Today, I came across an article in Asia Times titled “Tiananmen Crash Linked to Xinjiang Mosque Raid” by Shohret Hoshur, originally published via Radio Free Asia’s Uyghur Service. In the article Hoshur appears to justify violence and terrorism committed last week by presenting what must appear to him to be legitimate motivations for plowing a car into the guardrails in Tiananmen Square (which resulted in an explosion) last week .
For Hoshur, this event was less about terrorism – as the Chinese government asserts – and more about the desperate acts of another politically disenchanted Uighur. While Hoshur is careful to say this is not organized violence (this would hurt the cause for Uighur independence), he also elevated it from mere spiteful acts of pitiful personal grievance (this would be uninteresting) to a symbolic peoples’ revolt (this is the happy, sweet medium).
(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.)
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 ‘anniversary’ piece yesterday, echoing an Associated Press article, described it as “the crushing of the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement.”
“Tiananmen Square” conjures up a great deal of negativity in the West about China, and most people in the West remembers it as the site for the 1989 protest. A picture is certainly worth a thousand words, and today, I’ve come across one taken by a personal friend, Ming, of Tiananmen Square (with his artistic photo retouching), where the place is functional, alive, and colorful. This image is a reminder for me that the Chinese people have largely “moved on” regarding Tiananmen, but most in the West are still stuck in 1989; a reminder of the gap in the view of the world between the Chinese and the West.
Events of the last week in Iran have been widely reported by the world press. Not long before, the press also reported on the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square incident of 1989. Were these two distinct events reported in a similar manner or were they treated as different and unique events? Let’s take a look at each and see what we can find.
1) Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys?
Based on the coverage I’ve seen, both governments were cast as being in the wrong and both protest movements as in the right. In the case of China, the government sent in tanks and used live ammunition to break up a protest movement that was alleged to have turned violent. Most of the reporters in the world press were located in or near the same area, and their reports reflected what occurred in that vicinity. Analyzes of this event in most cases pointed to the government as the culprit and the demonstrators as being victims and responding in a suitable fashion. Is this an accurate assessment? The Chinese government attempted to confiscate film of the event from foreign sources but those attempts were successfully evaded in most instances.
It seems the western media and Chinese blogosphere agree on one thing; Green Dam is not winning any popularity contests. Today, the Chinese government backed down on the mandatory usage of the software, though it will still come either pre-loaded or be included on a compact disc with all PCs sold on the mainland from July 1st.
There are several problems associated with this software, each one an interesting topic in itself. I’d like to run down the issues associated with its release, one by one.
admin’s note:As Nimrod commented in an early thread, “the tankman photo was a snapshot …, the whole incident is a lot more powerful than the snapshot; in the same way that the whole 1989 movement makes a more powerful statement than the snapshot of 6/4.” Previously, we posted personal accounts of students from Tianjin or Shanghai to give readers a taste of the spread, both in terms of time and space, of the 1989 student movement. Today, we post an account from a student in Beijing on what he saw on that fateful day 20 years ago. Needless to say, the views on the movement among the participates have diverged and shifted considerably over the past 20 years. However, the raw emotions we felt on that day, shock, anger, confusion, and above all, profound sadness, are afresh in our minds on this anniversary.
My Daughter, who is in the first grade, was reading her homework to me, “On My way to school, I saw beautiful flowers. Some flowers were hanging on stems …”
“That’s very good” I said.
“Others felt on the grass after a thunderstorm, but they are still beautiful” She continued.
As a readers of China blogs for quite some times, I’ve read my fair share of reports of Tiananmen being a taboo subject in China, and a sensitive terms that’s filtered by the Chinese government’s GFW (here, here).
But those reporting filtering/censorship seem to have categorically fell silent when it appears the term “Tiananmen 64” (in Chinese and English) is not being filtered. For what reason or motive, I don’t know – but there appears to be zero, I mean, ZERO follow-up on this appearant good news.
Anyway, here’re what appear to be uncensored search results from two major Chinese-language search engines:
With a jet-lagged baby, I thought this morning would be the perfect time to attend one of my favorite events in Beijing: watching the raising of the national flag on Tiananmen square. It is a daily ritual at sunrise, but always thrilling with its simplicity, elegance; I’ve only attended a few times (emphasis: sunrise), and always found it deeply moving.
Here’s a video, from 5/19, when the flag was lowered to half-staff to remember the victims of the Wenchuan earthquake: (Why isn’t it a video of my trip? Explanation below.)