“On this spot in 1989 nothing happened here”

By Bryan • china, politics • 4 Jun 2008

Well, not quite as the writers of Family Guy so sarcastically wrote into one episode.

The date almost slipped my mind.

I suggest a meal at the Peking Duck for a fuller, bolder experience.

Nearly 20 years later it seems so far away, so distant. But not at all forgotten. At least not for me. Talking with my Chinese friends in Beijing, it also seems so irrelevant, something they would rather not acknowledge let alone dwell upon. I only really began to understand the Chinese perspective on the tragedy five years ago when I held an extensive conversation with an actual demonstrator.

His words sounded so strange to me. He had gone to demonstrate, to actively protest against his government, and now he looks upon the massacre as a practical and necessary business decision. Painful to make at the time but ultimately good for the country. And I believe it’s safe to say that his opinion is in line with that of most young Chinese people today. There is almost a sense of gratitude for what the government did, saving them from the anarchy that consumed Russia in its rush to democratize. Preserving the harmony that allowed the economic miracle to rise to undreamed of height. Surely it was all for the best, and your heart has to go out to the poor officials forced to make such a difficult decision.

I understand his argument, and I understand why my Chinese colleagues across the board tow the line on this topic. Many months ago I gave up hope of having a rational discussion with them on topics like this. The last time I tried was about two weeks ago, when I argued with a beloved colleague about whether Mao had been good for China or bad. When I recited the litany of his sins, which are nearly as bountiful as Hitler’s, I got the tape recorded message that still, he was good for China. You know, seventy percent and all that. At least now I understand why she says that.

Read the whole thing.

A well written, balanced and thoughtful post regarding this pivotal moment in 20th century history. It is a sense of denial, that “this didn’t happen” or a “we know nothing about this” claim, but rather a somewhat interesting perspective holding to the line that while it was a massacre, it was a necessary action in an effort to preserve social harmony, stability and economic progress/development. The apparent support among many for the actions of the CCP during this time provides a snap-shot of contemporary Chinese attitudes towards their government. While they may not be universally liked and hardly loved, it could be easily argued that the CCP is the guardian of stability, holder of moral authority and retain the respect of many segments of the Mainland population. I would argue that the support received from large segments of the population is something not understood by the general masses of the West.

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