As 1 million people defied martial law for a fifth straight day Tuesday and streamed into the streets to demand the resignation of Premier Li Peng, American and other foreign television networks scrambled for satellite time after Chinese authorities lifted a martial law ban on transmissions.
Earlier Tuesday the famed portrait of Mao Tse-tung in Tiananmen Square was splattered with paint Tuesday as hundreds of thousands of students, intellectuals and workers marched near the painting, demanding Premier Li Peng step down.Three men claiming to be from Mao Tse-tung's home province defaced Mao's gigantic portrait with red, black and blue paint, an act akin to blasphemy. It was an isolated incident in a remarkably peaceful popular rebellion that has galvanized much of the country.
Workers later covered the painting with a tarp.
Tuesday's demonstration - led by students, teachers, government employees and intellectuals - was the largest show of public wrath toward Li since he imposed martial law on Saturday to quell a student-led campaign for democratic reforms.
Hundreds of thousands also turned out in Shanghai, China's second-largest city. They also turned out in Hong Kong and Macao, colonies that revert to Chinese control in the late 1990s.
Meanwhile, there was increasing speculation that the beleaguered Li would be forced from office for refusing to hold talks with the students and resorting instead to military force to end their movement.
Hong Kong commercial radio reported that the Politburo, the Communist Party's top decision-making body, decided Tuesday to strip Li, a 60-year-old former electrical engineer, of both his government and party posts.
It said Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang, whose position was jeopardized when he advocated compromise with the students and opposed Li's hardline stance, will resume his duties.
As the movement pressed forward, the fate of Deng Xiaoping, China's paramount leader for the past decade and Li's mentor, also seemed certain.
No matter how the current revolt ends, Deng is nearly certainly finished, diplomats and Chinese said Tuesday.
Central Beijing is under the control of anti-government students, the army has clearly refused to move in to suppress the rebellion and the Communist Party leadership seems paralyzed.
If the army pulls back and the party accepts the students' demands, Deng and his righthand man, Li, will be forced to resign, analysts said.
If they persuade army units to move and suppress the rebellion, the subsequent upsurge of popular disgust will sooner or later overwhelm the government.
"Whatever happens, there's no chance for Deng now," said one Western diplomat. "I can't see any way he can survive now. Everyone knows he stands behind those who called for martial law."
In other developments:
-President Bush met with a Chinese leader to discuss the turmoil in Beijing, intent on maintaining a moderate U.S. tone despite the Chinese decision to jam Voice of America broadcasts for the first time in 11 years.
The Chinese move apparently is an attempt to deprive pro-democracy demonstrators of one of their main sources of information.
-But Bush is also encouraging demonstrators in China to "stand up for what you believe" and urging the communist authorities to exercise restraint, saying he hopes pro-democracy protests do not result in bloodshed.
-The governor of Hong Kong said the current turmoil in China is bound to affect the British colony, which returns to Chinese rule in eight years, and expressed hope for a peaceful resolution.
-Some U.S. businesses have begun pulling employees out of China, some Americans have canceled travel plans to Beijing, and students at universities around the country are continuing their rallies in support of their counterparts seeking democracy in the world's largest communist country.
Students want government to fall
China's rebelling students at first asked only to talk to the government as equals. Now they want the government to fall.
The turning point in China's student movement came Saturday, when Premier Li Peng, charging that the students were being used by malcontents determined to overthrow the Communist system, imposed martial law on most of Beijing.
And, as the movement continued, these were among the never-ending stream of banners and chants:
-"People unite and break the militaristic coup."
-"Bury the cult of the individual. End old people's politics."
-"When the soldiers leave Beijing, we will kill Li Peng and Deng Xiaoping."
-"This is the last day for Li."
-"We want democracy, not tanks."
-"Deep fry Li Peng."
-"Li Peng should commit suicide."
-"We will not be silenced."
-"Until Li Peng resigns, the country will have no peace."
-"Use our righteousness to battle Li Peng."