From a leading article on the massacre in Tiananmen Square
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The Independent Online

For seven weeks, as the world watched the peaceful demonstrations in Tiananmen Square for a more democratic government, there had been a sickening feeling that it might all end in bloodshed. The students had shown up the divisions within China's leadership, both civilian and military, and revealed just how little support Deng Xiaoping and the increasingly hated Prime Minister, Li Peng, commanded. As people power appeared to neutralise the People's Army, the government was publicly humiliated across the world's news media.

For seven weeks, as the world watched the peaceful demonstrations in Tiananmen Square for a more democratic government, there had been a sickening feeling that it might all end in bloodshed. The students had shown up the divisions within China's leadership, both civilian and military, and revealed just how little support Deng Xiaoping and the increasingly hated Prime Minister, Li Peng, commanded. As people power appeared to neutralise the People's Army, the government was publicly humiliated across the world's news media.

On Sunday, the drama came to an even more terrible end than had been feared. A politically and morally bankrupt regime seemingly ordered the troops to slaughter enough people to clear Peking of trouble-makers. A bunch of old men, as one on-the-spot observer commented, decided to kill the young to stay in power.

The students themselves showed incredible courage in facing the bullets after their comrades had fallen. Western journalists too took appalling risks to fulfil their duties. Many, including two of our own correspondents, were grievously beaten up. Their collective bravery was democracy's tribute to the ardour of the Chinese students, as well as the highest form of professionalism.

It is hard to believe, in political as well as human terms, that the victims died in vain. More than one billion people cannot, if sufficiently roused, be indefinitely controlled with bullets. The bloodbath of the weekend had all the appearances of a last, desperate gesture. It seems bound to unleash reactions powerful enough to shape the country's history, in both the short and longer terms. It will discredit further an already discredited leadership, and may - should - hasten the demise of communism as a political creed, in China as already in Eastern Europe.

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