Papers smuggled out of China have shown how the Communist leadership engaged in a fierce power struggle before ordering the suppression of the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy demonstrations in 1989. In the documents the Chinese leaders discuss the number of people killed outside the square though they have always denied publicly that anyone died in the square itself.

Transcripts of high-level meetings between April and June that year, reportedly leaked by senior moderates in the ruling party, give an unprecedented insight into Chinese power politics. Excerpts from the papers, acquired by the United States television company CBS, suggest that the then Chinese leader, Deng Xiaoping, who died in 1997, feared he would lose power if the protests were allowed to continue.