Monday, March 19, 2012

Tiananmen Square Beijing China

It has been more than three months since the events of the beginning of June 1989, when the Chinese army clamped down on the students at Tiananmen Square. In the early hours of that tragic Sunday morning, the democratic hopes and aspirations of the Chinese people were crushed by the “People’s Liberation Army” with tanks and gunfire. We mourn for those who died.

One fortunate aspect of the course of events was that the world was witness to what happened in Peking, thanks to courageous correspondents like the BBC’s Kate Adie "Goddess of Democracy" at Tiananmen Square and many others. Images like those of the lone student holding up a column of tanks are inedibly etched into the memory of the world community.

After “Tiananmen” there have been many articles and comments in the international press on the impact of the crackdown on China itself, its relations with the West, and on Hong Kong. However, surprisingly, there has been hardly any discussion of the impact of “Tiananmen” on the relations between Taiwan and China. On the following pages we present an assessment from the perspective of the Taiwanese.

Firstly, the tragic events in Peking show what the Taiwanese people have known for a long time: that Chinese leaders will revert time and again to repressive measures to maintain themselves in their position of power. This is why the Taiwanese have advocated a free and democratic Taiwan, separate from mainland China, and have always rejected “reunification”, whether under the rule of the Kuomintang authorities in Taipei or the Communists in Peking.

The Taiwanese have never believed Peking’s promises that Taiwan can maintain its own political and economic institutions under the “one country, two systems”. The experience of the Tibetan people after 1949 shows how empty these promises are. The Tiananmen Square events show even more clearly that the Chinese rulers do not hesitate to use brutal force against anyone daring to challenge their power, even against their own people in their own capital, let alone against people far removed from the center of the “Middle Kingdom.”

The massacre at Tiananmen Square and the atrocities following the “February 28 Incident” are separated by four decades. But the roots of the government behavioral pattern Chinese political culture can be traced to ancient times. “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun” may be the often-quoted words of Mao Tse-tung, but the statement has rather accurately reflected the mentality of the Chinese ruling class of any ideology. Dynasties may change, but the ruthlessness and cruelty with which each government rules China has remained pretty much the same since antiquity.

Chinese rulers have long used history to justify their mandate to rule. Each dynasty has had an official historian to write and compile the history of the previous era to justify the imperative of the present rule and the correctness of the present ideology. In the process, documents and interpretations that challenged the government version were twisted, if not destroyed, and their authors severely punished. The Chinese-style “education” that stressed memorization, uniformity and obedience has been used in part to help perpetuate the government’s twisted interpretation of history.


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