Chen Xitong, who was Beijing’s mayor from 1983 to 1993, has died at age 84, multiple sources have told SCMP. The news was first reported by Hong Kong China News Agency (HKCNA) today.
Chen’s exact date of death is not confirmed, but it’s ironic that the public would learn about his passing on today of all days, the 24th anniversary of the brutal military crackdown on Tiananmen Square.
One source said Chen died at 9:45am in Beijing last Sunday. Another source – a close friend of the family – confirmed the news and said he was waiting for authorities to notify him of the date of the funeral so that he might be able to attend it.
Chen – whose name is forever associated with the massacre 24 years ago – was known to be in the final stages of terminal colon cancer. He was released from jail on medical parole in 2006 and died just two months before finishing the jail sentence would have ended.
None other than premier Li Peng, one of the most hated figures from that time, fingered Chen as overseeing the crackdown. Chen described the military action as “correct” and publicly stated that the pro-democracy rallies were orchestrated by a “tiny handful of people,” including foreign agents.
Chen was sentenced to prison in 1998 for corruption. His death announcement today has been called “divine retribution” by Wang Fandi, who lost her son in the massacre.