Thursday, June 4, 2009

Tiananmen @ Twenty

Twenty years ago today the Chinese government massacred peaceful protesters in Beijing's Tianamen Square.

Looking back on it now I suppose it was only a matter of time before the Communists were going to crush the student democracy movement. Deng Xiaoping was no Mikhail Gorbachev. In retrospect, I am surprised the Chinese allowed it go on for as long as it did considering the students began gathering in April 1989 after the death of former Communist Party General Secretary Hu Yaobang. He had been forced to resign two years earlier because of tolerance of student demonstrators. The gathering to remember Hu Yaobang took on a life of its own.

While China has liberalized economically over the past three decades it has not done so politically. Paradoxically, had China not embraced free market reforms one must wonder if political reform would have come about instead from the likes of Hu Yaobang. Would he have led a Chinese version of glasnost and perestroika?

Of course, we can never know the answer.

What we do know is that China is as repressive a regime as it was 20 years ago. Just ask those who practice Falun Gong. Just ask the Tibetans. Just ask the Taiwanese. Just ask those in Hong Kong who were not under Chinese rule twenty years ago.

With that it is worth noting 150,000 people gathered in Hong Kong to commemorate the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Now that my friends takes courage.

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