Conflict & Justice

Former Beijing mayor Chen Xitong 'sorry' for Tiananmen crackdown


Chinese national flag waves near a giant communist emblem at Tiananmen Square on June 28, 2011 in Beijing, China.


Feng Li

In China, the former Mayor of Beijing, Chen Xitong, who gained notoriety for his support for the crackdown on protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989, has published a book in which he expresses regret over the incident, Agence France Presse reported.

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Several hundred people were killed in the early hours of June 4, when the Chinese army stormed a mass student-led demonstration.

In his book, titled "Conversations with Chen Xitong," now aged 81, attempts to play down his role in the crackdown, saying he was obeying orders from senior leaders.

Chen apologizes, saying the deaths could have been avoided:

"Nobody should have died in the June 4 incident if it was handled properly. I feel sorry, but I could not do anything, very sorry."

The book was written by a retired scholar who conducted a series of interviews with Chen, the London Telegraph reported.

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Chen was famously sentenced to 16 years in prison after being charged for corruption in 1998, AFP reported, adding that he is widely seen as the official who pushed for the use of military force against the protesters.

The book will go on sale this Friday in Hong Kong, ahead of the 23rd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.