China Immunized: Have the Chinese truly forgotten the Tiananmen Square Massacre?

What Chinese state media calls a vaccination and government constantly tries to sweep under the floor, Tiananmen Square incident still haunts the minds of Chinese people after 30 years. Political analysts around the globe dub it as a political winter that engulfed China which hasn’t left since.

Tiananmen

AFP |

A Chinese state-run daily defended the government’s handling of the Tiananmen protests on Monday, saying it “immunized” China against turmoil in a rare editorial about the crackdown on the eve of its 30th anniversary.

Hundreds or by some estimates more than a 1,000 unarmed civilians were killed when troops and tanks were deployed to extinguish the pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing on June 4, 1989. The Global Times’ English-language edition hailed the Chinese government’s handling of what it called the “incident” in an editorial titled: “June 4 immunized China against turmoil”.

“As a vaccination for the Chinese society, the Tiananmen incident will greatly increase China’s immunity against any major political turmoil in the future,” wrote the nationalist tabloid, which is affiliated to the Communist Party’s mouthpiece, the People’s Daily.

The Communist Party has tightened its grip on civil society since President Xi Jinping took office in 2012, detaining activists, rights lawyers, intensifying online censorship and using high-tech policing to keep the population in check.

The paper echoed comments by China’s defence minister, General Wei Fenghe, who defended the bloody crackdown as the “correct policy” at a regional security forum in Singapore on Sunday.

The Guardian quoted his remarks, “That incident was a political turbulence and the central government took measures to stop the turbulence which is a correct policy,”

The Chinese Defense Minister questioned why critics of China blame it for “not handling the incident properly”. Justifying the actions taken by the Chinese government, Wei Fenghe observed, “The 30 years have proven that China has undergone major changes. China has enjoyed stability and development”.

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Western Criticism “Has No Real Impact”

It is rare for Chinese officials or media to publicly discuss the strictly taboo topic. Authorities have detained activists and tightened online censorship ahead of the anniversary.

The party’s “control of the incident” in 1989 has been a “watershed” that marked the difference between China’s rapid economic progress and the fate of other Communist countries such as the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia that disintegrated, the Global Times said.

The editorial which only appeared in the English-language print edition of the paper also rebuked dissidents, Western politicians, and media, saying their criticism of the event would have “no real impact” on Chinese society.

Hundreds or by some estimates more than a 1,000 unarmed civilians were killed when troops and tanks were deployed to extinguish the pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing on June 4, 1989.

The Communist Party has tightened its grip on civil society since President Xi Jinping took office in 2012, detaining activists, rights lawyers, intensifying online censorship and using high-tech policing to keep the population in check.

The Global Times said today’s China with its growing wealth has “no political conditions” that could reignite “the riots” seen three decades ago. “Chinese society, including its political elite, is now far more mature than in 1989.”

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Tiananmen: Beijing’s Barbaric Slaughter

Nicholas Kristof, prominent columnist for the New York Times, who was in Beijing when the Tiananmen incident occurred, shared that he spent the night “witnessing the slaughter”.

He tweeted, “I was in Beijing 30 yrs ago when the Army opened fire on the Tiananmen democracy protesters. I spent the night witnessing the slaughter”

Kristof narrated his experience of witnessing the barbaric bloodshed on the Tiananmen protestors in an article penned down for the NY Times.

He writes, “Then came the soldiers, firing not only on the crowds but even on families watching in horror from balconies. Troops fired at ambulances rescuing the wounded. Winter fell on China, and in political terms it hasn’t left.”

Nicholas Kristof, prominent columnist for the New York Times, who was in Beijing when the Tiananmen incident occurred, shared that he spent the night “witnessing the slaughter”.

Nicholas Kristof not only shed light on the brutal tactics of the Chinese forces but also commented on the bravery and courage of the protestors. He concluded his article with a poignant observation, “Xi (Jinping) may think he has triumphed by burying history, stifling Hong Kong, suppressing religion, strangling the internet, imprisoning lawyers and journalists, and erasing the truth of what I saw three decades ago, but Chinese scholars often quote the writer Lu Xun after an earlier massacre: “Lies written in ink cannot disguise facts written in blood.”

Melissa Chan, a prominent journalist at DW News, pondered over the “power of propaganda” given that the 1 billion people of China do not know key facts about the Tiananmen Square killings while the world commemorates 30 years since the barbaric incident.

Chan tweeted, “How do I know Chinese don’t recognize this photo? Because I once printed this out and walked over to Tiananmen Square and showed people. They either: 1) ran away, 2) glint in their eye revealed they knew it, but pretended not to, 3) truly blank stares.”

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AFP with additional input by GVS news desk.

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