Tiananmen Massacre China Should Apologise10 June 2020
Saleem Samad :
Quietly the infamous day passed off without any vigil to mark the 31st Tiananmen Square massacre on 4 June. Hong Kong is the only territory of mainland China where a candlelit vigil, mass commemorations are held for the event since 1990. The event attracted tens of thousands of participants and visitors from all over the world.
Hong Kong police have banned the annual vigil marking the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre for the first time in 30 years, citing coronavirus pandemic restrictions.
The candlelight vigil was in memory of tens of thousands pro-democracy movement were brutally suppressed on 4 June 1989 at ancient Qing dynasty Tiananmen Square built-in 1651, ending months of unarmed student-led demonstrations in China.
The governing Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has never acknowledged the massacre. About 180,000 troops and armed police marched into Tiananmen Square and crushed a student protest calling for democratic reform following the death of a progressive leader in CCP, who had been deposed by Chairman Deng Xiaoping.
Well, no death toll has ever been officially released, but rights groups and Chinese in exile estimate hundreds, if not thousands were killed when China's elite People's Liberation Army was deployed to crack down on unarmed protesters in Beijing. Surely there was global outcry and media made screaming headlines around the world, with iconic images such as the "Tank Man" bravely defying the troops on the square.
China's hardliners exploited that event to oust reformers who had been sympathetic to the demonstrators. The hawks have rewritten history and demonizing political opposition and dissidents. Tiananmen Square has brought the hardliner bigwigs of CCP into drawing board to rethink the state policy and implemented methods of repression and strict state control, according to Zhang Lifan, who was a scholar at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in 1989.
Post Tiananmen, many of China's reformers (including the head of the Communist Party himself) were condemned to lifelong house arrest, while some dissidents fled to the West in collaboration with a network of exiled Chinese in Paris who advocates on how to bring democracy to China.
China's state authority censorship increased manifold with a particular emphasis on purging the protest from Chinese news and history books. Within a year of the massacre, the Chinese government "had closed 12 percent of all newspapers, 13 percent of social science periodicals and 76 percent of China's 534 publishing companies," according to Minxin Pei's From Reform to Revolution.
China's hawks were initially perturbed by the Tiananmen pro-democracy struggle and further frightened by the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991. America's victory in the Cold War and the outright dissolution of the USSR shook Beijing hardliners.
The Tiananmen syndrome has impacted proactively upon open-door policy in trade, commerce, and investment. The economic policy has catapulted China to become an Asian giant and gradually came at par of Western countries.
Amid anti-American conspiracy theories, which portrayed the devious United States continually undermine the Chinese people. The purge of pro-American reformers in China left few reform advocates in positions of power, rest were toppled and send into exile.
The hawks also adopted "hyper nationalists" concepts and soon became official Party doctrine in the Patriotic Education Law in 1994, which China later tried to impose on Hong Kong.
Behind the curtain, the reformers in China keeping their heads low, silently watching the Hong Kong's pro-reform protests and of course giving up hopes of Chinese apology to the families and survivors for the massacre and another ten of thousands thrown into dark dungeons in punishment to dare challenge the CCP hawks.
(Saleem Samad, is an independent journalist, media rights defender, recipient of Ashoka Fellowship and Hellman-Hammett Award. He could be reached at [email protected]; Twitter @saleemsamad)