China’s ex-premier Li Peng cremated, flags flown at half-mast

At Tiananmen, soldiers at the daily flag-raising ceremony raised the red banner to half-mast as hundreds of tourists looked on under rainy skies in the capital on July 29, 2019.
At Tiananmen, soldiers at the daily flag-raising ceremony raised the red banner to half-mast as hundreds of tourists looked on under rainy skies in the capital on July 29, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING – Former Chinese premier Li Peng, reviled by many for his role in the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown but eulogised by state media as an “outstanding socialist revolutionary”, was cremated in Beijing on Monday (July 29).

National flags flew at half-mast in various areas in Beijing, including Tiananmen Square, the Great Hall of the People and the Foreign Ministry, as well as in provincial capitals, municipalities, Hong Kong and Macau.

Mr Li died of an unspecified illness at age 90 last week.

Friends and former subordinates were photographed visiting Mr Li’s home in western Beijing to pay their respects.

Wearing black, his widow and three children – including his eldest son, Transport Minister Li Xiaopeng – stood in a queue to thank those who offered their condolences.

China’s official Xinhua news agency described Mr Li as a “tried and tested, staunch communist warrior and an outstanding socialist revolutionary”.

He served as premier from 1987 to 1998 and as chairman of the National People’s Congress, China’s Parliament, from 1998 to 2003

 
 

But he is perhaps best known for declaring martial law on national television days before People’s Liberation Army tanks and troops crushed student-led pro-democracy protests centred on Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.

In official obituaries, state media lauded his role in acting decisively to end the “political disturbance” of 1989.

A front-page obituary in the People’s Daily last Wednesday said Mr Li had “made decisive moves to stop the turmoil, end the counter-revolutionary riot and stabilise the domestic situation, and played an important role in the major struggle concerning the future and fate of the (Communist) Party and the state”.