A former Chinese Premier Li Peng has died in Beijing. He was best known for leading the violent military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters at Tiananmen Square.
Li Peng, known as the “Butcher of Beijing” for leading the violent military crackdown on Tiananmen Square protests, died late Monday night of an “illness,” state media reported on Tuesday. He was 90.
News agency Xinhua called him a “seasoned and loyal soldier of Communism, a distinguished revolutionary and statesman, and an outstanding leader of the party and country.”
Li, who served as premier from 1987 to 1998, declared martial law to quell the June 1989 student-led protests. Alongside the Chairman of the Central Military Commission Deng Xiaoping, he also ordered the bloody military response that left hundreds dead.
Xinhua said that “under the strong support” of Deng, “Comrade Li Peng took a clear stand and together with most of the comrades of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee, took decisive measures to stop the unrest and pacify the counter-revolutionary riots.”
Although much of the responsibility for the crackdown fell to Deng, the violence also damaged Li’s image on the international stage.
“He stirred up anti-protest sentiment among party veterans and with Deng Xiaoping (the country’s de-facto leader) so that they would see the movement as a threat,” Sarah Kirchberger, a sinologist at the University of Hamburg told DW.