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Cablegate: Chengdu Stalemate

O 051156Z JUN 89
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0127
AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU
AMCONSUL HONG KONG
AMCONSUL SHANGHAI
AMCONSUL SHENYANG
AIT TAIPEI

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIJING 15491

FOLLOWING MESSAGE TRANSMITS CHENGDU 622 QUOTE

E.O.12356:N/A
TAGS: PINS PGOV PHUM CH
SUBJECT: CHENGDU STALEMATE

REF: CHENGDU 619 AND PREVIOUS

1. SUMMARY: AS OF 1600 ON 6/5, THERE IS A
STALEMATE IN DOWNTOWN CHENGDU BETWEEN PROTESTERS WHO
FLOOD THE STREETS AND CONTINUE TO BURN SOME VEHICLES,
AND TROOPS WHICH HAVE TAKEN REFUGE IN THE MUNICIPAL
OFFICE COMPOUND AND OCCASIONALLY LOB TEAR GAS
INEFFECTIVELY INTO THE CROWD. STUDENTS REPRESENT A
DISTINCT MINORITY OF THE CROWDS. MANY WORKERS SAID
THAT THEIR FACTORIES HAVE ALREADY UNOFFICIALLY GONE
ON STRIKE, AND THE NUMBERS OF SPECTATORS FAR
SURPASSES USUAL LEVELS ON THE MIDDAY STREETS. NO NEW
CASUALTIES ARE REPORTED, BUT DEATH TOLLS FROM THE 6/4
RIOT CONTINUE TO MOUNT. OUTSIDE OF THE CONTROL AREA
AROUND CHENGDU'S MAO STATUE, CITY ACTIVITY APPEARS
NORMAL, EXCEPT THAT NO POLICE OR TROOPS ARE IN
EVIDENCE. END SUMMARY.

2. NO NEW FIGHTING OR CONFRONTATIONS HAVE TAKEN
PLACE IN CHENGDU AS OF 1600 ON JUNE 5. TROOPS FROM
THE PEOPLE'S ARMED POLICE AND FIRE-FIGHTERS
ESSENTIALLY ABANDONED THE DOWNTOWN AREA AROUND THE
MAO STATUE AS WELL AS THE NEIGHBORHOOD NEAR THE STILL
SMOULDERING PEOPLE'S MARKET AT APPROXIMATELY 0900,
NOR ARE THE REGULAR POLICE EVIDENT ANYWHERE IN TOWN.
THEY HAVE RETREATED TO THE SANCTITY OF THE MUNICIPAL
GOVERNMENT COMPOUND NEXT TO THE MAO STATUE. A FEW
ON-LOOKERS HIJACKED A MUNICIPAL BUS, PARKED IN THE
ENTRANCE OF THE MUNICIPAL COMPOUND TO CUT OFF EGRESS,
AND SET IT ON FIRE AT ABOUT 1100. THIS BURNED-OUT
VEHICLE JOINS THE OTHER BUSES, FIRE ENGINES AND
MILITARY VEHICLES BURNED ON 6/4. CROWDS HAVE SET
FIRE TO SEVERAL OTHER VEHICLES AT AN EVER-EXPANDING
RADIUS FROM THE CENTRAL MAO STAUTE DURING MIDDAY
6/5. TROOPS HAVE SEVERAL TIMES LOBBED TEAR GAS FROM
THE MUNICIPAL COMPOUND INTO THE CROWD BUT WITHOUT
NOTICEABLE EFFECT.

3. CROWDS IN THE DOWNTOWN AREA NUMBER UP TO 10,000
PEOPLE, MOSTLY WORKERS OR UNEMPLOYED YOUTHS. THEY
ARE FAR GREATER THAN WOULD BE USUAL ON A MONDAY AT
MIDDAY, AND THEY HAVE CUT OFF ALL VEHICULAR TRAFFIC
IN THE IMMEDIATE AREA NEAR THE MAO STATUE. THERE ARE
STUDENTS PRESENT, BUT THEY REPRESENT A DISTINCT
MINORITY. CONTRARY TO EARLIER RUMORS, THERE ARE NO
TROOPS VISIBLE AT THE GATES OF ANY OF THE MAJOR
CHENGDU-AREA UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES, AND FOREIGN
EXPERTS DO NOT REPORT ANY ON-CAMPUS PRESENCE.
OUTSIDE THE SEVERAL BLOCKS AROUND THE MAO STATUE AND
RENMIN NANLU -- THE TRADITIONAL DEMONSTRATION SITES
-- LIFE IN THE CITY APPEARS TO BE NORMAL, WITH PEOPLE
GOING ABOUT THEIR USUAL WORK AND ALL BUT A FEW
GOVERNMENT-OWNED STORES OPEN FOR BUSINESS AS USUAL.
MANY AMERICAN FOREIGN TEACHERS AND STUDENTS ARE NOW
ATTEMPTING TO REUTRN TO THE U.S. IN THE NEXT FEW
DAYS, A FEW WEEKS BEFORE THE SCHEDULED COMPLETION OF
CLASSES. THEY REPORT THAT MANY STUDENTS HAVE ALREADY
LEFT CAMPUS TO RETURN HOME OR TO JOIN THE PROTEST
MOVEMENT.

4. SOME WORKERS IN THE CROWD SAY THEY HAVE ALREADY
GONE ON STRIKE, ALBEIT UNOFFICIALLY, AND WILL NOT
RETURN TO WORK UNTIL THE SITUATION HAS BEEN
RESOLVED. THE CITY GOVERNMENT ISSUED A NOTICE TO ALL
WORK UNITS ON 6/5 REQUIRING THEM TO ORGANIZE THEIR
WORKERS EFFECTIVELY TO PROTECT PROPERTY AND TO ENSURE
EVENING GUARD DUTY. THE REGULATIONS ALSO PROHIBIT
CITIZENS FROM INTERFERING WITH THE FLOW OF POLICE
TRAFFIC OR FROM RUSHING TO THE SITES OF FIRES OR
UNREST. MANY SHOPS IN THE DOWNTOWN AREA REMAIN
CLOSED.

5. ALTHOUGH THERE HAVE BEEN NO NEW REPORTED
CASUALTIES SO FAR ON 6/5, APART FROM ONE UNCONSCIOUS
YOUTH RUSHED FROM THE MAO STATUE TO A NEAR-BY
HOSPITAL WITH NO APPARENT WOUND (PERHAPS OVERCOME BY
TEAR GAS OR THE HEAT), THE 6/4 DEATH TOLLS FROM
APPARENTLY CONFIRMED ACCOUNTS INCREASE. A WORKER AT
THE WEST CHINA MEDICAL UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL SAID THAT
HIS HOSPITAL ALONE HAD HAD SEVEN DEATHS FROM THE 6/4
RIOT, INCLUDING TWO STUDENTS OF THAT UNIVERSITY, AS
WELL AS 35 INJURED STUDENTS. A SENIOR OFFICIAL OF
SICHUAN UNIVERSITY TOLD FOREIGN EXPERTS THAT NINE
SICHUAN UNIVERSITY STUDENTS HAVE NOW BEEN CONFIRMED
DEAD, AND MANY MORE MISSING. REPORTS OF GUNFIRE BY
THE TROOPS ON 6/4 CONTINUE TO CIRCULATE AND GROW MORE
SPECIFIC ABOUT THE TIME AND PLACE, BUT THESE REMAIN
UNCONFIRMED.

6. THE STALEMATE CONTINUES AND THE RESTLESS CROWDS
AWAIT EVENTUAL POLICE REACTION, PROBABLY SOME TIME
DURING THE NIGHT. DE WILDE. END QUOTE.


LILLEY

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