Recent student demonstrations in Canton, People's Republic of China; reports of reprisals against those taking part in these demonstrations [CHN1594]

Despite Western press interest in the recent events in China, the Southern city of Canton has been largely ignored. As the attached press clippings indicate, this may be due to the fact that the demonstrations and aftermath in that city were of a much lesser magnitude than in Beijing. This, in turn, has been attributed to the relative prosperity of the Guangdong region and the fact that Cantonese have access to Hong Kong television and thus are well aware of the violent government crackdown which the demonstrations in Beijing provoked (The Times 14 June 1989). For details of the demonstrations in Canton, please see the attached articles from the IRBDC'S on-line data-base.

With regard to government reprisals against the students, according to The Times, troops were brought into Canton but remained out of sight. When news of the events in Beijing reached the demonstrators in Canton, they reportedly blocked the Haizhu Bridge for two days but dispersed without major incident after stern warnings from the regional (Guangdong) government. A report in The Globe and Mail, dated 06 June 1989, notes that besides blocking the five main bridges in Canton, the demonstrations had brought the city to a standstill with people refusing to work or attend classes. The article from The Times further claims that about a dozen people were known to have been detained, mostly unemployed labourers from the rural areas. A shortwave broadcast by a Hong Kong source, monitored by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), reported on 14 June 1989 that a "combing out" movement is underway in Canton. "Combing out" is a Communist Party order for all personnel in Party, government and army organs, as well as in certain enterprises, to state whether they had participated in or expressed support for the demonstrations. For further details, please consult the attached documentation.