Moscow scenes echo Tiananmen tensions

August 20, 1991|By Robert Benjamin

CHINA — China's official news agency, not known for its quick reactions to international news, was one of the very first wire services in the world yesterday to report that Mikhail S. Gorbachev had been ousted by hard-line forces.

The unusually rapid response by the New China News Agency underscores the importance of the fate of socialism in the Soviet Union for China's conservative Communist leaders, who have suffered increasing ideological isolation since the Tiananmen Square massacre two years ago.

Scenes of non-violent confrontations between the Soviet military and irate citizens, televised from Moscow by Western media yesterday, also bore some striking similarities to events here immediately preceding the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations near Tiananmen Square.

The similarities were not lost on a former Tiananmen Square hunger striker last night. "Just like us, Gorbachev tried to do too much too fast," the young man said when told of the events in the Soviet Union.

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