number killed.
It also said an unspecified number of people involved in the ''confrontations'' were killed and injured.
Departing from normal practice, Beijing Television stayed on all night, repeatedly broadcasting the statement.
In between, it aired soothing music videos featuring scenes of natural beauty and historic interest from around China, including central Tiananmen Square -- the primary target of the overnight military assault on the pro-democracy activists.
In a 9:15 a.m. broadcast, Central Chinese Television told the rest of the nation of events in Beijing, repeating the official version of the all-night mayhem.
It also revealed the deaths of three soldiers, saying one of the bodies was hung from a traffic overpass at the western side of the capital.
But halfway through regular news items, the sound of the newscaster's voice went dead and viewers saw only a Chinese-character headline on the screen.
''Martial law troops put down a counter-revolutionary rebellion and entered Tiananmen Square,'' it read.
The official Xinhua news agency, which normally carries all government statements in English, was silent on domestic affairs overnight and its morning dispatches covered such topics as problems with U.S. sugar imports and efforts by Hong Kong to boost its exports.
The last official statement by a Chinese leader was broadcast during the Saturday evening national television news -- a taped presentation by Premier Li Peng on world ecological problems.