Tiananmen Square – 20 Years on

I watched a documentary on BBC2 yesterday presented by reporter Kate Adie who was on the scene in Beijing during the Tiananmen Square massacre of June ’89. Returning 20 years later for the first time, her views, memories and impressions were very interesting.

I did not realise that the People’s Liberation Army actually did most of the slaughtering in the side alleys leading off the square, where the narrow streets were turned into shooting galleries, and people were injured and killed by bullets flying through thin walls.

I was also unaware of the fact that this episode in the history of China has largely gone missing from public record, and a new generation has grown up unaware of the atrocities committed. Banyan of The Economist has also reported in his article this week “The Party goes on” on the effective white-washing of the incident by the Chinese Government, and noted the fact that modern youth will look to this year’s military parade with a sense of pride in a symbol of Chinese resurgence and power.

I wondered why I hadn’t had a discussion on this topic with my numerous Chinese friends here in the UK.

I applaud the courage of the students and workers, and mourn the unnecessary loss of life. I note that 20 years on the Politburo hasn’t changed its modus operandi much.

Art imitates life

Ioan sent me a link to The Onion that had me in hysterics today. The headline was “Citing Poor Conditions, China Refuses To Send Delegation To Olympics”.

“I shall regret this for the rest of my life, but I think the current conditions Beijing are currently worse than the ones I encounter in my polluted, petroleum-fume-choked home town,” said Rockets center Yao Ming, easily the team’s most prominent athlete. “Which is Beijing. Things have gotten even worse since I moved.”

Things often really do go full circle. I have been really tired of watching all those “Our foreign correspondent in Beijing”s on the telly, measuring God knows what other sulphite or particulate with a little white plastic electronic gadget.

A little poem, the result of a quick Wikipedia glance:

2008 pollution
2004 construction
2000 Ozzys
1996 Izzy
1994 Barcelona
1992 California