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Bao Tong, Aide to Former Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang, Dies Aged 90

The days o freedom in Beijing, June 1989 (shihlun.tumblr)

 Candice Chau | Hong Kong Free Press

Bao Tong was the highest-level official who was jailed after the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown. His daughter said that up until his death, he still cherished hope for China.

Bao Tong, an aide to former Chinese Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang and the highest-level official imprisoned following the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown, has died aged 90. 

Bao’s death was announced on Twitter by his son, Bao Pu, on Wednesday evening, saying that his father “passed away peacefully” that morning, four days after his 90th birthday.

Bao and Zhao, who was also a former premier, opposed the use of force to crack down on student-led protests in China sparked by the death of former leader Hu Yaobang.

The central government, led by Deng Xiaoping at the time, eventually decided to deploy the People’s Liberation Army to crack down on protesters in Beijing on June 4. It is estimated that hundreds, perhaps thousands, died. 

Bao was dismissed and arrested in May 1989, just before the crackdown, and sentenced to seven years in prison in 1992. He was released in 1996 and placed under house arrest and had since pushed for the rehabilitation of Zhao until the latter’s death in 2005. 

Despite his detention, Bao became a strong critic of the Chinese government in articles he wrote and in comments to the international media. He was also a co-signatory of “Charter 08,” a manifesto calling for, among other demands, democracy, and better human rights in China.

Obituary deceased father Bao Tong, passed away peacefully at 7:08 on November 9, 2022. Born on November 5, 1932, he was 90 years old. This is the obituary of my son Bao Pu and daughter Bao Jian

鲍简 @baojianella

Bao Jian @baojianella
My beloved dad passed away peacefully this morning at 7:08. He remains hopeful about the land. As he said on his 90th birthday four days ago: “Man is a very small historical existence between heaven and earth… Being 90 is not important, what is important is the future and today that we all strive for, Do what you can, should, and must do today and do it well.” Dad went to another world to accompany mom

Bao Pu 鮑樸 @NewCenturyBaopu
訃 先父鮑彤,慟於2022年11月9日7時08分安然離世。距生於1932年11月5日,享年90歲。 謹此訃 聞 子 鮑樸 女 鮑簡
My late father, Bao Tong, passed away peacefully at 7:08 on November 9, 2022. Born on November 5, 1932, he was 90 years old.

Bao’s daughter Bao Jian said on Twitter that the activist still had “hope in this piece of land.” 

“As he said four days ago on his 90th birthday: ‘Humans have a very small historical existence in the world… whether I am 90 or not is not important, what is important is that the future and today that we have to fight for, and to do good things that we can do, should do, and must do,’ Bao Jian’s Twitter post read.

Zhao himself was purged after Tiananmen and placed under house arrest until his death. Mention of the Tiananmen crackdown is mostly censored in China, with families of the victims, and ex-officials closely monitored by authorities around the anniversary.

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