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Chinese first: Tiananmen Square mentioned in official newspaper

The article referencing the June 4, 1989, 'incident' appeared only in an English-language publication.

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For the first time, an official Chinese newspaper Thursday made open reference to the 1989 crackdown on prodemocracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square, breaking a two decade-long taboo.

The article referred only to "the June 4th Tiananmen incident," giving no details of the deadly Army operation to clear the square, and appeared in an English-language newspaper aimed almost entirely at a foreign readership.

Some observers here cautioned against reading too much into the front page article published in the Global Times English-language edition, pointing out that the more strictly controlled Chinese-language press is still forbidden by government censors to make any mention of the events of June 4, 1989.

The article is "clearly part of an effort to guide readers overseas into believing that the decisions to crack down on the movement in 1989 are being reexamined" says Russell Leigh Moses, a Beijing-based political analyst. "Even a cursory reading of the Chinese language media here indicates that there is nothing of the sort occurring."

Even so, says Richard Burger, an editor at the Global Times, which is owned by the ruling Communist Party, the story "pushed the envelope" on what can be printed in China.


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