Former Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen, who rebuilt relations with the international community after the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, has died at the age of 89, state media said Wednesday.
Qian died Tuesday in Beijing, Xinhua news agency quoted a government statement as saying. It described him as “a time-tested and loyal communist soldier and proletarian revolutionist, and an outstanding leader in diplomacy of the country”.
Qian, who spoke Russian and English, was foreign minister from 1988-1998 and handled the diplomatic fallout from the massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators which attracted international condemnation.
On June 4, 1989 the authorities sent in troops and tanks to disperse demonstrators who had occupied the Beijing square for a month and a half in protest at corruption and the lack of democratic freedoms.
Hundreds of protesters were killed in the city.
During his tenure as foreign minister, Qian was the first Chinese diplomat to attend a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
His presence at the 1991 ASEAN foreign ministers’ meeting paved the way for future cooperation with the bloc, which had been founded in 1967 partly as a bulwark against communism.
Qian also served as Vice Premier of the State Council from 1993 to 2003.