In March, I received a letter from my daughter-in-law in America. It was sent four years ago, and I just received it. Ever since I was released from prison in 1996, my private correspondence has been monitored. I spend most of my time here at home, writing and living quietly. I am not allowed to have a fax machine, or Internet, or even a reliable mobile phone. Visitors are allowed to see me only after registering with security.
Since the crackdown on students in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989, plenty has changed in China—but not enough. At the time, I headed the Communist Party Central Committee's research office on political reform. Our leader was Deng Xiaoping, whom many remember as a kindhearted man. He was not.
The party head was Zhao Ziyang, and he believed we should respond to some of the legitimate issues the students had raised, such as corruption. Deng met with Zhao on May 13, and told him that he agreed with this approach. I felt very happy and started making plans to meet with the students. But on May 17, everything changed. Deng decided to enforce martial law. Zhao was put under house arrest. He died in 2005.
On May 28, I was summoned to a Politburo Standing Committee meeting. But there was no meeting. One member—I won't say who—was there. He suggested I move somewhere safe. I told him I lived in a building reserved for central government ministers. "I have a safer place for you," he said, gripping my hand tightly. Outside, I saw that my car had disappeared, and the police were waiting for me. They drove me into the mountains, finally stopping in front of the giant iron gate of Qincheng Prison.
China's current leaders bear no responsibility for Tiananmen, but only they can share the truth. Otherwise, there will always be tension.
There are so many things I'd like to see now. If journalists could freely conduct interviews, I would be happy. If peasants who've lost their land were allowed to invite lawyers to defend them, I would be happy. If the Communist Party could abide by the principle of letting the majority decide, I would be happy. And if the innocent people who were wronged on that day 20 years ago could have their names cleared, I would be happy. But I don't have high hopes.