Here’s a fabulous article on the Tiananmen Square massacre. It does something few of the other articles I’ve read–it gives perspective.
“A China that has made enormous progress economically, and that is emerging to take its rightful place in global leadership, should examine openly the darker events of its past and provide a public accounting of those killed, detained or missing, both to learn and to heal.” –Hillary Clinton, Sec. of State
There is only one proper response to this: Look who’s talking!
Before an American secretary of state gets up on her hind legs and lectures the rest of the world about “the darker events of its past,” complaining about the lack of “a public accounting of those killed, detained, or missing,” let’s look at the record: in 1993, then-attorney general Janet Reno ordered the murder of 76 people in Waco, Texas, on grounds that didn’t sound all that credible at the time, and, in retrospect, turn out to have been entirely dubious and self-serving. Can it really be that the U.S. government – yes, the same people who ordered this and this – is hectoring China for unlawful detention?
As a great philosopher once said, oh, puh-leeeeeeeze!
No one disputes the fact that the suppression of the Tiananmen Square revolt was a brutal act, one that belied the Chinese government’s claim to enjoy popular support in the face of what it characterized as a “counterrevolutionary” gathering. Yet what, exactly, was being suppressed? This is where the Western-spun narrative veers markedly away from reality.
To begin with, what was the uprising about? What demands were the students – and most of them were indeed students, rather than ordinary workers and peasants – intent on pursuing to the end? The initial protests were over reductions in student subsidies. As an economizing measure, the government decided to drastically cut student allowances, while China’s generous foreign scholarship program, which enabled many students from Africa to study in Chinese universities, was continued, in spite of the cutbacks.
This outraged the fiercely nationalistic Chinese students, who, in the winter of 1988, used it as an excuse to rampage through the living quarters of African students, injuring 13. What began as a lynching miraculously turned into a “human rights” protest, as 3,000 demonstrators showed up in Nanjing, where slogans such as “Kill the black devils!” mingled with demands for “political reform.”