Tuesday, 7 June 2005

Tiananmen remembered

Seventeen years ago thousands of pro-democracy Chinese students occupied Tiananmen Square for several weeks while the Beijing public held off the military by blocking convoys unwilling to shoot those in their way. For those of us watching at the time, we thought we'd seen it all before: the fall of the former Soviet regimes of Central Asia and Eastern Europe and the liberation of millions of human beings from their Communiust masters had begun in just such a way, and liberation had been effected in the main peacefully, and without bloodshed.

Not in China.

On May 30, protestors in Tiananmen Square erected a papier-mâché ‘Goddess of Democracy’ which for a time faced down the iconic portrait of Chairman Mao hanging from the gates of The Forbidden City. It lasted just five days before the killing began.

There has been no public commemoration in mainland China of the 17th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, but there has been elswhere:
  • In London local Chinese and officials gathered in Trafalgar Square last weekend to remember the victims of the massacre. "There are tears that flow in China for the children that are gone," said the lyrics of a song played on a stereo. "Oh children, blood is on the square. Oh children, blood is on the square."
  • In Hong Kong, thousands of protestors staged a candlelit rally to mark the pro-democracy rally that ended in the slaughter of 3,000 civilians.
  • In the US, the State Department called for China to provide a full accounting of those who were killed, were detained, or went missing during the Tiananmen Square demonstrations 17 years ago, and of "the government's role in the massacre."
Meanwhile, Human Rights in China (HRIC) have "launched a podcast series of interviews with participants of the 1989 Tiananmen Square movement." And the BBC have have archive reports including Kate Adie's on-the-spot reporting from the China of 1989.

LINKS: 17th Tiananmen aniversary passes in China - San Jose Mercury/AP
'Oh children, blood is on the Square' - Epoch Times
Thousands mark Tiananmen Square anniversary in Hong Kong - Fox News

US calls for accounting of Tiananmen Square deaths, detentions - US Department of State
HRIC launches podcast interviews for June 4th anniversary - UN Observer
1989: Massacre in Tiananmen Square - BBC News: On this day

TAGS: History-Twentieth_Century, Socialism,


  1. Robert Winefield8 Jun 2005, 01:56:00

    And there has been no mention in the NZ press or other mainstream US news sources either. The US can be forgiven because the Army has just launched another anti-terrorist sweep in Iraq. NZ on the other hand, with the PMs tongue inserted firmly in Beijings arse, remains curiously silent on the whole affair.

    The only HK story on Stuff.co.nz spoke of tough times under CEO Donald Tsang. I guess then that remembering Tiananmen Square and the massacre that followed isn't news worthy in NZ at present.

    Free trade with China may be a good idea, but do we have to forget & ignore the true identity of the country we are trading with?

    Cheers PC for reminding us.

  2. What is the libz stand on this? Would libz still be trading with China?

  3. Yes. Trade is a great liberalising influence. The trade embargo is the only thing that's kept that nasty authoritarian Castro in power for the last forty years.
    Contrast that with South Korea and Taiwan which were also run by nasty authoritarians forty years but who had the good fortune to be on the other side of the Cold War. They were traded with and went from poverty to poverty-with-sweatshops to manufacturing powerhouses to modern diverse economies. As they got richer, the people of those countries wanted the good things that the rest of the world had to offer. Those good things weren't just Coca-Cola and Versace - they were Coca-Cola, Versace, and democracy.
    There are no guarantees of course, and we should certainly not pull our punches when describing murderous oppression as what it is, but trade is one of the most powerful weapons we have in the fight for freedom.
    As economies internationalise they have to become more transparent to attract investment. That flows on to reduce corruption and destructive economic practices.
    As people have to worry less about food and shelter they can worry about more abstract things like freedom of speech.
    It takes decades but we've seen it work before and we must allow it to work again if the vast masses of poor in the world are to have any chance of greater prosperity and freedom.



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