The man who bankrolled Tiananmen movement still wanted in China

In online interaction with HT from Paris, Wan Runnan said his company had given “…money, communication equipment, medicine, in all about 100000 RMB to the protesters”.
Wan Runnan was among those who had bankrolled the movement, hoping that the pro-democracy protests could usher in political reform, transparency and economic opening-up.(Wan Runnan/Sourced)
Wan Runnan was among those who had bankrolled the movement, hoping that the pro-democracy protests could usher in political reform, transparency and economic opening-up.(Wan Runnan/Sourced)
Updated on Jun 03, 2019 05:56 PM IST
Copy Link
Hindustan Times, Beijing | BySutirtho Patranobis

It took Wan Runnan, now 73, and his Stone Corporation, China’s first high-profile tech start-up, just months from being the Communist country’s poster boy of private entrepreneurship to a “counter-revolutionary” in 1989.

Around the time Infosys was set up in Bangalore in the early 1980s, Wan was setting up his computer hardware company in a Beijing district. In a few years, it was to become China’s first multi-million dollar tech company, touted to be China’s IBM.

Wan was sitting alone in his Stone Corporation office in Beijing on 3 June 1989 when news reached him that tanks and guns had crushed the pro-democracy protesters at and around Tiananmen Square, killing an unknown number of civilians by the dawn of 4 June.

Wan knew he had to escape from China.

He was among those who had bankrolled the movement, hoping that the pro-democracy protests could usher in political reform, transparency and economic opening-up.

In online interaction with HT from Paris, Wan said his company had given “…money, communication equipment, medicine, in all about 100000 RMB to the protesters”.

Reports say he had pumped in much more money and openly extended political support to the movement.

“Yes, so the government said that our company was the ‘command, staff and logistics department of the 1989 student movement,” Wan said.

“I have (since) been wanted by the Chinese government and the warrant is still in effect,” Wan said.

Just a year earlier, in 1988, China’s official news agency, Xinhua had heaped praises on Stone Corporation, calling Wan one of the “red capitalists” of the 1980s.

He had even set up one of China’s first privately-funded think tanks: Stone Social Development Research Institute.

Wan said at that time local leaders in Beijing helped him achieve success.

Wan said he had to withstand a severe test before emerging (to) become the largest IT enterprise in China at that time.

The company, he said had been established for five years, with an annual increase of 300 per cent.

In 1988, the operation scale exceeded 1 billion RMB. Overseas commentators, according to him, said that the company was one of the most outstanding achievements of China’s ten-year reform.

Unfortunately, 1989 ended such a golden period of development and the fate of the Stone company began to reverse, Wan said.

The company was specifically targeted by Beijing’s Mayor Chen Xitong in a report on the incident.

“Wan Runnan, general manager of the Stone Company, listed the following six conditions for retreating (of students) from Tiananmen Square when he called together some leaders of the Autonomous Students Union of Beijing Universities: To withdraw the troops, cancel martial law, remove (premier) Li Peng, ask Deng Xiaoping and Yang Shangkun to retire and let Zhao Ziyang resume his post. During the meeting, they also planned to organise a grand march to claim victory,” Chen Xitong, wrote in a report on the protests titled “Report on Putting Down Anti-Government Riot”.

Clearly, the accusations were serious enough for Wan not to be able to return to China in the last 30 years since 1989.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • Japan sees record temperatures, appeals to conserve power

    Japan sees record temperatures, appeals to conserve power: A lowdown

    As Japan is sweltering under extremely hot weather conditions, the government has reportedly made an appeal to the residents of Tokyo to “conserve power”. The Japanese government and utility providers have warned of the electricity supply being “tight”. According to Japan's meteorological agency data, the temperatures will be as high as 35 degrees Celsius. On Saturday, Japan witnessed the highest temperature of above 104 degrees (40 Celsius) for the first time in June.

  • Sri Lanka sends two ministers to Russia negotiate for fuel amid crisis

    Sri Lanka sends two ministers to Russia negotiate for fuel amid crisis

    Sri Lanka is sending two government ministers to Russia to negotiate for fuel — one of the necessities nearly exhausted amid the Indian Ocean island nation's economic collapse. Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said two ministers are scheduled to leave for Russia on Monday to continue in-person talks that Sri Lanka has been having with Russian authorities to directly purchase fuel, among other related issues.

  • Egypt, one of world's biggest wheat importers, to buy 180K

    Egypt, one of world's biggest wheat importers, to buy 180K

    Egypt has contracted to buy 180,000 tonnes of wheat from India, less than previously agreed, but is looking at ways to extract more flour from grain and even use potatoes in bread making as it tries to trim imports, the supply minister said on Sunday. Egypt relies mainly on imported wheat to make heavily subsidised bread available to more than 70 million of its 103 million population.

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Community event, in Munich, Germany on Sunday. (ANI/)

    PM Modi, Trudeau set to meet on sidelines of G7 summit

    India Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday will hold his first in-person bilateral meeting with his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau in over four years, in Germany. The bilateral meeting has been confirmed by the Canadian prime minister's officer and is scheduled for 6pm local time (9:30 pm IST) in Schloss Elmau, on the margins of the ongoing Group of Seven (G7) summit. The meeting is expected to last for about 20 minutes.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Russia defaults on foreign debt for first time in a century | 5 points

    Russia defaulted on its foreign-currency sovereign debt for the first time in more than a century, a result of its further alienation from the global financial system following West-led sanctions imposed over its war in Ukraine. “There is money and there is also the readiness to pay," Russian finance minister Anton Siluanov said last month. “This situation, artificially created by an unfriendly country, will not have any effect on Russians' quality of life.”

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Monday, June 27, 2022