Six Four: Glad the student movement didn’t succeed
I went to university in 1991; I’m not an old general or a young general.
1. Even as early as 1992, my opinion was that the Six Four student movement should not have been allowed to succeed. Primarily because of a comparison against the Soviet Union.
At that time, people still held unrealistic fantasies towards the remote West. “River Elegy” really suggests to me that if Six Four had succeeded, then it would’ve been a peaceful regime change perpetrated by the United States. We would probably have had an outcome similar to the Soviet Union; Tibet and Xinjiang would be independent, and the country would likely have been divided into pieces.
The 1990s was a time of “emigration fever”, as many in China did everything they could to go overseas. (I went overseas in 1998.) Most of the people that I know personally, after they went overseas, returned with a deeper conviction that Six Four should not have been allowed to succeed.
Deng Xiaoping said it exactly right: Six Four happened because of global political winds, and also domestic political winds. The bottom line, the party and government had its internal divisions. If the movement had succeeded, there would still be “old generals” here complaining they had been used.
2. Of course, I’m not like the “little generals” who are applauding the government’s violent suppression. Of course, the best result for Six Four would be if there hadn’t been any blood shed. I don’t have any personal experience, and I can’t pretend to really understand the pain of those who lost their loved ones, of those who lost their confidence in the government.
So, I again express my deepest regrets to all those who died. I’m also in favor of everyone remembering Six Four, remembering the passion, youth, and love for good things that were on display back then.
3. The only winners out of that movement were those who didn’t want to see China strong, who didn’t want to see China develop. Domestically, it strengthened the movement towards corruption. After Six Four, society lost its conscience, and only money was glorious. A society without values will allow these corrupt forces thrive like a fish in water. Only this earthquake has helped again unite the hearts of some people.
The other winner would be American-led forces. You have to know many Americans see the end of the ’80s as being the end of the Cold War. They should realize that to the Chinese people, this was also a war. Although they might regret China didn’t split apart like the Soviet Union… but regardless, after 1989 they gained a lot in international politics.
4. Six Four really should be remembered and deeply considered every year. But if we remember alongside the dissidents, the independence seekers, and FLG… it will be an excuse for the elites in China who are opposed to a reappraisal of Six Four. So, I believe when the dissidents, the independence movements, and FLG disappear and become irrelevant… that’s when our country will allow new discussion and reconsideration of Six Four.
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