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The Jade Revolution
was a popular movement demanding political reform in the Republic of China that took place in the summer of 1989. It was part of the global movement of protests and revolutions known as the Summer of Democracy. Dissatisfaction with the Kuomintang regime in China had existed for decades prior to the revolution, starting with the victory of the KMT in the Chinese Civil War. The brutal repression of the defeated communists extended to other dissenters. Under the long presidency of Chiang Kai-shek, democracy and political freedoms were suppressed. His son and sucessor Chiang Ching-kuo introduced minor reforms in order to stabilize his presidency, but did not do much in the long term. The rule of the Kuomintang persisted primarily due to the strong internal control of the two Chiangs. However, with the passing of the younger Chiang and succession of President Lee Huan, the KMT began to fracture. Although Lee had been known as a reformer before his rise to power, his attempts to regain control of the party led to the reintroduction of political restrictions and the increased power of the Bureau of Investigation and Statistics, essentially operating as a secret police.
Political activity among students was heavily monitored and restricted, especially since many students tended to drift towards the outlawed Communist Party. Others were adherents of liberal democracy and sought to introduce such liberalism to China. BIS agents frequently used to play rival students groups against each other, encouraging them to report members of the other groups. BIS agents also used to infiltrate student organizations to sow dissent and gather information. By the 1980s, the third generation of student leaders had emerged, and wise to the tactics of the BIS, operated in extreme secrecy. There was also strong anti-party sentiment in other segments of the population. Urban workers increasingly became anti-KMT due to poor wages and working conditions, and local chapters of unions became hotbeds of radical activity, even though union leadership was typically stocked with high ranking party members. The general public also began to chafe under KMT rule, as the BIS acted with impunity, frequently "disappearing" intellectuals and academics who criticized the party. Urban police were also highly corrupt, beholden to the ruthless criminal triads which terrorized the populace.
The precipitating incident of the Jade Revolution was the arrest of student leader Zheng Xing, who had been working with other student leaders across the nation to plan a coordinated day of civil disobedience. Although students were regularly arrested by police, Zheng was handed over to the BIS without charge and died after a week in custody. The BIS was accused of torturing him to death, while the BIS insisted that he had been grievously ill before his arrest and that his death was of natural causes. After his body was not returned to his family, students began protests of remembrance in many cities, the earliest being the Beijing protest of 16 June. These peaceful protests were attacked by local police forces, which led to the protests growing in number and spreading across China. On 22 June, President Lee ordered the BIS to begin arresting any individuals who were committing "treasonous activities" or were suspected of being Soviet agents. One week later, he announced a national state of emergency and ordered the military into the streets of the major cities to enforce martial law.
Protesting continued through the month of July as a nationwide strike began on 2 July. People began fighting the police in the streets, with American observers stating that the country had fallen into "a state of complete disorder and anarchy." By late July, Lee began withdrawing military forces from other cities and recalled them to Beijing. On 3 August, protesters responded with the March of One Million Men, when approximately 1.8 million people from Beijing and other parts of China marched on and surrounded the Forbidden City. By this point, President Lee was facing immense internal and international pressure to give in to the protesters and resign. The following day, Lee ordered the military to stand down and announced his resignation. In the following week, his successor Lien Chan announced constitutional reforms, the disbandment of the BIS, the legalization of opposition parties, and free elections to the Legislative Yuan to be held within 10 months. The formal end date of the revolution is 24 August, when Lien granted the Five Freedoms Guarantee of freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of movement, freedom of the press, and free and fair elections.
In the elections of 1990, the KMT was swept away, with the Democratic National Party emerging as the largest in the Legislative Yuan. The KMT did not return to government for another 26 years.
Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin
(1931 – 2009) was a Soviet politician. Previously a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, in 1990 Yeltsin founded the first opposition party in the Soviet Union, the Union Party, and led the party to winning seats in the 1990 elections. As the leader of the second largest party in the Duma, Yeltsin became Leader of the Opposition. He held this position from 1990 to 2001 with a brief gap in 1996. After the collapse of the Union Party in the 2001 elections, Yeltsin retired as leader of the party and from the Duma. Facing charges of corruption and other financial crimes, Yeltsin fled the Soviet Union and ended up in France, where he died in 2009.
Born in Sverdlovsk Oblast, Yeltsin grew up in Kazan, Tatar ASSR. In 1950, Yeltsin joined the Red Army, commanded by Marshal Georgy Zhukov, and fought during the Soviet Civil War against the forces of Lavrentiy Beria, his NKVD, and the Soviet Patriotic Army which he commanded. Yeltsin's service ended with the conclusion of the war. After the war, Yeltsin attended Ural Polytechnical Institute. He joined the Communist Party in 1960. He continued to rise in the ranks from there. In the 1980s, he was elected to the Politburo, where he was known to be a part of Gorbachev's reformist faction, although he and Gorbachev did not particularly get along. Yeltsin primarily benefited from his close relationship with Chairman Kim's brother and right hand man Shura Kim. Yeltsin was a signatory of the 1985 constitution. As Deputy Secretary Gorbachev became closer to the Chairman and urged him to push more reforms, Gorbachev also tried to have Yeltsin removed from the Politburo. This did not occur, but it marked the break between Gorbachev and Yeltsin. Although Yeltsin was still a reformist, he began aligning himself with the hardliners because he believed he could out-maneuver them after they removed Kim and Gorbachev.
Yeltsin was part of the planning of the Coup of 16 November 1987. However, Yeltsin drank heavily the night before the coup, and in the morning he failed in his task to arrest and secure Shura Kim at his personal residence. Instead, Yeltsin drunkenly made his way to the Kremlin, where he met with President Gorbachev in his office and confessed his complicity in the coup and laid out the details. Gorbachev promised Yeltsin his "eternal friendship" for confessing. Yeltsin helped Gorbachev plan and execute his response to the coup, and invited the help of Shura Kim and the military. Although the coup was foiled, Yeltsin inadvertently weakened Gorbachev's position by inviting the military back to power.
Yeltsin served in the ministry of Prime Minister Kim as Infrastructure Minister. Yeltsin found Kim's reforms to be unsatisfactory, and after opposition parties were allowed to stand in the 1990 elections, Yeltsin formed the Union Party, consisting of other disaffected reformists. Unlike other opposition parties, the Union Party supported the continued existence of the Soviet Union and was thus approved by the electoral board. As a result, many members of banned parties joined the Union Party. This expanded coalition vaulted the Union Party to second place status following the elections. However, Yeltsin proved an ineffective leader of his party, unable to balance the varied interests within it. The party continued to exist solely because other options were limited and because no one else was willing to wrangle its members. After a health scare, Yeltsin abruptly announced his retirement in 1996 and handed off leadership to his deputy. In reality, he intended to demonstrate that no one could lead the party or even win a leadership election, and he was right. Three months later he resumed leadership.
Yeltsin's time as a prominent leader came to an end with the Pink Revolution and the 2001 constitution. All opposition was now legalized and the Union Party collapsed. The many factions split away to form their own parties. Yeltsin retired permanently after the elections and disappeared from the political scene. In 2005, the federal police investigated him for corruption as Kim tried to defame past opposition leaders in the run up to the 2005 elections. Yeltsin decided to flee the country, traveling to France with the intention of moving on to the United States. However, he ended up settling in France where he died in 2009.