At 2:00 am, General Secretary Zhao Ziyang wrote a letter to the students on behalf of the Standing Committee of the CPC Politburo. Zhao determined the movement to be patriotic. But he also urged the students to remain calm, rational and orderly and to have concern for the bigger picture. Zhao also promised that the government would not retaliate against the students.
At the Square, more than one million people - workers, students, and local residents - supported the hunger strikers, who had begun their fifth day of fasting. Ambulances were seen coming in and out of the Square, carrying to the nearby hospitals dozens of hunger strikers who had lost consciousness after days of fasting. Banners with anti-bureaucracy, anti-corruption, and democratic slogans were seen everywhere in the Square. There were also slogans demanding that Deng Xiaoping and Li Peng to either retire or resign. Students and workers from other provinces had joined the rally at the Square.
Three prominent intellectuals, Yan Jiaqi, Bao Zunxin and Li Nanyou, produced a "May 17 Declaration" denouncing the government's unwillingness to talk to the students in order to seek a peaceful resolution. In the declaration, the three intellectuals stated that "although the Qing dynasty has been dead for seventy years, there is an emperor without an official title, and old and fatuous dictator." They are referring, of course, to Deng Xiaoping.