Thousands of Chinese troops converge on Tiananmen Square


BEIJING, June 3, 1989 (UPI) - Thousands of Chinese troops moved through Beijing early Saturday toward central Tiananmen Square where students continued a pro-democracy occupation that has led to weeks of mass demonstrations in the capital.

It was not clear whether the units were from the Chinese People's Liberation Army or a police force. They appeared to be converging on the square from three directions, witnesses said, but their intent was also not immediately clear.


Student leaders in the square broadcast an announcement over the public address system warning civilians to leave the plaza. Several thousand fled by bicycle, leaving behind the tent city gathered around a monument where students have spent the past two weeks.

A reporter saw at least 3,000 troops moving west on Changan Avenue, the major east-west thoroughfare, on foot. A few wore army uniforms but most were dressed in white shirts, green pants and carried what appeared to be helmets and satchels.


No weapons were apparent but some of the troops carried military-style radios on their backs.

About 10,000 students remained in the square in the squatter encampment set up during the six weeks of protests for democratic reforms that led to the biggest anti-government demonstrations in China since the founding of the communist nation in 1949.

The protests unleashed a power struggle in the Chinese leadership pitting hard-liners backing senior leader Deng Xiaoping and Premier Li Peng against moderates grouped around the reformist Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang.

The leadership so far has been unable to resolve the power battle and the protests continued but, despite increased troop movements in Beijing, there had been no warning of a move against the protesters.

Li declared martial law May 20 but until Friday the decree had not been enforced and most troops remained encamped outside the capital. About 200,000 soldiers are believed to be encircling Beijing.

Chinese leaders and military commanders have repeatedly reassured the city that the army would not be used against the students, saying troops were in the capital to enforce martial law and halt the unrest.

The troop movement followed intensified government charges of foreign involvement in the student-led democracy movement Friday.


Up to 10,000 peasants, party members and children gathered Friday in a stadium in Miyun County, 50 miles northeast of Beijing, for a rally that featured three men in Uncle Sam costumes, replete with blue capes and top hats emblazoned with the Stars and Stripes.

One held suspended from a rope a black paper heart bearing the name of astrophysicist Fang Lizhi, China's most prominent dissident. Along it were tied pieces of white paper labeled ''American dollars.''

''Down with Fang Lizhi,'' the listless and undemonstrative crowd chanted, witnesses said.

State-run television added to the anti-foreign tone, broadcasting on its evening news excerpts from a sharp commentary to be published Saturday in the official newspaper Beijing Daily.

''This chaos is planned and premeditated by interfering groups from both inside and outside China,'' the commentary charged.

Li has been quoted by a Hong Kong newspaper as having suggested a probe into possible foreign involvement in the pro-democracy movement.

The latest efforts to discredit the movement were met with derision as 3,000 students, wearing pig masks and swastikas, bicycled through Beijing to mock three days of pro-government rallies.

A Communist Party member, two university professors and a Taiwanese rock star were cheered by more than 50,000 people Friday when they announced they were starting a hunger strike to protest martial law.


The four protesters said they would fast in relays, switching every three days, until June 20 when the ruling body of China's parliament is to meet. Students hope the nominal legislature will use its constitutional power to remove Li, who has been the main target of pro-democracy demonstrators for declaring martial law.

Martial law had been treated with widespread contempt since tens of thousands of citizens stopped troops from entering Beijing May 19 at makeshift barricades.

The government showed continued annoyance with a 30-foot-high Statue of Liberty lookalike erected by students at Tiananmen Square and dubbed ''The Spirit of Democracy.'' The party newspaper People's Daily called the statue, which has attracted droves of curiosity seekers, an ''anarchic action.''

Western diplomats, meanwhile, reported there has been no sign that the power struggle is near a resolution.

The diplomats said conservatives were delaying an expected meeting of the 175-member party Central Committee on Zhao's future, noting official comments leaking out on the embattled party chief have become less harsh in recent days.

''You delay Central Committee meetings when you're not sure how they are going to come out,'' a senior analyst told reporters.

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