Yuan Mu

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Yuan Mu (Chinese: 袁木; January 1928 – December 13, 2018) was a Chinese politician and journalist. During his tenure at the State Council, he acted as its spokesperson and headed the State Council Research Office.

Early life[edit]

Yuan was born in January 1928, in Xinghua, Jiangsu Province, China.[1] He graduated in 1945 from Nanjing Zhonghua High School and attended National Northwest Junior College of Agriculture and Forestry.

Before joining the Chinese government, Yuan was a journalist for about 20 years. He worked at local newspapers before joining the state-owned Xinhua News Agency.[2]

Political career[edit]

As the State Council spokesperson, Yuan was invited by student protestors during the Tiananmen Square protests to a forum on April 29, 1989.[3]:35 The forum was also attended by vice-minister of the State Education Commission He Dongchang. Attended by 45 students from 16 Beijing universities and colleges, the forum lasted three hours.[3]:35 During the forum, Yuan denied that corruption was widespread within the Communist Party or that the press was censored.[3]:36–38[4]:60

Yuan gave the Chinese government's first response to the military crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests.[2] Two days after the crackdown on June 4, 1989, Yuan described the protests as a "counterrevolutionary rebellion" incited by "thugs and hooligans".[5]:20 He stated less than 300 people had died, of which only 23 were students.[2] He also implied that at least half of those deaths were soldiers of the People's Liberation Army.[6]

In an interview with American journalist Tom Brokaw on June 17, Yuan clarified that while he did not claim that no casualties resulted from putting down the "counter-revolutionary rebellion",[7] nobody had died in Tiananmen Square when the People's Liberation Army cleared the square.[7] He said that student protestors had vacated Tiananmen Square after being requested to leave by the army before the dawn of June 4.[5]:20 According to Yuan, American television networks altered news footage to make it appear that murder took place.[5]:20

After the military crackdown, Yuan became a member of the 8th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Standing Committee.[2][1] He retired in 2000.[2]


Yuan died in Beijing on December 13, 2018 from illness.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Yue, Huairang (December 17, 2018). "Guowuyuan Yanjiushi yuan zhuren Yuan Mu shishi, xiangnian 91 sui" 国务院研究室原主任袁木逝世,享年91岁 [Former Director of State Council Research Office Yuan Mu dies, aged 91]. The Paper (in Chinese). Archived from the original on December 18, 2018. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e Gan, Nectar; Cheung, Gary (December 17, 2018). "Yuan Mu, Chinese government's Tiananmen spokesman, dies aged 90". South China Morning Post. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Photographers and Reporters of Ming Pao (1989). June Four: A Chronicle of the Chinese Democratic Uprising. Translated by Jin, Jiang; Qin, Zhou. Fayetteville: The University of Arkansas Press.
  4. ^ Fenby, Jonathan (2008). The Penguin History of Modern China: The Fall and Rise of a Great Power, 1850–2009. London: Penguin. ISBN 9780141917610.
  5. ^ a b c Madsen, Richard (1995). China and the American Dream: A Moral Inquiry. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 9780520914926.
  6. ^ Kristof, Nicholas D. (June 21, 1989). "A Reassessment of How Many Died In the Military Crackdown in Beijing". New York Times. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
  7. ^ a b Cheng, Kris (December 17, 2018). "Former Chinese official Yuan Mu – who said 'not one person died on Tiananmen' – dies at 90". Hong Kong Free Press. Retrieved December 18, 2018.