Hero Who Refused To Obey

Xu Qinxian

This is Xu Qinxian (Chinese: 徐勤先; August 1935 – 8 January 2021) who passed away one year ago at the age of 85. He is one of those who received the “highest award” from the Chinese government – cancellation on Baidu after he was imprisoned. So what’s his crime?


Back in 1989, Xu Qinxian was the commander of the 38th Division of the People’s Liberation Army. On the 20th of May 1989, General Xu received orders to open fire on demonstrators at Tiananmen Square. He refused to obey, telling friends that he would rather lose his head than to to go down in history as a sinner. If General Xu had not disobeyed orders, the Tiananmen massacre would have taken place on that day itself. It wasn’t till 4th June 1989 that they found someone willing to do the “dirty work”.

For disobeying orders, Xu was court-martialed, jailed for five years and expelled from the Chinese Communist Party. During his court martial, the unrepentant Xu said to the military tribunal: “This is a political crisis and not a military crisis. A political crisis cannot be settled using military means. The People’s Army has never in its history been used to suppress the people. I absolutely refuse to besmirch this historical record!”

After serving his sentence, he was exiled to Shijiazhuang, Hebei, where he spent the remainder of his life under virtual house arrest.