Chen Xitong, a former mayor of Beijing who backed the military crackdown on the Tiananmen Square democratic movement during his term but later expressed regret, has died, media reports and a family friend said Tuesday, the 24th anniversary of the quelling of the student-led movement.

The Hong Kong China News Agency, an offshoot of the official China News Service, said Chen died Sunday at age 84 in Beijing. Chengdu-based writer He Sanwei also said he had been informed of Chen's death by the former mayor's relatives.

Chen was later purged from the Communist Party and jailed for corruption, and lost influence in inner-party politics. But his death so close to the anniversary of the crackdown posed additional difficulties for the government, which has tried to erase mention of the 1989 events.