Thirty years ago today all hope for democratic reform in China died along side thousands of Chinese citizens who were murdered in Tienanmen Square while protesting their government. Fred Gedrich, an eyewitness to the event, has written an excellent remembrance of this watershed moment.
[…] It was at that moment I witnessed the spirit of freedom in action. Against overwhelming odds, those sympathetic to the freedom movement fought back without weapons. Some attempted to stop the tanks by erecting barricades and blowing up cars, buses, and trucks on the street in a futile attempt to prevent the convoy from moving forward. Eventually, the troops in the tanks used machine gun fire to disperse demonstrators and, for good measure, directed a few warning shots towards our hotel to prevent Westerners from observing what was happening.
The tanks eventually burst through burning debris and headed down the avenue towards Tiananmen. Afterward, I went into the street to comfort some of the locals. Their faces were filled with horror and voices with anguished cries. Various sources suggest that death casualties among the locals ranged several hundred to several thousand – but no one knows for sure because of the communist government’s tight control of information. In a span of just a few short hours, I witnessed the spark of freedom, and saw it extinguished. And I decided forthwith that speaking out on behalf of freedom would be a life passion.
How did the U.S. respond to that atrocity? Rather tepidly in the long run. […]
Another excellent essay at American Spectator:
On this day in 1989, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army opened fire on civilians throughout the Chinese capital of Beijing, killing hundreds of students and activists who had assembled to protest for democracy and reforms of China’s authoritarian government and political system. The incident, now known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre, shocked observers worldwide, resulting in international condemnation and sanctions.
Three decades later, democracy has not come to China. Indeed, the personalized politics of the Mao era has returned with Xi Jinping, who has overseen the introduction of “Xi Jinping Thought” into the Chinese constitution and the removal of term limits. To the east of the country, it is working at a breakneck pace to seize ocean territories in defiance of international opinion; in the west, it has interned millions of Uyghurs in “re-education camps” without trial. The Communist Party has been blunt in its efforts to undermine and dismantle the political autonomy of Hong Kong, China’s last remaining bastion of democracy. The government is notoriously unfair in its conduct of trade: companies hoping to do business in China are pressured to hand over technology, and where such pressure is infeasible, state spies have few qualms about theft. […]
More, quoting this blog’s spiritual father: “30 Years After Tiananmen Square, China’s Communists Are Still Doubling Down on Repression”
[…] As George Orwell wrote, “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”
The Chinese Communist Party is controlling the past, suppressing the truth about the Tiananmen Square massacre. The truth cannot be suppressed forever, but the tragedy of Tiananmen Square shows that big government tyranny can crack down on dissent for decades. Americans should remember the horrors of the 20th century and know that the threat of big government communism has not been erased from the world.
If China can kill thousands of protesters and suppress that truth from its people after 30 years, even in the internet age, government tyranny is emphatically not a thing of the past. The modern Western miracle of free-market prosperity, limited government, and broad civil rights is not the norm in human history: government oppression and poverty is. Those who encourage rejecting that miracle in favor of socialism and communism should reckon with this dark history and reconsider their support for a style of government that historically trends back toward oppression.