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Counter-Revolutionary Political Incident at Tien An Men Square

[This unsigned article is reprinted from Peking Review, #15, April 9, 1976, pp. 4-7.]

EARLY April, a handful of class enemies, under the guise of commemorating the late Premier Chou during the Ching Ming Festival, engineered an organized, premeditated and planned counter-revolutionary political incident at Tien An Men Square in the capital. They flagrantly made reactionary speeches, posted reactionary poems and slogans, distributed reactionary leaflets and agitated for the setting up of counter-revolutionary organizations. By means of insinuation and overt counter-revolutionary language, they brazenly clamoured that “the era of Chin Shih Huang is gone.” Openly hoisting the ensign of supporting Teng Hsiao-ping, they frenziedly directed their spearhead at our great leader Chairman Mao, attempted to split the Party Central Committee headed by Chairman Mao, tried to change the general orientation of the current struggle to criticize Teng Hsiao-ping and counterattack [with] the Right deviationist attempt to reverse correct verdicts, and engaged in counter-revolutionary activities.

The counter-revolutionary activities culminated on April 5. At about 8 a.m., a loudspeaker car of the municipal Public Security Bureau was overturned, the body of the car and its loudspeakers smashed. After 9 a.m., more than 10,000 people gathered in front of the Great Hall of the People. At its maximum the crowd at Tien An Men Square numbered about 100,000 people. Except for a handful of bad elements who were bent on creating disturbances, the majority of the people were passersby who came over to see what was happening. Some of the people were around the Monument to the People’s Heroes; the majority were concentrated on the west side of the square near the eastern entrance to the Great Hall of the People. A dozen young people were surrounded and beaten up by some bad elements, receiving cuts and bruises on their heads with blood trickling down their swollen faces. The hooligans shouted: “Beat them to death! Beat them to death!” An army guard who tried to stop the hooligans by persuasion had his insignia pulled off, uniform torn and his face beaten to bleed. The bad elements exclaimed: “Who can put this situation under control? Nobody in the Central Committee can. Should he come today he would not be able to return!” Their counter-revolutionary arrogance was unbridled to the extreme. The masses were infuriated and many of them said: “Ever since liberation, Tien An Men Square has always been the place where our great leader Chairman Mao reviews parades of the revolutionary masses. We’ll absolutely not tolerate such counter-revolutionary acts happening here!” Several hundred worker-militiamen who went up the flight of steps leading to the Great Hall of the People to stand guard were broken up into several sections by the hooligans. The latter repeatedly shouted reactionary slogans and savagely beat up anyone in the crowd who opposed them. Some of those who got beaten up were dragged to the monument and forced to kneel down and “confess their crimes.”

At 11:05 a.m., many people surged towards the Museum of Chinese History on the east side of Tien An Men Square. In front of the museum, a woman comrade who came forward to dissuade them was immediately manhandled. At this moment, a bunch of bad elements besieged a People’s Liberation Army barracks by the clock tower in the southeast corner of the square. They crushed the door, broke into the building and occupied it. A few bad elements, sporting a crew cut, took turns to incite the people, shouting themselves hoarse through a transistor megaphone. Towards noon, some of the trouble-makers proclaimed the inauguration of what they called “committee of the people of the capital for commemorating the Premier.” A bad element wearing spectacles had the impudence to announce that the Public Security Bureau must give a reply in ten minutes. He threatened that if their demands were not met, they would smash the public security department.

At 12:30, the P.L.A. fighters on guard duty at Tien An Men Square marched in formation towards their barracks to guard it. The bad elements who were making disturbances shouted in instigation: “The people’s army should stand on the side of the people!” and “Those befuddled by others are innocent!” Later, they overturned a Shanghai sedan car and set it on fire. The firemen and P.L.A. guards who came to the rescue were blocked, and a fire-engine was wrecked. These bad elements said that putting out the fire meant “suppressing the mass movement.” Several members of the fire-brigade were beaten to bleed.

At 12:45, a detachment of people’s police came as reinforcement. But they too were taunted and stopped. The caps of several policemen were snatched by the rioters and thrown to the air. Some even threw knives and daggers at the people’s police. Several policemen were surrounded and beaten up.

In the afternoon, the sabotage activities of this handful of counter-revolutionaries became still more frenzied. They burnt up four motor vehicles bringing water and food to the worker-militiamen on duty or belonging to the public security department. Around 5 o’clock in the afternoon, this gang of bad elements again broke into that barracks, abducted and beat up the sentries, smashed the windows and doors on the ground floor and looted everything in the rooms. Radios, quilts, bed sheets, clothing and books were all thrown into the fire by this gang of counter-revolutionaries. They also burnt and smashed dozens of bicycles of the Peking worker-militiamen. Black smoke rose to the sky amid a hubbub of counter-revolutionary clamours. Nearly all the window panes in the barracks were smashed. Then they set the barracks on fire.

The revolutionary masses showed their utmost hatred for this counter-revolutionary political incident. Yet the handful of bad elements said glibly: “It manifests the strength of the masses.” They went so far as to claim brazenly that “the situation has now got out of hand and it would be of no use even if a regiment or an army was called in,” and so on and so forth, showing their unbridled reactionary arrogance.

See how these counter-revolutionaries use extremely decadent and reactionary language and the trick of insinuation to viciously attack and slander our great leader Chairman Mao and other leading comrades on the Party Central Committee:

“Devils howl as we pour out our grief, we weep but the wolves laugh. We spill our blood in memory of the hero; raising our brows, we unsheathe our swords. China is no longer the China of yore, and the people are no longer wrapped in sheer ignorance; gone for good is Chin Shih Huang’s feudal society. We believe in Marxism-Leninism, to hell with those scholars who emasculate Marxism-Leninism! What we want is genuine Marxism-Leninism. For the sake of genuine Marxism-Leninism, we fear not shedding our blood and laying down our lives; the day modernization in four fields is realized, we will come back to offer libations and sacrifices.”

The clamours of these counter-revolutionaries about combating “Chin Shih Huang” and demanding “genuine Marxism-Leninism” were out-and-out counter-revolutionary agitation in the same vein as the language used in Lin Piao’s plan for a counter-revolutionary coup d’etat, Outline of Project “571.” By directing their spearhead at our great leader Chairman Mao and the Party Central Committee headed by Chairman Mao, and lauding Teng Hsiao-ping’s counter-revolutionary revisionist line, these counter-revolutionaries further laid bare their criminal aim to practise revisionism and restore capitalism in China.

In the past few days these elements not only wrote reactionary poems but put up reactionary posters. They lauded Teng Hsiao-ping and attempted to nominate him to play the role of Nagy, the chieftain of the counter-revolutionary incident in Hungary. They raved that “with Teng Hsiao-ping in charge of the work of the Central Committee, the struggle has won decisive victory” “to the great satisfaction of the people throughout the country.” They uttered vile slanders, saying that “the recent so-called anti-Right deviationist struggle is the act of a handful of careerists to reverse verdicts.” They openly opposed the great struggle initiated and led by Chairman Mao to repulse the Right deviationist attempt to reverse correct verdicts; their counter-revolutionary arrogance was inflated to the utmost.

However, the time when these counter-revolutionary elements ran rampant coincided with the day of their downfall. Going against the will of the people, they were extremely isolated. As these bad elements were making disturbances, perpetrating acts of violence and sabotage, many revolutionary people courageously stepped forward to denounce their counter-revolutionary acts and struggled against them. The Peking worker-militia, people’s police and army guards on duty at the square and the revolutionary people present at the time worked in close co-operation, and fought bravely in defence of Chairman Mao, the Party Central Committee, Chairman Mao’s revolutionary line and the great capital of our socialist motherland.

When the handful of bad elements again set fire to the barracks at 5 p.m., the army guards put out the fire at the risk of their own lives. To safeguard the Great Hall of the People, more than 100 Peking worker-militiamen were injured, a dozen of them seriously wounded. Six army guards were abducted and many wounded. Risking dangers, the people’s police persevered in fighting. Although the barracks was besieged and fire was engulfing the first floor, leading comrades of the Peking worker-militia command post persevered in the struggle on the second floor. At this critical moment, the switchboard operator calmly reported the news to leading departments concerned.

At 6:30 p.m., after Comrade Wu Teh’s speech was broadcast, most of the onlookers and the masses who had been taken in quickly dispersed. But a handful of counter-revolutionaries continued their desperate resistance and again posted some reactionary poems around the Monument to the People’s Heroes. Three hours later, on receiving an order from the Peking Municipal Revolutionary Committee, tens of thousands of worker-militiamen, in co-ordination with the peoples police and P.L.A. guards, took resolute measures and enforced proletarian dictatorship. In high morale, the heroic Peking militiamen valiantly filed into Tien An Men Square and mounted powerful counterattacks. They encircled those bad elements who were still creating disturbances and committing crimes in the vicinity of the Monument to the People’s Heroes. They detained the active criminals and major suspects for examination. In the face of powerful proletarian dictatorship, the handful of rampant rioters could not withstand even a single blow. They squatted down, trembling like stray dogs. Some hurriedly handed over their daggers, knives and notebooks on which they had copied the reactionary poems. Several criminals who pulled out their daggers in a vain attempt to put up a last-ditch fight were duly punished. The revolutionary masses and people of the whole city heartily supported and acclaimed the revolutionary action of the Peking worker-militia, the people’s police and P.L.A. guards.

(“Renmin Ribao” worker-peasant-soldier
correspondents and staff correspondents)

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