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Memoirs of Late Chinese Official Released

Posted May. 18, 2009 07:57,   


“Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Premier Zhao Ziyang,” or the memoirs of the late Zhao Ziyang, former secretary general of the Chinese Communist Party, has been published based on audiotapes recorded while he was under house arrest.

Attention is on how the tapes were recorded, stored and released.

Zhao was effectively monitored around-the-clock while under house arrest, and the 30 tapes he secretly recorded are each 60 minutes long. The South China Morning Post in Hong Kong carried the prelude of the memoirs’ English version and introduced the background of the book’s publication by quoting people who participated in the publishing.

Adi Ignatius, chief editor of the Harvard Business Review and one of the people who smuggled out Zhao’s tapes from China, said in the prelude that Zhao recorded the tapes without his family’s knowledge, and put them in different places together with his grandchildren’s toys in his study room and living room.\

The tapes used were cheap ones for recording children’s songs and Chinese plays, and the cover of the tapes had numbers written hazily in pencil with no other signs. When smuggling out the tapes, Zhao distributed them to several of his acquaintances to prevent from being lost or seized.

Following his death in January 2005, his acquaintances who had his tapes started dictation, translation and editing work in secret. The tapes smuggled out were not the originals, which were found later inside the toys of his grandchildren in his study.

The publication of the memoirs was spearheaded by the son and mother-in-law of Zhao’s political secretary, Bao Tung, who is under close watch in Beijing.

Zhao claimed in the memoirs that the Communist Party leadership made key decisions, including the declaration of martial law and firing on protestors, in the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 without due process.

Official Chinese documents, including the “Tiananmen Incident Report” published by China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency, said a standing committee of the Central Politburo held a meeting at former leader Deng Xiaoping’s former residence May 17, 1989, which held a vote on the declaration of martial law (May 20). But Zhao, who attended the meeting, denied that there was an official vote.

Fearing the use of force against protestors following the meeting, Zhao said he instructed Wen Jiabao, incumbent Chinese premier who then was then presidential chief of staff, to assemble a meeting of the Politburo, only to hear, “It`s no use. All decisions were made by Li Peng and Yang Shangkun.”

Zhao`s memoirs went on sale in Hong Kong Thursday and are selling like hotcakes. Hong Kong media reported that most bookstore chains are recommending that consumers purchase the Chinese version to be published later this month.

In China, the media has filed no reports on the publication.