Interview with a 1989 demonstrator in China

Below is the interview I posted a few day’s ago on Living in China. It tells of the evolution of a former flag-waving protestor in the 1989 demonstrations in Shanghai. If you’ve ever looked back at the Tiananmen Square days and wondered what those students are doing and thinking today, you may find this interesting.

David S., 34, is now a prominent executive with a multinational technology company here in Singapore, and I’ve been lucky enough to work with him on his company’s public relations. When I heard that David played a part in Beijing’s sister demonstrations in Shanghai, I asked if I could interview him about the role he played and how he looks back on those days nearly 15 years later.

What made this so interesting for me was seeing the evolution of a 1989 demonstrator, from flag-waving rebel to a proud supporter of China and its government. It is a remarkable story.

Some of David’s viewpoints are quite different from my own, but that isn’t relevant. At the end, I offer a few of my own thoughts, but I don’t want to editorialize about which point of view is right or wrong.

Q. What brought you to the demonstrations in Shanghai?

It’s hard to understand this if you weren’t there, but it would have been abnormal for me not to go to the demonstrations. We all went, it was just natural. My classmates and I were swept up, we simply had to go, it was the natural thing to do. Suddenly, we were all participating.

You have to be aware of the situation in China at that time. It was as though there were two parallel systems, one being the economic system, the other the political system. These systems were like two wheels that weren’t on level ground, and along the way tension built up over a period of nearly 10 years, ever since Deng came back to power after the Cultural Revolution. That tension was tremendous, and no one could escape from it.

Chinese society consists of multiple layers – peasants, students, soldiers, factory workers. At that time, there was tension at every layer of the society. People were confused and frustrated. Earthquakes happen when different layers rub against each other at a different pace, and finally the earth can no longer contain the energy and it erupts. That’s the type of tension that was behind the protests.

So much about the economy had improved and was changing, but politics – the government – remained status quo. In the 1970s, if you said anything disrespectful of Mao, you’d be executed. In 1989, if you said something negative about Deng in public you could still be in serious trouble.

It was the students who were most sensitive to this. Our parents all worked for the state, and there was still little or no private enterprise. They were not as concerned about ideology and change. They only had to worry about feeding their families. But as students we were more liberal, more free-spirited and more engaged in ideologies. We weren’t concerned about raising a family. We were not necessarily practical; we were very idealistic.

Historically, most great movements in China were started by students. Even today, we celebrate China Youth Day on May 4th. That’s because when the KMT [Kuomintang] were still in power and the Communists were outlawed, the students demonstrated for the Communists on May 4th. General Tuan Qi Rui was the warlord over Beijing at the time and he opened fire on them in the street. So after the Communists took power they dedicated that day as the nation’s youth, which is still a holiday today.

Q. Where were you, and what was your own role?

I was studying medicine at the Shanghai Second Medical University, now a part of Fudan University. I was asked by my classmates to be the flag bearer because I’m quite tall, so my role was to carry the flag and wave it in front of the demonstrators. Every day we would march from the university campus all the way to the People’s Square, and I was in the front holding and waving the flag.

Q. Looking back, are you glad you did it? Do you have any regrets?

No, I don’t have regrets and I don’t think what we did was in vain. It was important for us to make our voice heard. For my generation, the crackdown had huge implications for our lives, probably like the JFK assassination had for Americans.

But I have to admit I am no longer interested in politics, especially now that China is undergoing a natural transition toward democracy, with the economy being the core and the catalyst for that change. And nothing can stop that change, no matter how much the Communists want to preserve their old values.

Q. We all know about the violent crackdown in Beijing. How was it handled in Shanghai?

There was nothing like the martial law that took place in Beijing. The Mayor of Shanghai at the time was extremely competent, and he made an appeal to the city on TV and he calmed everyone down. I’ll never forget, he said something that was ambiguous and politically brilliant: “Down the road, truth will prevail.” That could have meant he was sympathetic to the students or totally with the government. But it was very calming to hear him say it.

The mayor organized factory workers to clear the roads, not the army. These workers were the parents and uncles and aunts of the students. Some members of the student body tried to stir up these factory workers, and I think that was a very dangerous thing to do. Students demonstrating was one thing, but if it was factory workers – that would need to be stopped, and there would have been a riot. That’s why Beijing was much more tense.

Bringing in the factory workers truly showed the leadership and tact and common sense of Shanghai’s mayor – Zhu Rongji. Beijing is the political center, but Shanghai is the financial center, and it could absolutely not fall into chaos, no matter what. That’s why you saw factory workers and not the army.

Q. How did you hear of the massacre, and what effect did the news have?

My father and I heard about it on the radio, on ‘Voice of America’. That was the only source there was. Soon we all knew what had happened. We watched CCTV the next day. The reporters were wearing black and some of them were obviously in a deep state of grief, their eyes visibly red, as they announced that the anti-revolutionaries had been put down. I saw those reporters with my own eyes, and soon afterwards they were replaced.

At the moment the news broke of the crackdown, I was angry. How could it happen? All of the demonstrations were peaceful. How could they justify tanks and machine guns? I gave up all hope in my own government, and I felt ashamed to be Chinese. We were also disappointed in [then] President Bush – he was softer than we wanted. All that Bush did was impose sanctions, and that disappointed us. We were in a dilemma. We wanted the US and others to do something, but we also knew that would have hurt us.

That was part of being 20 years old in China when you haven’t seen the world, no Hollywood movies, you’ve only read Stalin-style textbooks. I matured ten years overnight, and I also became a little cynical.

For so many years China had a stringently controlled educational system. From kindergarten to college, we all read the exact same books and took the exact same exams. We always believed everything that the government told us, and they told us it was an honor for ‘the people without property’ to shed their blood and sacrifice their lives for the cause of communism, fighting against the two great enemies, the Nationalists [KMT] and the Capitalists. We were brainwashed.

After Tiananmen Square, most of us believed that all government was evil. We saw that our government would kill us. I remember how my aunt told me she went to the Tiananmen Square area shortly after the crackdown and there was someone saying through a megaphone that there had never been any shooting even though she could see the bullet holes on the walls, which were soon cleaned up.

But now, that sense of shame is gone. When I look at it all objectively, I believe the government did the right thing. Maybe they didn’t do it the right way. I still have reservations about the tanks and the machine guns. But at that time they couldn’t afford to sit down and negotiate. The students wanted power, and in 1989 the social cohesion wasn’t there to support that. It was only 10 years after the Gang of Four, and it wasn’t like today. In retrospect, Deng at that time couldn’t afford to show further weakness. He had to hold the country together. Yes, we paid the price in blood, but we are still one country, one nation.

You have to realize that Deng changed my life – everybody’s life. He opened new doors for all of us. In 1982, my mother was among the first batch of scholars who were sent abroad to study, and she went to Harvard. She returned to become the director of a major Shanghai hospital. So we are grateful. And soon so many other changes happened.

I feel a great respect for our leaders. There are some, like Li Peng, who I still have no respect for. But Deng – soon we felt as though he had torn down the Berlin Wall. I wondered, if Deng had not handled the demonstrations the way he did would China be the country it is today? The whole nation is changing and people are more affluent, and I feel proud of being Chinese. People once looked down at us, and now they have respect for us.

Q. But what Deng achieved – could he not have done it within a more democratic system? Did there have to be the ruthlessness?

After going to the US for five or six years, I saw that the level of democracy there can only happen in a society with a certain level of education. What the people of China now need is leadership. China is one century behind the US, and you can’t expect us to change that fast.

This is why many Asians resent it when Americans try to insist that the Chinese adopt their style of democracy. Shanghai may be ready, but if you go out to the surrounding areas, you’ll see it just isn’t possible, that it will take more time. I believe that one day, China will have Taiwan-style democracy, but it has to be built on a strong economy.

Q. I agree that Western-style democracy isn’t right for China today. But can’t there be a compromise? Can’t the government be strong, without tolerating abuse of the poor by corrupt officials, without tolerating the marginalization of AIDS victims, without arresting kids who write about government reform on the Internet?

The way we view human rights is so different from the West’s. We have 1.3 billion people and many of them go hungry. Putting food on the table and a roof over its people’s heads is what our government has to worry about. AIDS, corruption, the Internet – that is all secondary to the leadership of 1.3 billion people. If I were running China today, I would not be able to hear all the different parties. I would have to have my own agenda and stick to that agenda. I believe that if a secret vote were held today most people in China would vote for the CCP.

For more than 150 years, starting with the Opium Wars, our national pride has been bullied by the Europeans, the Russians, then the Japanese. Now China is an economic and a military power. And it has no intentions of being aggressive. So I am not giving up my Chinese citizenship. Ten years ago I would have jumped to do that.

Looking back, I firmly believe the government did the right thing, though they could have handled it better. We paid a high price. Our leaders in 1989 could have shown greater human skills and greater negotiating skills. But let’s live with Communism for now and change things one thing at a time. The Chinese now have a much better life than they did 100 years ago. Not so long ago, my house was the first in our hutong to have a television set. The whole neighborhood would come to our backyard and sit on the ground to watch. It was just a 9-inch TV, and we put a large magnifying glass in front of it so everyone could see – that is how inventive we Chinese had to be. And now, so many families have two color TVs. They enjoy a better life, they have pride, they just put a man into space. Over the next couple of decades, China will probably overtake Japan. The world now needs China as much as we need them.

Thank you, David.

This was definitely an eye-opening interview for me. Coming from my own background where the rights of the individual are sacred, I was intrigued to hear such a different point of view. As readers familiar with my writing know, I am not quite so easy on the CCP, and don’t feel all can be forgiven under the mantra, Change must take place slowly. But I have the highest respect for David, and find the story of his transformation and his great personal success to be impressive and inspiring.

______________

Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 34 Comments

Great interview. What overwhelms me about this interview, besides the content, is the remarkable optimism. This is something that just in my personal experience with the Chinese that- Damn!-I just have to admire it.

December 18, 2003 @ 7:26 am | Comment

David states “But now, that sense of shame is gone. When I look at it all objectively, I believe the government did the right thing. Maybe they didn’t do it the right way.”

You’re the big shame, David. I was about 14 years old when i saw the massacre on tv in america, and when i think about it, it still pisses me off that any country can do such a thing to their citizens. There may be few heros left in the modern world, but what the students did during that time, was of heroic proportions. Not just for themselves, but for the future also. Normal people that wanted a change, pissed off at the current situation, a massive protest for the government to clean its fucking act up for the citizens, not for their damn bellies.

I believe that many of your citizens probably wouldn’t understand what an American democracy is because they are so used to communist ideology, but what they seek maybe is something simpler- like free speech and some uncorrupted police protection.

Money sure makes people sing a different, David. You shame all the people that died there.

Like Richard, I also find this “interview” eye-opening, but pathetic.

March 11, 2004 @ 1:28 am | Comment

As a Singaporean where there exist much debate over the issue on rights, where we too have a dominant ‘one-party’ government, I would like to say that I resent racoonracer’s putting down of David. Economic issues are important and you Westerners can’t expect Asian countries to handle things the American way. Nor is the American way the best. We do push for larger portions of the pie and we take what we can get. Absolute freedom and absolute control are unwarranted. If there is more freedom in the American democracy, who is to say that that is definitely better? Just because the media and the West says so?

“Normal people that wanted a change, pissed off at the current situation, a massive protest for the government to clean its fucking act up for the citizens, not for their damn bellies.”

It is always the hunger that motivates. The more contented you are, the more willing you are to be less rigid on other stuff.

I am not trying to fight for any ideology. I just think that the sneering is uncalled for. Respect for someone elses’ point of view would be good. After all we do not all stem from the same background.

Sometimes, with all the focusing on rights and freedom of speech, I wonder if these people have overlooked another important aspect of life – respect for others.

What David was trying to say is that there are certain things that the CCP could have done better then. Nothing is perfect. Now, with China looming up ahead in terms of its economic power, perhaps it is shown that the measures taken then weren’t an absolute wrong.

I am inclined to agree with David, when he says that, “I believe the government did the right thing. Maybe they didn’t do it the right way.”

I believe that the government exists for its people. How can a country undergoing a transition, have its government show weakness? To be soft and to fail to instill respect for the government will undermine all future measures in governing the country.

It was pretty harsh on the student protesters but sometimes, bad things have to happen to make way for the better things in life.

As they say, ‘no pain, no gain’.

Perhaps what David shouldn’t have said was that the sense of shame is gone. Kantian ethics would say that it is never right to deprive another of their right to live. Yet a lot of people are reaping the benefits of a supposedly wrong act. If it benefits more people, does that justify the act?

My answer is that there in no right or wrong. It jus depends on whether you are a Kantian advocater or a Utilitarian advocater.

There are no right or wrongs in many things but to pass judgement on someone who came from a different background is definitely wrong. We are just by-standers, would anyone have done it differently, when faced with the same circumstances?

April 30, 2005 @ 3:54 pm | Comment

His attitude seems to sum up that of a lot of Chinese people of his generation – they have completely given up on political change and just want the trappings of wealth. Unfortunately their attitude has been passed on to the new generation, who don’t even know about the massacre, and who seem to have no political ideas in their head apart from hatred of Japan and a conviction that they are economically empowered and therefore free.

Thanks God that I only have to think about these things for another two weeks and five days!

June 4, 2005 @ 7:01 pm | Comment

The action that the government ever took has been affecting people’s life .That has been making people seperate into different class, someone living with the God, someone gazing the towel, someone hoping for the bright future ,someone working without the sense of happiness but full of “confidence”—-of course forgetting himself and his “mother”,and the like. The national devolopement brings everyone good life ,at least having a chance to improve, but the devolopement cost the demond that we may pay for a life in which we have rights of freedom for what we own, such as my money given to the university , we can vote for our future, and so on. We lost a good step. Maybe we need to run for a long time.
Today , I sign again.

October 11, 2005 @ 3:52 am | Comment

The Declaration of Independence of the US tells us that a government exists that its citizens have equitable access to a good and honorable life and when it doesn’t; it is our duty to remove it. I do not believe that is a particularly ethnocentric American thought. I think most people believe they should be able to look to their governments for protection and help, not for a bruising. We can never be but sickened when a government brutally turns on its citizens. In recent times, Tiananmen Square sickened us; Saddam gassing the Kurds and his own troops sickened us; the police riots at University of Wisconsin and during the Chicago Democratic Convention sickened us, and no Americans of a certain age will ever forget the murders and maiming at Kent State. The difference between Tiananmen Square and Kent state? The scale of the crimes were certainly different, but, more importantly, in the US there were court trials to try to find guilt and reason. There was never any question of the Chinese publicly searching for a reason. If they want to be world players, China is going to have to begin to take more responsibility in open public forums for their missteps.

We must remember that this horror is not reserved for who we describe as despotic. I do not think of the army’s reaction at Tiananmen Square as being a particularly Chinese event. That can happen almost anywhere. It did. The French did a pretty good job during the student riots in the 70’s. However, we need to encourage the Chinese (and all the rest of us) to lighten up when it comes to determining the cause and, if there are guilty parties, bringing justice. We have to have public inquiries to create safeguards to keep them from ever happening again.

I hope we in the US learned from Kent state. And i hope that knowledge will keep another Kent State from ever happening. I hope the Chinese learned something from Tiananmen Square and that there will never be another Tiananmen Square. Perhaps the Chinese will learn from the approach the Mayor of Shanghai took in managing the situation. We should never forget those crimes and never forget those who died for us. But to revisit 1989 is to revisit a horrible place. Even if the students had succeeded, it would still have been a miserable place, just slightly changed. If i were Chinese, i think i would be looking forward rather than backward. I think that is the valid conclusion of David.

November 28, 2005 @ 5:42 pm | Comment

Hi Emperor, I am an italian reporter and blogger based in Rome, Italy. I consider your interview one the best I ever read about this issue and therefore I linked this page to my own blog on China. I hope a link to your great blog will help my “readers” to get to know you and your work. And to open their eyes… Thank you for it.

SAbrina

December 22, 2005 @ 1:31 pm | Comment

I am currently reading Yung Changs Mao.
I had an idea that Mao was bad but no conception of his evil intent to the chinese nation.
Not much is said about the Tibetan nation who have been left to their fate the great powers !
don’t care a fig

December 29, 2005 @ 9:37 am | Comment

As a student demonstrator in 1989 myself, I also have changed my views on the Tiananmen massacre overtime. I would not go as far as saying that the CCP government did the right thing. What they did was horrific and indefensible. However, I do think they made many right choices afterwards and I agree with David that most Chinese people, me included, would vote for the CCP if a ballot were held today.

The most obvious reason is the economy. China’s rapid growth has brought millions people out of absolute poverty and created a semi-middle class. Most Chinese people appreciate the improved living standards and they don’t want to rock the boat.

Secondly, having witnessed the chaos rampaged across China during the Cultural Revolution and seeing the economic setback Russia suffered after radical political reforms, most Chinese, at least for the urban elites, have bought into the argument the stability is of paramount importance for China.

Ironically, the exiled Chinese dissidents are also helping the CCP. By not having any viable strategies except joining the chorus singing “the coming collapse of China’, they are largely marginalized themselves instead of offering an alternative to the CCP.

It is no secret that many Chinese intellectuals do not like the current regime and they long for a democratic government. However, they have come to terms with the CCP that the western style democracy is a luxury which China cannot afford now. On the other hand, they are optimistic and believe that political reform will come, probably not in a very distant future.

January 21, 2006 @ 2:00 am | Comment

CLC,

I agree with many of your points. However, CCP is making it harder on themselves with their actions in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is a much more mature society compared to the rest of China. And if the CCP had been willing to leave Hong Kong alone economically, why not also leave it alone politically and let them develop politically. China has used the Hongkong economic experience as their model for Shenzen and Shanghai experiments. They should let HongKong develop politically further, therefore China can learn from its success and/or failures. CCP can cling to their policy of “stability” in tact, while watching from afar how Hong Kong political laboratory comes along. Best of both worlds, isn’t it. These are baby steps that must be taken for political reform to happen.

Instead, CCP is going backwards. If CCP is not taking these baby steps NOW, your claim that there will be political reform “probably not in a very distant future” won’t fly. Instead of “optimism”, it probably is best described as “wishful thinking”.

I’m sure people in Taiwan is watching Hongkong’s case closely, and it’s not encouraging so far. So why would they want to “reunite” with a China lead by the current CCP?

By the way, even if they made the “right” decision in Tiananmen, killing of unarmed and non-violent (though roudy) demonstrators is never justified. What’s worse, they are glorifying their actions after all these years. A secure and moral government would have been big enough to at least launch an inquiry (rather than white wash) and declare what went wrong, admit the mistakes and declare what went right before moving on. In fact, CCP later on adopted what the demonstrators were asking for, of course not admitting it. It would have been not only morally but also pragmatically better if the CCP trumpetted it and say “we listened!”

January 27, 2006 @ 9:43 pm | Comment

Fchia,

Thanks for your comment. I totally agree that the CCP made numerous blunders and is still making them today. They are unjustified and in most cases, indefensible. I am not going to waste time on that. Any way, they’ve got the whole propaganda dept. to defend itself.

Two quick points I want to make on why I am optimistic on the political reform in the near future. In about 20 years, the political power in China will be handed to the 1989 generation. With the old guards die out, the resistance to the reform will be dramatically decreased. Meanwhile, if China can maintain its current economic growth rate, China will produce a strong middle-class in 20 years. This will build a solid foundation for a democratic China.

Of course, we don’t know whether China’s current growth is sustainable. The CCP doesn’t know the answer either. On thing the CCP do know is that it is sitting on the driver’s seat, going 80 miles per hour. And, guess what, the CCP has never been to a highway before! What a new driver will do under this circumstance? He clenches on the steering wheel. That’s exactly what the CCP is doing now: tight control of everything, afraid of even taking baby steps of the political reform.

So will China crash before a more experienced driver can take over? I hope not and my hope is not entirely baseless. Unlike the soviets during the Cold War, China is so inter-connected with the outside world that a collapse of China is in nobody’s interest. In other words, the international community is sitting on the passage seat. This outside pressure/interference will help China stay in course.

January 31, 2006 @ 1:45 pm | Comment

Lifting people out of poverty is more important than voting in the human rights.

I was an anti-gov student in 1989 and have been us for many years too. I totally Changed my mind. many westerners don’t know and don’t want to know that CCP is still getting alot of supprt from Chinese today even many Chinese know it has problems.

Chinese gov made a lot of progress in politics too. More and more speach freedom, more and more channel to express your opinion. The governing is more and more transparent. These trend can be observed and feeled by most of our Chinese.

Chairman Mao died when he was still a Chinarman of China. Deng Xiaoping had big impact on Chinese politics when he died. I don;t belame for that because they had very high fame among Chinese due to the funding of PRC and the starting the reform of PRC.
But things are changed, no one else can has that historic chance to repeat the situation again. Now top Chinese leaders cannot be there forever like before. Jiang Zemin left after two terms (10 years), President Hu will follow too.

Even Chinese gov controlled the media, but almost all the corruption cases, unrest events, wrongdoing of gov were reported first by Chinese media and Chinese webs inside China.

Today, Chinese care much more about improve living and cracking down on the corruptions than other issues. Economy is growing.

Corruption is the biggest political problem in China and for CCP. But to be fair, corrution is more related to economic development level. I can say corruption is a big problem for all the developing countries. China is actually doing well than most of other developing countries, including India accoding to many research of international groups. China is a country that can sentense corrupted official to death. of course some so-called human right orgs is object to this. But Chinese support this since we don’t have tolerance with the corruption.

China has a lot of issues without doubt. That’s reasonable for such a big country of such a large population (1.3 billion) with such a poor economy (average GDP is only $1,700 even after 30 years of rapid growth). Deng Xiaoping said:We are wading a river while looking for stones underneath. He frankly tell people CCP’s aim: Crossing the river, means making China stronger, richer and better. He also told people there was risk since we may miss the stones.

Back to Tiananmen incident. That’s a tragedy for Chinese. but gov and students, especially those student leaders should share the responsibilty. Chinese gov took the action when the movement had lasted for 2 months and Chinese gov had declared the martial law in Beijing for half a month. Gov’s responsibilty is that it did not handle the issue correctly at begining. Students’ responsibilty is that they sisturbed the order of such a big nation for 2 months for their unrealistc political reasons. Unrealistc polictics can only cause disasters.

FChia raised the Hongkong issue. The problem is that Hongkong had been controlled by westerners for 100 years. As Chairman Mao said we need to clean the house before opening. if a patriotc act like 23 items could not be passed in Hongkong, not only CCP, but also many Chinese are suspecting that if Hongkong really belong to our China. We believe many person and political groups in Hongkong are still serving their master in Britain not serving our Chinese. Even this, CCP is expanding democracy in Hongkong step by step. Before the turn of the Hongkong, was there any democracy in Hongkong? Nothing!! The first leader of Hongkong after the return was elected by 400 Hongkong elites and biz men. Can you deny that? The second leader was elected by 800 Hongkong peole. All the seats in Hongkong congress were elected by all Hongkong residents. Can you deny this? CCP has the correct political plan that can guarantee Hongkong’s political reform without big trouble.

April 26, 2006 @ 2:26 pm | Comment

what ever

May 16, 2006 @ 12:58 pm | Comment

I am speechless about this. A lot of victims in the past now climb up to the top ladder. They become realistic and pagmatic. Their attidude have changed because their role has changed. Shame on these guys!

June 12, 2006 @ 2:45 am | Comment

Needless to say,government is always a monster no matter u like it or not.Someone said the most fortunate things is not how powerful the government is but how this monster can be hurdled. Fortunately,we Americans do this perfectly.Unfortunately,some countries didn’t and I’m sure to say they will not.why? read the Declaration of Independence ,please!

September 25, 2006 @ 8:58 pm | Comment

I think the guy David is telling us the platitude taperecorded from the official remarks. Overseas he is staying, he is still a fruit of the washbraining education by CCP.

October 24, 2006 @ 1:51 pm | Comment

[...] really began to understand the Chinese perspective on the tragedy five years ago when  I held an extensive conversation with an actual demonstrator. His words sounded so strange to me. He had gone to demonstrate, to actively protest against his [...]

June 4, 2008 @ 1:40 pm | Pingback

[...] only really began to understand theChinese perspective on the tragedy five years ago when I held an extensive conversation with an actual demonstrator.His words sounded so strange to me. He had gone to demonstrate, toactively protest against his [...]

June 4, 2008 @ 8:55 pm | Pingback

[...] I suggest a meal at the Peking Duck for a fuller, bolder experience. Nearly 20 years later it seems so far away, so distant. But not at all forgotten. At least not for me. Talking with my Chinese friends in Beijing, it also seems so irrelevant, something they would rather not acknowledge let alone dwell upon. I only really began to understand the Chinese perspective on the tragedy five years ago when I held an extensive conversation with an actual demonstrator. [...]

June 4, 2008 @ 9:01 pm | Pingback

[...] CCP’s days were numbered. I was wrong. (For what it’s worth, I left a few comments on this topic two years [...]

October 2, 2008 @ 5:51 pm | Pingback

As soon as some one said something that does not fit into their values, the word “brainwached” pop out.Have they ever thought about whether they were brainwashed too? How much the world has suffered from the domocratic USA? The USA treats their own people very well but how does it treat the rest of the world? How many millions of innocent people have you killed under the banner of democracy? How many poor people die in your sanctions to achieve political goals of the democratic government? I felt sick to see John McCain brain washed Americans that the America is a force for good. Certainly a big percentatge of American people will believe that lie for good and the world will suffer many more wars at certain stage of the future.

David, being a former protester on Tian An Men square myself, I agree with you. I think I went through similar change of thought myself. You have my support.

October 24, 2008 @ 12:09 pm | Comment

The question is when the generation of demonstrators takes on the leadership in China, will they be able to or be willing to transform the government of China?

The question is when the rich in China is a minority of the ruling elites and the middle class becomes a bigger percentage of the population, will they be willing to give up what they have in terms of privilege and wealth? There is no example of any political system in the world with such social structure voluntarily adopt democracy without a revolution or dictorship.

It is human nature to want power or wealth for oneself given a chance. I am very skeptical that China would be a more democratic country in two decades.

November 4, 2008 @ 4:44 am | Comment

Very excellent article and many well-reasoned comments. Can someone who was there during the Tiananmen Incident tell us, was it really a “peaceful” demonstration? When the troops first moved in, they were blocked and had to make a retreat. When they moved in again, violence flared up. Who started the violence? Was it the demonstrators or the soldiers?

According to an account in FEER, and the book Tiananmen Papers, it does not appear to me that the protest was peaceful at all.

I support the proposition that PRC and Hongkong should democratise gradually, one step at a time. The CCP is doing very well on the whole, for the past 20, even 30 years (assuming the suppression of Tiananmen was the right one).

I detest those Westerners who insist on their democratisation program, and the colour revolutions they have been trying to impose on other peoples.

Maybe because I am from Singapore. Another brainwashed guy. But tbose Americans are equally brainwashed, and they never know it about themselves. At least, we know. Let’s not forget the fact that they have been brainwashed to support the Iraq War. Imagine what will happen to China if China has that kind of democracy?

April 7, 2009 @ 10:48 am | Comment

Matthew, nice to meet you, and congratulations, you’re a slick bullshitter. You come in with praise, then ask wide-eyed questions, for which you actually already have your own set answers. And then you let loose.

The TS demonstrations themselves – the demonstrations within the square – were almost entirely peaceful. It was after the crowds were dispersing that violence erupted, not in the square but on the roads alongside it. Many of the angry citizens on the streets did turn to violence. Of course, the troops were ordered to shoot to kill with live ammo. Anyway, it will probably never be known who acted first, especially since the government keeps all the information secret.

P.S. Are you aware that most Americans were against the Iraq war about a year after it started? Did you know we elected a new government despite our “brainwashing”?

Slick.
Your slick comment is definitely one for the books.

April 7, 2009 @ 10:56 am | Comment

…Let’s not forget the fact that they have been brainwashed to support the Iraq War. Imagine what will happen to China if China has that kind of democracy?

The Americans can afford being brainwashed into the Iraq War. They are so rich. They don’t spare a thought for the poor peoples of the world. When they count the casualty of the war, they always forget to count the number of Iraqis who have been killed, injured, forced to leave their homeland, etc. American lives have more market value than Iraqi lives. Iraelist lives are more precious than Palestinian lives. Palestinians do not deserve life support. Israel do. Irael is justified to have the Bomb, and certainly that means Israel is justified to use the Bomb. But not Iran. Not North Korea. Of course, banish the thought that Palestinian can have the Bomb for self-defense.

The Americans can afford being brainwashed into the Iraq War. They are so rich. So they thought. Maybe the financial crisis today is the answer for the pride of their nation. God has to make them suffer, so that they can understand the sufferings, and priority of poor peoples of the world. Not human rights. Chinese people were still worrying about food and shelter 15 – 20 years ago. Those sicken Americans (and Taiwanese and Hongkongites) want the Chinese people to worry about human rights and voting rights. They are real sick, sicken people.

Chinese people can be assured that most Singaporeans will support you on the priority of human needs. Because we know, our prosperity is very very fragile. We are expecting a recession to the magnitude of -5 to -8 per cent. And this is our priority.

April 7, 2009 @ 11:32 am | Comment

Thanks Matthew. We all know how caring the Chinese government has been for the poor people of this world and the powerless. We know they would never exploit their poor with cruel taxes and corrupt practices. Poor people in China can protest anytime there is a problem, and the Chinese government will always see justice is done. I’m so jealous. It must be like paradise, to be a peasant in the far reaches of China.

April 7, 2009 @ 2:25 pm | Comment

“P.S. Are you aware that most Americans were against the Iraq war about a year after it started? Did you know we elected a new government despite our “brainwashing”?”

You don’t come and bluff me. I followed the news intensively.

Powell argued for it with a silly satellite photo at the UN. I did’t known the Congress can be so stupid.

The whole Congress voted in 1992 that Tibet and surrounding Tibetan territories were “occupied country” invaded by China. No wonder the Chinese have no respect for US democracy. How can an electoral system voted representives who were so easily bought over by a few Tibet Lobby groups?

US Congress may have a good case and good moral high ground, if and only if, the entire White population quit the Whole Continent, and other “occupied countries” all over the world.

If you are not an eyewitness to Tiananmen, please shut up. I have other informants telling me that it was violent. But I want to hear from eyewitnesses.

April 9, 2009 @ 2:06 am | Comment

“No wonder the Chinese have no respect for US democracy.”

I should have said “the Chinese are determined not to copy Western models of democracy”.

I have no respect for Congressmen of 1992.

Forget about me. I am too insignificant.

April 9, 2009 @ 2:33 am | Comment

Matt, bad news – you really are “that stupid.” Here, look:

Me “P.S. Are you aware that most Americans were against the Iraq war about a year after it started? Did you know we elected a new government despite our “brainwashing”?”

You: You don’t come and bluff me. I followed the news intensively.

Powell argued for it with a silly satellite photo at the UN. I did’t known the Congress can be so stupid.

Um, did you see where I wrote “about a year after it started?

About your being “insignificant,” well, who am I to judge?

April 9, 2009 @ 7:07 am | Comment

“a year after it started?”

I will not challenge you even though I doubt it. I confess this time I didn’t follow news so intensely.

April 9, 2009 @ 9:39 am | Comment

“…my mother was among the first batch of scholars who were sent abroad to study, and she went to Harvard”

The evaluation of Deng and the post-Tiananmen reform era looks very different when you are among the elite at the top of the class hierarchy.

January 21, 2010 @ 11:01 pm | Comment

Actually, his view reflects that of nearly every Chinese person I’ve ever spoken with, from various economic strata. They all believe Deng did what had to be done, and that it paved the way to China’s success. Money talks, and Deng let them make money.

January 21, 2010 @ 11:51 pm | Comment

All Chinese I know from China think maybe Deng was right. Of course, if they read about what happened, they mention that maybe it was handled a bit brutally (most don’t cos most aren’t told that bit) but the end results speak for themselves.
Of course, we have no way of knowing how things would have panned out had the events of 1989 gone the other way. We can speculate but we’ll never know.

January 22, 2010 @ 5:09 am | Comment

Just wait for about 20 years when most of the leaders involved in the event are dead, files will be declassified and fair judgement will be given. For now, keeping making money!

April 11, 2010 @ 12:42 pm | Comment

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