20th Anniversary of Tiananmen Square Massacre: More Repression in China, Rallies & Vigils in Hong Kong

June 4, 2009, marks twenty years since the bloody crackdown by government forces of the millions of protesters at Tiananmen Square at Beijing, China. Many of you reading this post may have barely been born then. I was on the homestretch of Boot Camp in the US Marine Corps at the time, when news of the massive protests got to me. 1989 was to be a watershed year, marked by the successive collapse of several communist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe: Poland, Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and finally Romania. The Soviet Union itself would cease to exist two years later, breaking up into the various nations it had conquered as Russia during its reign of terror, like the multiple nuclear warhead missiles it had pointing at the USA for so long.

Alas, it was not China’s time that year. However, it was the beginning.


The Tiananmen Square rallies were the catalyst for the rest of that side of the world that had not seen sunshine in freedom. On the Eastern hemisphere, starting from Poland, stretching all the way through Russia, China, and ending in Korea, the dominoes started falling one by one. China would not be included then. However, 20 years down, dissidents and onlookers are still hopeful. If it could happen to Russia, then China can’t be too far behind. China became communist 30 years after Russia did. Which means, by this count, perhaps China as a communist state will fall within ten years or sooner.

This time, though, the people who bring it about won’t be clamoring for freedom and democracy, the way people did in 1989. In fact, most likely they’ll be raising hell about things that are more fundamental: They will protest about the scarcity of jobs and opportunities in a economy that was supposed to be bursting at the seams with capitalist goodies. They will scream bloody murder when money runs out, then food. The same way Russians did, when the Czarists ignored their proletariat.

Most news feeds on the Tiananmen Square anniversary focus on the here and now, and how the youth today are largely ignorant about the past. As with our young, they have been spoiled with bright, shiny objects and toys – a far, far cry from the oppressive Cultural Revolution-Era rationing of food and basic necessities that Mao and his hardline enforcers had subjected China to. Instead of the monochrome blue, green, or gray suits that could be seen bicycling up and down the streets of Beijing in the 1940’s, people now wear different styles of clothes, and something closer to a sense of identity that they had never seen before. If only they could truly claim it. What they have is a facade of happiness that a corrupt Chinese government has been trying to show the rest of the world. Beneath that layer are several millions of citizens who may be clueless about the country’s history, yet are well aware of their own circumstances in the here and now. History will repeat itself. Not even the most despotic, totalitarian regime can undo the cracks that are already starting to show.

Much like the Iraqis before 2003, the Chinese will never amount to anything deserving of democracy, unless they change themselves. There are two faces of the Chinese that prevent this from happening: The first is the typical Chinese man or woman, raised to be polite and subservient, the Confucian ideal.  Then there are the few Chinese who rise to power, who cling to power with a tight fist and little regard for ethics or principle. You can seen both in every layer of Chinese society, in families and in business and any other organization in general.  While most of the world have begun to recognize the effectiveness of democracy and the need for consensus, the Chinese still insist on living this Jekyll-and-Hyde split personality.  Now, just as then, it looks as if the tyranny that was in the Old is simply changing its clothes for a New look. It is still the same, repressive regime. The dissidents still fight on, complaining they have been all but forgotten. Meanwhile, the West pays lip service by condemning China for its actions – then granting it Most Favored Nation (MFN) status.

Don’t write this episode off, just yet. Nor should you, for once, think that just because Chinese officials have muted Twitter, that they’ll continue to repress its citizens for all time. For when Nixon opened those barriers which led the way for the West and the rest of the world to swarm in to do business, China got its first taste of Capitalism – and that’s not something the Chinese will easily let go of. Looks like our leaders had some sense of wisdom when they chose to continue that “softening” policy. The Chinese have already been bitten, infected with that thirst for money and material goods. Pretty soon, the lust that goes with that will creep up in their system and poison whatever vestige of control they can muster. They’ve been forced to compete and be just like the rest of the industrialized world. Unfortunately, that world came to a screeching end when the big financial crisis hit us. Remember when a previous article mentioned how six million students just graduated college, into an uncertain world? All I have to say – to Oppressors, Dissidents and Spectators all: Wait and See.

Here are a few related links for further reading:

The Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989

Police Swarm Tiananmen Square on Anniversary

Tiananmen Anniversary Muted in Mainland China

Tiananmen Exiles Say They’re Forgotten at Home

Tiananmen Square Scars Soldier Turned Artist

Copyright Anabasius 2009


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