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June 4, 2009
Tienanmen massacre 20 years ago today (Updated)
It was 20 years ago today that China savagely repressed the democracy protests in Tienanmen Square. Today, China remains a dictatorship, and continues to have high levels of civil unrest (almost completely ignored in the foreign press). Of course, the country is now far richer, and holds our debt.
Lest we forget, view the CBC's coverage of the events 20 years ago:
A Chinese victim offers his view. Exiled university professor Chen Xiaoping, formerly at China University of Political Science and Law and now a researcher in Chinese Law at Wisconsin University Law School reminisces, also in Forbes , about the events that cost him two years in a Chinese jail, convicted for being one of the plotters of the student demonstrations.
Like students and young people everywhere he feels
The students emphasized their purity. They did not want to be involved in the power struggle. They were naïve. They wanted to preserve the purity of the students' movement.
But in evil "Amerika" unless they harm property or individuals, students aren't punished, imprisoned or exiled; even if they are convicted they emerge as heroes (hey there Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn); Chen is still far away from home, certainly not a hero in his native country. And what did he learn?
1989 was a lesson to the Party and it was a lesson to me: don't be optimistic about the hope that the Chinese Communist Party will reform.
Paul Shlichta adds:
We should never forget the brief appearance of a lone hero, whom we know only as "Tank Man", who for a few dazzling moments stopped a line of advancing tanks.
He fully deserves all the praise given him on Fox News and on a page of Facebook. As one contributor put it, "there was that shining moment, where this man faced down a column of tanks ... and showed us all what a spark of freedom can ignite in a soul".
But, for twenty years, we have forgotten another, equally brave, hero (or perhaps heroes), obvious but invisible.
Look at the photo. Tank Man, alone and defenseless, is confronting a tank—a tank that stopped for five or ten seconds, until he decided to get out of the way. Based on their performance elsewhere that day, I am confident that the proper procedure in the army of the People's Republic of China would have been to unhesitatingly run over him. I suspect that, if they had done so, the tank crew would have been commended.
But they stopped. Whoever was in that tank stopped and waited, or perhaps argued with Tank Man, until he got out of the way. Despite all that Maoist training, some spark of humanity remained in those men or was at least rekindled by Tank Man's reckless bravery. Heroism is, thank God, like a disease that is sometimes contagious.
I suspect that the men in that tank got into some trouble because of their humanity and hesitance. I hope all went well with them.