Memories (or lack of memories?) of June 4

This morning I received a request from a reporter I know asking if I could comment on how my Chinese friends and acquaintances were responding, if at all, to the upcoming 20th anniversary. (The reporter was not in China.) I replied that to the best of my knowledge they mostly were not responding at all, because to them there was nothing to respond to. As far as airbrushing June 4 from the collective Chinese psyche is concerned, Mission Definitely Accomplished.

But being thorough and obnoxious, I spent the next hour or so buttonholing people and calling friends and asking them all the same questions: were they hearing any “buzz” about the impending anniversary? Are their friends talking about it? Have they heard of any plans to commemorate the dead?

The answers were unsurprising. June 4 will be a day like any other that will come and go without any particular fanfare. The day is mainly meaningless for them and the event has “been faded from people’s memories,” as one said to me. (I like that used of words, that it’s “been faded,” as though someone had done the fading, not just the passage of time.)

Finally I asked how many of them knew who “Tank Man” was. Out of the 12 or so people I asked, only one – someone who studied in the US – had heard of him. When I asked what images of June 4 they remembered, they said without question it was the photos of burned and/or disemboweled PLA soldiers left hanging by militant protesting workmen.

Once again I marveled at the party, so efficient at some things, so hideously inept at others. I tried to explain the significance of “Tank Man” to a couple of people, but it didn’t seem to register, the anonymous “everyman” holding his shopping bags, and for one insanely dramatic moment capturing the minds and hearts of the world and bringing the military machinery of The Party to a halt. It didn’t work; my friends didn’t seem to understand why it was particularly admirable. The one who knew of him said she wondered why he was so revered. This isn’t because my friends aren’t smart or sensitive; they are both. But our views of what makes a hero are quite different. Again, River Town says it all. The hero would be those who unite people, bring them together and create constructive harmony. It wouldn’t be the lone rebel throwing a monkey wrench into the state machinery.

I understand this, and I was not surprised. One friend said, “Maybe some of the older people here care. My friends and I don’t really know much about it.” I took solace in Alice Poon’s post (courtesy of China Geeks,” which tells us in Hong Kong it’s a bit different, as people react with revulsion to Donald Tsang’s remarks that “economic prosperity” has in effect neutralized the tragedy and caused most Hong Kongers to allow it to drop into the memory hole.

I can still recall the scene in Toronto in which I broke down in tears when I watched TV news while in my brother-in-law’s house – I saw tanks rolling towards Tiananmen Square and the frightened students scrambling to get away, some carrying the wounded on carts. The first thought that came to mind was: “Why on earth are they using tanks to kill those helpless and unarmed young people? Why are the soldiers killing the peacefully demonstrating students?”

Twenty years have passed. Those questions still remain unanswered as of today. Meanwhile, Hong Kong has been able to reap economic benefits from China’s open and reform policy. But most Hong Kongers would never conflate economic prosperity with a serious matter of right and wrong. Tsang could not have made a worse judgment on this issue. Even when the Mainland authorities have been trying to twist the truth around (like laying the blame on the students’ alleged intention to revolt against the CCP – an allegation that is refuted by Zhao Ziyang in his secret memoirs) and to forbid discussions of the subject in the Mainland, this has done nothing to obliterate the shameful deed from Hong Kongers’ memory.

With the passage of time, people’s vehement disgust with the ignominious murderous act has indeed been diluted, as is evident from the declining attendance at the Victoria Park June 4th vigil over the years. Yet, as if to help reverse the trend, a couple of recent incidents have managed to re-ignite Hong Kongers’ feelings of revulsion. In 2007, pro-Beijing DAB legislator Ma Lik blurted out a preposterous “pigs-crushed-by-tanks” analogy which caused a public outcry and, last month, the HKU student union president surnamed Chan tried to defend and rationalize the Beijing government’s violent crackdown, which caused an outburst of anger in Hong Kong society and led to his being ousted from his post.

Still, I find it heartbreaking that here, in what 20 years ago was the vortex where it all took place, there remains in the minds of the young no image of the men and women who died in the crackdown, no stories of the bravery or even of the daily turn of events, the “Goddess of Democracy,” the sort-of hunger strikes, the meeting of Wu’er Kaixi wearing his pajamas with Li Peng, etc. Instead, it’s basically a void, interrupted with a few government talking points and state-issued photos, like those of pre-”Liberation” Tibetan serfs with their limbs hacked off by evil landowners. And I say, What can I do? And I answer, Write it down, and do your tiny, microscopic bit to keep the memory alive.

Demonstrating students in Shanghai with their makeshift statue of liberty

Demonstrating students in Shanghai with their makeshift statue of liberty

Photo courtesy of Diane Gatterdam’s ongoing series of stories and photos about the demonstrations on Facebook.

Update: The erasure of TAM from China’s memory is getting noticed.

______________

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: 93 Comments

I have a feeling I’m going to need a proxy to visit your blog for at least the next couple of weeks.

May 22, 2009 @ 1:46 am | Comment

The thing is, for the majority of mainland people who were outside China at that time, their reaction was the same as that of Alice Poon. For the majority of Chinese in the mainland their reaction was one of shock and fear. Most Chinese people I know have opinions similar to the ones already noted, the ones who didn’t were of very liberal outlook: one had been a student at the time and took part in the protests – for him talking about that time seemed to be like purging himself of some long stored-up angst, we literally started speaking about it at work over lunch and ran an hour over our break! Another worked for a city paper, she knew all about the protests and had seen all the photos on the internet – but she saw the photo of the man in front of the tank side-by-side with pictures of people who had been crushed by tanks. We’re I to point to lasting and widely-held anti-government sentiment resulting from that year, I’d have to point to the unpopularity of Li Peng, but that is about it.

Myself, as a kid I earned my pocket money (21p a day) by keeping the change from buying the family copy of (the now defunct) Today, I remember buying the copy with the picture of Tank Man on the front page, and thinking how incredibly brave he must be. I also remember the reports by Kate Adie and John Simpson on the evening news – and the echoing sound of the gunshots.

However, if I am to be totally honest, the whole thing in my memory runs together with what was a year of incredible hope and change. The fall of the Berlin wall had an equally great impact on me, as did the freeing of Nelson Mandela the year after. Back then, and for a long time after, everyone seemed certain that dictatorships and wars everywhere were through. For a long time it certainly seemed true: the victory in the Gulf War was followed by the break-up of the Soviet Union, the ending of apartheid, the ceasefire in Northern Ireland, even the Arab-Israeli conflict seemed to be nearing its end. If Bosnia and Kosovo seemed for a while to give the lie to this, these situations too were resolved.

It was only with the attacks on the World Trade Centre that marked real change in this – and since then things have only seemed to have gotten worse. It seems we’ve lived through the long hot summer of the west (if I may use that term) and are now having to face the problems which were stored up in the meantime – problems of terrorism, extremism, proliferation, the environment, debt, corruption, and greed which might have been dealt with with relative ease whilst the sun shined now crowd around us.

Worldwide we are seeing the halting of the advance of democracy, and the beginning of its retreat. Western foreign policy has failed to make a friend of Russia, and where we might earlier have looked forward to a democratic society being established we now see a crypto-fascistic state. Pakistani democracy has become a frail creature. Thailand has seen the ending of democratic governance. Venezuela has slipped into an odd kind of popularist Caudillo-ism. Ukraine totters in indecision, and Belarus seems to have gone back to the Brezhnev era. The Caucasus states and Central Asia seem locked in the rule of the ‘big men’. North Korea and Burma remain little better than prison states, vast gulags where paranoid old men cling to power. Zimbabwe is now a text-book example of how a dictator may completely destroy a country and its economy, yet remain in power. It is hard to see how the approach of the west to China might have done more to encourage democracy there after Tiananmen, but had the reformist group won out freedom would surely have a better ally in China than it does now.

This probably seems a bit over the top, but Tiananmen really was the defeat for freedom which may yet render all the other victories of 1989 and after meaningless, as a dictatorial China will mould the world in its own image even without an assertive foreign policy.

May 22, 2009 @ 3:06 am | Comment

Maybe what the Western and Chinese media portrays this Tank Man is totally opposite. Western Media probably portrays this guy as a symbol of the failed democratic movement I saw a documentary about this guy shown on live state run TV where TV announcer said that this tank driver was nice enough not to run this idiot over with the tank. The tank man showed up after the carnage was done. It is not like that this guy saved any lives or stop what prevented the tanks from running around Tianamen square.

May 22, 2009 @ 3:36 am | Comment

Richard, very interesting. Thanks for taking the time to bother to find out what people thought. There’s too much apathy in the world.

May 22, 2009 @ 4:21 am | Comment

1976 End of authoritarian regime in my country, which ruled since 1939, after winning a boody civil war. This is what we sang. This is what I sang.

http://tinyurl.com/qvtwoa

Dicen los viejos que en este país hubo una guerra
(the old ones say that there was a war in this country)
y hay dos Españas que guardan aún
(and that there are still two Spains which keep)
el rencor de viejas deudas
(the grudge of all debts)

Dicen los viejos que este país necesita
(the old ones say that this country needs)
palo largo y mano dura
(long stick and a hard hand)
para evitar lo peor
(to avoid the worst)
Pero yo sólo he visto gente
(but I have only seen people)
que sufre y calla
(that suffer and keep silence)

Dolor y miedo
(Pain and fear)
Gente que sólo desea su pan,
(people who only desire their bread)
su hembra y la fiesta en paz
(their female and having the feast in peace)

Libertad, libertad sin ira libertad
(Freedom, freedom without rage freedom)
guárdate tu miedo y tu ira
(throw away your fear and rage)
porque hay libertad, sin ira libertad
(because there is freedom, without rage freedom)
y si no la hay sin duda la habrá
( and if there is not yet freedom without doubt there will be)
Libertad, libertad sin ira libertad
( freedom, freedom, without rage freedom)
guárdate tu miedo y tu ira
( throw away your fear and rage)
porque hay libertad, sin ira libertad
(because there is freedom, without rage freedom)
y si no la hay sin duda la habrá
(and if there is not yet freedo, without doubt there will be)

Dicen los viejos que hacemos lo que nos da la gana
(the old ones say that we do what we want)
Y no es posible que así pueda haber
(And that is not possible that here)
Gobierno que gobierne nada
(a government can govern anything)
Dicen los viejos que no se nos dé rienda suelta
(the old ones say that we should not be giving free rein)
que todos aquí llevamos
(because we all here)
la violencia a flor de piel
(keep violence skin deep)

Pero yo sólo he visto gente muy obediente
(but I have seen only very obedient people)
hasta en la cama
(even in bed)

Gente que tan sólo pide
(people that only demand)
vivir su vida, sin más mentiras y en paz
(to live their on life without more lies and in piece)

Libertad, libertad sin ira libertad
(Freedom, freedom, without rage freedom)
guárdate tu miedo y tu ira
(throw away your frear and rage)
porque hay libertad, sin ira libertad
(because there is freedom, without rage freedom)
y si no la hay sin duda la habrá
(and if theres not yet freedom, without doubt there will be)

And we sang it again in 21F 1982 as the military coup took the parliament.

Sorry if I arise the wrath of the Net Nanny Richard

;-)

May 22, 2009 @ 4:50 am | Comment

And I still sing it. :-)

Freedom freedom…..

May 22, 2009 @ 4:51 am | Comment

And I say, What can I do? And I answer, Write it down, and do your tiny, microscopic bit to keep the memory alive.

Well said. As much as I hate “us and them” usage, ultimately as foreigners this isn’t our history or present. We can bare witness, but that’s about all. And sometimes that’s a castrating experience, but hopefully it has some effect.

May 22, 2009 @ 8:31 am | Comment

“Western foreign policy has failed to make a friend of Russia,”

I wonder why, lol

May 22, 2009 @ 12:03 pm | Comment

That people pay less and less attention to this event over the years may have something to do with the dissidents. It looks to me that they are stuck in 1989, unable to enter the 21st century. Their failure to make a political movement in exile is a big disappointment. The trick is to form a democratic opposition to the CCP while remain loyal to the Chinese nation. If you cannot do these two things at the same time, Chinese people inside or outside China will not support you.

May 22, 2009 @ 12:36 pm | Comment

There is a paradox, some people say the TQ is now irrelevant, than no one speak about it, that CH old and new generation don’t care about it, that the issue has been long surpassed.

But then…. why so the net Nanny gets so uneasy about it. Why the govt repeat the same lines above like a mantra.

There is something fishy here….

Got to CH google and look for the magic words, or try to go to CH wikipedia, if you can, and look fort it.

You will see what I mean.

May 22, 2009 @ 1:17 pm | Comment

it’s always amusing to hear people, who have debt up the wazoo, talking about freedom.

you have a penny, you have a penny worth of freedom; you owe a penny, you owe a penny of freedom to your creditor. it’s just that simple.

May 22, 2009 @ 1:18 pm | Comment

When the time of truth came, 1991, the Russian army took the tanks to the streets and…. fired against… Do you remember against who?

When the time of truth came, 1989, the pla took the tanks to the streets and… rolled against… Do you remember against who?

An army duty, a soldiers duty, is to defend its own people, not matter what.. What is the PLa …..

When the time of truth came, 1981, coup officers here ordered the soldiers to took the tanks to the street to crush our d…… form of government, our soldiers told them… FCK You!

May 22, 2009 @ 1:27 pm | Comment

@zaholeban
When someone owes you just 1000 dollars or so, that someone has a problem.

When someone owes you just 100000000000000….00 dollars or so (+ interests), you, not that someone, has a problem.

May 22, 2009 @ 1:40 pm | Comment

@Zaholeban – I personally have no debt, I am not a country, nor are you – perhaps you should remember this? At any rate, freedom is not something that can be bought or sold.

May 22, 2009 @ 2:46 pm | Comment

You guys have no idea of what Chinese people are really thinking about. If you think that the government succeeded in taking tsm from people’s memories, you are absolutely wrong.

May 22, 2009 @ 2:49 pm | Comment

lsj, it definitely depends on who you’re talking to. Obviously many in the mainland have very firm memories, – if they were there or watched it unfold. Otherwise, their memories have to be skewed, if there are any at all. And in all seriousness, why do you make this claim? I would love to hear what the basis for your claim is, and if you want to do an email interview with me I’d be happy to publish it. I would personally love to tell the world that there is a misperception and many people in China still hold dear to them memories/thought of the Tiananmen Square “incident” – especially today’s young.

Zhaoleban, I, too, have no debt. Does that make me entitled to talk about freedom? Trying to figure out your logic, if there is any…

May 22, 2009 @ 2:57 pm | Comment

It’s so easy to blame or criticize the government, not only the Chinese government but other governments in the world as well. It’s so easy to upport the activities done by students regardless what they are claiming.

The college students were not doing any great things in T Square. Except very few, most active students at that time have already changed as other mature adults, or fully taken advantage of the asylum granted by the U.S. to enjoy their American lives.

Those students were doing what they wanted to do at that age in those years. Those govenment leaders were doing what they thought the best way to handle an incident like that. Those military soldiers were doing what they were trained and instructed to do. Every one was doing what he or she liked or wanted to do at that time a la their background, education, mentality, and knowledge. Of course, they were also encouraged, motivated, and influenced by others surrounding them.

If the Chinese government was more patient then and let the demonstration run its course and die down, what the June-4th represents might have been merely a failed movement without any value to commemorate on its anniversary day.

So, I don’t think those students gathering at T Square on June 4th, 1989 were very great; neither do I think the measures taken by the Chinese government then were very bad.

May 22, 2009 @ 3:17 pm | Comment

Every one was doing what he or she liked or wanted to do at that time a la their background, education, mentality, and knowledge.

Maybe, but the students were protesting for political reform and things like an end to corruption. The hardliners in the Chinese government were trying to cling to power lest reformists in the CCP push them out. The motivation between the two is very different and should not be treated as the same.

neither do I think the measures taken by the Chinese government then were very bad

You think killing civilians is not very bad?

May 22, 2009 @ 3:27 pm | Comment

Lynn, we have been through this. It’s not about saying the students were doing great things, That’s actually irrelevant. What’s relevant is that they were not hurting anyone or practicing violence. And I would agree that the government had to do something, for sanitation and health reasons alone. If you check this blog carefully, you will see I reiterate frequently that the students were not angels. There was something magnificent about the event and the way it captivated first China and then the world. But the students often didn’t know what they were doing and had all sort of inner-circle political BS going on. But their motivating goal, to question corruption and demand accountability, was noble. The government’s patience and willingness to wait and listen was often noble as well, or at least a surprising change of business as usual at the time. But then, but then…. well, we all know how it ended.

No matter how you see it, it was history, it was important, it helped shape China and the world, and while it shouldn’t be romanticized or propagandized, it should also not be forgotten. The images like the one above and Tank Man et. al. should be remembered, along with the soldiers and police who were killed. They are part of the story too, and are no less heroes.

Raj, thanks for responding to Lynn a little more bluntly than I did.

May 22, 2009 @ 3:31 pm | Comment

[...] we approach this sensitive anniversary, a post at The Peking Duck highlights the widespread lack of memories of June 4, 1989.  In China, the day will largely be a non-event, according to the [...]

May 22, 2009 @ 4:17 pm | Pingback

Lynn, I also hope you checked that trackback that just came in above. It seems this failure of memory is not just a misconception of ignorant Westerners.

Everyone should go read that excellent post now.

May 22, 2009 @ 4:45 pm | Comment

You think killing civilians is not very bad?

Of course killing people is not very bad. After all, Lynn wasn’t shot and neither was anyone she loves or cares about. Therefore, it must be totally ok.

Things have improved a lot in China in the last 20 years. There is a world class health service, the education system is fantastic and the poor have a great deal of recourse to the courts if their rights are trespassed upon. If the protests had led to greater transparency and accountability, this might never have happened. China might have ended up as one of those countries where the rich do very well, but the poor in the countryside see little change. That would have been really tragic.

May 22, 2009 @ 4:56 pm | Comment

As we lionize the students of 1989, maybe we should ask how the old men in CCP viewed the students. Many of them actually saw the students as new red guards who were about to launch another Cultural Revolution. The old men had suffered a lot in the Cultural Revolution and were not willing to go through that again.

May 22, 2009 @ 5:01 pm | Comment

Serve, you’d better reread everything I’ve said. Where do you see lionizing the students? I really want you to respond, because your comment is a perfect example of knee-jerkism – presuming that just because Westerners are talking about 6-4 they must be saying the students were saints. Go back to my very last comment above, where I wrote:

There was something magnificent about the event and the way it captivated first China and then the world. But the students often didn’t know what they were doing and had all sort of inner-circle political BS going on. But their motivating goal, to question corruption and demand accountability, was noble. The government’s patience and willingness to wait and listen was often noble as well, or at least a surprising change of business as usual at the time.

Seriously, where is the lionizing on this thread to which you’re referring? Waiting.

May 22, 2009 @ 5:10 pm | Comment

If you say the students were naive then fair enough

If you say the students were overly idealistic and had no real comprehension of the country at large due to their youth and inexperience, then fair enough

If you say some of them just went because their friends did, or they thought it was cool, then fair enough

This leaves out the protests of the workers and other citizens, but anyway….

But at what point can you justify shooting people?

May 22, 2009 @ 5:19 pm | Comment

Wow. Found here: http://www.republicofheaven.org.uk/commonplace/tiananmen.htm

Tiananmen, by James Fenton

Tiananmen
Is broad and clean
And you can’t tell
Where the dead have been
And you can’t tell
What happened then
And you can’t speak
Of Tiananmen.

You must not speak.
You must not think.
You must not dip
Your brush in ink.
You must not say
What happened then,
What happened there,
In Tiananmen.

The cruel men
Are old and deaf
Ready to kill
But short of breath
And they will die
Like other men
And they’ll lie in state
In Tiananmen.

They lie in state.
They lie in style.
Another lie’s
Thrown on the pile,
Thrown on the pile
By the cruel men
To cleanse the blood
From Tiananmen.

Truth is a secret.
Keep it dark.
Keep it dark
In your heart of hearts.
Keep it dark
Till you know when
Truth may return
To Tiananmen.

Tiananmen
Is broad and clean
And you can’t tell
Where the dead have been
And you can’t tell
When they’ll come again
They’ll come again
To Tiananmen.

May 22, 2009 @ 5:29 pm | Comment

I love that last bit: “They’ll come again.” For verily I say unto you: they surely will.

May 22, 2009 @ 5:31 pm | Comment

Richard,

The Western media in general lionize the students. I am not really talking about your post here. It was not hard to be affected by the idealism the students had displayed. People like Dan Rather were actually at the Tiananmen Square just a few days before the crackdown.

This kind of idealism is very admirable in the West. People can easily relate it to the anti-war movement, equal right movement, etc. But in China at that time it did not go down very well with a large segment of the society, including the recently rehabilitated party elders. They saw chaos, lawlessness, and over politicization of the society. All the sins from the Great Cultural Revolution.

China today is more normal than China in the mid to late eighties. It is not necessarily a bad thing that students now are not interested in June 4 or politics in general. Maybe political apathy is simply an indication of contentment.

May 22, 2009 @ 5:37 pm | Comment

Serve, I believe the vast numbers of Chinese people polled at the time – over 90 percent if I remember? – said they sided with the students and hoped they would succeed.

Agree there has been some lionizing in the Western media, sometimes to the point of absurdity, especially shortly after the NYT quoted one of the activists on or around June 12 claiming there was a brutal massacres of peaceful students in the square itself. But the discussion has become fairer and fairer, and most media reports I see now are relatively level-headed. I don’t see much lionizing of the student leaders. (“Tank Man” will always be lionized by the West; that icon is indelible,)

It is not necessarily a bad thing that students now are not interested in June 4 or politics in general. Maybe political apathy is simply an indication of contentment.

Maybe it’s an indication of ignorance, too. My unscientific straw poll, backed up by what I’m seeing all over the blogs and the news, indicates a blackout on a lot of what happened. How can today’s Chinese get emotional over Tank Man if he’s airbrushed out of history and ignored?

Did you see this article in today’s New York Times (via CN Reviews)? Money quote:

One senior recalled an excruciating roundtable discussion with foreign journalists who visited Peking University in 2007 and asked about the government crackdown on student demonstrators in 1989. “They always ask about this June 4 incident, and we just keep silent,” she said. “It is not because we don’t want to talk. It is because we have no idea what exactly happened!

“I felt a little bit humiliated because we don’t know our own history,” she said.

There is a degree of contentment. It’s a pity the government is so insecure, it feels it can only preserve this mood by denying and obliterating history.

May 22, 2009 @ 5:52 pm | Comment

Richard,

Let me read the NYT article tomorrow and see if there is anything I want to say.

My Internet service here in Hangzhou runs from 8 am to 8 pm, It’s called the Sunshine Package.

Bye-bye.

May 22, 2009 @ 5:56 pm | Comment

Correction: 6 am to 6 pm.

May 22, 2009 @ 5:58 pm | Comment

I thought this was good too

http://tinyurl.com/oz89p4

It’s a letter written ten years ago by a Chinese academic which is still highly relevant. Amongst the several excellent points this one stood out for me

“It’s humiliating for us to be forced to be silent for ten years. Our life and spirit have been imprinted with this humiliation. Sometimes we have to suffer disgrace and insults (to carry on our life and work). However, it can not be too long, because our endurance has a limit, beyond which things will be changed beyond recognition. Our spirit and life could be expelled into an empty state. I can say without exaggeration that we are faced with such a danger currently. How can we continue to take a step forward? How can we do some truly constructive work, instead of just mentioning certain things? To put it simply, even if there were adequate reasons for us to avoid talking about June 4th for a whole decade, we can not continue doing this. There is no more reason for it. We have to take responsibility for the things we bear for the past ten years, and to prevent the harm of emptiness from affecting our own lives.”

I think people like this are an excellent antidote to the despair I feel when I come onto the comments section of this blog and see the loathsome apologists who have the arrogance to claim to speak for their entire nation of a billion people and justify mass murder.

May 22, 2009 @ 6:37 pm | Comment

I was thinking about some serious reply, maybe on that particular date,

So far, reading this thread is enjoyable, except for generalization part

May 22, 2009 @ 6:39 pm | Comment

It’s not lack of memories. It’s right there in the memory. Time moves on, people move on as well.

May 22, 2009 @ 7:45 pm | Comment

Lack of memories? NO! It’s right there in the memory. Time moves on, people move on as well.

May 22, 2009 @ 7:46 pm | Comment

A Chinese, don’t worry, we’ll be open on June 4.

Si, that is an wonderful quote. Unfortunately, it’s easy to argue that the academic is wrong – yet another ten years have gone by since he said it, and still there is no accepting responsibility. And each day along the way what happened becomes a little more vague and abstract. So why should we harbor any hopes that the government will shift gears and own up to what actually happened?

The truth nearly always comes out at some point. We had to wait nearly half a century for many of the most valuable documents on WWII to be released by the USSR. But I don’t think that day can come until Jiang Zemin and Li Peng and others who were at the very top then and still hold considerable power today are safely in their graves. Maybe, just maybe at that time China will let the information out, the way Khruschev did after Stalin’s death, only more publicly. Anyway, that’s about as high as my hopes go.

May 22, 2009 @ 7:51 pm | Comment

But Hang, in China it’s mainly in the memories of eyewitnesses only. The Holocaust occurred well before I was born but I have vivid “memories” (i.e., knowledge) of it because it was not secret or censored or erased. And not just knowledge but diverse opinions because of freedom of others to do research and raise debate.

The tighter they slam the door shut, the worse it makes the government seem. That’s why debate and emotions over June 4 will rage on until the Chinese government decides it’s time to live up to what really happened, open the archives and have done with it.

May 22, 2009 @ 7:57 pm | Comment

Just did a search on Baidu, trying to figure out how much I can find by searching in Chinese in China. Here are the results

Key Word:1989 暴乱(Violent Riot)
Results:34,100
http://www.baidu.com/s?ie=gb2312&bs=1989+%B6%AF%C2%D2&sr=&z=&cl=3&f=8&wd=1989+%B1%A9%C2%D2&ct=0

Key Word:1989 动乱(Violent Riot,but not as violent as the first)
Results:104,000
http://www.baidu.com/s?wd=1989+%B6%AF%C2%D2

Key Word:1989 反革命(counter-revolution)
Results:73,900
http://www.baidu.com/s?ie=gb2312&bs=1989+%B6%AF%C2%D2&sr=&z=&cl=3&f=8&wd=1989+%B7%B4%B8%EF%C3%FC&ct=0

Key Word:1989 风波(crisis,disturbance or storm)
Results:215,000
http://www.baidu.com/s?wd=1989+%B7%E7%B2%A8

some interesting findings from these searches.I translated 风波 as crisis, it also means disturbance or storm, but still, I think crisis is the best fit

Offical or Semi-office ones
1. “Offical version of 89 crisis” on Global Times
http://blog.huanqiu.com/?uid-75408-action-viewspace-itemid-60018

2. “Economic reasons behind 89 crisis” on Shaoguan Jiayuan
http://bbs.sg169.com/user/script/forum/view.asp?article_id=20447960

3. “Question:why there was a political crisis in 1989? what was its nature?” on Peking University High/Middle/Primary School online
http://www.pkuschool.com/ask/q.asp?qid=369678

No-offical ones, an exile’s memoir on popular Chinese forum

4. “Self Exile“ on Cat898, by 北京老鱼
http://club2.cat898.com/newbbs/dispbbs.asp?BoardID=1&ID=1512300&page=471
5. ”Back home” on Cat898, by 北京老鱼
http://club2.cat898.com/newbbs/dispbbs.asp?boardid=1&id=1751764

May 22, 2009 @ 8:30 pm | Comment

Releasing these information would inflame anti-China opinion and allow enemies to paint Chinese troops with a broad, damning, and inaccurate brush, thereby endangering them in theaters of world.

May 22, 2009 @ 10:00 pm | Comment

@Richard 29,

I think the problem is that whether the events at 6/4 have any historical significance to a Chinese perspective. As to most people, what happened then has little historical importance at all. Whereas in most American textbooks shows this incident where the spread of democracy failed, spreading democracy is very important is American textbooks.

May 22, 2009 @ 10:36 pm | Comment

@pugster

Whereas in most American textbooks shows this incident where the spread of democracy failed, spreading democracy is very important is American textbooks.

Which American textbooks are these?

May 22, 2009 @ 10:41 pm | Comment

@Si

I recall that I learned it about it in World History when I was in High school.

May 22, 2009 @ 11:03 pm | Comment

I worked in a Chinese Catholic Seminary. 2 years ago, 6/4 one of the priests during breakfast said: Hey, today is June 4th we forgot to mention it during morning prayer and eucharist. Of course the students knew about it (probably catholics as a group are the most “unbelieving” one when it refers to chinese government… they still are feeling the distance between honey harmonious words and crude control reality), and they/we proceeded to ask him about it. He was studying in the seminary at that time in Beijing, and shared how he went there once, saw the fights in Beijing streets, knew about people dying in hospitals, the fights outside tiananmen, how many military joined the people… even, another priest later, told me how the night when everything was put down they were forbidden to go out of the seminary and they stayed in the whole day. Probably the orders were already given, and people up the chain were aware of them.

May 22, 2009 @ 11:05 pm | Comment

@pugster

I recall that I learned it about it in World History when I was in High school.

Sorry, I should just emphasise that I am not an American, hence the question. I take it that events get into American textbooks very swiftly then, even if you were in high school recently. Is there a central requirement to teach certain events in the US or is it up to the discretion of the schools/local authorities etc etc themselves? When I was at school in the UK I was not taught any history post 1939, as my history teachers argued we were to close to the events of the past half century to be able to look at them dispassionately and to see their longer term effects. If I remember correctly my siblings had the same experience. I take it this is not the same in the US?

May 22, 2009 @ 11:14 pm | Comment

the reason why no Chinese want to remember or think about 6/4 is that they are too busy making money…..not really my sentiments, but this is the exact words of my better half – a daughter of China.

sad eh..

May 22, 2009 @ 11:29 pm | Comment

@Si – When I did history GCSE back in ’96 we covered the fall of the Berlin wall very briefly as part of the cold war course- but no Tiananmen. I find it very unlikely that US high schools teach classes on it.

May 23, 2009 @ 12:44 am | Comment

The people who defaced Mao’s portrait have just be granted asylum byt the US almost 20 years to the day since they did it:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article6342771.ece

May 23, 2009 @ 12:48 am | Comment

FOARP, I wrote about the Mao portrait defacers before. That’s one of my personal all-time favorites. I am thrilled to hear they’ve been granted asylum – thanks.

May 23, 2009 @ 12:51 am | Comment

“Otherwise, their memories have to be skewed”

LOL. As always, Richard, the source of unintended humor.

When you say the memory of the Chinese are skewed, what you really mean is that their memory is different from yours. And since *your* memory and interpretation, thanks to the great perch on which you stand, can be the only correct one… it is they that are skewed.

May 23, 2009 @ 5:32 am | Comment

@Si
“It’s humiliating for us to be forced to be silent for ten years.”

Yes. That is the word. Humiliated for 10 and now 20 years. That is what the govt has really done and is doing to its people.
And it happens not only with that, but with other things. Just remember other events which are closer in time

@Chinese reader
“…memory of the Chinese are skewed reader”

More correctly, memory have been skewed, or tried hard to skew it, by an external entity…and they are still trying.

By the way, nice argumentation twist in your post, liked it, very shrewd. Usual rhetoric tricks, often seen before, but executed with finesse.

May 23, 2009 @ 7:28 am | Comment

About the money and debt thing, just playing with wolfram alpha

I tried the following queries:

china gdp

EU gdp

US gdp

china gdp / china population

eu gdp / eu population

us gdp / us population

(eu gdp / eu population) / (china gdp / china population)

(us gdp / us population) / (china gdp / china population)

((us gdp + eu gdp) / (us population+eu population) ) / (china gdp /china population)

Hhhmmm…..

((us gdp + china gdp) / ( us population + china population))) / (eu gdp)

((eu gdp + china gdp) / ( eu population + china population))) / (us gdp/us population)

Hhhhmmmmmmmm…… Just bear with me a little bit.

us gdp / china population

china gdp / us population

eu gdp / china population

china gdp / eu population

Interesting.

Controversies apart. It seems this WolfranAlpha thing has its uses….

Now. If we move the CH population to US, and US population to CH. The new CH-Americans will have more money and will consume more, and new american-CH have less ans spare more. A more balance distribution of riches.
Besides, American-CH start to buy CH-American govt bonds, eventually compensating the current imbalances.
Economic crisis solved!

May 23, 2009 @ 8:23 am | Comment

A Chinese reader,

支持! How dare Westerners have an opinion on this. It is clearly an internal Chinese matter. Anybody here in the PRC has access to all the information they need to reach an informed opinion on this matter, they don’t need anything written by so-called outside “experts”. China cured polio AND invented the computer, who needs the outside world? Chairman Mao was correct to reject foreign ideas and foreign investment.

Furthermore, there should be no place online for the “information imperialism” of the West with their libraries and free speech. Don’t they know — as you and I do — that free speech and debate are just tricks to try and re-enslave the Chinese people?

You keep fighting the good fight.

May 23, 2009 @ 9:11 am | Comment

Chinese Reader,

How old are you? I was 17 in June ’89. I watched the shit going down on TV. My memory isn’t skewed.

May 23, 2009 @ 9:29 am | Comment

Change takes time,and in this case it will take a looooooong time.
But the change is not impossible.
The Party is not a solid block of steel,the members take sides.And there’s also this thing called “inner-party democracy”…
Maybe in the end we’ll have something similar to the political structure of Japan.
But I personally think the progress will happen in a time span of two generations or more.

May 23, 2009 @ 10:39 am | Comment

@ Matt Rice

Thank you, irony is alive and well…..

May 23, 2009 @ 10:55 am | Comment

When you say the memory of the Chinese are skewed, what you really mean is that their memory is different from yours. And since *your* memory and interpretation, thanks to the great perch on which you stand, can be the only correct one… it is they that are skewed.

China Reader, absolutely false. By saying they have their memory skewered I am simply saying, as they tell me, that they have no exposure as the grow up to what happened except whatever they are taught by the government, which is either nothing, or that the killing had to take place because students were about to transform rising China into chaotic Russia, and that they were disemboweling PLA soldiers and police officers along the way. All I say is make the information available and stop the cone of silence that drops down at the very thought of TAM. I have never said the “Western version” (a bullshit phrase by the way since there are many schools of thought) should be accepted.

May 23, 2009 @ 12:39 pm | Comment

Richard,

The NYT article is not bad. I must say that the Western coverage of Tiananmen is in general better than their coverage of many other topics, like Tibet. This is not surprising considering the large number of scholars working in the field of contemporary Chinese politics.

But there is still room for improvement. For instance we call the 1989 movement a pro-democracy movement without giving too much thought about democracy. The students did build things that resemble the Statue of Liberty. But were they really democrats? Most student leaders have left China and what they have done since Tiananmen gives no indication that they are really interested in building democratic institutions, nor have they learned the concept of loyal opposition. They are a group of people who spend most of time bickering among themselves, frequently accusing each other of being CCP spies. A few of them even flirted with the Dalai and his separatist followers. They operate on the principle that your enemy’s enemy is your friend.

I cannot see that these people will bring democracy to China. One party system is probably the best that China can have for some time. Within the party, one can have different factions, so a degree of inner party democracy can be achieved. But there is no sign that an opposition party can emerge in the near future. One exception: the KMT. If it can bring Taiwan back, then a CCP-KMT two party system may be workable.

May 23, 2009 @ 12:46 pm | Comment

[...] Ng’s post on Sensitive Anniversary, Edited Memories, which takes up the Peking Duck’s lament: I find it heartbreaking that here, in what 20 years ago was the vortex where it all took place, [...]

May 23, 2009 @ 1:12 pm | Pingback

Serve, I really would love to do a counter-story detailing the myths about the Tianamen Square myths. Most major media dropped the line that the students were protesting for democracy many years ago. Democracy, in terms of greater representation and accountability, was always a part of the picture, but most media now agree that the real complaint was more about economics and corruption. Other “myths” I’ve seen revisionists huffing and puffing about include:

1. The students were shot in the square in a huge and evil massacre. All responsible media discarded this lie many years ago, although some politicians have tried to keep the myth going for political purposes.

2. Tank Man was a demonstrating student. I saw this on one of the more blatantly deceptive “myth lists” a few weeks ago. No media of any importance makes this claim. Most say he was an unknown young man carrying a shopping bag.

3. The students were gentle and united, etc. (all of the stories that lionize the students). As I mentioned above, most respected media now take a much more sober look at the students, and their sins and foibles have been reported at length.

What we have to remember, though, is that even after the media has recanted and corrected their stories, myths take hold in the public mind. The media corrected the falsehood that Al Gore said he invented the Internet, but most people still believe he said it.

We also have to remember the media’s situation in 1989, in a highly fluid, fast-paced environment where often all they had to go on was rumors and hearsay, where it was nearly impossible to step back and get a panoramic picture of all sides. It is absolutely impossible for them to get a balanced, correct version of events no matter how hard they try because history was simply being made too fast. The most egregious example was Wang Dan’s (if I remember right) assertion of an in-square massacre a week later which got picked up and caught on like wildfire. This is not a media conspiracy. Before the crackdown, the stories raged in both the foreign media and even in some Chinese media, amazingly enough. So this stuff about a conspiracy to paint China in such and such a way is another myth. Public opinion forms in an odd way, and sometimes myths become part of it – but everyone can be a victim of this phenomenon. People actually believe Humphrey Bogart says, “Play it again, Sam” in Casablanca (he doesn’t) by this same odd process. And in the case of TAM, we have one major factor to blame: Government silence and secrecy, which allowed the myths to gain traction and go largely unchallenged by those who could have straightened them out. The longer you wait to respond, the faster and deeper the spread, just like SARS. Countless articles can come out over the years correcting these false notions, but by then, many aren’t listening and take comfort in the myths they’re convinced are reality.

May 23, 2009 @ 1:48 pm | Comment

Richard, history is written by the winners, but a revolution is truly over when the fundamental reasons that caused it are eliminated. In China, they are far from it. I found a heartbreaking quote from a 1989 BBC report. The reporter describes how the students were singing while being shot, and how, a little earlier, a female student told him: ‘What can they do to us? We have our whole future ahead of us, and we’ve see it.’

Sigh.

May 23, 2009 @ 1:50 pm | Comment

But were they really democrats? Most student leaders have left China and what they have done since Tiananmen gives no indication that they are really interested in building democratic institutions, nor have they learned the concept of loyal opposition. They are a group of people who spend most of time bickering among themselves, frequently accusing each other of being CCP spies.

Serve, the sentence I’ve bolded is an almost perfect definition of a democratic system, there’s nothing smooth or easy about democracy.

As for loyal opposition, that’s pretty hard to achieve from a prison cell or home arrest. And to whom should they be loyal? The CCP?

May 23, 2009 @ 2:24 pm | Comment

Many things happened in the 20th century.

Even after 1949, the Great Leap, the great famine, the Cultural Revolution, the inflation in the 80s, the massive lay-off in the 90s and all those other things make TAM pale in front of them.

My parents were sent to remote areas when they were only 16 as part of the xiaxiang drive, and what they and the entire Chinese public went through goes beyond the wildest imagination of their counterparts in the West born after WWII. And what happened in the cultural revolution still haunts my maternal grandpa’s family. So excuse them for not caring too much about what, no matter how you measure it, was a minor incident in their lives compared with the famine (their family members and neighbors were starved to death) and the CR (do i need to say more?) and the one-child policy and the getting laid off and the skyrocketing real estate prices that their children cannot afford who also cannot find jobs after graduating from college. Excuse them for letting more urgent things occupy their minds and not feigning outrage at something way less traumatic than what they went through 40 years ago. They made peace with the massive injustices that happend to THEMSELVES; of course they find TAM distant.

And for foreigners to slap their faces and shout “What can’t you be angry, you pathetic mindless people!” is extremely insensitive. You want them to get angry? Focus on unearthing the tragedies of the CR first. I bet people in Hong Kong were never sent to the desert when they were teenagers and never had to denounce their family members in the CR.

May 23, 2009 @ 2:42 pm | Comment

And for foreigners to slap their faces and shout “What can’t you be angry, you pathetic mindless people!” is extremely insensitive. You want them to get angry?

Woodoo, that’s a pretty repellent comment. Who has said they want to get Chinese people angry? There’s awareness and there’s anger. Awareness can lead to growth and maturity and topple some old idols and false beliefs, without driving people to rage.

On a philosophical level, China and TAM aside, do you believe the government should keep people ignorant in order to keep them passive and contented? Do you believe knowledge should be forbidden and resources censored or closed to keep people blissfully unaware? Just wondering. And remember, many of the people quoted in the NYT article, the CN Review and the people I talked to – these were all Chinese people. Did you see the quote Si pasted above, about the Chinese academic speaking out for the truth? This is yet another myth – that only foreigners care about TAM.

Zijin Releasing these information would inflame anti-China opinion and allow enemies to paint Chinese troops with a broad, damning, and inaccurate brush, thereby endangering them in theaters of world.

Obama has released the torture memos (though his stance on them is infuriating). Truly strong, secure countries can deal with their pasts. Weak and insecure and paranoid ones are the only ones who can’t. Not that China is all those things, but it’s got some of those qualities to some degree. And especially with the architects of the crackdown still holding a respectable share of power it makes it harder for the current government to open the books. But they will one day, and China will survive. If your country is that fragile, you’re in deep shit.

May 23, 2009 @ 2:55 pm | Comment

And Dror, thanks for that link. I’ve been combing through the book on Google Books and it looks fantastic.

May 23, 2009 @ 3:37 pm | Comment

Someone, preferably Chinese, should maybe write a book titled

“Born the 4th of June”

Make a movie later too.

Plot synopses, just fill in the points.

“The film opens when ….. is a young boy living in ……, ……, …… He grows up in a patriotic and …… household, instilling within him a strong sense of pride in his country and his ……. As a teenager, and a top member of his high school’s wrestling team, he proves himself physically fit and athletic, as well as an exceptional student academically. When local ….. recruiting …. visit his school and give …. and his fellow seniors an impassioned lecture about the ….., …. decides to enlist. He misses his prom, because he is unable to secure a date with his love interest, …… He confronts her at the prom and has a dance with her on his last night before leaving, etc”

May 23, 2009 @ 7:21 pm | Comment

Seeing the photo of the students sitting outside the Shanghai government building, it’s hard to believe it even happened, and only 20 years ago!

May 23, 2009 @ 10:42 pm | Comment

I guess it also worth mentioning that the pictures of ‘Tank Man’ were at the time juxtaposed with the then similarly famous pictures from the Prague Spring of 1968:

http://library.thinkquest.org/C001155/misc/images/show_im.php3?nr=110

http://www.truthout.org/files/images/soviets.prague.1968.preview.jpg

21 years after the crushing of the Prague spring, freedom came to Czechoslovakia, and for that reason these pictures are no longer as well known.

May 24, 2009 @ 12:36 am | Comment

“But they will one day, and China will survive. If your country is that fragile, you’re in deep shit.”

The book will be eventually open, but now is not a good time. It is reasonable that turbulent years could be expected and econoomic growth will most likely be interrupted.

In reality, China is indeed very fragile. If full-scale democracy is introduced before China become more integrated and wealthier, I believe China will be split up into pieces. Some of you may secretely love that idea, but most of chinese will loath that thought.

After China becomes wealthier on par with $10,000 GDP, I guess China will be in a position to open the book. By that time, people will have less drive to seek revenge and may appreciate that Deng made a very difficult decision during a difficult time. By that time, if India is still in similar shitty state with explosive population, I will guess CCP will have a very good chance to make its case.

May 24, 2009 @ 1:00 am | Comment

Vooddoo,

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

Perhaps it is because too many Chinese people are too submissive and content to be bullied by rulers and those in power that civil society still seems a remote possibility even as of today.

If you keep silent about a gross injustice, it is equivalent to condoning the injustice. When enough people keep their mouths shut about egregious deeds, evil prevails. It is tragic that the Cultural Revolution happened. But the more important question to ask is: have we Chinese learned from our past mistakes?

May 24, 2009 @ 1:42 am | Comment

Hedrick Smith’s The Russians could be a good read,in case you haven’t read it.It may answer some of the questions.

May 24, 2009 @ 3:43 am | Comment

Hedrick Smith’s “The Russians”(http://www.hedricksmith.com/books/bookTheRussians.shtml) could be a good read,in case you haven’t read it yet.It may help you understand the thinking patterns of the Chinese people.

May 24, 2009 @ 3:49 am | Comment

“Perhaps it is because too many Chinese people are too submissive and content to be bullied by rulers ”

Alice, your whole statement is quite inflammatory. I remember another famous person made a similar statement and, in addition, also said, “where there is suppression, there is rebellion”. When that person took power, we all know what has happened.

It sounds like you think Deng is a evil man and has done gross injustice. In reality, he made a difficult decision during a difficult time. China has had too many years full of empty inflammatory slogan pitting good vs. evil.

If the turbulent past in China teaches us anything, the lesson is to stay away from those people using inflammaotry slogan in the name of justice.

May 24, 2009 @ 3:54 am | Comment

Steve,

You are absolutely right. The Chinese are too poor for such splittist schemes as “free thinking” and “critical reasoning.” Don’t outsiders know that only Japanese people, Western Europeans and Americans have the money and background necessary to be allowed to exercise their critical faculties and have rights such as free speech and assembly? Those Westerners and traitorous Chinese who want to have the government take a closer look at 6-4 or encourage discussion of such a sensitive and complex issue only do so because they clearly hate China and want to see China destroyed.

Is there no end to their scheming?

Of COURSE the Chinese can’t handle democracy right now. I mean, in China too many times have I seen people having problems with such basic tasks as “getting on a bus in an orderly fashion,” “waiting their turn in a queue,” “not pushing somebody off a bridge,” and “driving.” For goodness sake, the buses are like the last plane out of Saigon and foreigners want these same people VOTING? It’s obvious to me, anyway, that any kind of political liberalization would naturally lead to total chaos, people burning live babies in the street and that sort of thing. This is why I support the CCP.

On a personal note, I’m glad that you recognize your own limitations Steve. I’m from a developed Western country, so I know I can handle democracy, but it’s refreshing for a Chinese person to stand up, write into a blog run by Western expats, and say, “Hey, not me! At this time, I’m not able to handle free thinking. Please protect me from a full accounting of 6-4 a little longer!”

I applaud your candor. You’re my hero.

May 24, 2009 @ 6:38 am | Comment

China has had too many years full of empty inflammatory slogan pitting good vs. evil.

Then it hasn’t learnt anything. It does just that with the Dalai Lama – he’s “evil” and the CCP/Chinese government is “good”. The same sort of attitude was presented in regards to Japan when Koizumi was Prime Minister.

May 24, 2009 @ 7:06 am | Comment

the lesson is to stay away from those people using inflammaotry slogan in the name of justice.

Yep, gotta watch out for those slogans.

白桦齐放,百家争鸣.
敢想敢干.
造反有理.
批林批孔.
实事求是.
为人民服务.
只剩一个孩子好.

Imagine if the CCP had tried to use these, China would have crumbled years ago.

May 24, 2009 @ 8:26 am | Comment

The Chinese people are just tired of radical political movements,they want peace and they have their lives.And the fall of USSR is a bad example happened not long ago.No wonder they don’t even bother to think about such things.
And I must say the over use of sarcasm is lowering the level of discussion considerably.It’s ridiculous and not helping anyone.

May 24, 2009 @ 9:18 am | Comment

Cypher.

I am disturbed that you think I am being sarcastic. Cypher…I am on your side. Peace is important. Look at the US. In the 1960s African-Americans followed Martin Luther King and his radical political movement and the country almost collapsed. All those people with problems speaking out for civil rights, it was ugly and disorderly and led to complete chaos. Now the country is run by Democrats. Could it be any worse?

And the USSR is a GREAT example. There was a country, first the USSR, now Russia, without a single social or economic problem. A veritable paradise on Earth. Introduce one person, one vote and suddenly the whole nation turns to a steady diet of vodka and bullets. What a shame. This is EXACTLY what the West wants for China. Every laowai I know in China has a countdown clock secretly installed, counting down the days till the country implodes and we can bring back colonial rule in Shanghai. We MUST stop this. Cypher..ARE YOU WITH ME!?!??

Moreover, today’s China is a perfectly harmonious society. Why can’t poor people just shut up and let those in the elite enjoy their plasma televisions and nice cars? It’s their own fault they are so poor. In China EVERY person who wants to can live a nice modern life if only they work hard and study in school. Anyone who disagrees is clearly a dangerous radical and must be silenced.

May 24, 2009 @ 9:51 am | Comment

Cypher, actually sarcasm can be very useful, as Matt shows. It can really drive a point home and cause you to see the weak or even silly sides of arguments.

Alice Poon’s comment a bit up the north is too good to pass without being singled out. So here ii is again in case you missed it:

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

Perhaps it is because too many Chinese people are too submissive and content to be bullied by rulers and those in power that civil society still seems a remote possibility even as of today.

If you keep silent about a gross injustice, it is equivalent to condoning the injustice. When enough people keep their mouths shut about egregious deeds, evil prevails. It is tragic that the Cultural Revolution happened. But the more important question to ask is: have we Chinese learned from our past mistakes?

May 24, 2009 @ 10:08 am | Comment

Sigh…
That’s why I mentioned Hedrick Smith’s The Russians in my comment above(by the way sorry for the double post).There are similarities between the Russians in the book and the Chinese now.They are both demotivated by their cynical thinking and broken by the bitter memories and the hardship of life.USSR fell shortly after the book published(1976).May be it’s some kind of signal…Let’s see where it gose.

May 24, 2009 @ 11:51 am | Comment

excuse me, just to establish a baseline: the fall of the USSR was a bad thing how?

May 24, 2009 @ 4:10 pm | Comment

[...] As a commenter pointed out in the comments yesterday, the US has succumbed to pressure from bleeding hearts and will grant asylum to two convicted Chinese terrorists, one of whom served the longest sentence of anyone involved in the TAM incident. Two men who spent years in jail for daring to throw paint at a portrait of Chairman Mao have been granted political asylum in the United States…. [...]

May 24, 2009 @ 6:46 pm | Pingback

Nah,sorry if my comment above caused misunderstanding.
No,I’m not saying the fall of the USSR is a bad thing.The problem is HOW it fell and the AFTERMATH.The sudden death of USSR left a big mess behind:territory fell apart,financial shock,sky rocketing crime rate and the born of all kinds of crime organizations,shortened life expectancy and more.
Who benefited most from the fall of USSR?Oligarchs of whom many are also higher ups in the old rank.They forked large part of the formerly state owned properties into their own plate for virtually nothing.And they still have a major say in the new government.
And where are the average Russian people,the supposed beneficiaries of the political shift?They got hit hard by the fragments of the old regime,had no share of the legacy,and have to clean up the mess-under the same officials as before.
Destroy for the sake of destroy is no good.You have to calculate the profit and loss.No problem will be solved by merely yelling “democracy now!”,not to say democracy won’t establish overnight.If you don’t have some operable road maps which can hold some water,the masses just won’t buy it.Anyway to most people here,there’s no greater evil than poverty and no worse sin than .(Better find a job for my unemployed ass before my relatives start to tease my :P )

May 24, 2009 @ 9:23 pm | Comment

However, it is important to remember just what the immediate cause of the break-up of the USSR was – the hardline August coup. Gorbachev certainly did not intend it to happen, and it was only the rebellion against the Soviet junta led by nationalist leaders like Yeltsin which allowed centres of power to form away from that of the supreme Soviet. Hence, it was hardline communists who destroyed the Soviet Union, not democrats.

If the coup had not happened, Gorbachev might well have been able to conclude the ‘new union’ treaty (which itself was remarkably similar to ‘one country, two systems) and the Soviet state might have remained in place maintaining a common currency, foreign policy, and military. As it was,after the coup he lost all credibility.

I cannot see how political reform along the lines of what Gorbachev was supporting would have been a bad thing for China. The PLA’s tanks and soldiers would have been much better employed against CCP hardliners that they were against unarmed protesters.

May 24, 2009 @ 9:54 pm | Comment

It’s also worth remembering that most of the things which people point to when they describe the ill effect of the break-up of the USSR were caused by the collapse of the USSR’s command economy, which had in fact been on-going since the late 70′s. Coupled with the ruthless and excessive ‘shock therapy’ economic reform, which resulted in the fleecing of the state-owned industry by what passed for the Soviet economy’s capitalists (i.e., gangsters and people who had become rich through hard currency trading) this resulted in the initial crisis of the immediate post-soviet space. This was followed in ’93 by the White House siege, which essentially destroyed the democracy in Russia ten years before everyone started blaming Putin, who (and everyone seems to forget this) was hand-picked by Yeltsin, for it. Medvedev also owes his position to Yeltsin.

1998 brought the Russian currency crisis (itself a follow-on from the 1997 Asian crisis), which also postponed the resources-based recovery we have seen in the last few years. Blaming the current state of Russia on democracy is ridiculously simple-minded and just plain wrong – democracy was pretty much a dead-letter from the moment the tanks opened fire on the Russian White House in ’93.

About the only western bodies which have a real responsibility for Russia’s economic decline are the IMF and the World Bank, with their avocation of rapid ‘shock therapy’, but as the example of Poland shows us, ‘shock therapy’ could have worked if it had not been implemented in such a amateurish and excessive fashion.

May 24, 2009 @ 10:25 pm | Comment

The greatest legacy of the students massacred in TIA square is that withoug them the CCP would not have opened the country so much

It is still a cage, where mouths are muffled and throats are choked, but it is a larger cage nevertheless.

Lives and hopes are no longer so brutally destroyed like in the past,… with some exceptions..

A part of the future they dreamed became real thanks to them.

http://tinyurl.com/m4tdpn

It is their greater legacy (CCP withstanding)

May 31, 2009 @ 4:25 pm | Comment

[...] Do young Chinese know enough about Tiananmen? Yu Hua, author of Brothers, calls it China’s forgotten revolution. Zhao Ziyang’s secret diaries have renewed concern about what has been lost in 20 years. Every one is asking the question. ‘Tiananmen Now Seems Distant to China’s Students’ says The New York Times; ‘China’s students put jobs over democracy’ says Financial Times; ‘… faded from people’s memories’, writes blogger Peking Duck). [...]

May 31, 2009 @ 8:36 pm | Pingback

Repellent? That’s nowhere near how I am repelled by the undercurrents of condescension towards the Chinese population among all the comments.

To Poon,
My maternal grandpa doesn’t want to mention what happened to him during the CR. You wanna come to his apartment and shame him out of his silence with your sanctimonious speech? Sometimes when you’ve been sitting in front of your computer in your cozy room and making snap judgements for so long, you forget how an individual’s incurable trauma is involved. Sure, I and the rest of my generation can talk about it because it didn’t happen to us, but I find it too inhumane to force the older generations to re-open the wounds. And I’ve been very careful when I approach these issues in real life because someone might get hurt, again. And that’s why I’m so repelled by the cold and casual judgements passed around on this blog.

June 1, 2009 @ 3:26 am | Comment

And no, I’m not a fan of the commies. There’s nothing political or nationalistic involved in my comments.

Anyone else here have close family members who went through all those things and find out they are being judged incessantly by people speaking another language hundreds of miles away? If you have you’ll understand my sentiments. It feels personal.

June 1, 2009 @ 3:49 am | Comment

To Wooddoo:

Did you think the Tiananmen Mothers would want to “re-open their wounds” any more than the older generation who suffered in the CR? They lost their children in their prime whose only crime was to speak out againt government corruption and abuse of power. For 20 years they have not been allowed to even openly mourn the deaths of those innocent youths and Mainlanders have been prohibited to discuss the matter. Luckily for Hong Kongers who have a conscience can still utilize their ever dwindling freedom of speech to keep voicing their demand for vindication. We speak out not for political or nationalistic reasons and we are not related to the dead or their families. We speak out only because we think it is dead wrong for a government to kill its people for daring to speak the truth. The CR was tragic enough, but apparently the Chinese leaders have not learned their lesson. If they keep refusing to admit their wrongdoing, there is no guarantee the same tragedy won’t happen over and over again. Maybe, just maybe, the next time it will affect you and me.

June 1, 2009 @ 7:02 am | Comment

To let people see all the facts without colouring from politics. To let people decide for themselves what really happened and why. To allow people to decide for themselves, if they wish, who was right or not. Is all I ask. The facts should lead to the truth. I hope.

June 4, 2009 @ 2:37 am | Comment

[...] other in China, especially because memories of the events 20 years ago have been edited, lost, or never existed especially among younger Chinese who have no way of finding out about the [...]

June 4, 2009 @ 3:23 pm | Pingback

How to take Baidu Chinese Network down, its easy with the DaiLama!
Its not a joke, it real fuck what happen with me and Baidu.
What is the the difference between Baidu and Google.cn
I my opinion google have never blocking me if search serial key’s! Baidu is real Extreme if do something wrong or search on serial key then blocked you the access to search engine!
http://www.baidu.com/s?wd=DalaiLama.com

June 16, 2009 @ 10:12 pm | Comment

How to destroy China internet

for each host in china do
rsh @host ‘get http://www.baidu.com/s?wd=DalaiLama.com
next

Or just create the Dalai Lama botnet, the TIA botnet, the Falung Gong, The Tibet botnet, etc, etc.

June 17, 2009 @ 1:08 am | Comment

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