Saturday, June 04, 2005

The 16th Anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre

It's hard to believe that that one courageous man stood in front of a line of tanks sixteen years ago. Unfortunately, his sacrifice, & that of the countless other who lost their lives to that one brief flicker of democracy in China has been for naught. China is still a dictatorship & is as oppressive as ever. The government monitors all communication, particularly electronic, & censors the news heavily. Free elections & real democracy is forbidden. The one thing that has changed is the rapid pace of industrialization. It seems that the oppression has gotten worse with no resistance what so ever. It makes you wonder if there are still people like that man, people willing to risk their lives for liberty in China.

How is it that in this age of the world wide web, in a country were a fair percentage of the population has access to the Internet, a Communist dictatorship remains unquestioned by anyone? The Chinese have created their won brand of despotism by weaving a capitalist economy with a Communist government. Let me qualify that statement by adding that they do not practice true capitalism, all enterprises require the blessing & "patronage" of a Communist party official. You can imagine what a bonanza this is for them, unlimited power & easy money.

Of course the reason it has been allowed to progress is, because this arrangement has imparted some benefits to the ordinary people of China by allowing a middle class to grow & prosper. These were people who lived without plumbing & running water, therefore, being able to get these basic facilities was a cause of great satisfaction. They have been led to believe that this arrangement will continue to allow them to prosper.

But, not everyone has prospered under the arrangement. The rural peasants, who make up a majority of the population, are doing worse that ever. However, their plight is kept our of sight & out of mind by the glitzy images of gaudy neon lights & skyscrapers & cell phone toting city dwellers in designer clothes. However, the real genius of the new Chinese leaders is their PR strategy. Their propaganda machine is far more effective than Stalin could ever have dreamed of. Save for a token mention of human rights here & there, no one is too concerned about the situation, nor is anyone doing any sort of real investigation into the true state of the lives of the Chinese people.

But, the despots know that their time is running out. They do not feel secure & are prepared to take action in order to maintain their cushy positions. Recently, they arrested a journalist from Hong Kong, Ching Cheong, to prevent him from publishing a series of secret interviews of Zhao Ziyan, conducted over a period of several years. Mr Ziyang, who passed away in January while under house arrest, was a former premier and party chief who opposed the Tiananmen massacre. He was arrested & interrogated (AI gulag watch, were are you?) concerning the details of a manuscript of a book he was planning to publish the conversations with Zhao Ziyan. Not only did they trick Mr. Cheong into coming into China, but they tried to do so to his wife. Luckily, she remain safe in Hong Kong thanks to Mr. Cheong's courage, he yelled for her to stay in Hong Kong, when a guard detaining him invited her to come & see him. I can't imagine what price he paid for that heroic act. God Bless him.

Another telling incident has been the arrest of a New York Times researcher Zhao Yan. Authorities have yet to release the full reason for his arrest, the current one being "providing state secrets to foreigners". The true reason for his arrest, he has been denied access to a lawyer & his family is barred from seeing him (AI gulag watch, were are you?), is most likely his reporting of instances in which party officials abused peasant farmers. Mr. Yan had also spent three years in prison for being a member of a failed attempt to create a new political party, according to China Labor Watch, which first reported his detention.

Are these signs of the possibility of a free China? Clearly, the panic shown by the Communist party at the prospect of the publication of a book about the Tiananmen massacre tells of the existence of a hidden desier for liberty. The existence of movements to start new political parties is also indicative of a want for a new direction for the governance of China. However, the question remains, will the forces of freedom be able to overcome the ruthless & efficient despots clever enough to maintain the beautiful facade?

Great post.

I remember watching the Tiananmen Square drama play out on TV (worked in the appliance section back then) and wondering whether there would be a genuine democratic revolution in red China... or if the CHICOM government would do what all despotic governments do and start shooting. Sadly, it was the latter.

I guess you noticed how the CHICOM government was ginning up anti-Japanese sentiment last month? Nice way to distract people from their gripes with their own government.

I'm sorry to say that a lot of governments ignore the horrible CHICOM record on human rights because of money and because they've gotten to be such a major player on the world scene. For example, the Euros want to line their own pockets by selling advanced technology, including hi-tech weapons (!) to the red Chinese. We need their help dealing with North Korea, so we really can't say too much to tick them off. Sigh...

I hate realpolitik.

It seems to me that the only hope the long-suffering Chinese people have for freedom is if they do it themselves. It may be that the church will play a role; I understand that there is a growing underground Christian movement there. Who knows? I just can't believe that a despotic government can survive in perpetuity. It must either be overthrown, or collapse of its own inefficiency and cruelty.
Hi Jim,

Nice to see you again. I really enjoy reading your comments, they are well thought out.

You pretty much summed up my feelings. Realpolitik stinks! You brought up a good point with the underground Christian movement I had neglected to mention.

Spiritual revival tends to precede anti-Communtist movements. As you know, the Pope & the Catholic church played an important role in the downfall of Communism in Eastern Europe & thereby the USSSR.

Hopefully, history will repeat it-self. Unfortunately, the ChiComs are a lot smarter & far more adept than the Ruskies. As you mentioned, we can only hope that this system will somehow end it-self through an internal collapse or be overthrown by the Chinese people.
Thank you. May I say the same about your posts?

The more I think about it, the less confident I am that the Chinese will revolt. If they didn't kick Mao out on his ear during the 100 Flowers Campaign, the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, then I'd say that revolution - against fellow Chinese, anyway - is just not in them. I hope I'm wrong, and it may be that the internet will do a lot to bring the Chinese together against their oppressive government.

We'll see.
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