In an article written by a Gregory Clark in the IBTimes, he alleges that the reason why the soldiers in Tiananmen Square massacred was because the students and protestors attacked first:
If there are any errors with my post, please point it out.
In case you didn't know [WARNING: NSFW/NSFL], this is the kind of image Clark was referring to [WARNING: NSFW/NSFL]. However, the mere fact that soldiers were burnt does not prove Clark's claim that the buses were burnt before the soldiers opened fire. It could as well be the case that these soldiers were strung up after the shooting began, or that the soldiers who sought shelter did so after being burned by the fires that were set after the soldiers opened fire. Or they could have been soldiers who were dragged from the vehicles and beaten to death before being set alight. The fact is that there existed incidents of soldiers being dragged out of vehicles and beaten by protestors after the shooting started:True, no one denies that large numbers of citizens and students were killed near the Square by soldiers seemingly out of control. But why?
Let's go back to those photos of the burning buses. The popular view is that they were torched by angry protesters after the shooting began. In fact they were torched before. The evidence? Reports of charred corpses being strung up beneath overpasses (one photographed by Reuters remains unpublished), and photos of badly burned soldiers seeking shelter in nearby houses. Soldiers in that kind of situation tend to go out with guns blazing – just ask the good citizens of Fallujah, Iraq.
He then claims that according to US Embassy cables at the time, the CCP wanted a peaceful resolution initially:After particularly cold-blooded killings of unarmed civilians, there were several incidents of soldiers pulled from vehicles and being beaten to death by angry crowds. [Meisner, ''The Deng Xiaoping Era'', p.459]
Looking to the declassified Tiananmen Papers from the National Security Archive, Document 9 seems to corroborate his claims:Fortunately we also have the hourly reports from the US Embassy in the Beijing, available on the Internet, to tell us what actually happened. They note that originally the Beijing authorities had wanted to send in unarmed troops to clear the Square of remaining students as the protests were beginning to wind down. Blocked by the crowds, armed troops were bused in and this time they were blocked by crowds with petrol bombs, with ugly results.
However, I suspect there are a few key details that are neglected from Clark's post. This is because Document 12 of the Embassy cables mentions there being resistance to the armed soldiers moving into the square, but no mentions of the use of petrol bombs causing the soldiers to shoot:Earlier today [on June 3rd], approximately 5,000 unarmed troops … were turned back by students and citizens as they attempted to advance on foot to Tiananmen Square, according to embassy and press reports
It also mentions foreign journalists being beaten by the troops in the Square and having their cameras destroyed:Embassy Beijing reports that troops using automatic weapons advanced in tanks, APCs, and trucks from several directions on Tiananmen Square June 3rd. There was considerable resistance by demonstrators, and the number of casualties appears high.
This raises the question of why would a government have its military beat up journalists filming their activity? In addition, I find Clark's framing extremely suspect, as it implies that the CCP was oh so kind for using unarmed troops first, when they did so simply because they thought they could disperse an unarmed crowd. In addition, according to ''The Deng Xiaoping Era'' by Chinese Historian Maruice Meisner, the army unit loyal to the then Chinese Leader Deng Xiaoping wasn't able to acquire their equipment as it had to be moved from their bases outside Beijing, which took two weeks from May 24th; which was compounded by the fact that the army units first sent into the square were sympathetic to, or reluctant to shoot the students:The CBS bureau chief in Beijing informed us that American citizens Richard Rote, Robert Lum, and Dexter Leong and a New Zealand citizen, all employed by CBS, were severely beaten by Chinese troops on Tiananmen Square. Their cameras were smashed and they dragged into The Great Hall of The People.
Clark also neglects to note the reason why troops were even sent to clear the square to begin with, and that is because the CCP implemented martial law on May 20th:For most Chinese... it seemed inconceivable that the People's Liberation Army would ever be ordered to fire on the peole. This confidence seemed justified by the behaviour of the troops of the 38th Army, the first to enter Beijing after the imposition of martial law on May 20. Blocked by masses of people and barricades, the soldiers retreated or simply sat in place. Some fraternized with the students. The 38th army was ordered to withdraw from the capital on May 23-24, its commanders dismissed by Deng Xiaoping, presumably for failing to order their troops to shoot their way into the city.
Deng now turned to the 27th army, long commanded by Deng's own political ally, Yang Shangkun... There was no doubt that the 27th army would follow Deng's orders. However, the soldiers and their equipment had to be moved from their bases in Shijiazhuang [in Hebei province] and elsewhere, and this took the better part of 2 weeks. It was thus that the PLA attack on Beijing was delayed until the night of June 3. [The Deng Xiaoping Era, p.456]
Now why would they do that? Well according to Meisner, one of the factors was the organisation of independent trade unions in conjunction with the massive amount of workers who joined in the protests:[T]he formal martial law orders, covering key districts of Beijing, were issued by Mayor Chen Xitong on May 20th. Prohibited, among other things, were marches and demonstrations, speeches, student strikes, worker strikes, the distribution of leaflets, and any incitement to ''social unrest.'' To enforce these prohibitions, it was stated that public security personnel, armed police units, and PLA personnel'' were authorised ''to adopt any means to forcefully handle matters.'' [The Deng Xiaoping Era, p.435-436]
This is because this was seen as a threat to the power of the CCP as Meisner notes:The organisation of independent unions, however tiny their memberships, and the spontaneous outpouring of workers in the May 17-18 demonstrations were the crucial factors in the Party's fateful decision to impose martial law. [The Deng Xiaoping Era, p.450-451]
What this means is that AFAIK, Clark is trying to engage in apologia for the CCP by trying to cast the massacred protestors as violent thugs, when this entire massacre was the making of the CCP themselves, who imposed martial law without an adequate justification.The participation of workers, the students knew, would be seen by the government as an intolerable political threat, and would quash such possibilities as there were for a peaceful compromise. [The Deng Xiaoping Era, p.448-449]
If there are any errors with my post, please point it out.