Twenty-one years ago today, large scale protests broke out across China,
the largest at Beijing's Tiananmen Square. Both the protests and the
government clamp-down, which resulted in hundreds of killed civilians,
led to the gradual opening of Chinese society and markets, a process
continuing to this day. Just as with last year's 20th anniversary, the
event is bringing deep
reflections from pundits
. Here are the reflections and
- We Now Know What the Chinese Government Ordered
The New York Times' Michael Wines and
Andrew Jacob report that then-head-of-state Deng Xiaoping "ordered
the military to try to limit injuries when it moved against Tiananmen
Square protesters 21 years ago, but told them to be ready to 'shed some
blood' if necessary, according to an unpublished diary said to document
internal decisions that led to the violent crackdown. ... The diary,
covering some nine weeks before and after the military action, is said
to be written by Li Peng, China’s premier at the time and an ally of
conservatives in the Chinese leadership. ... The same publisher caused a
sensation in May 2009 by issuing the secret memoirs of Zhao Ziyang, the
Chinese Communist Party leader who opposed using force against the
Tiananmen protesters and was ousted by his rivals after the military
crushed the protests."
- Chinese Blogger: How We Should
Commemorate Chengdu-based writer and activist
Ran Yunfei, as translate by Global Voices: "Remembering June Forth
shouldn’t be limited to telling the truth, but
also real actions. First is a thorough investigation of the list of
deaths in the incident, not only limited to the Tiananmen Mothers group.
Every living individual, especially those witnessing the event, has the
responsibility to make the records accurate. Only on this basis can we
tell the truth to the world. Second is helping the disabled victims or
families of the deceased as best as you can."
- U.S. Media Still
Gets Tiananmen All Wrong The Columbia Journal Review's Jay Matthews decries, "Over
the last decade, many American reporters and editors have accepted a
mythical version of that warm, bloody night." However, "The problem is
this: as far as can be determined from the available evidence, no one
died that night in Tiananmen Square. A few people may have been killed
by random shooting on streets near the square, but all verified
eyewitness accounts say that the students who remained in the square
when troops arrived were allowed to leave peacefully. Hundreds of
people, most of them workers and passersby, did die that night, but in a
different place and under different circumstances."
- Today in
Hong Kong, Another Demonstration Global Voices' Oiwan Lam writes, "Today is the
21st anniversary of the June 4 Massacre in Beijing Tiananmen and the
Hong Kong public will continue their annual candle night vigil tonight.
However, the preparation process hasn't been very smooth so far. And
this year, the conflict point is around the Goddess of Democracy. First
of all, the Hong Kong police confiscated two statues of the Goddess of
Democracy before the annual march to commemorate the Tiananmen incident
on 30 of May. ... Meanwhile, Hong Kong Immigration has denied entry to
the sculptor of the Statue, Chen Weiming, on June 1. Chen was deported
back to the U.S early on the morning of June 2. The most outrageous
incident has been the Chinese University Authority's refusal to allow
the Democracy Goddess entry onto the university campus under the pretext
of 'political neutrality'."
- Chinese Protests More Frequent in
May and June The Huffington Post's Jeffrey Wasserstrom
connects an ongoing set of auto labor protests to the Tiananmen
tradition. "There's a special significance to the fact that, thanks to a
strike wave at Honda factories in Foshan, Chinese protests are making headlines at this particular time of year --
yet again. This is because there's a long tradition of outbursts of
unrest occurring in China between early May and early June."
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