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Today in History:  martial law in Beijing 23 May

Three men who said they were from Hunan province (Mao Zedong'sbirthplace) defaced Mao's portrait on Tiananmen Square by splatteringpaint and eggs on it. The portrait was quickly covered. Many studentswere infuriated with the defacement, claiming that the vandals musthave been government agents hoping to discredit the students' cause.The three men were immediately caught by the students and later turnedin to the police. According to an official estimate, one million people from all walks oflife paraded on the streets of Beijing. It was the largest turnoutsince the declaration of martial law on May 20th. The demonstrationswere dominated by workers from such groups as the government-affiliatedChinese Academy of Social Sciences. Other included workers fromorganisation such as the Foreign Ministry, the CCP Central CommitteeAgricultural Policy Research Office, and pro-Communist 'democratic'parties that China allowed instead of an opposition. The PLA troops enforcing martial law in central Beijing were hinderedbut still remained in their positions waiting for further commands.Some army troops retreated from their positions at intersections on theoutskirts of the capital.

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