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CHINESE CELEBRATE COMMUNIST REIGN
PREMIER HAILS VICTORY OVER PROTESTERS

SHARE CHINESE CELEBRATE COMMUNIST REIGN
PREMIER HAILS VICTORY OVER PROTESTERS

Premier Li Peng praised the victory over pro-democracy protesters on Saturday as China's top leaders celebrated 40 years of Communist rule with a party in a neon-lit Great Hall of the People.

Soldiers with automatic rifles stood guard outside as Beijing prepared for its first National Day under martial law, imposed four months ago to quell the student-led protests.Memories of the protests and the army attack that ended them hung over the festivities Saturday, the eve of National Day.

Li, hosting a reception for Chinese officials and foreign diplomats, used his toast to applaud the "great victory" over the protesters in yet another hard-line political statement.

"We should devote major efforts to the strengthening of public order and firmly crack down on all kinds of criminal activities," he said. "All schools should give top priority to fostering a firm and correct political orientation."

He also said China faces at least three years of a tight-money policy to reduce inflation and other serious economic problems, and noted that payments on its $40 billion foreign debt increase next year, "giving rise to new difficulties."

"The leading cadres should work hard, set a good example and share a life of frugality with the whole people for the next few years," Li said.

He concluded his 20-minute speech with a toast to the anniversary and "the vigorous development of our socialist modernization."

Most foreign ambassadors stationed in Beijing attended the reception and joined in the toast, but Western ambassadors walked out before the start of a song-and-dance program that included several numbers by military troupes.

The finale featured dancers clad in army uniforms goose-stepping across the stage in front of a huge red Chinese flag.

Ambassadors from the United States, Canada, Japan and the European Community have said they will not attend dances and fireworks Sunday in Tiananmen Square. One embassy's spokesman cited "the particular meaning of Tiananmen" and added: "We don't feel it's time yet to become that cozy, to celebrate."

The square, adjoining the Great Hall, was the center of the protests, and the students surrendered it only when surrounded by tanks and troops who shot their way into the capital, killing hundreds and possibly thousands of people.