BEIJING — June 4, 1989 represents a day in world history where a country refused to listen to its people. Chinese protesting for a pro-democracy government gathered in Tiananmen Square and were brutally massacred by the Chinese government as a result.
Now, 25 years later, China tightened national security and banned foreign press from interviewing families of victims along with other acts of censorship.
Columbia University political science professor Andrew Nathan shared his thoughts with Reuters News, saying, “So their idea of preventing it is not to take the lid off and let people hash things out, but instead try to prevent anybody from raising any of these troubling issues.”
Nathan explained that the Chinese fear a response that would be similar to the Arab springs and Ukrainian revolution to occur in China.
This hushing of the people leads to a quiet roar, as people wish to speak about those they lost and honor them in a way they see fitting. In the days leading up to the anniversary, the country quickly and silently went into lockdown, preparing for any tensions that may arise due to the powerful memories and images invoked by Tiananmen Square. Few people spoke about the events, calling it “an open secret” to reporters from the Washington Post.
In the protest of 1989, the Communist government originally allowed students to march until they feared this lone act of public protest and sent in military grade weapons to remove them. This iconic act, documented by thousands across the world, is an image ingrained in the heads of many.
To counteract this, the Chinese implemented a patriotic education, diminishing the access school-age children have to the events that occurred 25 years ago.
Even with these education styles in place, Chinese gathered in city centers like Hong Kong by the thousands to commemorate those lost. While security tightened in the capital of Beijing, cities outside the mainland received less of a suffocating security presence and were free to demonstrate their support in a peaceful vigil.
Those who attended the Honk Kong vigil represented the younger generation, demonstrating that the Chinese government does not have complete control of their education and exposure to world events that reflect poorly on China.
Every year, China gets anxious waiting for the anniversary to pass, the anniversary that many parents mourn as the last day they saw their family members, friends and loved ones. China demonstrated their military power in Tiananmen Square 25 years ago, and used the people of China to do so.
Sources: Reuters, New York Times, Washington Post
Photo: South China Morning Post