17 thoughts on “Tiananmen Square, June 4, 1989”

  1. A much more striking picture than the one I posted on both the blogs – that lone student standing up to the tanks. I do intend to do a posting about tanks being the symbol of the twentieth century later on. But first, I must do my little bit in crushing Conservative pretensions to being anything but a bunch europhiliac socialists. :D

  2. I wonder if the Tiananmen protest wasn’t in vain after all. Yes, they were brutally crushed yet China has progressively liberalized. Today in China people do gather to protest against the government in a manner unthinkable before Tiananmen. The current government would find it hard to repeat the atrocity.

    Perhaps history will show that Tiananmen was not the reassertion of the power of mass murdering Communist but rather a Battle of the Bulge like lashing out by a fading and desperate ideology. Perhaps one day China will have monuments to the valiant dead of Tiananmen.

  3. It’s far more likely that they will remain unsung heroes within China as long as the PRC government remains in power, regardless of length of time. There is a solid body of cultural psychology research that suggests East Asian societies place great value on saving face and relatively little value on individual accomplishments. A harmonious society must sometimes forget the past to get to the future.

  4. Shannon,

    No government needs to repeat an atrocity. Its memory will suffice. China is not liberalizing in any meaningful sense. There is not even a remote attempt at freedom of speech or media and protesters, journalists, bloggers, academics, anyone who steps out of the, admittedly slightly wider, boundaries are routinely arrested. As for the supposed economic liberalization, it is still controlled by the party.

  5. Helen,

    I’m going to disagree. I think there is a lot of liberalization today relative to the overt-Communist era. Following the recent earthquakes there were significant demonstrations against public officials as well as lawsuits. Granted not much compared to Western standards but revolutionary compared to Communist days. I’ve had online discussions with Chinese nationals something unthinkable when I was in college even ignoring the change in technology.

    Looked at in a evolutionary perspective China appears to be evolving into an authoritarian elitist regime with a quasi-open economy. I think it is recapitulating the path followed by Taiwan and South Korea. It might be decades before we see freedom in China like those two countries have today but it’s the direction and the motion that counts long run not its absolute magnitude.

  6. Shannon Love

    Perhaps one day China will have monuments to the valiant dead of Tiananmen.

    May it be soon. My father immigrated here from China, alone and 12 years old, in the 1920’s. I was born here, and have never been back to visit the old country. Not that I do not honor the culture that I came from, but because I hate what the regime has done to it. This half-breed “Jook Sing” and his family remembers, and makes the traditional offerings to remember the dead on Tiananmen Day. And even though it seems likely that our country may not outlast the PRC regime; I still hope that before I die, I will be able to go and make the same offerings at a new Goddess of Democracy in Tiananmen Square.

    Thanks to those here at Chicago Boyz for remembering.

    Subotai Bahadur

  7. Ot: Twenty years ago, I was sitting on the side of the hospital bed with my just born, last born in my arms. I had thought – we will be able to remember her birth with the celebration of that “Goddess of Democracy”,as days went on, it became clear that the brave man facing down the tank would be less a symbol of what was to come than the picture Lex posted. I’m sorry for all those who had babies in their arms that day and have found the last twenty years not ones of comfort and freedom, but of pain and fear. But, because of that comfort and freedom it is our responsibility to remember – if that is all we can do.

  8. regardless of who you may be remembering or vilifying, posting a gruesome photo like that is most certainly not the way to go about it. it’s plain disrespectful to the deceased and their families, and does little more than make a show, rather than a cause, of their suffering.

  9. Ashley,

    I can’t speak for anyone else but I disagree with you. It would have been disrespectful to the victims and their families to post this photo for some frivolous purpose. However, as I understand it Lex posted the photo to help people remember the events in which these people were murdered, as well as the murders themselves. I think that posting the image was justifiable, and justified, in this context.

  10. If Ashley perceives disrespect, she is mistaken.

    To the contrary.

    I posted the photo because it was a massacre, and we should remember it as a massacre.

    That picture shows things as they really were, without being sanitized or romanticized.

    I do not want to make a cause or a show of their deaths. At this point, I am not sure what the lessons, if any, of Tiananmen are, other than tyrants cannot tolerate dissent.

    What is certain is that the people who stood up to the Communists were brave and idealistic, and they took great risks for what they believed was a good cause, and many of them died for it. We can remember and respect that, and hope we will have their courage and idealism if the day comes when it is demanded of us.

  11. I was a senior in High School when the Tiananmen Square incident happened. It was both appalling and horrible. That is what I thought when I was 18.
    However, after college I went on to become a NYC Police Officer. It was during my short career as a cop that I learned what people are all about. And I cannot help but think that we should do more Tiananman here in this country. It seems Americans take a “hands off’ approach when it comes to civil disobedience. I do not mean peaceful protesting. I am talking about destructive riots where people and property get damaged and hurt. Maybe the next time a protest in NYC starts to get out of hand, we should roll the tanks into Manhattan. At that point if things don’t calm down, we should put a few of the rioters down. They will think twice about doing it ever again. We would have to do it once.
    Also , my fellow Americans, who are we to tell anyone else in any other country how to live their lives? Why do we continue to stick out noses in other people’s business? No wonder the rest of the world hates us. And our President Rockstar feels the need to go on yet another apology tour around the world.
    Apparently some people in this country forget what happened in Waco, Texas. Our government killed men, women, and children. All Americans!!
    And what about the draft riots that took place in NYC back in the 1860’s. U.S. soldiers put the rioters down with bullets. The U.S. Navy at the time launched cannon rounds into the heart of NYC and killed people. So those of you who do not think it would ever happen in this country, it already has. It will happen again. In some cases we need to have it happen again.

  12. Mikey,

    Interesting comment. I think it’s important to point out in response that the Tiananmen protesters were peaceful. It’s the Chinese regime that was violent. This was not the same situation as a violent riot in an open society such as ours — e.g., the 1992 LA riots, when the outcome might have been better if the police had used more force, earlier. In other words, I think you are confusing several independent issues.

    As for your assertions re Americans not minding their own business, I don’t see what that has to do with Tiananmen. If I recall the Tiananmen demonstrators erected a model Statue of Liberty as a show of solidarity with our ideals. Shouldn’t we support such people, if only by publicly remembering them, and by remembering those among them who were murdered by their own government?

  13. “..And what about the draft riots that took place in NYC back in the 1860’s. U.S. soldiers put the rioters down with bullets. The U.S. Navy at the time launched cannon rounds into the heart of NYC and killed people. So those of you who do not think it would ever happen in this country, it already has….”

    As I always say, comments like this just prove my point. Yes, Yes, Yes..then it’s agreed…many other governments are on par with 18th or 19th century America in their thinking on human rights.

    I liken it to defenders of radical islam who cite radical christianity….from the 12th century….I don’t need to say the cultures are on par..they usually say it eloquently for me…

  14. “.. No wonder the rest of the world hates us..”

    Really, you have empirical evidence that they “rest of” the world hates us…all of it…everyone…really? See..my personal experience has been just the opposite travelling to most countries. But I guess I’m the only one….

  15. “.. No wonder the rest of the world hates us..”

    I always wonder who exactly “the rest of the world” encompasses. It clearly implies a false syllogism: If “the rest of the world hates us”…does it mean that the rest of the world leaves in peace and harmony loving one another? Do Russia’s neighbors love them? Do the rest of the world love British? French? Germans? Chinese?. And could someone please clarify who exactly “the rest of the world” is…

Comments are closed.