A Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) major-general who spent the last decades of his life under house arrest after facing court-martial and a five-year prison sentence for refusing an order to crush student protestors in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989, died January 8, 2021, according to reports coming out of Hong Kong.
Xu Qinxian was commander of the PLA’s 38th Group Army when he was ordered to mobilize his troops to Beijing to enforce a martial law order against demonstrators, May 20, 1989.
Xu refused the order, and was subsequently removed from his post, expelled from the Chinese Communist Party, court-martialed, and jailed.
Xu’s defiance of orders shook the CCP’s leadership at the time, and made the Central Military Commission, under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping, very nervous, according to Radio Free Asia‘s Chinese language edition.
A 2014 New York Times report on “a series of disclosures about the intrigue inside the Chinese military preceding the bloody crackdown in Beijing on June 3 and 4, 1989,” claimed that Xu had rebuked his superiors and told them that the protests were a political problem that should be solved through negotiations, not force.
“I’d rather be beheaded than be a criminal in the eyes of history,” said Xu, according to historian Yang Jisheng, who was quoted in the New York Times article.
After his release from prison, Xu was not allowed to live in Beijing, and was accommodated in a sanitarium for retired military officers in Shijiazhuang in Hebei Province, under house arrest, and under strict monitoring, until his death three days ago.
According to Radio Free Asia, Xu Qinxian never regretted his decision to resolutely oppose the use of force to suppress students and citizens during the Tiananmen Square protests.
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