BEIJING, June 9, 1989 (UPI) - Senior leader Deng Xiaoping appeared in public Friday for the first time in three weeks, praising the army as a ''steel great wall'' for suppressing the democracy movement and posing with a leadership lineup showing conservatives in clear control.
Deng was shown on national television as the government tightened its martial law grip on Beijing by posting armed troops on previously unguarded street corners. Foreigners were warned to stay indoors at night as a police sweep of democracy movement activists continued.
Despite the measures, at least 50,000 demonstrators marched in the port city of Shanghai in a new challenge to the communist leadership. Protesters jammed the city's central square, demanding a reckoning for the army's assault last weekend on Beijing and giving the government a 48-hour deadline to accede.
The appearance by Deng, 84, who posed with military and political leaders at a meeting of China's most senior party and government officials, quashed speculation in recent weeks that he had died.
''They have stood a severe test,'' Deng told the leaders, praising the People's Liberation Army for the crackdown that hospital sources and witnesses said left hundreds of people dead. ''Our troops are worthy of a steel great wall,'' he said.
The student-led protest movement has demanded that the leadership couple its economic liberalization with political reforms. In his remarks on television, Deng noted China's policies of economic reform and the ''open door,'' saying, ''We should carry it on resolutely.''
It was the first time Deng had been seen in public in 24 days. His last appearance was during his summit May 16 with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The senior leader, although animated as he spoke, looked frail and had to be prompted once from someone off-camera as he praised the performance of security forces in recent days.
The meeting was held Friday afternoon at the Zhongnanhai leadership compound just west of Tiananmen Square, where troops and tanks have set up a huge armed encampment since ousting protesting students in a brutal assault on the city last weekend.
A posed picture with top generals and political leaders showed a clearly hardline leadership lineup, with all top conservatives including Premier Li Peng appearing -- but Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang absent.
Zhao is reported to have been removed from power in a leadership struggle ignited by the two months of student-led protests. Hu Qili, a member of the five-man Politburo Standing Committee rumored to have been purged as well, also did not appear.
During a news conference Thursday night, President Bush said he had tried to reach Chinese leaders by telephone but could not.
Only a few hundred Americans remained in Beijing after a weeklong exodus. Police in eastern Tianjin, after refusing permission there for Americans there to travel by motor vehicle to Beijing, gave permission Friday for a U.S. Embassy convoy to go to Tianjin Saturday to pick them up, U.S. diplomats said.
But the diplomatic crisis between Washington and Beijing continued as state radio sharply criticized the country's leading dissident for taking refuge in the U.S. Embassy.
With the conservatives in clear control, thousands of soldiers fanned out across Beijing to take up positions at previously unguarded intersections and tightly enforce martial law for the first time since it was declared May 20.
About 500 soldiers moved into a small stadium across the street from two major tourist hotels on Changan Avenue, deploying lines of guards and mounting machine gun emplacements at a nearby intersection.
Troops supported by police rolled down main roads in trucks, guns bristling in every direction. Late in the day, an enormous troop convoy rolled through the city's west, its objective unknown.
Soldiers were also on guard at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences building, a center of anti-government sentiment, Chinese sources said. Intellectuals have expressed fears of a sweeping purge.
But other sections of the city were free of checkpoints, and the army's strategy was not immediately clear. Large numbers of troops and tanks remained in an encampment in central Tiananmen Square, and some soldiers were billeted in the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant on the square's south side.
U.S. and other embassy officials said they been told in telephone calls from government officials that troops would be moving into neighborhoods around embassy quarters, but ''don't be alarmed -- they're there for your protection.''
The Australian and Canadian embassies, among others, received telephone calls from Chinese Foreign Ministry officials warning: ''The Ministry of Foreign Affairs suggests that going out at night should be avoided.''
The warnings appeared to be aimed at limiting the number of foreigners on the streets at night as police continue a security sweep in which mass arrests of students, workers and others who took part in the two months of pro-democracy protests are feared.
The army attack last Saturday night swept from Tiananmen Square thousands of students who had occupied the site for 22 days to demand democratic reforms. The sit-in has sparked the biggest anti-government protests in the 40-year history of communist China.
Overnight, plainclothes police entered Beijing University in the northwest, ripping from walls of the main courtyard anti-government posters and graphic photographs of shattered bodies of students and other protesters killed by the army, Chinese witnesses said.
A foreign source reported police said they were looking for ''thieves'' and led away a dozen students, whose identities were not known. It was the first time police had actively begun to sweep the campuses since the student unrest began in mid-April.
A banner declaring, ''For every one that falls, 10,000 will rise up,'' was hung later at the school, a traditional hotbed of political activity. Students fled many other campuses in terror, returning to home provinces or going underground.
Police Thursday imposed an 8 p.m. curfew on the northwest Haidian district, where many universities are located, and warned security forces were entitled to ''do whatever is necessary'' to enforce it.
The government pressed efforts to restore normal life, restarting limited public bus services. But most buses were nearly empty of passengers as many of the capital's 10 million people stayed home.
Bright yellow cranes and flatbed trucks were brought into the city center to haul away the burned shells of buses and armored military vehicles as a clean-up of debris-strewn streets continued.
In Shanghai, China's most populous city, tens of thousands of students joined by a small number of workers marched on the downtown People's Square in a memorial service for the hundreds killed last weekend in Beijing.
Protesters played funeral dirges on cassette players, waved banners and carried flower wreaths. They demanded the government open talks on their concerns, that television broadcast an accurate account of the Beijing violence and that flags be lowered to half staff.
Western diplomats in Shanghai said the protest had not disrupted traffic, which was returning to normal after days in which students commandeered city buses and blockaded roads. Protesters also burned a train earlier this week.
The diplomats said leaders of the blockades had been arrested but a full-scale crackdown on liberals and intellectuals had not appeared.
Mayor Zhu Rongji appeared on television Thursday night and said troops would not be sent into Shanghai. Foreigners have reported army units moving outside of the city.