Date
16 December 2017
Soldiers guard Chang'an Avenue leading to Tiananmen Square on June 6, 1989, two days after troops killed numerous protesters. Photo: AFP
Soldiers guard Chang'an Avenue leading to Tiananmen Square on June 6, 1989, two days after troops killed numerous protesters. Photo: AFP

Party chiefs tried to send cash abroad in 1989, cables say

As the Tiananmen Square protests shook Beijing in 1989, top Communist Party leaders reportedly approached Swiss diplomats about sending “very significant amounts of money” to bank accounts in their country.

The claim appears in confidential diplomatic cables from the Canadian embassy in Beijing that have been published nearly 26 years after the deadly crackdown on protesters on June 4, 1989, The Telegraph reported.

Tom Korski, a former Beijing correspondent for the South China Morning Post, obtained the cables from Canada’s national archives.

One of the allegations in the documents is that, as unrest gripped the Chinese capital in 1989, top Communist Party leaders explored ways of sending large sums of money to Switzerland.

“The Swiss ambassador, himself an ‘Old China Hand’, told us that over the past few months every member of the Politburo Standing Committee has approached him about transferring very significant amounts of money to Swiss bank accounts,” one cable quoted in Korski’s report said.

“An old woman knelt in front of soldiers pleading for students; soldiers killed her,” reads one excerpt from a description of the “savage” crackdown.

“A boy was seen trying to escape, holding a woman with a two-year-old child in a stroller, and was run over by a tank,” says another.

The cables also mention unconfirmed reports of the corpses of “garrotted” soldiers being found in a canal and rumours of public executions. 

Hundreds, or even thousands, of people are thought to have died in the military crackdown, but no official death toll or investigation has been published.

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