The Death of Hu Yaobang: Reform Icon and Symbol of Hope for China’s Youth

In China, there is a long tradition of mourning the dead to rebuke the living, a bit like how US Democrats today can’t stop praising Joe Biden. The day after Hu’s death, people gathered in Tiananmen Square in a spontaneous demonstration of grief. The politburo was also receiving reports of student-organized memorial activities on university campuses.

When the party leaders met to discuss plans for Hu Yaobang’s memorial service, Premier Li Peng warned: “We should keep a close eye on the universities, especially ones like Peking University.”

Education Minister Li Tieying replied: “Things are good at the universities. It’s not very likely there’ll be any trouble.”

As reassurances go, this has to be up there with the casino manager who figured the book was safe with Tiger at 14-1 so “go ahead and take that chump’s money.”