As the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre approaches, none of us is surprised to see China cracking down on political dissidents and outspoken students. In fact, they’ve set up a special task force just to monitor student activities.
“The universities are under strict control and there are several kinds of restrictions and regulations dealing with the anniversary,” a Beijing academic said.
“For the universities, there is a special organ run by the State Security Ministry. They are responsible for a wide range of monitoring in the university district.”
The 1989 massacre in the streets of Beijing has remained a highly sensitive topic, with students on the capital’s campuses strongly discouraged from discussing the issue.
“The students don’t dare to speak about this because they know they will get in trouble. They can discuss these things in an abstract way, but specific discussion will only lead to trouble,” the academic said.
While police are monitoring Beijing campuses, they have also placed a group of known dissidents under house arrest or strict surveillance.
The 70-year-old leader of the Tiananmen Mothers, Ding Zilin , whose son was killed in the 1989 massacre, has been put under surveillance and told not to accept visitors in the lead-up to the anniversary.
Funny, to see the great leaders of the world’s fastest growing nation trembling at the thought of a 70-year-old woman accepting visitors.
It’s so important, as some are quick to give Hu and Wen credit as reformers, to remember that simply discussing the topic of what went on the night of June 4, 1989 is still enough to get you in deep trouble on China’s college campuses. China’s changing and improving and growing. But it’s important to see this in perspective. It’s still a dangerous place for anyone foolish enough to bring up certain unutterable truths.
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.