Ex-Chinese premier Li Peng to be cremated tomorrow

Former Chinese premier Li Peng will be cremated in Beijing tomorrow, China’s Xinhua news agency announced yesterday.

It added that flags would fly at half-mast in various areas in Beijing, provincial capitals, municipalities, Hong Kong and Macau. In Beijing, these areas include Tiananmen Square, the Great Hall of the People and the Foreign Ministry.

Xinhua’s statement commemorated Mr Li, who died of an unspecified illness last Monday aged 90, as a “tried and tested, staunch communist warrior and an outstanding socialist revolutionary”.

He served as premier from 1987 to 1998, and as chairman of the National People’s Congress, China’s Parliament, from 1998 to 2003.

But he is perhaps best known for declaring martial law on national television days before the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown.

With the blessings of party patriarch Deng Xiaoping, Mr Li ordered troops to seize Tiananmen Square on the night of June 3, 1989, leading to bloodshed as the military gunned down unarmed protesters.

In official obituaries, state media lauded his role in acting decisively to end the “political disturbance” of 1989.

Mr Li had “made decisive moves to stop the turmoil, end the counter-revolutionary riot and stabilise the domestic situation, and played an important role in the major struggle concerning the future and fate of the party and the state”, said a front-page obituary in the People’s Daily last Wednesday.

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