As for purpose, terrorism, like politics, is all about symbolism.
As symbolism goes, I can be shocked by the attacks of planes used as flying bombs ramming into skyscrapers, but I can also understand the logic of its symbolism. If you are a desperate terrorist waging war on US, you might attack the biggest symbols of US, the landmarks of Capitalism and Democracy.
Which makes me consider the strange symbolism of some attacks /protests in China, supposedly against the Chinese Communist Party.
Against Tiananmen (more specifically the gate to the Forbidden City)?! (It has been done before, with the Free Tibet protesters unfurling Tibetan flags, Immolators burning themselves, etc., at /near the gate).
This symbolism is, unsurprisingly, way off the mark, and bizarrely tainted by biases of people who clearly do not understand China and the Chinese people.
First, it’s little more than a museum now. People who are near it are mostly tourists, Chinese or non-Chinese. As value goes, it’s a historical important landmark. But it’s hardly a hub of China, financially, socially, or politically.
Second, it’s rarely ever used for politics in the last 6 decades, and mostly for ceremonial purposes. As political symbol goes, it’s not even equated to any symbol of modern China or the Communist Party. It’s a relic building of the Imperial past.
Third, as Imperial Past goes, Tiananmen is more a reminder of China’s past weakness and Foreign aggression. Afterall, the 8 Nations Alliance broke into and looted the Forbidden City (past the gate) during the Boxer Rebellion. If you want to fan the flame of Chinese nationalism, Tiananmen might be a good place to do it.
Fourth, BTW, much of Tiananmen square area were damaged by foreign occupation forces during the Boxer Rebellion, and had to be rebuilt. So, not some gleaming pride of building in China, and no shock value even if destroyed.
Fifth, China has lots of new buildings, and lots of old buildings. Indeed, every year, China is tearing down barely used buildings to build even newer ones. Symbolism in Buildings? Hardly in China.
Which then got me thinking? What is a symbol for modern China?
And I pondered with great difficulty.
The answer is, it’s not a thing. It’s many ideas: 1.3 billion people, Chinese spirit for learning and improvement, etc., even the near extinct panda (perhaps a symbol of our survival and change).
I do not put in “freedom”, not because we don’t have it, but because what kind of “freedom” can be threatened via a symbolism of buildings in US? If Westerners truly fear for their “freedom”, because a few buildings get knocked down, then they have no understanding of “freedom”, and China has no need for such “freedom”.
To me, China is “free”, because our symbols cannot be distilled so simply, nor disrupted/threatened so easily.
The problem with the West is, a “freedom” that can be so simply symbolized, has no great value. It’s nothing more than a cheap tourist gimmick. (Like the Idolatry of Democracy).
The REAL “freedom” cannot be attacked nor expressed via symbols.
If there is no symbol of freedom, does freedom cease to be?
No. The non-objectified freedom is the real freedom.
Then, if there is no symbol to define China, does China fail to have principles and values?
Equally no. China just doesn’t come with marketing brochures.