Former Chinese Official Tells Story of Zhao Ziyang Memoir

A former top official in China says he and three others secretly helped deposed leader Zhao Ziyang pen a memoir in which he sharply criticizes the violent crackdown on the 1989 Tiananmen protests.

Du Daozheng, once the head of China's state publishing watchdog, says he and the three other former officials transcribed recordings made by Zhao that were later turned into the recently published English-language book "Prisoner of the State."

The former censor says that he and the three others gave Zhao the recording equipment and compiled the tapes into a book.

In a statement released Thursday by the book's publisher, Du describes his role in encouraging the deposed leader to compose the memoir. The publisher did not reveal Du Daozheng's whereabouts.

The book offers a rare glimpse into how Zhao Ziyang battled Communist Party hardliners and his failed efforts to convince Deng Xiaoping not to use force to stop the protests in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

Hundreds, possibly thousands, were killed during the crackdown.


Zhao, who died in 2005, was purged after the military crushed the student-led protests and placed under house arrest for the rest of his life.

Du says he was helped by Xiao Hongda, former vice head of the party's disciplinary commission, Yao Xihua, former chief editor of the Guangming Daily, and Du Xingyuan, a former cabinet secretary.

The former censor calls the book incomparable to anything previously written about China's early years of economic reform and the period leading up to the Tiananmen crackdown.

Du was purged for his reformist positions as the head of the General Administration of Press and Publication after the 1989 protests. More recently, Du came under pressure to resign as director of the reformist magazine Yanhuang Chunqiu after it published a favorable article about Zhao Ziyang.

Du's statement will be included as a preface to a Chinese version of the book, which will be released later this month in Hong Kong to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the June 4, Tiananmen incident.