London: The death toll from the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre was at least 10,000 people, killed by a Chinese army unit whose troops were likened to “primitives”, a secret British diplomatic cable alleged.
The newly declassified document, written little more than 24 hours after the massacre, gives a much higher death toll than the most commonly used estimates which only go up to about 3,000.
It also provides horrific detail of the massacre, alleging that wounded female students were bayoneted as they begged for their lives, human remains were “hosed down the drains”, and a mother was shot as she tried to go to the aid of her injured three-year-old daughter.
Written on 5 June 1989 by Sir Alan Donald, the then-British ambassador to China, the hitherto secret cable has now been placed in the UK National Archives at Kew, where it was found by the news website HK01.
The ambassador said his account of the massacre of the night of 3-4 June was based on information from a source who had spoken to a “good friend” in China’s State Council, effectively its ruling cabinet.
In unflinching detail, Sir Alan told London that the “atrocities” against thousands of pro-democracy protesters in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square had been coordinated by the 27 Army of Shanxi Province, whose troops he described as “60 per cent illiterate and called primitives”.
Then, Sir Alan wrote, “The 27 Army APCs [armoured personnel carriers] opened fire on the crowd before running over them. APCs ran over troops and civilians at 65kph [40 miles per hour].”