Remark attributed to Wang Zhen after declaration of martial law in May 1989
As will be apparent from the material I've archived in this post, I was on the scene at Tian An Men Square in Beijing for a good number of significant events in 1989, including June 4th and also May 19, which might have turned out to be even more significant.
...or as Nicholas Kristof put it in one of the endless series of June 4th 30th anniversary commemoratives run by the New York Times in its crusade to embarrass and delegitimize the CCP:
[T]hose of us who witnessed Beijing Spring are confident that eventually, unpredictably, the tide of freedom will roll in again.
Western nostalgia for 1989 is understandable, because it was the apogee of pro-American sentiment in Beijing. When I was in the square, locals were inviting the United States to send aid in the form of B 52 bombers, missiles, and even the Mafia (to assassinate Li Peng and Yang Shangkun).
This approach produced a designation of "bad" CCP leaders (Li Peng, Yang Shangkun, Wang Zhen etc.) and the declared hope that "better" CCP leaders (Zhao Ziyang, Wan Li, Xu Xiangqian, Nie Rongzhen) would step up to champion Hu Yaobang's legacy and the student agenda.
Fatally, the ultimate "bad" CCP leader turned out to be Deng Xiaoping & he scotched any hopes of a favorable factional dynamic inside the CCP that would sideline the hardliners.
Tian An Men is very much Deng Xiaoping's bloody baby.
Perhaps for Deng, scuttling around in the caverns beneath Zhong Nan Hai and dreading confrontation with a factional mob reawakened unpleasant memories of his own experiences at the hands of Mao and the Gang of Four…and explained his anger and contempt at Zhao Ziyang for pandering to the students.
2:37 square very quiet, lots of people sleeping