China’s staunchly traditionalist Communist leader, Xi Jinping, paid tribute on Friday to a predecessor, Hu Yaobang, who was in many ways his opposite in temperament and politics. Mr. Hu was a passionate liberalizer in the 1980s, and he dedicated his restless energies to overturning the purges and ideological shibboleths of the Maoist era, even speculating about abandoning chopsticks for knives and forks. He was ousted contentiously in early 1987, and his abrupt death two years later inspired public mourning that expanded into the Tiananmen Square protests.
But Mr. Xi and other leaders appeared to have choreographed the commemoration of Mr. Hu to avoid praising his liberalizing record or conceding to hopes from Mr. Hu’s family for acknowledgment that his ousting from power in January 1987 was unjust, said Robert L. Suettinger, a senior adviser at the Stimson Center in Washington, who is writing a biography of Mr. Hu.
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