Features

Tiananmen trailblazers

International | Who are they and where are they now?

Issue: "Quayle's presidential bid," June 19, 1999

LI PENG: On May 20, the hardline premier barked out the order to impose martial law on Beijing; he also brought together hardliners and a power struggle ousted Zhao Ziyang. Premier for a decade, he is now chairman of the National People's Congress, or parliament, and ranks second in the Communist Party hierarchy. ZHAO ZIYANG: A Communist Party leader who sided with the student protesters, he lives under virtual house arrest. He has not been seen in public since May 19, 1989, when he visited Tiananmen Square and, with tears in his eyes, begged students to leave. BAO TONG: Zhao Ziyang's adviser and a member of the Communist Party's Central Committee, he was the intellectual planner behind Zhao's program of economic and political reform. Bao Tong was taken away days before June 4 and released in May 1996 after serving a seven-year jail term for allegedly leaking state secrets. After his release, he spent 11 months under house arrest. WANG DAN: The soft-spoken history student at Peking University was a key leader of the movement from the early marches. Wang Dan topped China's most-wanted list after the June 4 crackdown and served four years in prison. He was detained again in 1995 and received an 11-year sentence. He was released on medical parole and sent into exile in the United States in April 1998 two months before President Clinton visited China. WU'ER KAIXI: This student leader sprang to fame at the height of the protests when he argued with Premier Li Peng in a televised meeting. He slipped out of China a few weeks after the June 4 crackdown and received political asylum in the United States. He then entered and dropped out of college, drifted from one job to the next, and bickered openly with fellow exiles over how to bring democracy to China. He lives in Taiwan with his family and hosts a radio show. CHAI LING: The psychology student replaced Wu'er Kaixi as leader of the students a few days before the June 4 crackdown. After that, she fled to the West with her husband and was nominated for the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize. Chai Ling is studying for a master's degree at Harvard University and heads a Cambridge Internet start-up company. YU DOJNGYUE: One of three protesters who threw an egg at Chairman Mao's portrait in Tiananmen Square, he is serving a 20-year sentence and has been in solitary confinement since 1992. YALAI ZHANG: He was a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences before a bullet ripped through his left leg on the night of June 3. Fearing arrest, Yalai Zhang was forced into hiding, where his wound deteriorated so badly a leg amputation was required. He came to the United States in 1992 and chairs a humanitarian program to help families of Tiananmen victims. FANG ZHENG: One of eight protesters run over by tanks or armored personnel carriers, he suffered two crushed legs in the dawn hours of June 4 as he and others had already left a sit-in in the square. He says four others were crushed to death by the vehicles. JIANG JIELIAN: A 17-year-old who helped organize a cadre of high school students in support of the university students. Jiang Jielian was among the many Beijing citizens who stopped military trucks to ask soldiers not to enter the city. Riding his bicycle at the perimeter of the square the evening of June 3, he was shot from behind and was dead by the time he was transported to Children's Hospital. His parents searched 20 hospitals before they were notified to claim his body. His mother, Ding Zilin, now 62, has persisted in gathering the stories of 160 families and nearly 70 crippled victims of the Tiananmen massacre. She and her husband live in Beijing.

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Mindy Belz
Mindy Belz

Mindy travels to the far corners of the globe as the editor of WORLD and lives with her family in the mountains of western North Carolina. Follow Mindy on Twitter @mcbelz.

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