Tiananmen Square Massacre Remembered

Tiananmen Square Massacre Remembered
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

Details about the June 4, 1989, crackdown on student protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square remain hidden. The massacre, overshadowed to a degree by the televised confrontation of a single man facing a row of tanks, is nevertheless still commemorated throughout China. In semi-autonomous Hong Kong (the former British colony transferred to Mainland China in 1997), the date of June 4 has become an occasion for annual protests of tens of thousands.

Image from flickr by David Holt, some rights reserved.

The Chinese Communist government has never published the number of the pro-democracy victims of its bloody clampdown 28 years ago. Estimates place the number killed somewhere around many thousands. These were idealistic students who met death at the hands of soldiers sent to cancel the peaceful demonstration. Government mention of what happened at Tiananmen Square admits only to “turmoil” created by the demonstrators.

The million who gathered in Tiananmen Square in 1989 weren’t the only Chinese protesting their government’s dictatorial rule. Demonstrators had gathered in scores (some say hundreds) of cities throughout China. In Shanghai, whose population exceeds Beijing’s, demonstrations grew even larger after news of the 1989 killings in Beijing had spread. Suppression of the protesters there did not face the bloody put-down occurring at the nation’s capital city.

Over many years, Tiananmen Square has been the scene of other noteworthy events. A 1919 student protest in “the heart of the Middle Kingdom” is a fairly well remembered bit of history. Even more widely known is the choice of the Square by Mao Tse Tung to proclaim the People’s Republic in 1949. Since then, the Square has been the site of parades featuring troops with their weapons and an assortment of military vehicles.

This year, a small bottle of liquor carrying the date 6/4/89 became a symbol for millions who want China to be a country where free speech and other basic rights are the norm. One bottle of the symbolically labeled liquor made its way throughout China and ended up in Hong Kong where it will likely be added to other reminders of the 1989 carnage.

Unwilling to let even small protests go unpunished, Chinese authorities have arrested four men in Chengdu for their role in producing and labeling the small bottles of liquor. The four have already been accused of “inciting subversion of state power.” A court decree ruling against them claimed that they were “dissatisfied with our country’s socialist system.” The court got that right.

The New York Times recently contacted parents of two victims of the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown. Recalling his son’s death and the annual commemoration of the blood-drenched incident, Xiao Zongyou, a resident of Chengdu, said of his wife and himself,  “If remembering June 4 is a crime, then the Chengdu Public Security Bureau should arrest us. Like my son, I want this country to get better.”

But freedom isn’t getting better in China. Free speech is prohibited and subject to monitoring by two million government censors most of whom diligently monitor the Internet. Attempts to obtain detailed information about what occurred at Tiananmen Square in 1989 by entering the word “Tiananmen” on a computer produces nothing. That word and others used to commemorate what happened 28 years ago have been erased.

China remains a totalitarian state ruled by the descendants of Mao Tse Tung. A hero to Communist Chinese, Mao and his Communist horde made it into the Guinness Book of Records as history’s greatest mass murderers. During recent years with vital help from the U.S., China has emerged as an economic powerhouse making and exporting millions of products for the West. But basic freedoms to speak, write, publish, practice religion, etc., are barred. And China’s leaders have never renounced their intention to defeat the United States. Credit Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and a lengthy parade of others for helping to empower one of America’s greatest enemies.

While understanding what those in China have to go through, Americans must realize that they still can prevent this extreme government overreach in the U.S. Join with the organization at the forefront of this battle, The John Birch Society.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.

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