Publication of former China premier’s Tiananmen diary halted

June 20th, 2010 - 2:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Hong Kong, June 20 (DPA) Publication of a diary by China’s former premier Li Peng detailing events leading up to the 1989 Beijing crackdown on democracy activists has been halted, a news report said Sunday.
Twenty thousand copies of the book were due to go into shops in Hong Kong on June 22 but publisher New Century Press aborted the publication because of “copyright problems”, the South China Morning Post reported.

Leaked excerpts from the book, titled the Tiananmen Diary of Li Peng, show how the Chinese Communist Party’s inner circle was sharply divided on how to handle the 1989 student protests.

It claimed China’s then leader Deng Xiaoping said in meetings with colleagues the government had to “spill some blood” to quell the student uprising, the report said.

The excerpts also indicate that current Beijing leaders including President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao also supported the crackdown.

Hundreds, possibly thousands, of people died when the army suppressed the protests, sending tanks into the area around Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.

Before the leak, Li Peng was generally regarded as the architect of the killings. His diary indicates wider responsibility among China’s leaders of the time.

Bao Pu, founder of New Century Press, told the South China Morning Post he was approached by “relevant institutions” which provided him with information about the copyright problems.

Bao claims he was given the Li diary by an unnamed middleman in January and had not signed copyright contracts with any person or institution, the newspaper reported.

Li Peng, now aged 82, is believed to have written the diary in 2004 to clarify his role in the Tiananmen Square events but it is not known if he ever gave permission for New Century Press to publish it.

Magazine editor Cai Yongmei told the newspaper he believed Beijing had intervened. “Hu, Wen and other leaders will spare no effort to stop the book from coming out,” Cai said.

Politically sensitive books about China can usually be published in Hong Kong even when they are banned in mainland China because of the city’s separate political and judicial system.

Hong Kong reverted to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” arrangement guaranteeing political freedoms denied to people in the rest of China.

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