May 14, 2009 / 12:38 PM / 9 years ago

Memoirs of China's Zhao: What the experts think

BEIJING (Reuters) - Four years after his death, reformist Chinese leader Zhao Ziyang has broken the official silence cloaking the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown in memoirs he recorded in secret. Here is what the experts say.

FOREWORD BY RODERICK MACFARQUHAR, HARVARD PROFESSOR

Reading Zhao’s unadorned and unboastful account of his stewardship, it becomes apparent that it was he rather than Deng (Xiaoping) who was the actual architect of reform. It was Zhao who, after countless inspection tours, finally realized that the commitment to rural collectivization, reaffirmed when Deng came back to power in December 1978, was passe, and who threw his support for a national household responsibility system as the way to develop agriculture and raise farm incomes. As Zhao acknowledges, without Deng’s support it would never have been possible to proceed. But Deng did not make the conceptual breakthrough. Zhao did.

PREFACE BY ADI IGNATIUS, HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW EDITOR IN

CHIEF

It is the first time that a leader of Zhao’s stature in China has spoken frankly about life at the top. He provides an intimate look at one of the world’s most opaque regimes. We learn about the triumphs and failures, the boasts and insecurities, of the man who tried to bring liberal change to China, and who made every effort to stop the Tiananmen Massacre.

This is Zhao’s version of history, and he perhaps was making his arguments for a future generation of leaders who may revisit his case and decide whether he should be rehabilitated in the memory of the Party, and the nation.

Although Zhao now speaks from the grave, his voice has the moral power to make China sit up and listen.

EPILOGUE BY BAO PU, SON OF ZHAO‘S FORMER TOP AIDE

Zhao Ziyang had no interest in being a visionary. He was a pragmatist who wanted to solve real problems. He led his country through confusion and chaos and made difficult choices for the sake of improving the lives of others. He did his duty. His legacy, recorded here, will ensure he does not fade from history.

Reporting by Benjamin Kang Lim, Chris Buckley and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie and Dean Yates

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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