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Daughter Says Zhao Ziyang Died Believing He Was Right

Zhao's daughter grants exclusive interview to VOA.

Washington, D.C., February 7, 2005 - Wang Yannan, the daughter of the late Chinese leader Zhao Ziyang, told the Voice of America (VOA) today that to the end of his life her father believed that he was right in trying to save student protestors from the People's Liberation Army in June 1989.

"He continued to believe in democracy, the rule of law, and reform, no matter what," she said. "He never regretted his decision to oppose using force to crack down on the June Fourth Movement. He felt he had no other choice, because he knew he would have to answer to history for it." A massive pro-democracy demonstration by Chinese students was brutally suppressed on June 4, 1989. When Communist Party General Secretary Zhao Ziyang opposed the use of force, he was ousted from all posts and placed under house arrest where he remained until his death.

During the exclusive interview with VOA Mandarin Service reporter Wei Hu, Wang confirmed that her father was allowed occasional trips after his first three years of house arrest. She said he shunned meetings with others because he wanted to avoid causing them trouble but he remained optimistic and busy during his final years.

Wang said that the family asked for an official tribute to Zhao and for an explanation for his last 15 years in house arrest, but received no response. "Almost everything was controlled by the government," she said. A ceremony was conducted for Zhao at the Party's Babaoshan cemetery without the state honors normally granted to a former premier and party leader. His family returned home with his ashes. The family has not yet informed Zhao's widow of his death, Wang said, breaking down in tears.

Wang said that despite severe interference, Zhao regularly listened to the VOA's Mandarin Service to keep abreast of current affairs.

Zhao, who served as the Premier of China from 1980 to 1987 and as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party from 1987 to 1989, died January 17 following fifteen years of living under house arrest.

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