Home > Analysis > Let’s Talk About Tiananmen Square, 1989

Let’s Talk About Tiananmen Square, 1989

(Propaganda in the Western press had a lasting impact on China. For the Tiananmen Protest of 1989, the “reform and opening up” policies under Deng back-stepped when Western governments decided to scale back loans and FDI into China on the grounds the Chinese government were ‘butchers.’ The ‘butcher’ and ‘massacre’ narratives were concocted by the Western press to demonize the Chinese government (an on-going trend, by the way; see collective defamation). Through Wikileaks, we now know the U.S. government knew then what were the actual truth and confirmed China’s version of the event. The Western press lied all along, as the following excellent analysis by 龙信明 (original, here) pieces together how they systematically distorted truth to defame. Warning: some graphic images of burnt bodies.)

Let’s Talk About Tiananmen Square, 1989

My Hearsay is Better Than Your Hearsay

http://www.bearcanada.com/china/letstalkabouttam.html

  • Prologue

There are few places in China that seem more burned into the consciousness of typical Westerners than Tiananmen Square, and few events more commonly mentioned than the student protests there of 1989.

One blogger recently noted that “It must be June. Tiananmen Square is being trotted out again.” And that would seem to be true. Most of the Western media choose to promote a kind of “anniversary story” of this event, partly creating news by resurrecting an apparently dramatic event, and partly with perhaps some less high-minded purposes.


Tiananmen Square in Beijing as it looks today.
In any case, the stories persist, and perhaps it’s because they provide a kind of subversive consolation that leaves us feeling grateful for the superiority of our advanced societies.

PPerhaps it leaves us firm in the knowledge (or at least the conviction) that “such things don’t happen here”.

It will be a surprise to many readers to learn that “such things” didn’t happen in China, either.

It is true that in 1989 China experienced a student protest that culminated in a sit-in (more like a camp-in, actually) in Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

But thanks to Wikileaks and other (perhaps brave) Western journalists, we now know that this was all the Square experienced that day.

We now have conclusive and overwhelming documentation that the events in Beijing in 1989 were very different from those reported in the Western press. Not only that, we have substantial evidence that the Chinese Government’s version of these events had been true all along.

That story is our subject here. In one sense, it is not an easy story to relate because of the unfortunate emotional baggage Tiananmen Square has carried for more than two decades, and because both China and these events tend to become overwhelmed by ideology.

  • Where Do We Start? Why not the Beginning?

Let’s enter this ideology classroom and begin by posting on the blackboard some facts that are not in dispute. First among them would be that I was not in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.

And neither were you.

Hence the subtitle of this editorial. We are both depending on hearsay, on what we have read, on what we have been told and, more importantly, on what we have chosen to believe.

This leads us to another fact that is not in dispute – this one being that you don’t “know” what happened in Tiananmen Square. It’s true you can make the same claim about me, but right now we’re talking about you.

You have no personal knowledge of the events of that day. You don’t know what happened, because you weren’t there. Everything you have is hearsay. You may have watched the news on that day or read newspaper articles, but it’s unlikely you have ever met anyone who was actually present and could give you a first-hand account of events.

And, from whatever information you’ve acquired, you will have chosen to “take sides”. If you’re a Westerner, you have most likely chosen to believe that many terrible things happened that day.

But to do this properly, let’s separate your choice to take sides from your hearsay evidence – which as you are aware, would anyway be totally inadmissible in a court of law. Even in your country.

So, on your side of the fence, we have two factors:

(1) I read and heard about a bunch of really bad stuff that happened that day.

(2) I choose to believe that those things were true.

We’re going to deal with the first of these. You can do what you want with the second. The first is hearsay evidence that can at least be examined and compared with other sources and an assessment made of credibility. The second is founded on ideology, and ideological debates have no resolution so we won’t waste our time there.

  • What Do We Know For Sure?

Well, one thing we know, though it wasn’t widely reported at the time, is that there were two events that occurred in Beijing on June 4, 1989. They were not related.

One was a student protest that involved a sit-in in Tiananmen Square by several thousand university students, and which had lasted for several weeks, finally terminating on June 4.

The other was a worker protest, the origin and detail of which are unimportant for our purposes. But essentially some number of workers was unhappy with their lot in life and with the amount of government attention and support, or lack thereof, which they were receiving. And they arranged their own protest, independently of anything related to the students.

Since these two events occurred simultaneously, and were conflated in the Western mass media reporting of the time, we will have to deal with these simultaneously as well.

  • The Student Protest


The students and soldiers in Tiananmen Square had no quarrel with each other that day.
Briefly, the students congregated in the Square and were waiting for an opportunity to present various petitions to the government, petitions dealing with government, social policy, idealism.

In fact, all the things that we as students all had on our list of changes we wanted to make in the world.

Since the government did not immediately respond, the students camped in the square and waited.

They brought food, water, tents, blankets, camp stoves – but no toilets. Tiananmen Square, after three weeks, was not a place for the faint of nose.

The government waited patiently enough during that period, but finally gave the students a deadline for evacuation of the Square – June 4.

Soldiers were sent to the Square on the day prior, but these soldiers were carrying no weapons and by all documented reports (including those of the US Embassy in Beijing, thanks to Wikileaks) had only billy sticks.

By all reports, there was no animosity between the students and the soldiers. Neither had a philosophical dispute with the other, nor did they see each other as enemies. In fact, both photos and reports show that the students were protecting the soldiers who were being chased by angry mobs of uninvolved bystanders. You will see some photos later.

  • The Workers Revolt


These are not students. You can see the burned-out buses in the background. Today, these rioters would be deemed “terrorists”.
One fact not in dispute is that a group of workers had barricaded streets in several locations leading to Central Beijing, several kilometers from the city center and also from the Square.

Another fact not in dispute is that several hundreds of people – most of whom were workers, but of whom an undetermined few were students – attended these barricades.

An additional fact is that there was a third group present that to my knowledge has never been clearly identified but which consisted of neither students nor workers.

“Thugs” or “anarchists” might be an appropriate adjective, but adjectives don’t help the identification.

To deal with this problem, the government sent in busloads of troops, accompanied by a few APCs – armored personnel carriers, to clear the barricades and re-open the streets to traffic.


Outside a bus, the body of a soldier burned to death by the rioters.
The violence began when this third group decided to attack the soldiers. They were apparently well-prepared, having come armed with Molotov cocktails, and torched several dozen buses – with the soldiers still inside.

They also torched the APCs. You can see the photos. There were many more.

Many soldiers in both types of vehicles escaped, but others did not, and many soldiers burned to death. I personally recall watching the news and seeing the videos of dead soldiers burned to a crisp, one hung by the thugs from a lamppost, others lying in the street or on stairs or sidewalks where they died.

Others were hanging out of the bus windows or the APCs, having only partially escaped before being overcome by the flames.

There are documented reports to tell us that the group of thugs managed to get control of one APC, and drove it through the streets while firing the machine guns on the turret.

That was when the government sent in the tanks and opened fire on these protestors.


Another soldier burned to a crisp. Note the other dead soldier hanging from the flyover.
Government reports and independent media personnel generally claim that a total of 250 to 300 people died in total before the violence subsided.

Many of those dead were soldiers. There was no “massacre” in any sense that this world could be sensibly used.

When police or military are attacked in this way, they will surely use force to defend themselves and cannot be faulted for that.

If you or I were the military commander on the scene and were watching our men being attacked and burned to death, we would have done the same.

From everything I know, I can find no fault here.

We can let ideology interfere with interpretation, and claim that the Chinese military used “excessive force”, even in self-defense, but that seems a useless claim. In a number of recent cases in the US, a dozen or more police fired 50, and in one case in Miami, more than 100, bullets into an unarmed man, with the courts later claiming this “was not an excessive use of force”. So let’s be fair and tar everyone with the same brush.

And in any case, soldiers were being attacked by a violent mob, (today, we call them “terrorists”) and were dying horrible deaths. We cannot blame the remaining soldiers for opening fire and killing those who were killing them. And yes, several hundred people died in that event.

  • A Live, First-Hand Report

Here is an eyewitness report from someone who was there, an exerpt from Tiananmen Moon:

There was a new element I hadn’t noticed much of before, young punks decidedly less than student-like in appearance. In the place of headbands and signed shirts with university pins they wore cheap, ill-fitting polyester clothes and loose windbreakers. Under our lights, their eyes gleaming with mischief, they brazenly revealed hidden Molotov cocktails.”

Who were these punks in shorts and sandals, carrying petrol bombs? Gasoline is tightly rationed, so they could not have come up with these things spontaneously. Who taught them to make bottle bombs and for whom were the incendiary devices intended?

Editor’s Note: As with the student supplies, the Coleman gas stoves, the manuals, instructions, training, strategy and tactics, the logistics and many other elements, there is little question the providers were not domestic Chinese.


Another soldier burned to death, hanging by a cable from the burned-out bus.
Someone shouted that another APC was heading our way. My pace quickened as I approached the stalled vehicle, infected by the toxic glee of the mob, but then I caught myself.

Why was I rushing towards trouble? Because everyone else was? I slowed down to a trot in the wake of a thundering herd of one mass mind. Breaking with the pack, I stopped running.

Someone tossed a Molotov cocktail, setting the APC on fire. Flames spread quickly over the top of the vehicle and spilled onto the pavement. I thought, there’s somebody still inside of that, it’s not just a machine! There must be people inside.

The throng roared victoriously and moved in closer, enraged faces illuminated in the orange glow. But wait! I thought, there’s somebody still inside of that, it’s not just a machine!

There must be people inside. This is not man against dinosaur, but man against man!

Someone protectively pulled me away to join a handful of head-banded students who sought to exert some control. Expending what little moral capital his hunger strike signature saturated shirt still exerted, he spoke up for the soldier.

“Let the man out,” he cried. “Help the soldier, help him get out!” The agitated congregation was in no mood for mercy. Angry, blood-curdling voices ricocheted around us. “Kill the mother fucker!” one said.

Then another voice, even more chilling than the first screamed, “He is not human, he is a thing.” “Kill it, kill it!” shouted bystanders, bloody enthusiasm now whipped up to a high pitch.

“Stop! Don’t hurt him!” Meng pleaded, leaving me behind as he tried to reason with the vigilantes. “Stop, he is just a soldier!”

He is not human, kill him, kill him!” said a voice. “Get back, get back!” someone screamed at the top of his lungs. “Leave him alone, the soldiers are not our enemy!”

After the limp bodies of the soldiers were put into an ambulance, the thugs attacked the ambulance, almost ripping off the rear doors in an attempt to remove the burned soldier and finish him off. After that, charred bodies of soldiers were hung from a lamp post, and a large amount of ammunition was taken from the APC.

From a Chinese Government Report on the Worker’s Riot

Rioters blocked military and other vehicles before they smashed and burned them. They also seized guns, ammunition and transceivers. Several rioters seized an armoured car and fired its guns as they drove it along the street. Rioters also assaulted civilian installations and public buildings. Several rioters even drove a public bus loaded with gasoline drums towards the Tiananmen gatetower in an attempt to set fire to it.

When a military vehicle suddenly broke down on Chang’An Avenue, rioters surrounded it and crushed the driver with bricks. The rioters savagely beat and killed many soldiers and officers. At Chongwenmen, a soldier was thrown down from the flyover and burned alive. At Fuchengmen, a soldier’s body was hung upside down on the overpass balustrade after he had been killed. Near a cinema, an officer was beaten to death, and his body strung up on a burning bus.

Over 1,280 vehicles were burned or damaged in the rebellion, including over 1,000 military trucks, more than 60 armoured cars, over 30 police cars, over 120 public buses and trolley buses and over 70 motor vehicles of other kinds.

The martial law troops, having suffered heavy casualties before being forced to fire into the air to clear the way forward. During the counter-attack, some rioters were killed, some onlookers were hit by stray bullets and some wounded or killed by armed ruffians. According to reliable statistics, more than 3,000 civilians were wounded and over 200, including 36 college students, were killed. As well, more than 6,000 law officers and soldiers were injured and scores of them killed.

  • Back to the Students


Students link arms to hold back angry crowds from chasing a group of retreating soldiers. Photo: AP Photo/Mark Avery
The gunfire could be heard in the distance from Tiananmen Square, but there were no credible reports of gunfire from within the Square itself.

And in any case, as mentioned above, the soldiers in the Square were not armed. They were sent to keep order, not to kill young people who were totally non-violent themselves.

The reports tell us discussions were held between the students and the soldiers at repeated times during the evening and throughout the night.

Almost all of the students were persuaded to leave the Square during the evening, and the small remainder left the following morning.

There is overwhelming documented evidence that no violence occurred in the Square, that no students were killed, and that there never was any “Tiananmen Square Massacre”.

There were reports of sporadic gunfire later the following morning around the perimeter of the square, but that was after all the students had already left, and the cause of that gunfire has not been determined.

Tanks and bulldozers did enter the Square the following morning, flattening all the tents and rubbish that had piled up during the previous three weeks, pushing the garbage into huge piles and setting them afire. This was the apparent origin of claims that “thousands of students” were crushed by tanks streaming through the Square, but this was just the clean-up crew and the students were long gone when the tanks and other heavy machinery arrived.

From a Chinese Government Report on the Student Sit-in

At 1:30 AM on June 4, the Beijing municipal government and the martial law headquarters issued an emergency notice asking all students and other citizens to leave Tiananmen Square. The notice was broadcast repeatedly for well over three hours over loudspeakers. The students in the Square, after discussion among themselves, sent representatives to the troops to express their willingness to withdraw from the square and this was approved by the troops.

At about 5 AM several thousand students left the square in an orderly manner through a wide corridor in the southeastern part of the square vacated by the troops, carrying their own banners and streamers. Those who refused to leave were forced to do so by the soldiers. By 5:30 a.m., the clearing operation of the square had been completed. During the whole operation not a single person was killed.

  • But What About All the Rumors, the News Reports?

There were in fact news reports at the time, confirming that there never was any “Tiananmen Square Massacre”, no “crackdown”, and that no students died. One of these was written by Nicholas Kristoff of the NYT, but the Times buried his report on an inside page and instead ran with the more exciting front-page version of tanks crushing thousands of students and gunfire killing thousands more.

Many foreign reporters filed live reports directly from the Square, stating clearly that, while gunfire could be heard in the distance, there was no violence in the Square either by or toward the students. All reports from the Square were that the event ended peacefully.

However, there was a large group of foreign (mostly US) journalists reporting “live from the Beijing hotel”, and describing the view through their windows of all the gunfire, the deaths, the piles of student bodies. Unfortunately, and as other foreign reporters pointed out later, Tiananmen Square cannot be seen from the Beijing Hotel.

Those live reports were fabricated by journalists who apparently believed something was happening, lacked the courage to go and see for themselves, and who told their editors the most likely events according to their convictions and imaginations.


Fabricating facts and sensationalising events. It attracts viewers, sells advertising, and fits in well with the agenda. Truth is apparently dispensible.
CNN’s Mike Chinoy at the time played a “tape” of sporadic gunfire which was edited and condensed to a few seconds to give the impression that it was rapid and continuous.

Many reporters and journalists, including Spain’s TV channel that had a film crew in the Square for the entire event, have all denied the veracity of the reports of gunfire, violence and student deaths in Tiananmen Square.

In a well-researched 1998 article in the Columbia Journalism Review titled “Reporting the Myth of Tiananmen and the Price of a Passive Press,” the former Washington Post bureau chief in Beijing, Jay Mathews, tracks down what he calls the dramatic accounts that buttressed the myth of a student massacre. According to him:

“A USA Today article (June 26, page 7A) called Tiananmen the place “where pro-democracy demonstrators were gunned down.” The Wall Street Journal (June 26, page A10) described “the Tiananmen Square massacre” where armed troops ordered to clear demonstrators from the square killed “hundreds or more.” The New York Post (June 25, page 22) said the square was “the site of the student slaughter.”

“The problem is this: as far as can be determined from the available evidence, no one died that night in Tiananmen Square. A few people may have been killed by random shooting on streets near the square, but all verified eyewitness accounts say that the students who remained in the square when troops arrived were allowed to leave peacefully. (Some people), most of them workers and passersby, did die that night, but in a different place and under different circumstances.”

You can read this excellent article titled “The Myth of Tiananmen: And the Price of a Passive Press”: Click Here.

He notes a widely disseminated piece by an alleged Chinese university student writing in the Hong Kong press immediately after the incident, describing machine guns mowing down students in front of the square monument (somehow Reuter’s Earnshaw chatting quietly with the students in front of the same monument failed to notice this.)

Mathews adds: “The New York Times gave this version prominent display June 12, just a week after the event, but no evidence was ever found to confirm the account or verify the existence of the alleged witness. And for good reason, I suspect. The mystery report was very likely the work of U.S. and British black information authorities ever keen to plant anti-Beijing stories in unsuspecting media.”

Earnshaw notes how a photo of a Chinese soldier strung up and burned to a crisp was withheld by Reuters. Dramatic Chinese photos of solders incinerated or hung from overpasses have yet to be shown by Western media. Photos of several dead students on a bicycle rack at the barricade are more convincing.

Here is a link to an article on this site, titled “Birth of a Massacre Myth: How the West Manufactured an Event that Never Occurred”. It contains much detailed information on the source of the rumors and false claims. You can Click Here.

  • They All Knew at the Time That the Reports Were not True

In addition, and I must say, to the great surprise of many of us, the US government, the NYT and all the US and foreign media, knew at the time that there was never any student massacre in Tiananmen Square. The reason we now know this truth is Wikileaks, who published all the cables sent from the US embassy in Beijing to Washington that night, confirming that there was no violence in the Square and no massacre of anybody.

But that knowledge didn’t prevent the US and other Right-Wing governments, dozens of US, UK, German, Canadian, Australian politicians, and all the Right-Wing media, from repeating this story endlessly for more than 20 years. In fact, the NYT features an annual “celebration” of its version of the “Tiananmen Square Massacre” in what can only be a deliberate and persistent attempt to perpetuate the fraud.

For all those years, the NYT and others knew the story was a lie, but they repeated it nonetheless. And not simply “newspapers” or TV stations, but the individuals doing the writing and reporting, all knew, or had to know, the stories were a lie.

Here is a link to another article titled “US Embassy confirms China’s version of Tiananmen Square events: Cables obtained by Wikileaks confirm China’s account”. To read it, you can Click Here.

For a short period, the Western media downgraded the 1989 student protests in Beijing from The Tiananmen Square Massacre to The Beijing Incident. But then, despite this knowledge, the media have once again started to impart conspiracy and horror into Tiananmen Square and characterize it as a massacre of students.

This falsification of history, which appears deliberate since the facts have become well known, deludes a new generation and prejudices it against China. The distortion of the happenings within Tiananmen Square reduces the media’s credibility and leaves its open to charges of grossly misrepresenting significant current events for cheap political gain.

  • And as Always, Thank You, America

It seems plausible that the student protests in China during the late 1980s may, at their origin, have been spontaneously generated, but there is no shortage of evidence – facts not in dispute – that the entire student movement was quickly hijacked by the US.


It’s always the same. Whenever we find destabilisation, upheaval, dicontent, an opportunity for chaos, we will always find the CIA. Thank you, America.
There is little reason to question the assertion that a major part of US foreign policy then, as today, lay in attempts to destabilise China and perhaps instigate a massive revolution that would open the door to US influence and control.

The student democracy movement was a large part of that strategy. And, though evidence is thin, it begins to appear that the worker’s revolt may also have had “outside help”.

For one, gasoline was rationed and not easily available. And who provided the training and organisation, the instructions for the Molotov cocktails – which were unheard of in China before that time.

Many of the students with whom I spoke, who were actually present at the Square, have told me of the supplies provided for them through some agency of the US government.

They particularly mentioned the countless hundreds of Coleman camp stoves – which at the time were far too expensive for students in China to acquire – and the well-established supply lines of these and other items.

And all university students of that day will tell you of the influence of the VOA – the Voice of America – and the picture it painted of “freedom and democracy”.

They tell of listening to the VOA in their dorms, late into the night, building in their imaginations a happy world of freedom and light.


The Voice of America. “The world’s most trusted source for news and information from the United States and around the world.”
They will also tell you that the VOA was broadcasting to the students 24 hours a day from their Hong Kong station during the weeks of the sit-in at Tiananmen Square, offering comfort and encouragement, provoking, giving advice on strategy and tactics.

And, in a much more dangerous and mean-spirited fashion, asking rhetorical questions that would almost surely lead young students to the wrong conclusions and incite them to inappropriate (and perhaps even fatal) actions.

One of the original participants in the student sit-in recently made this post:

“We settled down and continued with our study. We dated, found our loved ones, and many sought to go abroad. By the time we graduated there was almost no discussion about the student movement and we no longer listened to the VOA.”

“One thing I have been kept thinking was the role of the VOA. Many students were the fans of the radio station before, during and shortly after the student movement. Even when we were on the square many students were listening to their programs as if only they could tell us what was going on.

I remember at one stage it said the PLA stationed in Beijing was in a defensive position and then it asked some questions such as “Who are they waiting for and why are they in a defensive position?” I immediately drew a conclusion that there was a rebelling PLA force coming to support us!! Until I double checked with my cousin I realized how stupid I was to draw that conclusion.”

In case you don’t know, the VOA is funded and operated by the NED – the National Endowment for Democracy – which is a front company funded by the CIA that does much of that agency’s dirty work not involving actual killing – although sometimes it does that, too. The NED was founded as a vehicle to avoid the CIA’s increasingly bad reputation.

Allen Weintein, one of the founders of the NED explained to the Washington Post in 1991, “A lot of what we do now was done covertly by the CIA 25 years ago.” And like the CIA and USAID, the NED and a number of similar organizations – including the VOA – receive funding from the US Congress.

In the end, the students abandoned not only the Square, but both their revolutionary imaginations and the VOA as well.

The irony is the imminent death of Voice of America, as far as China is concerned. The US has finally realised the futility of broadcasting propaganda into China and this year (2011) the Obama Administration is planning to shut down VOA broadcasts from Hong Kong.

And not before time.

  • Revolutions Need Leaders. Who Were They, and Where are They?


John Pomfret, at the time an AP correspondent in Beijing with a point of view. Now a reporter for the Washington Post.
There were five or six primary leaders of the Tianamen Square sit-in, those who led the organisation of students in universities across the country, who planned the demonstration in the Square and who pushed hard for a “death before retreat” martyrdom attitude in the students.

However, these leaders sensibly chose a “retreat before death” policy for themselves.

They were spirited out of China, first to Hong Kong, then to Taiwan. And very shortly thereafter were in the US.

Some chose intermediate countries and some didn’t. In those days, travel to Hong Kong was not quick and easy as today, so some clever logistics were necessary on the part of their handlers.

Several of these “student leaders” appear to have been rewarded handsomely for their efforts to destabilise their country, with prestigious university degrees, good jobs, and sometimes CIA (NED) salaries for simply continuing to protest.

The “general commander” of the student protesters, Chai Ling fled China after completing her handiwork in Tiananmen Square. As a reward by the US for her destabilisation efforts in China she was given an honorary degree in political science from Princeton university and a job with the management consultancy of Bain & Co.

She has since converted to Christianity and spends her time with a so-called “charity”, funded by the CIA-controlled NED, called “All Girls Allowed”, as a forum to complain about China’s one-child policy.

China has stated that a recision of the one-child policy would result in an additional 300 million births within a decade. Ms. Chai Ling informs us that if China rescinds this policy, she will undertake to provide, at CIA and NED expense, the full cost of not only feeding and clothing these 300 million extra children, but also providing for their education and health care as well.

No greater love has one for her fellow man than . . .


Alan Pessin, bearded Voice of America correspondent in Beijing. Ignored the martial law restrictions and continued to contact the ringleaders to pass on information, providing both instigation and asylum while dispatching many distorted and false reports.
After the protests, Wu’er Kaixi fled first to France and then to the US where the government rewarded him with a free pass to Harvard university.

This man was one of the conributors to the stories of student deaths in Tiananmen Square, claiming to have seen hundreds (or thousands) of students mowed down with machine guns.

He was quickly discredited by foreign journalists who confirmed that he was seen on the far side of Beijing at the time he claimed to have witnessed events in the square.

Hou Dejian was a Taiwanese singer who joined the protests in Tiananmen Square and then helped to broker the truce which allowed students in the square to evacuate safely. He was subsequently deported back to Taiwan and now writes screenplays in New Zealand.

According to A Government Report:

ln violation of the martial law decrees operative in parts of Beijing. John E. Pomfret. an AP correspondent in Beijing, kept frequent contact with the ringleaders, passing on information and providing asylum. The photo shows John E. Pomfret (middle) and Wang Dan (first left) together.

Alan W. Pessin, a correspondent of the Voice of America in Beijing, ignored the martial law restrictions and not only continued illegal VOA news coverage, but dispatched distorted reports and spread further rumours inciting turmoil and rebellion. The Photo shows Alan Pessin (with the beard) hiding himself among the crowd.

After the Government declared martial law, Chai Ling and the protest organizers were still distributing leaflets inciting armed rebellion against the Government, calling upon their followers to “organize armed forces and oppose the Communist Party and its government”, even making a list of names of people they wanted to eliminate. They claimed they would never yield and “would fight to the finish” with the government, scheming until past the end, to provoke a bloody incident in Tiananmen Square.

  • Back to the Hearsay

Just so it doesn’t go unsaid, I believe my hearsay is better than your hearsay. I live in China and, by a happy accident of fate, have access to, and constant contact with, many hundreds of people who were university students in China during the period in question. I’ve spoken to more than a few of them at length about the events in Tiananmen Square, and they confirm my comments and the content of the articles linked above.

When we began this exercise, we had two factors on your side of the fence:

(1) I read and heard about a bunch of really bad stuff that happened that day.
(2) I choose to believe that those things were true.

I’ve tried to deal with the first of these, with the presentation of a small part of the (by now) huge volume of evidence confirming that nothing other than a student protest occurred in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. You can still do what you want with the second part – your own ideology. You will believe what you will.

  • Epilogue

It has been 22 years since the June 4, 1989 Tiananmen incident. While the Western media has over the years toned down this ‘massacre’ myth, they are still using vague language to keep the ‘massacre’ narrative alive. For example, even NPR’s recent anniversary piece echoed an Associated Press article, described it as “the crushing of the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement.”

Now that Wikileaks and other documentation have confirmed what the Chinese government has always said – that no massacre occurred at the Square – the NYT, the UK Telegraph and other Western media are instead spinning this as, “the soldiers fired upon the protesters OUTSIDE of the Square”.

With declassified U.S. government documents and other Westerner accounts, Gregory Clark in his well researched 2008 article published in the Japan Times, “Birth of a massacre myth,” explained how the New York Times and other Western media were still pushing that narrative despite all evidence concluding otherwise.

Recent Wikileaked U.S. embassy cables also showed the U.S. government knew there was no bloodshed in Tiananmen Square. Apparently, condemning China is okay while lying along with the media.

Westerners are hopelessly trapped in a view of the world constructed for them by their media. As Martin Jacques said, the West have not had to understand the developing world, because they have the might to not care. The hard truth for the Chinese from this tragedy is that progress comes from stability.

With Tunisia, Egypt, and other Arab states in turmoil, the Western media have been keen to play up a possible ‘Jasmine Revolution’ in China. I can see people like Andrew Jacobs of the New York Times or the BBC journalist who got dragged away from Wangfujing think their careers will be catapulted into the stratosphere if indeed a 1989-scale protest breaks out in China.

Or for people like Jon Huntsman, an opportunity to position himself in the midst of it to maximize his credentials back home for his 2012 ambitions.

Above comments extracted from an editorial at Hidden Harmonies

  • Some Excellent Reading: More Information, Sources, Documentation

June Fourth, 1989: Another Look (From Hidden Harmonies) Read Here.

Birth of a Massacre Myth: How the West Manufactured an Event that Never Occurred Read Here.

The Myth of Tiananmen: And the Price of a Passive Press Read Here.

US Embassy confirms China’s version of Tiananmen Square events: Wikileaks Cables confirm China Government’s account Read Here.

Tiananmen Square protesters: where are they now?: Benefitting from CIA Financing Read Here.

UK Telegraph article “No Bloodshed in Tiananmen Square” Original Article.

  1. Charles Liu
    May 30th, 2012 at 16:38 | #1

    Nice job heading off the upcoming annual TAM b!tchfest.

    One thing these decade-long Official Narrative ignores is state’s right to justifiable use of deadly force. If OWS protesters were throwing molotov cocktail, killing police, you think shoot to kill order wouldn’t be given?

  2. May 30th, 2012 at 18:47 | #2

    @Person
    Perhaps the Chinese government some day will open up their archives so we can find out for sure. Equally, what evidence does the Western media or the student leaders have that the Chinese soldiers misbehaved with the third group?

    The student leaders and the Western press have lied. That much we know.

  3. May 30th, 2012 at 18:52 | #3

    btw, Person is the same troll. same IP as stu and other handles.

  4. Zack
    May 30th, 2012 at 19:48 | #4

    given how committed the US and western media are towards demonstrators who clash with the government leaving some demonstrators injured or dead, you’d wonder why the selfsame western media are ominously silent when it comes to Kent State or Bloody Sunday. Just wiki those two incidents, and ask yourselves why the american and british governments are ‘trying to ignore it’ etc etc

  5. amaryllis
    May 30th, 2012 at 20:24 | #5

    I can practically anticipate how the leading American/Western propaganda vehicles are going to run with the story.
    TAM is an especially big headache for the Chinese government this year, because of the leadership transition; China’s leaders are shaken up and on the edge already because of HUGE embarrassments over BXL (corruption), CGC (human rights), territorial disputes (Philippines), etc, etc.

    So the evil Chinese government will put the vise on harder than ever on TAM, and distract from problems by blaming foreigners, using stooges such as Yang Rui to whip up xenophobia.
    Yup, story in the bag already. YAWN.

  6. pug_ster
    May 30th, 2012 at 21:14 | #6

    Part of the problem with this June 4th incident is the Chinese government itself, they choose censorship rather than telling people the truth. Because the Chinese government censors, Western propaganda is more than happy to fill in the gaps of disinformation. At this point, I do think the Chinese government should just let the truth come out, probably put up some kind of memorial near the Muxidi bridge to commemorate the tragedy. Doing that will snuff out the flames of the yearly disinformation campaign in Western Propaganda as well as taking out of the momentum of the yearly protest ritual in Hong Kong.

  7. Sleeper
    May 30th, 2012 at 22:37 | #7

    My father, who’s born in 1956, gave his opinion about tiananmen square incident as follows:

    ” I also agree that there’s no actual conflict between soldiers and students, while some thugs who fished in troubled waters ran riots. The government should’ve published the truth if things were that simple, but apparently not. I suspected that this incident was also a epitome of CPC’s internal power struggle——a struggle between conservative and liberalist. It seemed that Zhao Ziyang who acted as a liberalist on behalf of Hu Yaobang’s power would like to use the student’s protest to strike the conservative, with the evidence that it’s him who acquiesced in the extension of the protest. But the majority of CPC finally thought that Zhao has gone too further, which may threaten social stability and the reform, as a result they shut both Zhao and students down.”

    According to my father’s opinion, I think that it may be easy to reveal the west’s conspiracy against CPC by using tiananmen square incident or there’s no death in tiannamen square, but would be much more harder to explain the detail of possible power struggle to the public. That may be part of the reason that the government still keeps the whole truth in the box.

  8. Charles Liu
    May 31st, 2012 at 10:01 | #8

    @Person

    The declassified NSA intel does prove the Chinese government’s claim initially troops sent in to restore order were unarmed. I think it’s reasonable to see why they were armed later, because they were being attacked by violent rioters armed with rocks bottles molotov cocktails.

  9. May 31st, 2012 at 15:01 | #9

    This summarizes much of the latest understanding of the TS protests very well. It is a great example of a perversion of truth so thorough that it becomes “common sense” for an entire society and in fact becomes part of the cultural melieu of that society.

    Even the Oxford English Dictionary now has an entry on Tiananmen Square which says that that is the place where a “massacre” of student democracy protesters took place in 1989.

    A lie told a thousand times indeed.

  10. zhongziqi
    May 31st, 2012 at 19:34 | #10

    @pug_ster
    it is puzzling indeed. why is it so hard to get a little more truth from the government? the government should be afraid of its own people. all this secrecy is just annoying.

  11. vlee29au
    May 31st, 2012 at 19:51 | #11

    Thank you for your very excellent summary and perspectives on the Tianamen incident. It is pretty obvious this widely misreported event, will be used perpetually to obtain as much mileage as possible (from whatever is left) to ‘restore’ some credibility for the sagging fortunes of these media. The good news is that there are increasing alternative voices such as yourself that are able to analyze as objectively and factually as possible the tragedy of this violent event. Despite the usual ritualistic diatribe and moralistic jingoistic self righteous preaching by much of the Western media on this issue, more and more people are waking up to the fact of these manipulations as you have so ably demonstrated. Keep up the good work.

  12. pug_ster
    May 31st, 2012 at 20:40 | #12

    @zhongziqi

    I never said that the Chinese government should always tell the truth, but in this case, they should.

  13. Fabius Martialis
    June 1st, 2012 at 20:22 | #13

    Let us talk about Tiananmen Square with the former mayor of Peking, Chen Xitong. He seems rather voluble lately. In fact, he was recently interviewed for a book called “Conversations with Chen Xitong.” I do not think the Communist Party comes off too well in his account, considering that the book has already been proscribed on the mainland.

  14. June 1st, 2012 at 21:02 | #14

    @Fabius Martialis
    For a nation of 1.3 billion, there bound to be differing opinion on how an incident like that should be handled. Few hundred people died, and it’s a tragedy.

    Can you cite something Chen Xitong said which counters the fact that the Western media lied about the June 4th crackdown?

  15. Fabius Martialis
    June 1st, 2012 at 22:59 | #15

    @YinYang
    Indeed, there are bound to be differing opinions in a world of nearly seven billion people.

    Although united by a common theory of reportage which stresses rigor, factuality, and verifiability, ‘Western media’ are not a monolithic institution, the veracity of whose reporting can be discounted collectively. Undoubtedly some false stories have been widely circulated, and even to-day are re-circulated (such as, for example, that the massacre took place in the Square itself, rather than in the neighborhoods to the west of the Square, or the widespread ignorance in the non-Chinese world of the crackdown’s taking place elsewhere than Peking and involving widespread and often arbitrary arrests and prison sentences). And I am quite thankful that there are enough sceptics in the world to keep the good media in the on their toes.

    Neither is Chinese government, however much it would like us to think to the contrary, a monolithic institution — although undoubtedly it is more so than the various media throughout the free world –, and there is no single “Chinese Government’s Version” of the events either. I believe that Zhao Ziyang’s narrative of the crackdown would be rather different from Li Peng’s. I would further speculate, based on a number of his comments about the need for greater transparency in the Chinese government, that Wen Jiabao would also present, if he were in a position to do so, a different narrative from the one now favored by the the Chinese government media.

    In any case, I will not claim that the media outside China has presented a fully accurate account of what happened. But that is not grounds for arguing the veracity of the so-called “Chinese Government’s version.” To do so would be to propose a false dilemma.

  16. Fabius Martialis
    June 1st, 2012 at 23:16 | #16

    @YinYang
    Indeed, there are bound to be differing opinions in a world of nearly seven billion people. I would suppose there to be a multitude of opinions present in every man, actually. Of course, we are not speaking of opinions, but of facts, and I would suggest that the mayor of Peking in 1989, however deluded by his personal opinions, likely has or had greater access to the facts than most people will for the foreseeable future. I therefore put far more stock in his claim that Tiananmen was an avoidable tragedy which was handled poorly than in arguments that no tragedy took place at all.

    As to the ‘Western media,’ although they be united by a common theory of reportage that stresses rigor, factuality, and verifiability — and, I daresay, marketability –, they are not a monolithic institution, the veracity of whose reporting can be discounted collectively. Undoubtedly some false stories have been widely circulated, and even to-day are re-circulated (such as, for example, that the massacre took place in the Square itself, rather than in the neighborhoods to the west of the Square; or the widespread ignorance in the non-Chinese world of the crackdown’s taking place elsewhere than Peking and involving arbitrary arrests and prison sentences). For all the shortcomings in news media in the free world, I am quite thankful that there are enough sceptics both here and elsewhere to keep the good media on their toes.

    Neither is the Chinese government, however much it would like us to think to the contrary, a monolithic institution — although undoubtedly it is more so than the various media throughout the free world –, and there is no single “Chinese Government’s Version” of the events either. I believe that Zhao Ziyang’s narrative of the crackdown would be rather different from Li Peng’s. I would further speculate, based upon a number of his comments about the need for greater transparency in the Chinese government, that Wen Jiabao would also present, if he were in a position to do so, a different narrative from the one now favored by the the Chinese government media.

    In any case, I will not claim that the media outside China has presented a fully accurate account of what happened. But that is not grounds for arguing the veracity of the so-called “Chinese Government’s version.” To do so would be to propose a false dilemma.

  17. June 1st, 2012 at 23:38 | #17

    @Fabius Martialis
    Wen Jiabao was certainly sympathetic to the student protest, because he was there too with Zhao Ziyang.

    I don ‘t know what your contention is with the OP.

    1. Are you saying the crackdown wasn’t the right thing to do?

    If so, you are absolutely wrong. We only need to look at the former Soviet Union or today’s Egypt. If the students succeeded in overthrowing the government, it would likely have meant disaster for a nation of 1.3 with majority in poverty.

    The reform and opening up policies are yielding dividend.

    2. What part about the Western media lying as articulated by the OP about this incident do you disagree with?

    You disagree that a bunch of workers getting together cannot possibly become a mob and attack the Chinese soldiers who were trying to enforce martial law?

  18. June 2nd, 2012 at 14:40 | #18

    It’s cowardly and disingenuous to make these broad statements talking about the western media and the Chinese media without even addressing specific cases about the topic under discussion. No shit all media may be fallible. Nobody is denying that. The question is where, when and how some reporting has gone wrong. People like “fabius martialis” must talk in very general broad terms because they don’t know how to make specific claims and respond to specific claims made in anyone’s post. By speaking in these vague terms, they feel like they are saying something and making criticisms without actually saying anything at all.

    What specific aspects of the blog do you disagree with and what is your evidence for doing so? What do you disagree with in regards to other posters and what evidence do you have to do so? Quote specifically what they said and make the response appropriate.

    I shouldn’t be the one telling people basic netiquette and conversational manners. People should already know how to have a basic conversation.

  19. Fabius Martialis
    June 2nd, 2012 at 19:02 | #19

    @YinYang

    Was the Tiananmen Massacre necessary for the preservation of the Chinese state? I do not believe there can be an absolute answer until we have access to more records. The conflicting narratives offered by the Chinese government itself — the multiple narratives carried in non-Chinese media notwithstanding — prove the contentiousness of even the most basic facts. Moreover, there are high-ranking officials even to-day, as there were then, who question the necessity of deploying the army (Zhao Ziyang and Wen Jiabao are two examples, and I think it is fair to assume that Hu Yaobang would have decried the government’s reactions if he had lived to see them, and Chen Xitong’s referring to it as an ‘avoidable tragedy’ which was ‘handled poorly’ is, coming from him, also a powerful indictment).

    Despite the paucity of uncontested facts, however, I think there are few assumptions you make that are ill conceived. First, the students’ objective was not a revolutionary overthrow of the government, but, to put it succinctly, official recognition of the so called ‘fifth modernization.’ However, despite the lack of records, I think it fair to assume that, in the historical context of June ’89, the hard-liners in the Chinese government feared that the protestors gathered upon their door-step would in one way or another occasion their downfall, even if not by revolutionary overthrow.

    From this perspective, the hard-liners — and you — are right. If the hard-line, as embodied in Deng Xiaoping and Li Peng, is the uncontested leadership of their wing of Communist Party, then democratization and accession to the Seven Demands in any measure wold have constituted an overthrow.

    Thus, to the hard-liners, the massacre in Tiananmen was indeed necessary. But do not confuse ‘hard-liners’ with ‘Chinese state,’ or even ‘Communist Party.’ To put it another way, the crackdown in Tiananmen was the right thing to do FOR THEM. What made it ‘right’ for them? Thus far, it is the fact that they succeeded in all their aims. The authority of the Party and their authority within the Party were re-asserted, and decades more of economic growth ensued.

    You may also be right that, had the students succeeded and the government liberalized, the territorial and political entity we know as ‘China’ would have crumbled. China, like the Soviet Union, was and is a territorial empire. Such empires require highly centralized governments that can maintain an internal cohesion which would not otherwise exist. There can be little doubt that the disintegration of the Chinese empire would have made the lives of many people quite miserable and would have stunted economic growth in the short term, but it would not have been the end of China as a civilization, nor even necessarily the end of the Chinese state, but only the end of the authoritarian rule of the hard-liners. Such would potentially have opened the way for far greater self-determination both for Chinese and non-Chinese people, which I daresay is so good a thing that even the CPC pays lip-service to it.

    The question then becomes, Is the government which needs the Tiananmen massacre to exist a just and good government? For you, however, this question is irrelevant, because the ‘the government’ in your eyes means ‘the hard-line government,’ and is furthermore interchangeable with ‘justice’ and ‘goodness.’ If the preservation of an intrinsically non-moral entity, like a government, is your basic good, then you will find it quite easy to justify a great many things.

    But, to return to the question I initially posed, Was the Tiananmen massacre necessary for the preservation of the Chinese state? My answer remains, There can be no absolute answer.

  20. Black Pheonix
    June 2nd, 2012 at 19:15 | #20

    @Fabius Martialis

    You made a lot of assumptions and conclusions based upon your own assumptions, for a person who keeps saying “there can be no absolute answer”.

    Well, That’s a lot of “no absolute answers” from you.

    So I guess I don’t know what you are babbling about.

  21. Sigmar
    June 2nd, 2012 at 19:20 | #21

    @Fabius Martialis
    You keep using the term Tiananmen Square “Massacre”. The term is problematic because according to many western sources there was no massacre. And since there can be no “absolute answer” on the issue of what happened in Tiananmen, it is inappropriate to use the term “massacre”.

  22. Fabius Martialis
    June 2nd, 2012 at 19:45 | #22

    I ought to iterate that ‘no absolute answer’ should be qualified by ‘for now.’ The point is not an epistemological one. Only when we have access to reliable sources can we know with greater certitude what actually happened.

    None-the-less, one can advisedly make an answer based upon the available information, and it is on the basis of that information that the term ‘massacre’ is appropriate. The killings probably did not take place in the Square itself, but the Square was no less pivotal in the events leading up to the killings which occurred at Peking and elsewhere. ‘Tiananmen Massacre’ is misleading only so far as it suggests that the massacre was at Tiananmen Square itself.

    You will find, if you read my comment at No.16 more carefully, that it briefly deconstructs a couple of the assumptions made on this web-log. While I do not care to repeat myself at length, I will say that the existence of ‘Western media’ as a monolithic body which can collectively lie and have the collective purpose of overthrowing the CPC is an assumption, and a very ill-founded one withal. There is also a common assumption here that the CPC is a monolithic institution, and that it is co-terminous with the Chinese government and Chinese state.

  23. Wahaha
    June 2nd, 2012 at 22:01 | #23

    Fabius,

    There are thousands of participants now living in West.

    The simple fact your “free” and “reliable” media hasnt even tried to interview them should have given you some clues. dont you think ?

  24. Wahaha
    June 2nd, 2012 at 22:05 | #24

    ….I will say that the existence of ‘Western media’ as a monolithic body which can collectively lie and have the collective purpose of overthrowing the CPC is an assumption, and a very ill-founded one withal….

    ***********

    Then you are brainwashed if you are a westerner. ( You are “free” because you dont have different opinions.)

    BTW, CCP simply can’t brainwash people because their media doesn’t enjoy enough credibility to do that.

    Did you ever doubt what your media told you or did you ever say anything your media doesnt like? If not, you are badly brainwashed.

  25. lolz
    June 2nd, 2012 at 22:10 | #25

    I can only hope that someday, the truth about this incident will get out from all of the angles. Not just from the student leaders’ or the Chinese government’s, but from the other parties. It’s clear that Western journalists fabricated the location of the deaths, it is also clear that most of them tried to downplay the death of soldiers as the cause of student deaths. I don’t know about others, but if a mob was burning soldiers to death and then hang their bodies up on an overpass, I think it would be extremely difficult to have the soldiers NOT to open fire on the mob. Why was this angle never discussed?

    I think it would be also good to look at the effects of this incident on China. In major Western media almost every year an article would be written to condemn Chinese government on this event. Now that we have over two decades to watch the aftermath, why don’t some in the Western media conclude the saga? Deng’s reforms have continue to guide China into becoming one of the largest economic powerhouses. Because of this incident, Chinese government has shifted to become more conservative. Censorship has increased multifold. Yet all of this has also stabilized China which allowed China to grow at an unprecedented pace. The Chinese people have largely forgotten or choose to ignore this incident, partly due to censorship but also out of their own will. The top student leaders have since immigrated to the US, with some of them becoming extremely wealthy (1 hedge fund investor and 1 CEO of educational software) by leveraging their “student protest” creds.

  26. Wahaha
    June 2nd, 2012 at 22:12 | #26

    Was the Tiananmen Massacre necessary for the preservation of the Chinese state? I do not believe there can be an absolute answer until we have access to more records.

    **************************

    The democratic movement lost its momentum since 1992. Vast majority of chinese intelligentsia lost interest to the beautiful idea of democrap.

    If you believe Chinese are too stupid to realize the truth and need westerners to wake them up, then democrap is obvious not good form of governance in China.

    If you do not think so, you certainly should start saying something out of your own brain, not the craps by your “free” media.

  27. lolz
    June 2nd, 2012 at 22:19 | #27

    @Fabius Martialis

    Fabius Martialis :
    First, the students’ objective was not a revolutionary overthrow of the government, but, to put it succinctly, official recognition of the so called ‘fifth modernization.’

    Talk about historical revisonism. This is clearly contradicts the words of Chai Ling, one of the 4 student leaders. She was caught on an interview with American journalist Philip Cunningham saying “Unless we overthrow this inhumane government, our country will have no hope. I feel very sad, because I cannot tell [the other students] that what we are actually hoping for is bloodshed, the moment that the government at last has no choice but to brazenly slaughter its own citizens. Only when the Square is awash with blood will China be awakened.”

    When her interview was published in a US documentary, Chai Ling sued the documentary producer in order to bankrupt the whole documentary project so to cover the interview.

  28. lolz
    June 2nd, 2012 at 22:42 | #28

    Fabius Martialis :
    While I do not care to repeat myself at length, I will say that the existence of ‘Western media’ as a monolithic body which can collectively lie and have the collective purpose of overthrowing the CPC is an assumption, and a very ill-founded one withal. There is also a common assumption here that the CPC is a monolithic institution, and that it is co-terminous with the Chinese government and Chinese state.

    Where is the evidence that “Western media” is not a monolithic institution? When it comes to analysis of Chinese politics, there are far LESS diversity in opinions on controversial issues such as Tibet, etc. from the Western Media as a whole. EastSouthWestNorth has done a fantastic job at archiving Western media reporting on some of the more recent controversial events such as the Tibet and the Uighur riot. It’s plain obvious that on these issues, not only are the Western journalists as a whole more antagonistic towards Chinese government, but they also refuse to publish Chinese government’s explanations on the events. This kind of one sided reporting is exactly why Western media should be treated as a monolithic institution.

    I think it’s about time people such as yourself to stop pretending that the Western media as a whole is not biased and misleading. If I were to believe Western media I would be wondering why given all of the bad news about the country the Chinese society have not completely imploded yet, years ago. There is a clear knowledge gap when it comes to understanding why and how China works in the West, all thanks to the Western journalists.

  29. Black Pheonix
    June 3rd, 2012 at 07:40 | #29

    @Fabius Martialis

    “I ought to iterate that ‘no absolute answer’ should be qualified by ‘for now.’ The point is not an epistemological one. Only when we have access to reliable sources can we know with greater certitude what actually happened.”

    The point is you have no point “for now”, until you actually say what you mean.

    “None-the-less, one can advisedly make an answer based upon the available information, and it is on the basis of that information that the term ‘massacre’ is appropriate. The killings probably did not take place in the Square itself, but the Square was no less pivotal in the events leading up to the killings which occurred at Peking and elsewhere. ‘Tiananmen Massacre’ is misleading only so far as it suggests that the massacre was at Tiananmen Square itself.”"

    I suggest you need to read more on the other misleading information about that event. I suggest you are picking the “ONLY” rather selectively, out of your own admitted lack of information.

    “You will find, if you read my comment at No.16 more carefully, that it briefly deconstructs a couple of the assumptions made on this web-log. While I do not care to repeat myself at length, I will say that the existence of ‘Western media’ as a monolithic body which can collectively lie and have the collective purpose of overthrowing the CPC is an assumption, and a very ill-founded one withal. There is also a common assumption here that the CPC is a monolithic institution, and that it is co-terminous with the Chinese government and Chinese state.”

    I don’t know who actually called “Western media” “monolithic”.

    I would just call them “ignorant”. Afterall, they are clearly very diverse in their paranoid delusions, as evident in your own assumptions and conclusions from their material.

  30. pug_ster
    June 4th, 2012 at 08:28 | #30

    http://blogs.mcclatchydc.com/china/2012/06/postcards-from-tiananmen-square-on-june-4.html

    I find it funny that these Western Propagandists think that the Chinese would want to condemn their government on this day. However, it is more uneventful than they think:

    Today is the anniversary of government troops opening fire on Tiananmen Square protestors on June 4, 1989, so I rode the metro over to the square this afternoon. The crowd seemed thin — tourists having their pictures taken and security keeping an eye on everything under the hot summer sun. I thought about what the scene in the square and surrounding neighborhoods might have been like 23 years ago and then, with nothing to look at but guards and families posing for snapshots, I left.

    Instead, the only news that these propagandists could make up is the shanghai index resembles to that day.

  31. Hong Konger
    June 4th, 2012 at 09:47 | #31

    The heartlessness on the comments here beggars belief.
    A military killed hundreds of student demonstrators (even by the government’s own numbers), and a major event is blocked for 23 years — and all there is on this site is hatred and bitterness towards the West. Does nobody here have a scrap of dignity and heart to commemorate all of the dead — students and troops — once a year? Can’t we Chinese take responsibility for our own past without always looking to a foreigner to blame?

    I remember watching this on TV as a teen. Go look at the tanks, the crowds running from the machine gun fire, the teenage bodies taken away by bicycle to the hospital. This is why so many of us Hong Kongers moved overseas between 1989 and 1997.

    Yes, the Western media covered this first. Otherwise we wouldn’t know. But this definitely is not a Western “concocted narrative.” Not that I can see from my home city. From here, it is a Chinese affair.

    The grand majority of the 180,000 mourners today are Chinese, from the Hong Kong and Mainland. The speakers were Beijingers from 1989. Hong Kong TV stations are showing this all over the evening news in Cantonese and Putonghua. Hong Kong and Taiwan papers will have it on their front pages tomorrow. The only exception are the state papers, though those journalists I know who work there are commemorating privately while their bosses make up “news” to report (as if an almost 200,000-strong demonstration is not local news). A friend, a Party member, says the government should come clean.

    The books about the crackdown in my local bookstore, including the new one by the Beijing mayor at the time, are by Chinese. The museum exhibit about this was created by Hong Kong Chinese.
    Chinese Weibo uses are trying to talk about this as best they can.

    It’s not a Western ploy. The Chinese people who can mourn are mourning. The Tiananmen mothers are still locked in their homes tonight.

    Pug_ster is right. Chinese censorship makes it worse, because it gives people more to protest. Come clean, let people mourn openly and get it out their system. Put up a memorial and let those wounds heal once and for all. It’s been almost a quarter century.

  32. pug_ster
    June 4th, 2012 at 11:00 | #32

    @Hong Konger

    Oh please, you made it sound like the soldiers were there to shot first and ask questions later kind of thing. Even Richard from PKD acknowledged that there were causalities of the soldiers. Perhaps if the soldiers weren’t greeted with Molotov Cocktails and roadblocks, these soldiers wouldn’t have to fight back. In the grand scheme of things, this incident is really a blip in the radar but western propaganda thinks that this is an important story.

    Also, don’t use a straw man’s argument about what I said. I said it should not be censored because western propaganda’s misinformation campaign trying to rewrite history, and not about stop people from protesting. They should’ve come out clean like what happened during the March 2008 Lhasa protests and July 2009 Xinjiang protests otherwise western propaganda will rewrite their version onto history also.

  33. Zack
    June 4th, 2012 at 11:06 | #33

    @Hong Konger
    don’t be such a fucking hypocrite; you don’t see the US press or other members of ‘the West’ condemn the US Government for the killings at Kent State back in the 60s, do ya? or how about the deaths from the Bonus Army incident?

  34. June 4th, 2012 at 12:55 | #34

    @Hong Konger
    Anybody with real concern for the Chinese people will remember June 4th. But why just June 4th? Why not go all the way back to the massacres of the 1900 by the eight foreign powers, and CKS massacre of left wing democratic people in April 12th 1927? All those events are done with ruthlessness and disregard for human lives. In contrast a lot of restrain was actually shown by the Chinese government. The Chinese leadership from premier to secretary general actually have face to face dialogue with the students! Don’t you remember?

    The people here are not heartless but more realistic than you. Since this blog is mostly about western media distortion of China, I don’t want to divert the issue by going through a list of death and violence that happened in other countries. What makes June 4th so special that it received false reporting by mainstream western media for twenty long years.

    If you want to assign faults, blame those who help ferment the event until blood must be spilled. Of course, to you it is just the PLA killing a bunch of innocent civilian. Is the truth really that simple? The man against the tank pretty much symbolize the best of China. The guy has the guts to stand up a column of tanks, and those tanks stopped!

    Your interpretation of the event is just too one sided. I remember you once said that mainlander shouldn’t interfere in HK’s affair, I disagree. I said that the fate and HK and the mainland are inter winded. The CCP never censored the event. It was presented in another one sided way, in that the protesters are rioters. What we need here is an in dept analysis of the cause, happening and outcome of the event. Your continual whining and others who congregate yearly on this day to present your one sided demand will not bring better understanding or development of human rights in China. In fact because of the escalation of that event, China’s development was set back by a few years. Of course, to you it is all of the CCP’s fault.

  35. June 4th, 2012 at 13:01 | #35

    @Hong Konger
    I don’t know if you have noticed the picture with a body hanging by the bus. Someone actually put the cap and glasses on the body! What kind of sicko would do such a thing?

  36. June 4th, 2012 at 13:20 | #36

    Actually a large number of the top CCP leadership was systematic to the students. Zhao Ziyang and Deng Xiaoping were actually the main targets as their sons and daughters were accused of benefitted unfairly in the reform.

    I will go back in time in history. In the 1980s, Deng’s designated successor was Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang. They are both men of great ability and integrity albeit a bit dislike by the truly conservative element because of their market economy reform. Deng was to remark publicly that if the sky were to fall down Hu and Zhao would be there to support it.

    The movement started out as a Qingmin remembrance for Hu Yaobang, the masses missed him and the students were to remark that Hu, unlike “other officials” was clean and none of his children ever got any special privilege. The students were very discontent with their future job prospect compare to the very publicized princelings. Unlike other countries, the university students of China at that time considered themselves better than princelings.

    Deng’s and the original leadership plan was that Hu and then Zhao would take over the running of the government. However, Hu was blamed and eventually dismissed in 1987 because of many publicized cases of corruption by party officials and their children. Even though he and his children were not involved he was held responsible as secretary general. Likewise the province head Fujian were dismissed for the same reason (even though they were not responsible personally!). For example Xian Nan was removed from his post as head of Fujian in 1987, around the same time as Hu.

    The biggest problem the government faced is how to reign in corruption in the reformed areas. I will give one example of how significant the reform is to China. For example in 1979, the economy of Guangdong ranked 23rd in China, by 1985 it was number 1. However, as the conservative leadership was very disgusted with the corruption and want all reform stopped.

    The western press usually paint Zhao as very sympathetic to the students as a possible Chinese Gorbashov who was purged and stopped the reform in China. Well, the truth is more complicated than that. Zhao was actually the main targets of the students initially. He has no choice because his sons were exposed as corrupted and the party conservative elders want him removed. Look up on his sons who run big business at that time.

    Like I have said a long time ago. If the Tiananmen protest was to happen in any modern western country, the protest would be disperse if it is not done in a matter that is under the rule of law. The protest clearly became illegal when it became an occupy movement aiming to disrupt government and business function. Zhao was hoping to get the students support to turn the tide so he allowed the protest to drag on.

    Since the founding of PRC there is practically no protest movement in China, protests were only common after post economic reform period. No protest was required because pretty much everyone was equal and the common citizens chose their village chiefs and can walk up to them to voice their concern. China was still 90% rural by 1980. The major public urban movement can be counted on one hand, the anti-right movement of the late 1950s, nevertheless, it cannot be classified as a spontaneous protest. The CR, where students went to denounce party leadership and beating them in public, it also cannot be call a simple protest. The only time in PRC ‘s history when a mass protest happened was when Deng Xiaoping was demoted in 1976. Historically, this is the 1st Tiananmen protest. It started out when people used the Qingmin remembrance for Zhou Enlai to voice their frustration against certain government policies. The protest was dispersed that night by the Gang of Four which was in charge at that time.

    So it is very obvious that the top party leadership was either very sympathetic to the students movement turned protest or some elements in the party was trying to use it for a certain purpose. Because if the protest received no support in the government it wouldn’t go on for 44 days after martial law was declare! In my research I was not able to find who gave the order to send troop. Please bear in mind troops were send three times, the first time the troops jogged unarmed into the city and was stopped by the protesters and sent back. Some protesters took pity on the exhausted troops and offer them drink and food. Unfortunately, some protesters haggled the troops and throw food at them. The first batch was recalled when it was obviously that they would achieve nothing.

    A second batch of unarmed soldiers were send in, this time by army trucks but they were stopped either on the outskirt or within the city. The protesters were, practically preaching to them telling that the protest movement was just and the soldiers should join them. XinMin covered a large part of what happened next. I will let you guys draw your own conclusion.
    In my view, it was Zhao who was using the movement to stem the tide of his ouster. He eventually failed and this leave a black mark in his career. The event ended in bloodshed. To be honest, I would blame Zhao for his role more than anybody else. The event ushered in the leadership of Jiang and Zhu. That is one of the best development after the event. Both of them was chosen because they handled the protest in Shanghai well. The protest in Shanghai started easily as big as the one in Beijing, however, as it was not reported it was little known. The incident also showed how the CCP chose its future leadership, those who can handle crisis was chosen. That’s how Mao and Deng got elected. It is not a perfect system but I always tell people don’t fix what’s no broken.

  37. June 4th, 2012 at 14:21 | #37

    @Hong Konger

    why don’t you address your complaints to individual posters and individual comments. If you have something new to add, more evidence, more insight, about the protests, why don’t you post them instead of insulting everyone many of whom actually read the article and did their research into Tiananmen?

    I don’t know what were the specific circumstances outside of Tiananmen Square that resulted in such violence but if you have new evidence that no one else seems to have that shows that the government was strictly or mostly responsible then you need to post that evidence and give it to the appropriate authorities.

  38. June 4th, 2012 at 15:55 | #38

    Another thing “hong konger”needs to understand. most don’t live in HK. Most live in the US. The media in the US is onesided. You cannot fault people for trying to give an alternative perspective especially one that is based on facts instead of prejudice and bias.

  39. silentchinese
    June 4th, 2012 at 19:46 | #39

    The fact of matter is…

    even if there are people killed by PLA that night.

    all you have to do is look at the alternatives. history has provided for us an interesting comparison in form of Russia. If the chinese government would fall in that fateful summer. China would at least be as bad as Russia. but with out even Russia’s industrial and military capacity to stand on.

    i have said many times that I am an utilitarian. one has to measure good or bad . to me the simplest measure is how many lives saved. or how many years of people’s life gained.

    Russian mean life expetency dropped precipiciously after fall of soviet union. mainly through either naive shock therapy and/or the dislocation caused by the breakup of soviet republics.
    http://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=d5bncppjof8f9_&met_y=sp_dyn_le00_in&idim=country:RUS&dl=en&hl=en&q=russian+life+expectancy

    actually by any standard Fall of soviet union and what came after would categorize as a demographic disaster
    extrapolate on the scale of china, i don’t think anyone at that time could replace CCP in managing china. which means massive dislocation for china, and chinese lives lost would be on par with a major war.

    If those rioter/student/ unfortunate by standards or whatever you call, did not die and PLA didn’t move in. and CCP didn’t put a lid on this, who will answer for the millions of years of lost lives?!

    The chinese economic growth after 1990 and its undisputefd position today as #2 power in the world is just icing on the cake.
    Not only has they averted a disaster, they have managed to grow at a rate that is fastest for the longest. repeat: fastest and longest.

    call me a cold blooded utilitarian, I would say it was all worth it. to me, all lives are created equal. and are equally precious to me… if you have a problem with that. then I would argue you are a un caring elitest bastard who only cares for those noisy elites who wants to impelment their idealistic vision onto china.

    p.s. In my circles, which include Taiwanese as well as HKers, as well as MLers who was students on the streets in 89, they all agree that it was prob a good thing that it was put down.
    MLers especially. the only regret is that they did it in the first place!

  40. denk
    June 4th, 2012 at 19:51 | #40

    *China, 89 China accuses people in the u.s., england and hong kong for Conspiring in the pro-democracy demonstrations. Those elements offered more Than $1 million, including bounties to those barricading roads, destroying Military vehicles and killing soldiers. China accused especially bao tong, Head of a liberal think tank, fang lizhi and the the stone corporation, a Private high-tech firm that donated tens of thousands of dollars in Materials to the demonstrators. Wp 7/7/89 a19,24. The beijing stone Computer company singled out for criticism. Washington post 7/6/89 a19 *
    http://tinyurl.com/49ww6zr

    like i say
    fukus has never ceased screwing china ever since the days of opium war

  41. Wahaha
    June 4th, 2012 at 19:56 | #41

    Yes, the Western media covered this first. Otherwise we wouldn’t know. But this definitely is not a Western “concocted narrative.” Not that I can see from my home city. From here, it is a Chinese affair.

    ************************************

    If West media hadnt reported it, the movement would have been long over before 6.4, like OWS.

    Just answer the following two questions :

    If western media had reported OWS the way they reported Beijing 1989, what would OWS be like now?

    If western media had reported Beijing 1989 they way they have reported OWS, what would OWS be like?

    Actually, anyone with 5th grade education can tell from the comparison that how western media concocted narrative. Actually, the comparsion illustrated the so-called freedom of speech is nonsense, because in “free” world, the only things people know are what media has told them, they will only say what media and journalists like, hence they are “free”. Go try to say something your media doesn’t like.

    I, as one of the hundreds of thousand students who participated two movements in 1986 and in 1989, like to tell you : we did go after some beautiful idea, we naively thought democrap would make China better and strong.

    The reason I dont want to talk about it is that I dont see that the only thing it will bring into China is hatred and endless meaningless fights among people themselves, like Taiwan. (If Taiwan had been under the control of KMT, there would still be no unification. What has the democrap given to Taiwan, nothing but chaos and hatred.) If in the future, the government doesn’t work for people, I wouldnt mind talking about 6.4.

  42. Wahaha
    June 4th, 2012 at 20:05 | #42

    One more thing :

    You people are completely brainwashed and have lost common sense.

    The chinese government has brought 500 million people out of poverty in last 30 years.

    If you are a bystander without any bias, and a small group of people(media and journalists) tell you this government is a bunch of goon and thugs, what would common sense tell you?

    It is like you people cant wait putting your plates in front of the mouths of asinine journalists, and begging them to throw up.

  43. Hong Konger
    June 8th, 2012 at 11:24 | #43

    I can’t believe this thread has gone so far off the rails to compare Occupy Wall Street to the Tiananmen Square crackdown, where hundreds to thousands were killed.

    Sorry, but you can’t blame the Western media for everything. They didn’t create the TAM. It was a conflict between Chinese students and the Chinese military — a domestic affair that went horribly wrong all on its own, and then became so huge over weeks and weeks that it caught the media’s attention.

    OWS was all over the media when it was happening. Every major newspaper, TV station, magazine, etc. covered it.

    23 years later, and my friends in Chinese media still aren’t allowed to mention the date.

    Why is it so difficult for the people of this thread to simply show some sympathy for civilians killed?
    It’s strange, because my neighborhood here is about half HK, half mainland Chinese. And everyone I know — political or not — feels sympathy for those student protesters.

    Nobody is taking away from China’s other achievements. They’re just asking the government to owe up to something that went horribly wrong.

    Honestly, given the huge strength of the PLA, I have no idea why they didn’t just arrest them and throw them in jail. Anything would have been better than shooting them in the streets and running them over with tanks.

    I was lucky enough to grow up both in HK and in the West. When I attended high school in America, all the horrors of U.S. history — slavery, racism, the wars in Vietnam and Korea, the Kent State massacre — were in our textbooks. When can China do the same?

  44. June 8th, 2012 at 11:42 | #44

    @Hong Konger
    First of all, I would venture to guess everyone commented critical of the Western media are sympathetic to the people killed – both civilians and soldiers.

    No, this is not blaming the Western media for everything. This article, is about the Western media lying about the event to defame and causing harm to China.

    Did you read the article?

  45. pug_ster
    June 8th, 2012 at 13:34 | #45

    @Hong Konger

    I don’t have alot of sympathy for the students as well as other protesters who were killed. First of all, there was a curfew so they should not there in the first place. Second, there were videos of these students setting up roadblocks, throwing Molotov Cocktails and using sticks to destroy the armor personnel vehicles. I am not surprised that some of these injured or dead students killed the soldiers in the first place. There’s a difference between a peaceful protest and being part of a riot. If these people chose the latter, someone will get hurt or even die. There’s a difference between shooting at peaceful protesters and shooting at people who are determined to kill you.

    OWS protests are very different. The OWS protesters did not fight or obstruct against the police, so there were no fatalities.

  46. June 8th, 2012 at 14:27 | #46

    @hong konger,

    No body is saying the media “created” TAM. See the quote function in the upper right of posts? Use it. If you can’t argue against someone’s actual claims but only a strawman, don’t bother responding.

    If you had bothered to actually read the original post, it wasn’t even about TAM but about western media coverage of the incidents. The fact is is that few people in the world except those at the demonstrations knew what happened. But lying about the incident as the western press has done does not help anything.

    That’s a basic fact that you seem unable to grasp…

  47. June 8th, 2012 at 14:54 | #47

    @Hong Konger
    Well, did your US history book teach that it is the US that caused the Korean and Vietnam war by splitting it up? Or is it just that millions of people die because it is the communist’s fault.

    The biggest problem with TAM is that there was foreign funding. Can’t you see that why OWS can never grow?

    You read about the native American, how come until today there is no cultural or native language education for them?

    How come nobdoy was ever punished. This i sthe critical question you should ask yourself.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unethical_human_experimentation_in_the_United_States

  48. lolz
    June 9th, 2012 at 10:57 | #48

    Hong Konger :
    I was lucky enough to grow up both in HK and in the West. When I attended high school in America, all the horrors of U.S. history — slavery, racism, the wars in Vietnam and Korea, the Kent State massacre — were in our textbooks. When can China do the same?

    LOL. It has been a while but I went to an established private high school in NH and took up AP US history. I do remember reading about Kent State, but don’t recall any of the text books going deep into Vietnam. Korean war is largely ignored. On the issue of racism, while the civil rights movements were discussed in some detail, racism against Indians, Chinese (Chinese exclusion act for example), Japanese (intern camps during WWII for example) and Hispanics are hardly mentioned.

    Still, I just find it hilarious for someone to claim that “all the horrors of US history” are covered in high school text books. How many text books mention about US’ relationship with dictators in Latin America and the Mideast? How about how US supported the Shah of Iran, which ultimately lead to the rise of the the fundamentalists there? It’s logistically impossible to cover ALL of the horrors of US history in text books because there are way too many topics to cover.

  49. Wahaha
    June 9th, 2012 at 19:48 | #49

    Hongkoner,
    3 points:
    One, can you deny that 64 wouldnt happen had media not covered it heavily?
    Two, i said very clearly that i dont want to talk about it now because I dont see what good things can be brought for china now, this should clearly indicated i believe government did wrong.
    Three, if you call the coverage on ows is “everywhere”, then the complain about freedom in china by “free” society would be like crying like a bitch. Have you ever heard of H.R.347?

  50. Wahaha
    June 9th, 2012 at 20:00 | #50

    And you are lucky to grow up in hongkong and west so that you dont have to deal with the most common misery on earth : poverty. Get it?
    So you are like a gold fish who never worry about next meal and shit, and you try to teach other fish in rivers.

    Clinton once famously said “it is economy, stupid.” How can you people be brainwashed to such extent that economy becomes an afterthought?

  51. Wahaha
    June 10th, 2012 at 07:42 | #51

    …. all the horrors of US history are covered in high school text books…

    ————————

    Hongkonger,

    Such claim is beyond shamelessness.

    You must watched the movie “Dance with Wolf” : A white man saved the life of young native girl, and the girl fell for the man.

    Like I said, you people don’t even bother use your own brains, whatever getting into your ears, come out of your mouths. Please for once have some common sense.

    For example, how do you pick a high school for your children? you pick a school that has a lot of students going to top colleges, or a school that has lot of teacher out of top college?

    Make judge based on facts, not eloquent languages, for god sake.

    China had the money to help the victims in WenChuan earthquake, while US didnt have money to help the victims of Katrina. Didnt such simple comparison make you think with your own brain?

  52. March 20th, 2013 at 04:25 | #52

    The original post claims that ‘the VOA is funded and operated by the NED’. This is completely inaccurate. I have studied, researched and written about VOA for thirty years. It is a convenient way of bringing in to the equation the usual CIA bogey man with little evidence. If this post can get this small, but important fact wrong, it makes me question the validity of the whole piece. How sad.

  53. Black Pheonix
    March 20th, 2013 at 06:30 | #53

    @Gary Rawnsley

    What counter evidence are you citing here?

  54. March 20th, 2013 at 08:50 | #54

    @ Black Phoenix – thirty years of research in the VoA and USIA archives and in-depth discussion with employees, employers, and other staff. It is called research – you might want to try it some time.

  55. Sigmar
    March 20th, 2013 at 09:13 | #55

    @Gary Rawnsley
    We are still not seeing any proper citation.

    “It is called research – you might want to try it some time.”
    Cute, but Black Pheonix has given no indication (s)he doesn’t do research. Your insinuating and rude statement does not add anything to the discussion, and can be considered as spam.

    Mods, watch out: Troll Alert

  56. Black Pheonix
    March 20th, 2013 at 09:25 | #56

    @Gary Rawnsley

    I would love to see some evidence of your research.

    But I warn you. If you spam this forum with more pointless self-aggrandizing assertions, you will be banned.

  57. March 20th, 2013 at 12:00 | #57

    Really? I offer a contrary opinion and you consider my interventions ‘spam’? What happened to the spirit of debate and discussion? The world advances through disagreement. As Voltaire said, ‘I may disagree with what you say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it.’ Don’t you agree?

  58. Black Pheonix
    March 20th, 2013 at 13:00 | #58

    @Gary Rawnsley

    We already discussed the “contrary opinion”, from other experienced people in this topic.

    I don’t see you “debating” any thing here.

    We are not here to defend or debate your personal claims of accomplishments.

    1 last shot for you: cite objective evidence for your assertion, or you are just wasting bandwidth.

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