Beijing Ex-Mayor Says June 4 Could’ve Been Avoided, SCMP Reports

Chen Xitong, mayor of Beijing during China’s June 4, 1989, military crackdown on pro-democracy activists in Tiananmen Square, says it was a “regrettable tragedy that could have been avoided,” the South China Morning Post reported, citing a book of interviews with the ex-official.

Chen, who was promoted to Beijing party secretary and made a Politburo member after the crackdown, was sentenced to 16 years in jail in 1998 on corruption charges, according to the Morning Post.

The 81-year-old said he didn’t know much about what was happening behind the scenes 23 years ago and was following orders, according the newspaper, which cited a copy of “Conversations with Chen Xitong” by Yao Jianfu, which goes on sale on June 1 in Hong Kong.

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