15,000 attended memorial for Zhao Ziyang

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Sunday, January 23, 2005

An estimated 15,000 people attended a memorial service in Hong Kong for Zhao Ziyang, the former Chinese leader.

Zhao, who died at 85, was a reformer who was removed from office, and imprisoned, in 1989 after denouncing the use of force against student protesters in Tiananmen Square.

Though acknowledged for his economic reforms in the 1980s, controversy surrounds Zhao's funeral. Zhao was removed from his position as secretary general of the Communist Party of China and placed under house arrest in 1989 after denouncing the use of force against student protesters in Tiananmen Square. Analysts suggest the CPC, fearful that Zhao's death would rekindle unrest, reluctantly allowed Zhao to be memorialized in public after party elders criticized Beijing for not honoring Zhao's contributions.

Szeto Wah, chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Democratic Patriotic Movements in China, gave the eulogy at a makeshift funeral altar in Victoria Park, Hong Kong. Szeto said the turnout was a testimony to the public's respect for Zhao.

Zhao died Monday, January 17 at the age of 85. Zhao had been recovering from pneumonia in a Beijing hospital before suffering a series of strokes and lapsing into a coma January 15.

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