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May 08

Sorting fact from fiction – Tiananmen revisited (Part 1)

Written by MAJ on Friday, May 8th, 2009 at 12:41 pm
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Foreword

The following piece is the first installment of a two-part essay that explores the tumultuous events that occurred in Beijing during the spring of 1989. The essay is divided into seven sections, the first three of which appear here in Part I.

The first half of the essay provides a brief outline of the economic and social setting from which the movement sprung, and questions the motivations and organisational characteristics of the student movement in general.

Part II (to be published here on May 22) will explore the dialogue that occurred between the student leadership and the central government, and will carefully examine the causes behind the outbreak of violence that eventually resulted, followed by the aftermath and legacies.

The declassified US State Department documents (mentioned in the Introduction to Part I), together with the Tiananmen Papers, will not be drawn upon as evidence until Part II, where they become relevant.

Sorting fact from fiction – Tiananmen revisited (Part 1)

by Mark Anthony Jones

I: Introduction

In 2004, the former Australian diplomat, Gregory Clark, in an article published in The Japan Times, claimed that no massacre ever took place in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989, or anywhere else in Beijing. ‘There was no deliberate massacre of innocent students,’ he wrote, and ‘no massacre in the Square.’ Instead, what occurred was a ‘mini civil war,’ with ‘panicky fighting’ having been ‘triggered by crowds attacking troops, initially unarmed, as they headed for the Square on June 3.’1

The purpose of this essay is to test Clark’s claims empirically, and to determine how much of the blame for the bloodshed, if any, should be attributed to the student protesters and their working class supporters who actively participated in the demonstrations. I will rely heavily on what are arguably the two most important sources of primary information: Tiananmen Square, 1989: The Declassified History, published in 1999 by the US National Security Archive. This is an online collection of declassified US State Department documents pertaining to the events in question. The other source, The Tiananmen Papers, was first published in 2001, and is a collection of documents depicting the deliberations of China’s paramount leadership during this tense period, thereby providing valuable insights into the way key players in the government responded to events as they unfolded. A large variety of eyewitness accounts will also be carefully scrutinised in order to help piece together a more detailed picture of what really took place during this tumultuous period.

The first of Clark’s claims – that nobody died in Tiananmen Square – was already widely accepted as an empirical fact well before Clark wrote his article, and is hardly considered contentious, although as The Washington Post’s Jay Mathews has pointed out, the episode has nevertheless remained enshrined in myth.2

Many Western politicians, reporters and editors, have indeed continued to accept a version of events that portrays the students as having been the advocates of a Western-style political system, murdered in their thousands while peacefully assembled in the confines of Tiananmen Square. The 2001 edition of The Encyclopedia of the World for example, claimed that ‘PLA troops entered Tiananmen Square during the night and fired directly into the sleeping crowd.’3 In 2002, the former American East Asia and Pacific Affairs diplomat, Richard Solomon, said on the MHz Network program, China Forum, that he actually ‘saw on CNN Chinese soldiers firing on students in Tiananmen Square’, though no such footage has ever existed.4

One of the more insightful publications to have appeared in bookstores to date, dealing specifically with the events of June 1989, is the one composed by George Black and Robin Munro (both researchers for Human Rights Watch), titled Black Hands of Beijing: Lives of Defiance in China’s Democracy Movement, first published in New York in 1993. The phrase ‘Tiananmen Square massacre’ is ‘inaccurate’ they concluded:

There was no massacre in Tiananmen Square on the night of June 3. But on the western approach roads, along Chang’an Boulevard and Fuxingmen Avenue, there was a bloodbath that claimed hundreds of lives when the People’s Liberation Army found its path blocked by a popular uprising that was being fueled by despair and rage. To insist on this distinction is not splitting hairs. What took place was the slaughter not of students but of ordinary workers and residents – precisely the target that the Chinese government had intended.5

Although the claim that nobody was killed in Tiananmen Square was verifiable at the time Black and Munro penned their book, along with their claim that those killed were mostly workers, their suggestion that these workers were intentionally targeted for slaughter on the night of June 3 is highly questionable.

II: The economic and social setting

As the economist Li Minqi has noted, by the mid-1980s, China’s intellectuals were generally ‘dissatisfied with the fact that as wealth was gradually concentrated in the hands of bureaucratic capitalists and private entrepreneurs, they did not have a share of this newly created wealth,’ with many of them openly complaining that their incomes did not grow more rapidly than that of urban workers.6 ‘Ferment among the intelligensia,’ as the historian Maurice Meisner points out, ‘was soon overshadowed by growing student political activism’, and with the death of the democratically inclined Hu Yaobang on April 15, some of the more ‘politically astute’ students saw an opportunity: ‘they knew that the death of a high Party leader was a time when authorities would briefly tolerate a degree of political dissent.’7 So on the night of Hu’s death, a group of graduate students from People’s University bicycled to Tiananmen Square to lay wreaths at the Monument to the Heroes. They were soon joined by students from other universities, with many advertising their movement by ‘embarking on “long marches” through the streets of the capital singing the “Internationale” and other revolutionary songs [while] on their way to the Square and to government buildings.’8

The students may have initiated the Tiananmen movement, but by mid-May they had become dwarfed by the intervention of much broader social forces. The independent Worker’s Autonomous Federation officially declared itself as part of the movement on May 18, a day after many ordinary workers and residents helped swell the number of protesters assembled in the Square to an estimated one million.9

China’s intelligensia were clearly not the only ones dissatisfied with their situation in life. As Maurice Meisner explains:

By the early autumn of 1988, inflation in the major cities had reached a per annum rate of 30 percent. The economy was out of control and the government was forced to adopt severe austerity measures to avert a disastrous crash…Both inflation and the retrenchment policies necessary to restrain price increases brought hardship to much of the urban population, especially workers in state factories, minor officials and clerks in government offices, intellectuals, students, and others dependent on state salaries and subsidies.10

Not everybody, however, was suffering. Meisner again:

Among those who enriched themselves were those involved in foreign trade, especially politically influential traders who were able to acquire goods and materials at low state prices and export them at world market prices; the managers and employees of the rapidly expanding private and collective industries; rural entrepreneurs and even urban street vendors; and especially corrupt bureaucrats who had access to relatively cheap state-priced goods and raw materials. But for the most part, in a society where the gap between rich and poor was already widening with alarming speed, living standards deteriorated due to inflation – and then fell even more rapidly because of the austerity measures the government adopted in late 1988 to stem inflation. Eroding living standards, combined with growing anger over profiteering bureaucrats and others who flaunted wealth obtained by dubious means, expressed itself in widespread social unrest.11

So widespread was the discontent, that on the day martial law was declared, the central government received forty-six reports describing demonstrations in one hundred and sixteen cities throughout the country.12

III: A pro-democracy campaign?

The student protesters were at the time widely portrayed by Western journalists as ‘pro-democracy’ campaigners, as if they had been calling on the central government to introduce a political system based on multi-party elections. Most, however, simply equated the idea of ‘democracy’ with the need for government accountability and responsiveness. It was clear from most of their banners that they wanted their grievances addressed: more money to be allocated to education, corruption to be stamped out, and for officials to be forced to disclose their incomes and assets.13 In his book, China Live, CNN’s Mike Chinoy, who covered the Tiananmen demonstrations, explains why he thought the students were so disgruntled:

With government spending on education slashed even as inflation spiralled out of control, university teaching, library, and research facilities declined, while students as well as professors found their meager stipends insufficient to get by. In a country where intellectuals had long considered themselves a privileged class, a good education no longer guaranteed a job. Indeed, the average university graduate earned less than Dong Aizhi, the self-employed hairdresser I’d interviewed soon after arriving in Beijing. And growing numbers of students found that ability counted less than connections, or guanxi, in finding work. For many of the young protesters, the chant of “down with corruption” had a very personal ring, as their own grievances blended with the broader discontent simmering in Chinese society.14


Chinoy then goes on to explain how at the time, he quickly came to realise that ‘the protesters were not talking about an American-style political system for China’ when they spoke of democracy. ‘I wasn’t completely comfortable,’ he admits, ‘with the way I and other reporters, faced with the limitation of daily journalism and its pressure to compress and simplify, tended to describe their protests as a “democracy movement,” for ‘the more I listened, the more I became convinced that the students’ top priority was not establishing a democracy, but simply securing formal recognition from the government for their movement.’15

‘Theirs was not an attempt to overthrow the system,’ concludes Chinoy, ‘but a clamour for a hearing, for legitimacy and respect from their elders – an acknowledgement that, as intellectuals, they, like the protesters of the May Fourth Movement, had a special mission to help improve Chinese society.’16

Another journalist who covered events at the time, Jane Macartney, also questioned the students’ motives. Democracy was merely a ‘buzzword’ she realised, for ‘accountability is what they meant.’17 When asked about their ideas, says Macartney, ‘most were hard pressed for an answer. “Freedom, democracy,” the students said during demonstrations. Pressed to elaborate, they complained of official corruption and high-level nepotism, poor food and uncomfortable dormitories. Were they talking about universal equality of opportunity or were they merely envious of those who held higher-paying jobs?’18

‘They seemed to be playing a game of ultimata with the government,’ adds Macartney, ‘– if you give us what we want, we’ll do what you want. Such an approach did not signify demand for structural change. Nor did it reveal recognition for the significance of the huge popular protests of support – which they viewed as peripheral to their action.’19

Orville Schell also noted the reformist nature of the student movement, reporting on how one wall poster he stumbled across at the People’s University had declared the goal not to overthrow the government, but rather to ‘supervise and prod it.’20

‘The demonstrations cannot be considered purely anti-government, as many protesters think of themselves as a kind of loyal opposition,’ wrote David Holley for The Los Angeles Times, April 23. The student movement, he later added, was ‘aimed at accelerating the process of economic and political reform within the Communist Party and under the Communist Party’s leadership of the Chinese system.’21

Ma Qingguo, a psychology student who worked as part of the so-called ‘student police’ in Tiananmen, told the Australian historian Ross Terrill, that their ‘demands boiled down to something rather simple. That the government affirm [their] movement was patriotic, not turmoil,’ and that the government acknowledge their intentions as ‘not seeking to overthrow them.’22

Many of the students quite clearly confused the notion of democracy with the attitudes and consumer values of Western culture. The Beijing Normal University student, Wu’er Kaixi, Chair of the Beijing Student’s Autonomous Federation, not only expressed repeatedly to foreign journalists his desire to join the Chinese Communist Party,23 but also believed that what most students really wanted were ‘Nike shoes,’ and for the guys, enough ‘free time to take [their] girlfriends to a bar.’24

Many of those who turned out to support the movement no doubt did so simply because that was what everyone else seemed to be doing. One Beijing University student, Lao Yujun for example, told Ross Terrill that ‘because a lot of the younger students from [his] campus were going to Tiananmen Square, [that he] wanted to be there with them.’25 He also told Terrill that he had decided to join the hunger strike simply ‘to find out what one was like.’26

In a study of U.S. press coverage on the Beijing spring of 1989, conducted by The Joan Shorenstein Barone Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, it was noted that all eight American-based media organisations sampled tended to define the student movement as a ‘pro-democracy’ one, even though ‘the majority’ of banners, T-shirts and symbols used by the student protesters were in Chinese, not English – their demands ‘reflect[ing] Chinese cultural norms, rather than Western ideas.’27

Although there were a number of notable exceptions, American journalists, the report concluded, because of their excessive ethnocentrism, generally failed at the time to understand the unique features and limitations of the student movement: ‘Americans tend to see their own democratic values mirrored elsewhere in the world.’ Such an outlook, while facilitating interest and sympathy, also ‘plants seeds of misunderstanding.’28

The student movement was also elitist in the way that it ‘largely ignored the workers,’ as Black and Munro have detailed.29 Student organisers were actually quite keen to prevent the workers from appropriating their movement, and sought from the very beginning to marginalise all non-students. On April 19 for example, student picketers prevented workers from entering the Square, as if they owned the place, forcing the workers to set up their tents and headquarters elsewhere, at a place known as the West Reviewing Stand.30 On the seventeenth anniversary of the May Fourth Movement, when students led by Wu’er Kaixi staged a march to the Square, ‘the contingent of several thousand workers’ who had shown up in support were again kept segregated, forced to march separately ‘by efficient young student marshals.’31

According to the American historian and China specialist, Professor Merle Goldman, both intellectuals and students involved with the 1989 movement were ‘elitist’ in their attitude toward workers, with students often ‘literally lock[ing] arms to keep workers from participating in their protests.’32 In addition to their elitism, the students ‘were very much aware of the fact that since 1980, the leadership’s greatest fear was the formation of a Solidarity-like coalition between intellectuals and workers,’ and so were keen not ‘to do anything that would provoke the leadership’s retaliation and put an end to their independent enterprises and activities.’33

The sociologists Andrew G. Walder and Gong Xiaoxia agree. The workers were fighting for the right to have workplace representation and collective bargaining power, and so ‘their trade unionism was an effort to protect themselves from what they saw as the unpredictability and insensitivity of the reformers’ program’34 – a program that not only drove inflation upwards, but that also involved the dismantling of their iron rice bowl.

The students by contrast, favoured Deng’s economic reforms, but wanted to see also the acceleration of political reforms, with the expectation that this would guarantee them a bigger share of the country’s new wealth. ‘From the very outset of the movement,’ say Walder and Xiaoxia, ‘and continuing well into martial law, the students made a self-conscious effort to maintain their “purity” (chunjiexing). This meant, in practice, that they limited their politics to moral questioning of the authorities, seeking to speak as the conscience of the nation…while keeping off to one side any “narrow” economic and group interests that might potentially disrupt their quest.’ This quest for purity, they add, ‘led to their early practice of marching with hands linked to prevent others from joining in.’35

According to one member of the Workers’ Autonomous Federation, interviewed by Walder and Xiaoxia, the students were ‘especially unwilling’ to meet members of the Construction Workers’ Union, who they were always driving away from the Square, considering them as they did to be lowly ‘convict labourers.’ The students ‘were always rejecting us workers,’ he added. ‘They thought we were uncultured. We demanded to participate in the dialogue with the government, but the students wouldn’t let us. They considered us workers to be crude, stupid, reckless, and unable to negotiate.’36

In response to the students’ exclusivity, the Workers’ Autonomous Federation produced a charter inviting ‘all’ to join, and according to Walder and Xiaoxia, ‘members took pride in the fact that their leaders would talk freely with city people of all walks of life, and peasants as well, and that the ‘democratic forum’ of their broadcasting station was open to any and all statements from the audience.’37

The workers interviewed by Walder and Xiaoxia also said that ‘they observed in the student leaders and in their movement many of the faults of the nation’s leaders and their political system: hierarchy, secrecy, condescension toward ordinary people, factionalism and struggles for power, and even special privilege and corruption.’ The student leaders received large sums of money from ordinary citizens and from foreign tourists and organisations abroad, though some worker activists claim to have witnessed a ‘chaos of money’, accusing the leadership of having pocketed much of it for themselves. The size and quality of tents and sleeping mats purchased with donated funds, they noticed, ‘were allocated among student leaders according to their relative rank.’38

Macartney also noted how the student movement, rather than having operated democratically, simply reproduced elite hierarchies similar to those that structured the Chinese Communist Party. ‘Representatives of rival universities were soon locked in a battle for power as bitter and complex as any inner Party struggle. The power struggles, a signal of ambitions to be recognised as hero of the moment, marred the movement.’39 In fact, notes Macartney, ‘almost all the prominent leaders were purged at least once during the movement. Most fell as a result of internal battles and not by popular demand.’40

According to Macartney, throughout the entire duration of the movement, the students maintained barricades around the Square so that they could restrict entry. Many Chinese journalists and workers were often turned away from the ‘inner sanctums’, and foreign journalists ‘were required to show makeshift passes scribbled out and stamped by the student leadership.’41 The students held numerous press conferences, she adds, ‘often with little to say at meetings that disintegrated into argument and disarray among the organisers.’42

CNN’s Mike Chinoy also recalls with disappointment how ‘the bickering students began to display the same bureaucratic and autocratic tendencies in their “People’s Republic of Tiananmen Square” that they were trying to change in the government.’ By the end of May

the headquarters on the Heroes Monument, where Wang Dan, Wu’er Kaixi, Chai Ling, and other leaders spent most of their time, was now surrounded by rings of student guards to keep outsiders out to ensure that the insiders maintained their privileged status. Carried away by their own sense of self-importance, the student leaders became less and less available to the press, just like the elderly party chieftains they so despised. Bodyguards refused access to journalists unless they could produce multiple ID cards and press passes. It was a farce, but a highly aggravating one…The self-styled “student security forces” became increasingly nasty to reporters and camera crews. One afternoon, a young man claiming to be an army cadet approached John Lewis near the monument and offered to do an interview. As John and Mitch Farkas finished shooting, disappointed that the cadet had very little of interest to say, other students walked over demanding the tape and insisting that we did not have permission from them to conduct such an interview. When John refused, the students began to push and shove.43

Vito Maggioli, who worked as CNN’s assignment manager, also recalled how camera crews and producers would come back after reporting on events in the Square, complaining about the bureaucracy the students had created, with some even referring to student leaders as ‘fascists.’44

A number of U.S. government officials who dealt with China policy at the time, have since complained that ‘the media did not write of the Leninist techniques used by students and the rings of security the reporters had to pass through to reach student leaders.’45 Mark Mohr of the U.S. State Department for example, felt that the press was ‘too light’ on the students, explaining how he himself had witnessed on several occasions young girls ‘reprimanded in severe terms’ by their leaders for handing out documents to reporters before obtaining official clearance to do so.46

In her memoir, Red China Blues, the Canadian journalist Jan Wong recalls how she too had felt disturbed by various aspects of the student movement:

The outside world thought the demonstrators were disciplined, and marveled. But having lived through the Cultural Revolution myself, talents like slogan shouting and mass marching didn’t impress me…it seemed that the students were merely aping their oppressors. They established a Lilliputian kingdom in Tiananmen Square, complete with a min-bureaucracy with committees for sanitation, finance and ‘propaganda’. They even adopted grandiose titles. Chai Ling was elected Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Tiananmen Square Unified Action Headquarters.

Like the government, the students’ broadcast station sometimes deliberately disseminated misinformation, such as the resignation of key government officials, which wasn’t true. They even, indignity of all indignities, issued us press passes. Using transparent fishing line held in place by volunteers who simply stood there all day, they carved the huge square into gigantic concentric circles of ascending importance. Depending on how our press passes were stamped determined how deeply we could penetrate those silly circles.47

According to The Washington Post’s Daniel Southerland, journalists did at times discuss the idea of ‘doing something on the authoritarian set-up on Tiananmen Square,’ explaining how on one occasion he ‘had to pass through eleven check points to get to Chai Ling,’ which he said was ‘worse than trying to get into Party headquarters.’ Student police, he added, even tried to ‘force’ him into making a ‘self-criticism’ for having shoved his way through.48

The reason why the students were able to enjoy little negative press, with most foreign journalists choosing to turn a blind eye to their elite authoritarianism, is because producers were concerned that anything negative reported might ‘play into the hands’ of the Chinese central government, as Seth Faison of Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post later confessed. ‘Everyone’s heart naturally went out to these students,’ said Faison, since ‘they were asking for things we know and cherish.’49 [emphasis mine] Most foreign journalists were keen to promote the idea that liberal democracy has universal appeal, which meant not only putting a democratic stamp on the student movement, but also the constant portraying of students in a positive light.

In their study on the U.S. press coverage of the Beijing spring of 1989, The Joan Shorenstein Barone Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, concluded that ‘there should have been tougher reporting on the [student] movement’s fragmentation and authoritarianism, because these would have thrown light on aspects of the alternative politics the students were offering to the Chinese people.’50 The report added that the students ‘were often depicted, particularly on television, as the righteous side of a Manichean conflict, rather than as a subject of neutral scrutiny by the press.’ Specifically, journalists underreported ‘actions that were distinctly undemocratic, hypocritical or elitist. Conflicts among the protesters were downplayed, as well as the reluctance of some student leaders to welcome workers into their movement. There were inadequate attempts to report the source of funds the movement received, and whether they were properly used and accounted for.’51

The Australian historian and Asian Studies scholar, Geremie Barmé, arrived in Beijing on May 7 to study the movement first-hand. He recalls having discussed with student leaders the need ‘to publish details of the massive donations they were receiving’ and for them to do something about the deteriorating hygiene situation in the Square, which he said was by that time ‘filthy’ and reeking of urine. The student leadership acknowledged these as problems, but ‘dismissed them as unimportant’, arguing instead that it was the ‘spirit’ of the movement that mattered most.52

The doctors who volunteered their time to staff the Square’s makeshift first-aid stations were certainly concerned about the worsening sanitation problems. The students had opened an underground drainage ditch for use as a public toilet, but as Orville Schell explains, almost immediately the ditch ‘began to overflow’, and a ‘fetid swill of urine and excrement’ spilled out across the sidewalk. By the middle of May, adds Schell, ‘there was so much garbage and trash strewn around, that parts of the Square had begun to look like a landfill.’53 Jan Wong also expressed disgust at the students’ lack of environmental consciousness, declaring herself puzzled as to why so many of them would discard their ‘cigarette butts, newspapers and plastic juice bottles’ directly onto the ground, turning the entire Square into ‘a mess.’54

Those with fonder, perhaps more romantic memories, prefer to paint a more positive picture of the student movement. In a recent article by Philip J. Cunningham, another first-hand observer of events, it’s now time for the world to stop focusing on the bloodbath that the 1989 movement culminated in, and to start celebrating the ‘positives’ instead, like the ‘outright remarkable contributions of the student leadership who performed brilliantly as crowd facilitators and morale boosters.’55 Cunningham acknowledges the fact that, organisationally, the student movement was ‘less than democratic in word and deed’, but finds it impressive that so many of them ‘were adept at utilising native communist-influenced political tools to manage people power to an impressive degree.’56

Ross Terrill seems to agree. ‘The students,’ he says, ‘with their books and music cassettes and water bottles were encamped college by college, as units in the Chinese style, and the negative features of this “unit mindedness” turned into a positive advantage of organisational strength and unity that encouraged the fainthearted to swallow their doubts and join in.’57

But not all of the students were encouraged by the quality of their leadership. On June 3 for example, the Hong Kong newspaper Mingbao, ran a report based on an interview with two of the students, who complained that although the movement was supposed to be for democracy and freedom, the students often behaved undemocratically, seizing vehicles or demanding the right to ride for free.58

Even some of the movement’s biggest supporters were scathing in their assessments. In their Hunger Strike Manifesto, the popular singer and activist Han Dejian, the Beijing Normal University Assistant Professor Liu Xiaobo, former Beijing University sociologist Zhou Duo and Chinese Communist Party member and reformist Gao Xin, expressed the view that:

The students’ mistakes are mainly manifested in the internal chaos of their organisations and their lack of democratic procedures. Although their goal is democracy, their means and procedures for achieving democracy are not democratic. Their lack of cooperative spirit and the sectarianism that has caused their forces to neutralise each other have resulted in all their policies coming to naught. More faults can be named: financial chaos, material waste, an excess of emotion and a lack of reason; too much of the attitude that they are privileged, and not enough of the belief in equality; and so on.59

Not all foreign journalists gained the impression that the students were well organised in ‘strength and unity’ either. Like Jane Macartney and Jan Wong, the CNN’s Mike Chinoy thought that the ‘students were undisciplined and disorganised, drawn to the Square primarily by reports of the excitement in the heart of the Chinese capital.’60 As he recalls it, towards the end he and his entire crew

were getting fed up. The world still saw the students as shining heroes. Their encampment was attracting politically sympathetic tourists and some oddballs as well. One day a group of Western environmentalists showed up and announced plans to bring a Greenpeace ship to Beijing. The next day, there were chanting Buddhist monks. But order and discipline were breaking down amid power struggles and festering garbage. My own positive feelings about the movement began to change. They’d had a remarkable run, I felt, but now the hard-core protesters still occupying the Square were in danger of overplaying their hand, discrediting themselves, sullying their achievements, and risking a potential bloodbath.61


Indeed, many of these ‘morale boosters’ who were so adept at managing ‘people power’ often expressed ‘a passion for blood’, as Jane Macartney reminds us, for ‘students and workers each set up their own “dare-to-die” squads, ready to take on the army should it move to enter the city.’62

‘Both the students and the citizens have failed to develop a sense of their rights,’ Wu’er Kaixi told one reporter on May 29. ‘They need a more violent provocation.’63 The Australian radio journalist Helene Chung, described how she had stood in the Square a day earlier, listening to ‘a spikey-haired student’ deliver a speech to a crowd of 50,000 people from the base of the Monument to the People’s Heroes. ‘I’m in favour of bloodshed,’ the student declared, which he said would ‘accelerate democracy’ by uniting ‘the people.’64 On the same day, another of the student leaders, Chai Ling, in a now famous interview with Cunningham himself, explained that what the movement was ‘actually hoping for is bloodshed’, for ‘only when the Square is washed in our blood will the people of China open their eyes.’65

Chai’s interview with Cunningham appeared in the documentary film, The Gate of Heavenly Peace, and has attracted the interest of Hsueh Hsiao-kuang, a well-known Hong Kong-based journalist for the Taiwanese newspaper, United News Daily. As Geremie Barmé explains, Hsueh, in a piece she had published on April 26, 1995, in the New York edition of World Journal, ‘discussed the issues raised by that interview and questioned the responsibility that Chai Ling shared for the final bloody outcome of the student movement…Surely leaders like Chai Ling, Hsueh observed, through their constant refusal to leave the Square even as disaster loomed ever closer, also were responsible in part for the continued escalation of the conflict and its tragic denouement.’66

Employing a sober sense of fairness, the American historian Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom, while recognising that many of the students did in fact demonstrate a genuine desire to create a freer society, makes the point that the elite authoritarianism of the student movement in general needs to be understood as having been the inevitable product of China’s dominant political culture at the time. ‘As the events of 1989 remind us,’ says Wasserstrom, ‘the tendency of protesters to improvise from familiar social and cultural scripts is a double-edged sword: it can lend power to a struggle but can also lead protesters to (often unintentionally) reproduce inequities embedded in the status quo within their own movements.’67

Drawing on the Gramscian concept of hegemony, Wasserstrom suggests that many of the implicit rules that shape collective behaviour in any given society are likely to be widely shared. ‘Thanks to attempts by the elite to justify its rule by posing a particular worldview upon the populace at large,’ explains Wasserstrom, ‘and to the common patterns of daily life that shape the existence of wide segments of the population, “high” and “low” alike are bound to view some ideas and patterns of behaviour simply as part of the natural landscape.’68

It ‘is true that student forces did reproduce many features of the CCP regime during their occupation of Tiananmen Square,’ he adds, ‘and this is a reminder of the staying power of hegemonic forms…The fierce factional infighting in Tiananmen Square, during which protesters resurrected old Cultural Revolution labels such as “renegade” and “traitor” to attack their enemies,’ simply exemplifies just how persistent ‘entrenched political habits’ can be.69

NOTES

1 Gregory Clark, ‘The Tiananmen Massacre Myth, The Japan Times, Wednesday, September 15, 2004.

2 Jay Mathews, ‘The Myth of Tiananmen and the Price of a Passive Press’, Columbia Journalism Review, September/October, 1989.

3 The Encyclopedia of the World, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001 (6th edition), p.1026.

4 Richard Solomon, interviewed on China Forum, MHz Network, January 13, 2002.

5 George Black and Robin Munro, Black Hands of Beijing: Lives of Defiance in China’s Democracy Movement, John Wiley & Sons Inc., New York, 1993, p.246.

6 Li Minqi, The Rise of China and the Demise of the Capitalist World Economy, Monthly Review Press, New York, 2008, pp.61-62.

7 Maurice Meisner, Mao’s China and After: A History of the People’s Republic, The Free Press, New York, 1999, p.500.

8 Ibid.

9 Doug Guthrie, China’s Globalization: The Social, Economic, and Political Transformation of Chinese Society, Routledge, New York, 2006, p.265.

10 Maurice Meisner, Mao’s China and After, p.492.

11 Ibid., pp.492-493.

12 Andrew J. Nathan and Perry Link (editors), The Tiananmen Papers, Little, Brown and Company, London, 2001, pp.227-228.

13 Mike Chinoy, China Live: Two Decades in the Heart of the Dragon, Turner Publishing Inc., Atlanta, 1997, p.188.

14 Ibid., p.196.

15 Ibid., p.197.

16 Ibid., p.197.

17 Jane Macartney, ‘The Students: Heroes, Pawns or Power-Brokers?’ in George Hicks (editor), The Broken Mirror: China After Tiananmen, St. James Press, Chicago, 1990, p.12.

18 Ibid., p.5

19 Ibid., pp.329-330.

20 Orville Schell, Mandate of Heaven: A New Generation of Entrepreneurs, Dissidents, Bohemians and Technocrats Lays Claim to China’s Future, Little Brown and Company, London, 1995, pp.55-56.

21 Turmoil in Tiananmen: A Study of U.S. Press Coverage of the Beijing Spring of 1989, The Joan Shorenstein Barone Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, June, 1992, page 6 of 49 when viewed online at: http://tsquare.tv/themes/TatTcover.html

22 Ross Terrill, China in Our Time: A Personal view of the People’s Republic from Communist victory to Tiananmen Square and beyond, Hale & Iremonger Pty Ltd., Sydney, Australian edition, 1995, p.249.

23 Dorinda Elliott, ‘We have Enthusiasm and Daring’, Newsweek, May 8, 1989, p.16.

24 From the transcript of the film, Gate of Heavenly Peace. Available online at: http://www.tsquare.tv/film/transhs.html

25 Ross Terrill, China in Our Time, p.249.

26 Ibid.

27 Turmoil in Tiananmen: A Study of U.S. Press Coverage of the Beijing Spring of 1989, The Joan Shorenstein Barone Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, June, 1992, page 4 of 49 when viewed online at: http://tsquare.tv/themes/TatTcover.html

28 Ibid. page 7 of 49. American journalists were not the only ones to portray the student movement as a ‘pro-democracy’ one of course. This was how the Western media in general portrayed the student cause.

29 George Black and Robin Munro, Black Hands of Beijing, p.248.

30 Ibid., p.159.

31 Ibid., p.167.

32 Merle Goldman, From Comrade to Citizen: the struggle for political rights in China, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2005, p.61.

33 Ibid.

34 Andrew G. Walder and Gong Xiaoxia, ‘Workers in the Tiananmen Protests: The Politics of the Beijing Workers’ Autonomous Federation’, The Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs, No.29, January 1993, pp.1-29.

35 Ibid.

36 Ibid.

37 Ibid.

38 Ibid.

39 Jane Macartney, ‘The Students: Heroes, Pawns or Power-Brokers?’, pp.8-9.

40 Ibid., p.17.

41 Ibid., p.9.

42 Ibid., p.10.

43 Mike Chinoy, China Live: Two Decades in the Heart of the Dragon, p.242.

44 Turmoil in Tiananmen: A Study of U.S. Press Coverage of the Beijing Spring of 1989, The Joan Shorenstein Barone Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, June, 1992, page 11 of 49 when viewed online at: http://tsquare.tv/themes/TatTcover.html

45 Ibid., page 10 of 46.

46 Ibid., page 11 of 46.

47 Jan Wong, Red China Blues: My Long March from Mao to Now, Doubleday/Anchor Books, Sydney, 1996, p.241.

48 Turmoil in Tiananmen: A Study of U.S. Press Coverage of the Beijing Spring of 1989, The Joan Shorenstein Barone Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, June, 1992, page 11 of 49 when viewed online at: http://tsquare.tv/themes/TatTcover.html

49 Ibid., page 22 of 46.

50 Ibid., page 11 of 46.

51 Turmoil in Tiananmen: A Study of U.S. Press Coverage of the Beijing Spring of 1989, The Joan Shorenstein Barone Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, June, 1992, page 2 of 7 when viewed online at: http://tsquare.tv/themes/TatTconclsn.html

52 Geremie Barme, ‘Beijing Days, Beijing Nights’ in Jonathon Unger (editor), The Pro-Democracy Protests in China: Reports from the Provinces, M.E. Sharpe, Inc, Armonk, New York, 1991, page 7 of 16 when online at: http://tsquare.tv/links/Beijing_Days.html

53 Orville Schell, Mandate of Heaven, p.91.

54 Jan Wong, Red China Blues, p.232.

55 Philip J. Cunningham, ‘The Forgotten Meaning of Tiananmen’, Tuesday, April 21, 2009. Posted on The Informed Comment website, at: http://www.juancole.com/2009/04/cunningham-forgotten-meaning-of.html

56 Ibid.

57 Ross Terrill, China in Our Time, 1995, p.248.

58 Andrew J. Nathan and Perry Link (editors), The Tiananmen Papers, p.364.

59 An English translation of the Hunger Strike Manifesto appears in Han Minzhu and Hua Sheng, (editors), Cries for Democracy: Writings and Speeches from the 1989 Chinese Democracy Movement, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1990, p.352.

60 Mike Chinoy, China Live: Two Decades in the Heart of the Dragon, p.243.

61 Ibid.

62 Jane Macartney, ‘The Students: Heroes, Pawns or Power-Brokers?’, p.10.

63 Ibid, p.11.

64 Helene Chung, Shouting from China, Penguin, Melbourne, second edition, 1989, pp.276-277.

65 Excerpts from Philip. J. Cunningham’s interview with Chai Ling are provided in Geremie Barme’s, In The Red: On Contemporary Chinese Culture, Columbia University Press, New York, 1999, p.329.

66 Ibid., p.330.

67 Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom, Student Protests in Twentieth-Century China: the view from Shanghai, Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, 1991, p.326.

68 Ibid., pp.11-12.

69 Ibid., pp.326-327.


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203 Responses to “Sorting fact from fiction – Tiananmen revisited (Part 1)”

  1. raventhorn4000 Says:

    One part should be mentioned is that, Antiwar.com published a commentary of the Tiananmen Square movement, with an attachment of a photo showing student demonstrators carrying a huge Mao portrait.

    a picture is worth 1000 words.

    (1) the students were largely disorganized. And thus, no testimonials from a single group of student leaders can convey the exact nature of the demonstration, or to evidence whether violence was initiated from the students or not. There were groups of students coming and going all the time. There were even “factions” within the student groups that nearly bar room brawled with one another for “control”.

    (2) I was writing a paper on the History of the Chinese Civil War in 1989. I did a little presentation for a class of high school students in US, right around the time when the protest started. The students asked me what I would predict for the protest. I told them flat out that I thought the students were disorganized and they have little discipline to control their own crowd, and that such a large group of disorganized students hot on slogans was going to end in violence, and the Chinese government would be forced to respond.

    (3) former US secretary of State Henry Kissinger similarly said in the aftermath, “No government in the world would have tolerated having the main square of its capital occupied for eight weeks by tens of thousands of demonstrators.” Some called him a friend to dictators after that quote, but he was speaking merely historical fact. In the history of China, and in the history of the world, no government has tolerated a demonstration in the capital square for more than 8 weeks, in 1989. (in 2008, Thailand broke the record with a mass protest that lasted 193 days. But the economic impact of the protest was devastating, causing the Thailand Stock Exchange index to fall 24.7%, and the Thai Currency dropped to a year low. Seizure of a airport by protesters costed Thailand about US$100 million per day. And property damage estimated to $300,000. That’s in a small country like Thailand!)

    (4) US mass protests (more than a few hundred people), will nearly always require an administrative approval process. And YES, denial of protest occurs very often! And there are “no protest” zoning laws in US.

  2. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Another paper on the subject analyzed the cultural aspect of the Tiananmen Student movement as “failing because it is still fundamentally non-grassroot but rather primarily driven by a new group that saw themselves as the paternal elites”.

    Though I would not agree that “grassroot” movement is an answer to Chinese political issues, I would agree with the characterization that the Student movement.

    And in that sense, because of their intellectual paternalistic characteristics, the CCP would inevitably see the Students not as merely members of a dissatisfied populous, but rather members of an opposition movement, or at least a competing movement.

  3. Charles Liu Says:

    “No government in the world would have tolerated having the main square of its capital occupied for eight weeks by tens of thousands of demonstrators”

    Indeed, what Kissinger said not only applies to China, but to ourselves as well:

    http://www.google.com/search?q=military+suppression+of+Bonus+March

    The commander who violently suppressed peaceful demonstrators, Douglas MacArthur, today is honored for performing his duty.

  4. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    Very few governments would tolerate a public square like this one being occupied by so many demonstrators for 7-8 weeks, that is true – the chaos this causing being only one factor. Hygeine and sanitation issues need to be taken into account as well.

    In section IV of my essay, to be published here on May 22, I will be discussing the chaos, the fact that the government was more willing to compromise than the students, who proved to be arrogant and irrational in thyeir every changing demands. The students also encouraged workers to take up arms and to instigate acts of violence – which as I will demonstrate, led to the panicky firing by PLA troops.

  5. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Yes, the Bonus March Suppression.

    MacArthur rolled out the 1st production Sherman tanks onto Pennsylvania avenue, and then had the US Calvary charge the 2000 or so starving protesters who remain camped out in DC, with sabres. Soldiers than went into on foot with bayonets fixed. Most of the protesters had already left.

    4 dead, including 2 babies.

    Tanks, calvary charges, sabres, and bayonets against 2000 unarmed (truly unarmed) war vets and their families, who were asking for money already PROMISED to them.

    Tiananmen had TENS of THOUSANDS of protesters, some had seized AK-47’s.

    I think we know which one overreacted.

  6. William Huang Says:

    Mark,

    Great essay! Thanks.

    “Employing a sober sense of fairness, the American historian Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom, while recognising that many of the students did in fact demonstrate a genuine desire to create a freer society, makes the point that the elite authoritarianism of the student movement in general needs to be understood as having been the inevitable product of China’s dominant political culture at the time. ‘As the events of 1989 remind us,’ says Wasserstrom, ‘the tendency of protesters to improvise from familiar social and cultural scripts is a double-edged sword: it can lend power to a struggle but can also lead protesters to (often unintentionally) reproduce inequities embedded in the status quo within their own movements.”

    This is so very true. This has always been my contention point with people who pushed for expedient democratic progress in China, particularly those who born and grow up in democratic societies with little or no knowledge about Chinese people. Besides many other things, democracy is also an experience and it cannot be obtained over night or taught in school. Without such experiences, it’s chaos. Therefore, the progress has to be gradual, particularly for a country with 1.3 billion populations.

    Another thing I want to point out. Even in a big city such as Beijing, it’s not easy to just kill few hundred people on the streets and covered it like it never happened. It would have to involve tens of thousands of people from family relatives, hospital personnel, government agencies, eye-witness, street cleaners, etc, etc. And in China people talk to each other. One way or another, truth leaks out. That’s why I am very suspicious of the claim made by TGIE’s that hundreds of Tibetans were killed on 3/14/08. In today’s easy digital image age from cell phone to camera, some gruesome pictures would have been produced if the number is that large.

  7. pug_ster Says:

    @MAJ very good essay. I can’t wait for the 2nd part.

    Another interesting read from Henry Kissinger’s opinion about the Tiananmen incident:

    http://www.naomiklein.org/shock-doctrine/resources/part4/chapter9/caricature-deng-tyrant-unfair

  8. TonyP4 Says:

    Any other country killed its demonstrating students? May be a few incidents but not in this scale. A desperate effort when the regime was threatened.

    It could cost Deng a Nobel prize – no one lifted millions from poverty thru out our world history.

    On the brighter side, it is nothing compared to the millions died in Mao’s poor governance. This is the only regrettable incident in the last 30 years and quite an achievement when you read the disasters one after another since 1640 (the end of Ming dynasty).

  9. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Fantastic essay. Look forward to Part 2.

  10. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    William Huang wrote: “…democracy is also an experience and it cannot be obtained over night or taught in school. Without such experiences, it’s chaos. Therefore, the progress has to be gradual, particularly for a country with 1.3 billion populations.”

    Yes, I agree entirely!

    pug_ster, S.K. Cheung, et. al. – thanks too for your encouraging remarks.

  11. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To William:
    I agree with your 2nd paragraph of #6, as MAJ does.

    “In today’s easy digital image age from cell phone to camera, some gruesome pictures would have been produced if the number is that large.” If 6/4 happened today, that would apply. Back in 1989, my cell phone was the size of the water bottle I take to the gym, with an antenna sticking up another 6 inches. And it certainly didn’t take pictures.

  12. yo Says:

    MAJ,
    wow, great essay. I learned a lot, and it definitely explains why the Tiananmen vets that visit this site and around hated the student leaders (I believe Chai Ling in particular). Can’t wait for part 2.

    It makes me mad that the press were so bias, there is no excuse for that, just shows you that even in a “free society” we aren’t guaranteed the whole picture.

    ALL,
    DOES ANYONE KNOW WHERE THERE IS A ENGLISH SUBTITLED VERSION OF “THE GATE OF HEAVENLY PEACE”??? Sorry for all caps, but if anyone knows, I would be very grateful.

  13. scl Says:

    Question: once martial law is declared and it is announced that the troops will advance at all costs, including shoot and kill, then the shooting become legitimate?

  14. pug_ster Says:

    Martial law was imposed 2 weeks before 6/4, and there lies the problem. According to John Pomfret from:

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tankman/interviews/pomfret.html

    “There was a martial law order that was being broadcast on speakers hanging everywhere in the city, basically telling Beijing residents to stay off the streets, and that if anything happened to them they’d be responsible for it. No one at least that I was coming into contact with was paying attention to this order. People began to move towards the intersection, strengthening those barricades.”

    There was a warning to tell the residents to stay off the streets or they are not responsible what happened to them. The inability for the Chinese government to enforce Martial law is because of the internal strife within the communist party of how to handle this situation. I think that MAJ would probably write in his 2nd part of his essay that when the Chinese government’s back was on the wall, they have no choice but act this way.

  15. yo Says:

    @scl
    what are your thoughts to your question?

  16. shane9219 Says:

    @MAJ

    The famous incident involving the “Tank Man” did show some troop there had exercised a great deal of restraint.

  17. shane9219 Says:

    William Huang wrote: “…democracy is also an experience and it cannot be obtained over night …”

    Democracy also came out as an important part of civil tradition. Unfortunately, China’s long history did not provide any solid foudation for civil community. Under Chinese tradition, the next thing beyond the concept of family/tribe/clan is called kingdom/country, and all of them had to be guarded in orderly fashion through a single authority.

    The concept of civil community that are formed and shared by people of equal rights are still very new to lots of Chinese. In the West, people are taking this notion for granted, but it would take at least two generations for such important experience to take root in china.

  18. stuart Says:

    Interesting discussion of this essay’s merits going on here:

    http://tinyurl.com/q992qo

    Warning: comments disagreeing with the host are being deleted

  19. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Shane,

    If by “civil community”, you mean independent clubs/lodge/businesses, I don’t know if China lacks such in its history. Chinese businesses have had long histories of guilds.

  20. raventhorn4000 Says:

    TonyP4,

    1989 is not the 1st time in recent history that had a protest that degenerated into killing.

    Mao used Tiananmen for a Red Guard rally that started the Cultural Revolution, during which Deng was imprisoned.

    Historically, such “student rallies” in Tiananmen are rarely benign and peaceful.

    As one of my American friends said realistically once, “Anyone who thinks they can talk down a mass group of angry Chinese students has to be insane.”

  21. shane9219 Says:

    @ R4000 #19

    “If by “civil community”, you mean independent clubs/lodge/businesses …”

    Civil community is a broad term for many types of social constucts. Examples like a labor union, a woman association, a scientific organization like ACM, IEEE etc. These civil organizations are still run mostly by the government in China.

  22. Uln Says:

    Very interesting article, with a great collection of sources that are probably new to many readers.

    I would just like to point out the following issues, not necessarily against the OP.

    1- There is certainly an ethnocentric POV in the Western mass media. Just as there is an ethnocentric POV in the Chinese media covering the West. This is natural and it doesn’t necessarily follow that the coverage has no value. Serious analysts (like some of the ones cited in the article) are usually able to put things into context and see through the ethnocentric lens.

    2- A large part of the Western mass media are biased against the CPC. This is something many observers acknowledge, but it would be a mistake to infer that all Western coverage is faulty. The best proof that this is not the case is the article itself: almost all the sources cited are from Western analysts, many of them journalists working for the Western media.

    3- A different problem is the bias against the CPC in Western societies in general, partly fueled by the Western media, but also by the non transparent/dishonest practices of the Chinese government. Like with the Tibet issue, SARS, and many others, the CPC is one of the main culprits of all the misinformation circulating, as it makes its best efforts to hide the truth from both the Western and Chinese public.

    4- Granted, the Tiananmen student protests had many flaws and perhaps it was better for China that this particular protest didn’t succeed. Still, this does not justify the killing of thousands of people by the army (see same sources cited in OP) without any kind of accountability. The CPC might say that it was necessary, but why do the Chinese have to take this at face value? Is it right for a government to cover up such important events “for the benefit of the people”? Do most Chinese people agree to be treated like irresponsible children that need parental control? It is sad to see that a large part of the younger Chinese today have no idea of what happened in 1989.

    5- Finally: having democracy and human rights as an ideal is not the same as “American ethnocentrism”. It is an ideal that is shared by many people in all the World, and from what I have seen (in the 2000s), it is shared by many Chinese as well. We should not mistake this ideal with the political utilization of it by certain powers. Not all the Western media supports this, as shown by the reactions to the invasion of Irak.

  23. stuart Says:

    @ Uln

    Now that’s what I call a well-balanced and thoughtful reply. Thank you.

    I would only add this, and I quote my own response to the article’s author over at cnreviews:

    At the very least it has to be debatable rather than categorical that “nobody died in the Square”. That aside, your characterisation of 6/4 and the events leading up to the tragedy is that of a media-inspired ‘spectacular’. My issue with that line of thinking is that, intentionally or otherwise, it tends to downplay both the significance of the event as a momentum change in modern Chinese history and the need for the government to be held to account for their actions at that time.

    On the latter point, your essay can be interpreted as a piece that deflects responsibility for 6/4 somewhat, and will therefore (as is already clear) be all too readily embraced by those conditioned to the idea of a ‘China-bashing western media’. In that sense I feel that it may reinforce existing polarized thought rather than serve to open minds to the truth of Tiananmen.

    My previous comment over there was deleted by Kai for some reason, so don’t be surprised if you can’t find it.

  24. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    Stuart wrote: “On the latter point, your essay can be interpreted as a piece that deflects responsibility for 6/4 somewhat, and will therefore (as is already clear) be all too readily embraced by those conditioned to the idea of a ‘China-bashing western media’. In that sense I feel that it may reinforce existing polarized thought rather than serve to open minds to the truth of Tiananmen.”

    Stuart – this is perhaps a fair criticism, in so far as I can understand and appreciate your concern, but rather than deflecting responsibility away from the central government entirely, my purpose is to demonstrate empirically that multiple parties must necessarily SHARE the blame. This I think is the morally right position to take, in light of what the weight of empirical evidence shows. The central government was not entirely to blame.

    Consider this: the argument put forward by Clark and others is that what took place was not a “massacre”, but a kind of “mini civil war”. This is what I will be looking at in detail in Part II of my essay. The question is: were the soldiers provoked into firing live ammunition into the crowd as a last resort? Who initiated the violence on the steets? If there is ample evidence to show that it was the rioting mobs that provoked the violence (and there is now sufficient evidence to show that this is what actually happened: from witnesses, both foreign and domestic, including Western journalists; declassified US intelligence reports and Chinese intelligence reports issued to the central government, as included in the Tiananmen Papers). If this was indeed the case, as much of the evidence suggests, then the situation becomes far more complex and nuanced. Who was to blame for the outbreak of violence and the bloodshed that resulted must therefore be shared among numerous parties – including the student protesters, who encouraged workers and residents to take up arms and to fight.

    What happened on the streets is a little unclear, though the view that innocent “unarmed” civilians and students were gunned down on mass is no longer widely accepted either. Most scholars and even Western journalists today now accept the view that civilians were NOT unarmed, and that they did provoke much of the violence. As I said, there is even sufficient evidence from a variety of important sources to show that demonstrating workers and civilians initiated the violence through acts of their own – causing panicky troops to reluctantly open fire after first using tear gas, blanks, and the firing of warning shots using live ammunition over heads.

    It’s important to try to piece together events as accurately as possible, and to portion the blame fairly among all of the parties responsible. This is the purpose of my essay, as will become clear once you have had the chance to read Part II in full. All sources will, of course, be carefully cited and footnoted so that you can check them for yourself.

  25. huaren Says:

    @Stuart #23

    “On the latter point, your essay can be interpreted as a piece that deflects responsibility for 6/4 somewhat, and will therefore (as is already clear) be all too readily embraced by those conditioned to the idea of a ‘China-bashing western media’. In that sense I feel that it may reinforce existing polarized thought rather than serve to open minds to the truth of Tiananmen.”

    I think MAJ might have been too kind in his #24 response to you.

    It could be the case that the world is already too polarized and you are too used to your “China-bashing” up-bringing.

  26. huaren Says:

    @MAJ, #24

    A lot of work and thank you for your meticulous compilation and citation of sources for which your essay was based.

    I take comfort in knowing that your work is likely translated and circulated in Chinese within China.

    For me, I personally believe that the average American is pumped with worry, fed that everything is wrong with society, and led to think that the world is there to steal lunch! This is not healthy and is a side-effect of capitalistic media.

    Your essay is a comprehensive/broad view on the Tianamen “massacre.” More importantly, it also shows the ugly side of “free” media and hopefully China evolve its media to not repeat it.

    You have fundamentalists out there thinking you are threatening their views. They like to think in sandboxes. Your hard work in research and facts are killing them over. Keep it up! 🙂

  27. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    Thanks again huaren, for your encouraging remarks.

  28. stuart Says:

    @ huaren

    “I think MAJ might have been too kind in his #24 response to you.”

    I think I have been too kind in my present #28 response to that remark.

    Given that I never insult people when expressing my concerns or viewpoints, I think a courteous, intelligent reply is the least I can expect. Don’t you?

    *Edited to say that I’ve replied over at cnreviews.

  29. Wukailong Says:

    I’ve finally had time to have a look at this, and compared to the two books I’ve read describing the situation, Jan Wong’s and Che Muqi’s books, this seems to agree quite a bit with the version of the former. The infighting, dividing the squares into areas of control and the way student leaders began mimicking the CCP leadership hierarchies, is very similar to the description I’ve read. Thanks MAJ for a good essay in general.

    Some details:

    I don’t think the conclusion on the order of the movement is that clear. It doesn’t follow from an organization being chaotic or doing bad sanitation work that it is doing a poor job boosting morale. Such things can unfortunately coexist quite happily.

    I would prefer the word “empirical” (and its derivations) to be used more sparingly. With regards to history, I’m not sure it’s even possible to do any sort of empirical testing in the sense that you do experiments and compare them to some theory. At best you have a lot of sources and a comparison done on them, and can get a picture of what the current best sources say in the matter.

    Finally, have “The Tiananmen Papers” been confirmed to be real? They’re certainly extraordinarily interesting if they’re real, and I believe they are, but… as long as it remains in doubt, perhaps these sources should be played down a bit. Just a thought.

  30. yo Says:

    Stuart
    Nice comments. About “deflecting blame”, IMO, it’s the same trap that the journalist fell into at Tiananmen. With their unwillingness to present facts that might support the gov’t, they turned a blind eye to half the story, which resulted in people(in the U.S at least) getting distorted views of Tiananmen.

    As an aside,I remember watching a series on 6/4, and in the documentary, they showed the Chinese Government’s pov of the tank man incident. They said that the tank driver was showing incredible constraint in not harming the trouble maker. I almost laughed when I heard that because of what I learned about the tank man, the one who stood up for democracy and freedom. But now I know more, it a bit shocking the former was probably just as credible as the latter.

  31. Wukailong Says:

    Another reflection is that the whole world was different back in 1989. Remember that the Soviet Union had been changing ideologically for several years, and the whole of Eastern Europe was on the move. I don’t blame anyone who believed the same thing was happening in China. It’s not necessarily wearing colored glasses so much as extrapolating too much and perhaps seeing similarities that weren’t there. At the same time, the students were clearly inspired by what happened in other socialist countries – some students were carrying banners saying “Glasnost/公开” and the like.

    In these days of “West vs. China” discussions, it’s easy to forget what the world was like back in the 80’s. Perhaps in anglophone countries, it was mostly pro-US (and pro-West by modern standards), but believe me, that wasn’t the case for all countries.

  32. Raj Says:

    Wukailong, the Chinese government being what it is I doubt the Tiananmen Papers will ever be officially confirmed as being correct, certainly whilst administrations refuse to accept the security crackdown was “wrong”, unarmed civilians were killed needlessly, etc. Even if such a change of attitude was made, papers might still be protected to protect individuals. Assuming such information hasn’t already been destroyed.

    Uln makes a very good reply. Personally I will wait until part 2 for my own response to the essay.

  33. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Raj,

    I don’t think there was ever an “official paper” on the Bonus March either, except for what MacArthur wrote.

    You might as well ask the Pope to convert to Mormonism. (for attitudes).

  34. Wahaha Says:

    3- A different problem is the bias against the CPC in Western societies in general, partly fueled by the Western media, but also by the non transparent/dishonest practices of the Chinese government. Like with the Tibet issue, SARS, and many others, the CPC is one of the main culprits of all the misinformation circulating, as it makes its best efforts to hide the truth from both the Western and Chinese public.

    Uln,

    Fair comment. here is the point:

    Chinese government is obligated to tell Chinese people the truth, but I dont see why it offends westerners.

    If you were a 18 yr old student who was applying for Harvard, would you have let a teacher, who had disliked you, write a recommendation letter for you ?

    Do you feel offended if a chinese media keep talking about the SENSITIVE issues in your country ? In USA, most Americans dont like GW, but they certainly dont like to talk about him with people from other countries.

    So why do westerners feel uneasy that their reporters and journalists dont have the freedom in China they want to have ? How do you feel that your government gave hundreds billions of dollars/Euros to those banks and financial institutions to save their @$$ but not much coverage ON PEOPLE’S OPINIONS by your media ?

    BTW, I could tell the uneasiness from Britishs on this board when I questioned what Britain did to Northern Ireland.

  35. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Shane,

    “Civil community is a broad term for many types of social constucts. Examples like a labor union, a woman association, a scientific organization like ACM, IEEE etc. These civil organizations are still run mostly by the government in China.”

    Perhaps that’s the case today, but that was not always the case in Chinese history.

    During the Spring Autumn period, over 100 schools of philosophies ran their own independent teaching of students, with no intervention from any government.

  36. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    Wukailong and Raj – I do in fact plan to briefly discuss the question you raise about the Tiananmen Papers. They are widely (almost universally) accepted as genuine within academia, so I shall treat them as such too.

    Also, the contents are corroborated by the now declassified US State Department intelligence reports, and by many of the eye witness accounts – including many of those provided by foreign journalists. This will become clear once you have read Part II of my essay.

    As for the causal link between poor organisation and sanitation, and declining morale – there does seem to be a link. Some students started complaining openly about the leadership – as I mentioned in my essay when I referred to the Hong Kong newspaper report for example, and Mike Chinoy of CNN notes too how from the middle of May onwards numbers in the Square began to quickly decline, as students were just plain bored and fed up with it all – he mentions sanitation as one factor for the drastic decline. Numbers were only as high as they were because students from other provinces continued arriving (in quite large numbers at times), keen to be a part of the history-making scene, to sahre in the excitement. These new arrivals were therefore not keen to see the occupation end so suddenly, and were a major force in challenging Wu’er Kaixi’s announcement to end the occupation. Chai Ling initially voted to wind it all up too, but later sided with the new arrivals, who had rallied to form their own power faction.

  37. Shane9219 Says:

    @R4000 #35

    Civil community is not a loosely organized club with closed relation. Such an entity has a defined mission, chapter and open membership to those who are qualified. Members are given rights to elect leaders based on their own preference, and leadership has a limited term etc.

  38. Uln Says:

    @Wahaha

    “Chinese government is obligated to tell Chinese people the truth, but I don’t see why it offends westerners.”

    I don’t know about Westerners in general, but I can tell you why it offends me. It does because I believe in some rights that are inherent to every human being, and I believe that states exist for the protection of those rights. Therefore individual rights are, in my eyes, more important than states or cultures.

    But of course, these are my own beliefs, and it would take too long to prove here why they are superior to others (supposing you can prove it at all). Still, from a practical point of view, it should be easy to see that citizens of countries that respect these rights are better off than citizens of countries that don’t. And although you can point to particular examples (sure, no country in the World is 100% clean), it is clear that governments which are accountable to their citizens can’t get away with so much abuse as others.

    Since you like particular examples I will give you one: If I see a guy beating his wife on the street I feel it is my duty to intervene, and I would take no bullshit from him saying he can do what he wants with his wife. Neither would I listen to cultural reasons, even if it happened in a country where it is allowed to publicly beat wifes. (but of course, I might listen to my own safety reasons and decide not to act. I am no hero).

    As for the SENSITIVE issues, well, these are usually sensitive because they have 2 sides to them (pro/against Taiwan, pro/against GWBush, etc.). It is easy to see that one of the sides will always get sore when you write about it. But ignoring the issue altogether doesn’t seem like a good solution either. The role of the media is not and can never be to ensure smiles all around, but rather to point at the truth -or the many different truths- right were it hurts.

    So I understand and I often agree when Chinese point at a particular publication from the West that publishes biased/false information. But this should never be mistaken with questioning the absolute right of foreign media to “interfere in internal affairs”. This is exactly what the CPC cadres (or bigots in the GW administration, for that matter) would like you to believe, because their own life becomes so easy without the trouble of those outside media out of their control.

    And now I ask a question: Is it in the interest of the Chinese to give an easier life to their CPC cadres? Judging by the number of complaints against corruption, I dare guess most Chinese would answer: NO! And of course, so would reasonable citizens of any other country.

  39. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To ULN #38:
    excellent post, once again.

    To Wahaha #34:
    “Chinese government is obligated to tell Chinese people the truth” – how well do you think the CHinese government has fulfilled their apparent obligation? Forget TAM, what was her track record with SARS, bird flu, or melamine?

  40. Terrence George Says:

    The truth about the Tiananmen Square massacre is told in a new book to be published June 1989.
    ‘Picnic in Tiananmen Square’
    by Terrence George
    http://www.terrencegeorge.co.uk

    OK, this is a plug, but if you want to find out about what happened, how, and why, then look this one up. It’s a different approach to the norm – but gets to the truth…

  41. Wahaha Says:

    SKC,

    The answer to your question is ‘ bad’.

    I have said before that chinese government should stop censoring the information WITHIN China.

    It did improve in SanLu scandal, didnt it ? hopefully that is the trend.

  42. Wahaha Says:

    I don’t know about Westerners in general, but I can tell you why it offends me. It does because I believe in some rights that are inherent to every human being,

    Uln,

    I mean absolutely no offense, but I want to speak straightly :

    In East culture, people dont criticize others unless they themselves are perfect or nearly perfect, otherwise, he will be considered shameless. With the history that West has done, even teh history in last 30 years, plus how the native aboriginal are treated, we dont think that Westerners are qualified as judges to point the finger at others; or Westerners are clueless when they consider themselves on morally high ground when talking about China.

    Also, an old chinese saying, that people consider food as their first priority (Ming yi shi wei tian) ( can someone help write it in Chinese ?). While people from west take good foods, good living, happy weekend, traveling and partying for granted, that is not the case for chinese, actually that is not the case for any developing country. So when West ‘ human right ‘ this and ‘ human right ‘ that, west never talk about the basic human right —– a good living for every people, THAT IS 99.9% of THE PEOPLE CARE MOST. so when you try to convince others anything political idea, you must make sure your idea can deliver a better living.

    Unfortunately, democracy doesnt deliver.

    and please remember : there are 1.3 billion people in China, your west media keeps reporting what 0.1% of chinese population want.

    You give an example, I give you a counter example :

    In WWII, British secret agents sneaked into Norway, blew a ship with nuclear material on board. there were 12 civilians on board, 4 of them were children.

  43. Wahaha Says:

    “But ignoring the issue altogether …”

    What do you mean by that ? What sensitive issue did Chinese government ignore ? they just didnt let public get into that business.

    BTW, what sensitive issue did West government let public argue ?

  44. Uln Says:

    #43 – “but ignoring the issue altogether”

    Fair enough, your phrasing describes the situation much more accurately: they don’t ignore, they cover up. The problem is, not letting the public “get into that business” is often cruel and even worse than ignoring it. For example, for the parents of children who wanted to know who was guilty of building fragile schools. Not only they will never know, but they also get into trouble if they ask too much.

    “What sensitive issue did West government let public argue?”

    Come on, you live in the States I am guessing. Are you seriously telling me that the public is not allowed to discuss sensitive issues? Just to give an example comparable to China, a sensitive issue which is often criticized by foreign countries (mostly Europe): Death penalty. It is openly discussed and there are even Hollywood movies about it.

  45. Charles Liu Says:

    “who was guilty of building fragile schools” makes assumption you can’t back up. Please see the expert quotes I provided in the quake blogpost.

    BTW judicial review and death penalty reform is also openly discussed in China.

    Above search yielded a 2006 statement from China’s Supreme Court justice Shao Yang: “when it comes to death penalty decision, the courts should error on no death penalty.

    I’m American, and I can tell you I am not able to discuss the Abu Ghraib abuse photo/videos, since my government still have them locked up – what’s there to discuss when I can’t even see it?

    Uln, if you hate China so much why don’t you leave? America welcomes idealogues like you.

  46. Uln Says:

    #42 –

    “I mean absolutely no offense, but I want to speak straightly”

    Then speak, by all means, open debate does not offend me. It is the opposite, censorship and oppression that offend me.

    “In East culture, people dont criticize others unless they themselves are perfect or nearly perfect, otherwise, he will be considered shameless. With the history that West has done, even teh history in last 30 years, plus how the native aboriginal are treated, we dont think that Westerners are qualified as judges to point the finger at others; or Westerners are clueless when they consider themselves on morally high ground when talking about China.”

    In Western culture, we burn scientists that declare the World is round. In Eastern culture we despise women that don’t deform their feet. Cultures change all the time, and these statements are not true anymore. And that is how it should be, because cultures were created by people and they are meant to serve the people, not the opposite. If a 5000 years old culture has to change to improve the life of its individuals, then so be it.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t say cultures are not important, they are essential. I spend the biggest part of my free time studying Chinese language and culture, and I find it fascinating that some phrases I learn were coined 2000+ years ago by the disciples of Confucius. So let’s study culture, lets revere our ancestors and love our motherlands, if this makes us more human. But when it comes to serious decisions that affect the life of the people, let’s leave the old skeletons under the ground, where they belong.

    As for the moral grounds, it is funny you mention it because your whole paragraph above is trying to settle your own moral grounds based on history and culture. I will concede that some ignorant Westerners do the same, but this doesn’t make you sound any better. Western countries have done unjust things in the past, and so has China. If some Western countries mistreated Chinese in the past, then it is even more justified that they come and try to help them now. Because it is people that suffer in the end, not countries.

    “Also, an old chinese saying, that people consider food as their first priority (Ming yi shi wei tian) ( can someone help write it in Chinese ?). While people from west take good foods, good living, happy weekend, traveling and partying for granted, that is not the case for chinese, actually that is not the case for any developing country. So when West ‘ human right ‘ this and ‘ human right ‘ that, west never talk about the basic human right —– a good living for every people, THAT IS 99.9% of THE PEOPLE CARE MOST. so when you try to convince others anything political idea, you must make sure your idea can deliver a better living.”

    Your phrase is actually “min yi shi wei tian”, “民以食为天”, it is not a good example of Chinese exceptionalism, there are equivalents in Western popular cultures. Modern science has described it with the famous pyramid of Marlowe, if I get the name right. It is very true that surviving is an essential condition for happiness, and I will not deny the admirable success of the CPC in providing food for millions of people. But basic needs are only a necessary condition, not a sufficient one. In other words, man is not on earth to survive, but to live.

    “Unfortunately, democracy doesnt deliver”

    Oh well, how do we know if China hasn’t tried it? I think given the right conditions, democracy has proven it can deliver a good deal. Ask any Spanish or Polish over 40 years old, both countries turned to democracy relatively recently. You will find very very few who agree with your statement.

    “and please remember : there are 1.3 billion people in China, your west media keeps reporting what 0.1% of chinese population want.”

    No, it is not my West media. And no, it is not only 0.1% of the people of China that want more justice and freedom.

    “In WWII, British secret agents sneaked into Norway, blew a ship with nuclear material on board. there were 12 civilians on board, 4 of them were children.”

    In the seventies, China went into Vietnam and killed far more than 12 civilians and 4 children. So now what. am I supposed to do, hate the Chinese?

  47. Charles Liu Says:

    “China hasn’t tried it?” Are you kidding me Uln? The Chinese have continued to experiment and expand elections, from village democracy 20 years ago to open nomination and direct election district people’s congress in recent year.

    You know, you are the kind of laowai I truely dispise. The obviouse kind of racism is easy to refute – but the subtle, seemingly rational kind you throw out requires thought and study, which take time away from other things I rather be doing 😎 Don’t like China? Get the eff out.

  48. Uln Says:

    @ Charles Liu –

    “Uln, if you hate China so much why don’t you leave”

    And you are very funny and I miss you on my blog. Especially I miss your pet phrase about hating, man nobody tells me these things anymore!

    No seriously, your post is not logical. I will give you just an example: I never said death penalty is not discussed in China. Neither did I say that all schools in Sichuan were fragile. You know, I like discussing with you and we’ve sometimes had interesting exchanges in the past, but if you are going to start like this from reply 1, don’t expect me to waste more time.

  49. Uln Says:

    #47- I will take that as a compliment.

  50. JXie Says:

    1. “killing of thousands”

    The best count I know of is probably in the hundreds — likely close to the official PRC count: around 300. From a pure human level, even one death is a life (just like you and me) taken away.

    2. Uln, interesting viewpoints. Would like to comment the following:

    Since you like particular examples I will give you one: If I see a guy beating his wife on the street I feel it is my duty to intervene, and I would take no bullshit from him saying he can do what he wants with his wife. Neither would I listen to cultural reasons, even if it happened in a country where it is allowed to publicly beat wifes. (but of course, I might listen to my own safety reasons and decide not to act. I am no hero).

    The example itself is a bit problematic given that some of those students have moved pretty high up in the whole system, and Wen the premier then was seen at the Square taking a stand supportive to the students. But I shall go with your flow…

    What if the episode of wife beating started with some verbal fighting that you didn’t see, and the husband happened to be the best sex partner and the best provider the wife has ever had? Heck the wife beating was 20 years ago, and the husband has been a reasonably changed man and still the best sex partner and the best provider, why you keep putting that cross on that guy specifically considered there have been a lot of wife-beating episodes ever since, which may or may not include yourself?

  51. JXie Says:

    Was a “pro-democracy” college student back then in China. Starting in April, most universities were practically shut down. Still vividly remember the aftermath, and that feeling of that this ugly place called the world was dying inside of me and among my peers. Not too long after, there was the democracy revolution in Eastern Europe and former Soviet Union — oh those lucky SOBs…

    It didn’t take much longer than a decade to show who were the lucky ones. In Russia, life expectancy among males decreased by close to 10 years in the 90s, and the trend didn’t stop and reverse until Putin, the “new Tsar” came to power. Often we can see the visible deaths right in front of us, but not in the invisible deaths in a parallel universe where the students and the student supporters gained power, and the whole system subsequently collapsed. As hard as it’s to say it, in retrospect, the finest hour of Deng’s political life was quite probably right before that faithful night/morning.

  52. Beef'n with Satin Says:

    This essay sucks, Mark is so in touch with the Chinese mind! Tienanmen was of course a fabrication by ethnocentric Westerners, thanks Mark for changing my entire outlook on China and my own country

  53. Wukailong Says:

    @Wahaha: “In East culture, people dont criticize others unless they themselves are perfect or nearly perfect”

    This is absolutely not true, unless you confine it to very personal remarks in front of others (and that is not necessarily great in any country). Here in China I see people yelling at service personnel and others almost every day, which is a big no-no in the country I come from (not saying it’s better, just different).

    I am willing to go with you that people here tend to prefer criticism in private, rather than in the open. Other than that, though, criticism is common and often top-down.

    Also, considering how the Chinese media treats some people, like Chris Patten and Lee Teng-hui, they certainly enjoy smearing and criticism every once in a while.

  54. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To ULN #46:
    fantastic post once again. This part particularly resonates:”So let’s study culture, lets revere our ancestors and love our motherlands, if this makes us more human. But when it comes to serious decisions that affect the life of the people, let’s leave the old skeletons under the ground, where they belong.” Extremely well-said. Even intelligent people on this blog often seem all-too-willing to let the tail wag the dog, with reasoning along the lines of “historically it was so, and so it must remain”. I’m happy to learn from history and culture, but as you say, those things should serve the people, and not vice versa.

    To Charles:
    “The Chinese have continued to experiment and expand elections, from village democracy 20 years ago to open nomination and direct election district people’s congress in recent year.” – you get excellent mileage on this point, since you use it enough. So what’s the experiment shown? When’s the larger scale experiment? When can John Q show his support for whoever is to replace Hu Jintao? BTW, #47 looks like your turn to spring a leak. Darn entertaining, I must say.

  55. stuart Says:

    Hold off on part II, MAJ, you might be needing this new material:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article6284837.ece

  56. pug_ster Says:

    I think the problems is that the protests has gone out of control at the time. If those students want a have a ‘peaceful protest’ it does not mean that they should be paralyzing the city.

  57. Shane9219 Says:

    This is a thoughtful article from Zaobao.com

    http://www.zaobao.com/yl/tx090514_501.shtml

    中国政治改革的认识误区及契机

    伊铭
    为了应对金融危机,中国政府频出重拳,好戏连台,似也收到立竿见影之效,其干预经济的资源和能力远远超越许多西方国家,凸显了具有中国特色的社会主义优势。但是如何运用这种资源和权力,并且避免在刺激经济的同时滋生腐败、官僚作风及滥权行为,如何在危机时刻避免30年改革累积的社会矛盾不致恶化,无疑是北京高层面临的新难题。

    改革往往是“逼”出来的

      这其实也为中国政治体制改革提供了动力和契机。“危机也是机遇”是被古今中外发展历史反复证明的真理。例如在20世纪30年代美国经济大萧条期间,凯恩斯学说应运而生,且成为主流经济理论,罗斯福总统推行的百日新政,用“看得见的手”帮助“看不见的手”拯救了美国,使美国走出了经济大萧条的阴霾,成为人类史上化危机为转机的典范。与此同时,这次大萧条也成了苏联大国崛起的良机。1928年,苏联开始执行第一个“五年计划”时还是一个落后贫弱的农业国,工厂老化、技术陈旧、重工业基础薄弱、技术人才缺乏。而5年之后,苏联完成了由农业国向工业化的转变,成为世界级强国。

      中国现代化的历史也说明了这一点。1977年粉碎“四人帮”后,计划经济难以为继,国民经济濒临崩溃,但中国抓住了难得的历史机遇,开启了改革开放的时代。1997年前后的亚洲金融风暴中,成长起了一大批像韩国的三星集团和中国的力帆集团这样的国际化企业。尤其是三星的崛起已成为由危机化为转机的经典个案;2003年蔓延全国的“非典”(沙斯)以及2008年的汶川大地震,则大大考验并提升了中国政府的危机处理能力。

      历史的教训是,政治改革的“机遇期”稍纵即逝,它只青睐那些既有政治智慧又不乏政治勇气的人物。历史上的一些执政者,在他们认为自己有力量控制局势的时候,不假思索地拒绝改革,或是优柔寡断、掉以轻心,直到大势已去,才意识到“错失良机”。例如抗战胜利后的1945年为蒋介石及国民党政府启开了改革的“时间之窗”,如果蒋介石抓住国共两党共商国是的机会,抛弃内战思维,进行政治改革,与共产党组织联合政府,实行民主宪政,不仅可以避免一场历时三年的兄弟相残的内战,也不致被赶出大陆,中国就此建立起良性循环的宪政制度也未可知。

      改革往往是“逼”出来的。如何在压力之下换取长久的发展动力,需要做冷静的思考,精密的布局,更需要在思维上推陈出新,谋定而后动。对中国来说尤其如此,仅在经济层面“调控”,政治层面微波不兴,绝非上策。中国30年改革开放积累的各种社会问题,在经济危机的助推之下,必然会涌动、鼓荡乃至爆发,从而孕育着中国发展路向的无限可能。

      危机也是机遇,改革正当其时。一个重要的理论依据是改革需要外部动力,风平浪静的年代难以改革。其原因在于改革的本质是一场历史性变革,变革需要外部的触动。比较而言,在危机时刻推动政治改革其风险与成功的几率并存,但成功的几率更大一些,因为:一、在这个时间段民众的承受的能力往往也比较强,对改革者的努力会有更多的理解;二、推动改革所影响的组织业绩损失比和平时期少得多。就是说,改革的机会成本比较低,对推动者来说风险相对较小。

      中国改革开放30年,政治改革总是如履薄冰,而前进每一步都需要破除一些认识上的误区与迷思。现在也是一样,在全球金融危机爆发前后,“中国特色”的体制似乎展现着特有的优越性,中国政府在汶川地震的迅速反应,北京奥运的完美落幕以及卓有成效的经济刺激方案,对比美国的包括美林证券、房利美、花旗银行、美国国际集团等金融巨无霸相继沉沦、白宫束手无策,无疑增强了中国对现有体制和发展方向的信心。

      于是乎就得出一个结论:不搞政治改革也能发展经济,不推动民主建设也能实现“强国梦”。但不能就此认为政治改革可有可无。

    邓小平说过,“经济体制改革每前进一步,都深深感到政治体制改革的必要性”。经济繁荣必带来利益纠葛,矛盾冲突。况且,诸如工人下岗、贪污腐败、两极分化等沉积多年的社会矛盾,仅从经济角度思考就很难有什么结果,唯有通过政治改革,完善体制和机制才能有效化解。
    改革核心依然是民主

      西方不少学者认为,中国改革开放30年,变化主要在经济,政治改革基本上裹足不前,这当然不是事实。依30年前中国以政治立国的情势,如果没有政治环境的宽松,经济与社会的变革是不可想象的。另有一些西方学者担心,应对经济危机有可能成为北京高层放弃政治改革的借口。曾被官方媒体高调宣传的大部制鲜被提起,中国民众期盼的官员财产公示制度按下不表,反腐机制仍没有太大突破,都令外界深感疑虑。这部分人认为,金融危机不但让中国政治改革举步维艰,也增加了利用外部矛盾转移视线的诱惑力。

      这种认识并非全无道理,但是并不一定准确,因为西方学者对中国式改革思维要么是一知半解,要么是存在偏见。例如当年邓小平推动改革开放,西方国家并不看好,认为只触动经济层面而对于政治体制按兵不动的“跛脚”改革不会成功,结果是,中国基本实现了“大国崛起”。例如现在,北京认为“社会和谐”是当务之急﹐但是在西方看来,北京力倡的“社会和谐”就是维持现状和暂停实行政治多元化的同义语。事实上,实现“社会和谐”需要融入政治改革元素。西方学者表示,只有政治自由和民主才能解决中国的社会冲突和紧张的问题﹐而北京则认为经济稳定才是维护秩序的一种更可靠的选择。

      这种认识上的错位,使得中国的意识形态常常成为西方媒体的批评对象。对于一个国家变革的路径,需要得到外界的理解与尊重。因为变革必然会在一个现实平台上展开,如何处理好传统与现实、过去与未来的关系,如何平衡变革社会中权威与自由的关系,如何将普世价值融于个性化的民族文化和体制之中,外界说三道四往往不得要领。狂飙突进式的改革固然不失为一个选项,但是对于中国来说风险太大,付出的社会成本也会很高,“稳”字当头、循序渐进,进程虽然缓慢,然而脚踏实。已故的政治学大师亨廷顿曾经这样忠告:可以预期,未来的政治变革仍将以稳健和缓进为特色,积小步为大步。

      中共中央编译局副局长俞可平在2月表示,“目前改革进入深水区,现在对民主的讨论到了非常重要的关头。”政治改革的核心价值还是民主,道理很简单,扩大公众的参与管理,有助于充当安全阀,释放社会紧张的压力。中国多年来就在试图解决权力高度集中的难题,效果并不明显。权力高度集中最大弊病就是缺乏纠错机制,政党纠错机制并非来源于党内而是公众监督。倘若北京高层能借金融危机的势头逆势而动深化政治改革,不仅会事半功倍,也比较符合社会期待。

  58. JXie Says:

    Some random musings.

    2-term presidential limit in the US was put in as a constitution amendment after FDR, and FDR became the only American president in the history who had ever served more than 2 terms. The tradition, arguable quite undemocratic (why a popular leader can’t serve longer?), is a part of the modern day “democracy”. It was all started, at least in the US, by the resistance of the American founding fathers to stay in power beyond the 2 terms, especially George Washington. The decisiveness of avoiding using his extreme popularity after leaving the office, Washington modeled himself after early Rome’s Cincinnatus.

    There are all the legal codes and “democratic” framework in Russia, yet of course there is the loophole for Putin to seek another 2 terms as a premier with his close confidant as the next president. In a curious way though, Putin effectively becomes a new Czar, and Russians are seemingly happier than they were in the 90s. If I may interject my own opinion, Russians are more comfortable now. The stories, the lessons learned from Peter the Great and on all return back to relevant now. Russia regains its soul, even in this new and improved set of code and framework.

    Without civility, democracy will not function too well. Every time I watch the footage of brawls in the Taiwan parliament (what probably Jackie Chan called 乱), I can’t help but think where the soul of this “new” thing in Taiwan is. Who do they compare themselves to, and learn from in history, when they face the tough decisions of today and the future? Cincinnatus? George Washington? Tang Taizong?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=906kgyuaivg&feature=PlayList&p=1BCFE696AC45B510&index=17

    Between 5:07 and 6:40, the lines between Ross and Barnes, Barnes and Kaffee in the 1992 movie “A Few Good Men” may give you a hint. Sure there are the books called “Marine Corps Outline for Recruit Training” and “Standard Operating Procedures” (think a modern day constitution with all bells and whistles), but where in a society are the hidden codes to govern people’s lives? If you transport something foreign like “the book” to a new place, will the society automatically turn out to be like the source where “the book” came from? Unlikely, IMHO, you likely end up with a people that collectively lose their soul.

  59. Wukailong Says:

    @JXie: These are really interesting remarks.

    #50: When discussing what happened with the whole Eastern bloc, Russia is usually held up as a bad example compared to China. But consider what happened to the other countries that dismantled communism. The Baltic states are booming, and are soon on the level of other developed countries. Poland got out of the shock therapy stage and is quickly becoming a major player in the EU. And let’s not forget that while the Soviet Union as a result of the fall of communism disintegrated, Germany reunited.

    #58: I’m not sure presidential (or similar) limits are necessary for a democracy. Swedish prime minister Tage Erlander, for example, held the post for 23 years and Wikipedia claims it to be the longest period in office for any democratically elected leader, but citation is lacking. 😉 Anyway, I don’t think this in itself is a problem. When people criticize Venezuelan president Chavez for removing the presidential limits, they tend to assume that this will lead to all sorts of corruption and power abuse. It doesn’t have to.

    Elections are overestimated, at least as a way to measure how democratic a country is. I think any truly democratic country should have elections, but the system should be built on rule of law and some sort of power separation to avoid misuse by the current rulers. Russia and Singapore are examples of this kind of misuse.

  60. Wahaha Says:

    As for the moral grounds, it is funny you mention it because your whole paragraph above is trying to settle your own moral grounds based on history and culture.

    Uln,

    I am quite busy now, so I try to make it as simple as I can.

    you must know the story about 9-year-old girl staring in movie ‘ slumdog millionaire ‘, her father tried to sell her for $300,000.

    Ask yourself, how many children in India are in the similar situation like this ‘ lucky ‘ girl ? In case you dont know, 40+% of children under age 5 in India are under weight, so it is safe to say at least tens of millions of kids in India are in similar situation.

    and China was poorer than India 20 years ago. What I am asking you and other democratic advocates is that when you feel sorry for the misery of couple of hundreds or thousands dissidents in China, have you ever thought how to pull MILLIONS OF THOSE CHILDREN out of poverty and GIVE THEM A FUTURE ?

    No matter how bad the current system in China is, it does give millions of those kids a future, a hope of living better. That is the moral ground I have been talking about, and I dont see why freedom of speech is more important or urgent than doing what is best for those millions of children in poverty.

    ___________________________________________________

    http://blog.foolsmountain.com/2009/04/19/is-chinese-meritocracy-a-viable-alternative-to-western-democracy/

    Also, if you have time, please read #19, #42, #45, #48 and #73 in the link above, in which I explained why democracy doesnt deliver.

  61. tommydickfingers Says:

    JXie: “What if the episode of wife beating started with some verbal fighting that you didn’t see, and the husband happened to be the best sex partner and the best provider the wife has ever had? Heck the wife beating was 20 years ago, and the husband has been a reasonably changed man and still the best sex partner and the best provider, why you keep putting that cross on that guy specifically considered there have been a lot of wife-beating episodes ever since, which may or may not include yourself?”

    very, very odd analogy, but let’s go with it.

    For a start, to make it more accurate, please substitute “only” for all uses of the word “best”.

    Next, doesn’t make any difference. If he beats his wife, he should be stopped. No mitigation. (I understand some Chinese see this differently but we are talking universal morality here).

    Finally, whether he did it 20 years ago and whether others have done it since, the wife beater should not be redeemed (especially if we make the analogy as accurate as possible and replace “beat his wife” with “kill his wife”)

  62. Wahaha Says:

    admin,

    why removed my reply to uln ? I didnt use any bad word or insults

    Uln

    http://blog.foolsmountain.com/2009/04/19/is-chinese-meritocracy-a-viable-alternative-to-western-democracy/

    Also, if you have time, please read #19, #42, #45, #48 and #73, #74 in the link above, in which I explained why democracy doesnt deliver

  63. Wahaha Says:

    As for the moral grounds, it is funny you mention it because your whole paragraph above is trying to settle your own moral grounds based on history and culture.

    Uln

    I dont know what heck is wrong with this blog, as the reply is so important, I try again.

    You must heard the story about 9yr old girl who starred ‘ slumdog millionaire ‘, her father tried to sell her for $300,000.

    In case you dont know, 40+% of kids under age 5 in India are under weight, there are tens of millions of kids in india in similar situation.

    China was poorer than India 20 years ago.

    When you feel sorry for the misery of hundreds or thousands of dissendents in China, have you ever thought how to help millions of kids in China ?

    No matter how bad the system in China is, it does give those poor kids a future and hope.

    That is the morality I have been talking about, and I dont see why democracy is more important than the future of millions of those kids.

  64. heiheianan Says:

    Mark Anthony Jones, I find your commentary interesting. Given that Zhao Ziyang’s memoirs – in which he casts strong criticism on Deng Xiaoping and other party leaders – will be released soon, can you stand by your assertation that the protesters were reckless? If you want your “essay” to be more than another long post, why not publish it in an academic journal, where it would have to face more scrutiny and a wider audience? It’s one thing to have a different POV on whatever happened that night, but you seem to be on a quest to show that some pretty damn sharp and knowledgeable individuals have not only misremembered but flat out lied. What is the motive behind this massive continuing body of lies that your have exposed?

    As an aside: given that Zhao Ziyang was kept under HOUSE ARREST until his death – oh, the list of states that keep former high ranking politicians under house arrest for over a decade, what other names are on it? Something about the company you keep…

    What do you know about the protestors and the events that he doesn’t? It may be compelling writing to call the protestors agitators who pressed the troops into firing, but I am not so sure about your reasoning or your interpretation of accounts.

    From the Guardian:

    The secretly recorded memoirs of the Chinese Communist party leader who was ousted for sympathising with the students during the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square have been released four years after his death.

    In tapes secretly recorded during his 16 years under house arrest, Zhao Ziyang, the former head of the Communist party, denounced the killing of protesters as a “tragedy”, and challenged the party’s subsequent rejection of democratic reforms.

    The tapes were smuggled out of China and will be published in English and Chinese this month – as Prisoner of the State: The secret Journal of Zhao Ziyang – days before the 20th anniversary of the massacre.

    In them, he praised western-style democracy and insisted that the activists were not attempting to overthrow the system, according to extracts obtained by Reuters.

    “On the night of June 3rd [1989], while sitting in the courtyard with my family, I heard intense gunfire,” wrote Zhao, according to Reuters. “A tragedy to shock the world had not been averted.”

    He added: “I had said at the time that most people were only asking us to correct our flaws, not attempting to overthrow our political system.”

    ******

    Here was a man who was there from start to finish, I am afraid his account has to stand tall. I for one will be looking forward to reading this book. Furthermore, I am very, very curious to know who aided him in making the recordings. It beggars belief that he could have made audio recordings while under such intense scrutiny; all the while not being noticed. Who were these “high ranking officials” who helped spririt them out of the country? Why a U.S. publisher, I wonder? As one intimately familiar with the U.S. publishing industry, I must say that it was very good work for them to keep this under wraps all this time.

    Another good quote:

    The memoirs will also shape the legacy of Deng. Although Zhao was nominally the highest-ranking party official, Deng remained in de facto control behind the scenes, as the leader among the party elders.

    “Deng had always stood out among the party elders as the one who emphasised the means of dictatorship. He often reminded people about its usefulness,” says Zhao, in a rebuttal of the idea that Deng was swayed by hardliners in 1989.

    *****

  65. heiheianan Says:

    double post, whoops

    go nuggets

  66. JXie Says:

    @Wukailong #59

    It’s always nice to talk to you. Have to say I know next to nothing of the Swedish politics, and certainly learned something. In the 90s to early 00s, the shining star in the former Warsaw bloc was Poland. The annual GDP growth rate was at 4+%. Considered the aid money went into that country, that wasn’t anything to write home about. I think you are right, election isn’t the key.

    @tommy #60

    Be honest with you, I didn’t like the wife-beating analogy. The example I thought about was Warren Moon’s wife-beating trial. When he was acquitted, his wife was jumping up and down with joy. You can google the full story. My beef was if it was not the wife’s interest to lock up her husband, why the society had to pursue it? If we cut a slice out and just watch the TV footage of polices beating up protesters senselessly in any one of the recent G7/8, WTO, World Bank meetings, we certainly would get a sense of injustice being done. However, do we all see the fact that those protesters had long crossed the line of law and order?

  67. JXie Says:

    Heiheianan, Zhao’s book would be a must-read, and he is right that it was a “tragedy”. Likely the memoirs mostly will be about his version of the history, which is totally understandable. However, I wonder if he would indulge his readers on his view of “what might’ve been” in the next 15 years or so before he died.

    I am very, very curious to know who aided him in making the recordings. It beggars belief that he could have made audio recordings while under such intense scrutiny; all the while not being noticed. Who were these “high ranking officials” who helped spririt them out of the country?

    Zhao’s time has long passed. There have been 2 full generations of leadership since his days. The ones who most likely would have something to “lose” if the book was to be published, Deng Xiaoping and Li Peng were long death. Maybe just maybe, Zhao had something to say, and nobody cared enough to make sure it didn’t happen (like having people shadowing him full-time).

  68. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To JXie:
    great movie btw. Love the part about: “what, the marines don’t feed you?”; “yessir, 3 squares a day”; “so if the location of the mess hall isn’t in the manual, where do you go eat”;”I guess I just follow the crowd at chow time”. Love it. Also, Kiefer Sutherland’s character seems almost identical to Jack Bauer, except for the uniform.

    “If you transport something foreign like “the book” to a new place, will the society automatically turn out to be like the source where “the book” came from?”- no, nor should it. That being said, neither should there be any impediment to a society distilling the “good parts”, and instilling it into their own society, if it can do some good. Societal mores, like history and culture, needn’t be a static thing.

    To Wahaha:
    “No matter how bad the system in China is, it does give those poor kids a future and hope.”- there’s nothing wrong with China’s economic progress at all, and it’s fantastic that it is lifting Chinese people up. But I don’t think that economic progress is predicated on the CCP system of governance.

  69. tommydickfingers Says:

    Jxie – Li Peng is dead? You sure about that? There are a lot of grave dancers in waiting who would love to be updated on that one.

  70. Uln Says:

    # 62 @Wahaha – Sorry to hear you lost your post. It must have been a mistake, this blog doesn’t usually censor its users 🙂

    I quite agree with what you say about China/India. You see, I am no radical, and I never said we had to “push democracy into China right now”. Democracy is not the universal solution for all the problems and for all societies. It can fail and it has failed in the past many times, and especially it fails when it is forced onto a country by others.

    So the system now is working reasonably well, OK. China is improving the life of the majority, OK. You could even argue that the CPC has been the ideal party for this phase of fast development which could’ve otherwise got out of control. And if you believe what some leaders of the party say, that is exactly what they intend to do: keep a strong grip during a critical phase and then gradually release it when the people is ready for some blend of “democracy with Chinese characteristics”.

    The trouble is: 1- They are not releasing anything. 2- There is no sign that they ever will. 3- In the meantime, justified by the essential economic objectives described above, they consider themselves entirely free to build their own self-serving political system, ignoring Justice and getting rid of anyone who questions them “for the good of the motherland”. And this system is based on censorship and propaganda, which are all forms of lies, and I seriously doubt that a system based on lies can build a sustainable and successful model for the future.

    Consider the following questions: Can this CPC-led system produce a strong Power that is admired and respected in the World? Does it promote innovation, or does it promote guanxi and corruption? Does it incentive the leaders to serve the people, or to serve their own in-party factions? But most importantly: Is this the kind of system that the Chinese really want? And if it is, then why fear national elections?

    In the end, it all boils down to the government being made accountable and forced to follow some rules. I am quote confident that a significant part of the Chinese want this. They might just not call it democracy, but just Justice or Equality. In the end, we are all speaking of the same thing: accountability, separation of powers and the rule of law.

    So in conclusion, I don’t think foreign countries have the right to impose a system to the Chinese, they should work it out by themselves. But I do think we have the right to point our finger where we see injustice and abuse, in China or in any other place in the World. And now I happen to live in China, and this is a blog about China, and that is the reason why I am often seen criticizing the government of China, rather than a bunch of paratroopers sent to Norway in the 1940s.

    I hope this clarifies my position a bit.

  71. JXie Says:

    @tommy, that was my brain fart. Somebody else died, not Li. I remembered wrong.

    @SKC, sure thing. You should never stop learning from others. Lu Xun calls it 拿来主义. The key difference is, you keep the core as the distinctive you, pick and choose what to learn.

  72. JXie Says:

    @Uln

    [T]his system is based on censorship and propaganda, which are all forms of lies, and I seriously doubt that a system based on lies can build a sustainable and successful model for the future.

    Consider the following questions: Can this CPC-led system produce a strong Power that is admired and respected in the World? Does it promote innovation, or does it promote guanxi and corruption? Does it incentive the leaders to serve the people, or to serve their own in-party factions? But most importantly: Is this the kind of system that the Chinese really want? And if it is, then why fear national elections?

    The censorship bit. In most Western societies plus modern day Russia, and most Spanish/Portuguese-speaking Latin American nations, press gets a largely free pass — although you can argue in certain countries such as Mexico, or Russia, if you piss off the wrong people, your life may be in danger. But that’s not state prosecution, so to speak. A reader digest version of the press in these nations is, the press must be kept almost totally free of prosecution, so that it serves as a check to the system; for it to funtion though, the other side of the coin is the press has to be self-restrained in a way that is equivalent to not yell fire in a crowded theater. Singapore however doesn’t treat its press as the uncrowned king. If anybody in the press is found libel in the court of law, he can go to jail.

    In the case of China, domestically it’s kind of going down the path of Singapore; internationally it resorts to the crudest method, information blockage, of which the effectiveness is at best half/half. The thought process as can be seen to the bystanders, is that if I can’t prosecute you labeling a picture of Nepalese policemen beating protesters as Chinese policemen, I surely wouldn’t let you in. In the longer run, it probably needs to polish up and glamor up its operation, go and compete internationally. The game can be turned around. Just look at Al Jazeera, it managed to turn the game around that nowadays it’s the US who is blocking the free flow of information by not allowing it to get into the mainstream media distribution channel (speaking the US as a whole, not just the government).

    China has its admirers. Many Spanish/Portuguese-speaking Latin American countries view China positively, though probably less positively than Europe. In Africa, it’s largely shoulder-to-shoulder between “the West” and China. Curiously most Islamic nations view China more favorably than “the West” at large. My theory is that China gives them hope that modernization isn’t Westernization, and they don’t have to exchange their souls, their cultures for their own materialistic improvements.

  73. Shane9219 Says:

    @heiheianan #64

    “The memoirs will also shape the legacy of Deng. Although Zhao was nominally the highest-ranking party official, Deng remained in de facto control behind the scenes, as the leader among the party elders.”

    I don’t think so, and there is NOTHING NEW fundamentally in this newly published Zhao Ziyang’s memoir, except a few nuance for historians and writers.

    On the contrary, this book will reshape legacy of Zhao Ziyang. He did some good work for farmers earlier at country side, I don’t think he can claim to be the real “architect” behind China’s reform and open-up movement. It’s common for a loser to try to take much credit on good things and blame bad things onto others.

    Zhao Ziyang was unsatisfied and openly critical of Deng’s supreme leadership position when he was talking to students at Tiananman Square.

    His former aid, Bao Tong and his son, were behind this publishing work, and the later set up a publishing company in HK and wanted to make some profit out of this old history.

    Zhao Ziyang now blew his chance of gaining better recognition. At the end of his memoir, he sounded exactly like Soviet’s Gorbachev. Should he succeeded, China today would be divided like former Soviet, or in war situation like Balkan region. Not many people would believe him in China.

  74. Uln Says:

    @JXie – “My theory is that China gives them hope that modernization isn’t Westernization, and they don’t have to exchange their souls, their cultures for their own materialistic improvements.”

    Sure, many of those countries view China as an alternative model of development. From a political point of view, they also feel that China’s rise will balance the absolute power of the US and eventually lead to a multilateral world, with more opportunities for them to play a significant role.

    But all this is very different from admiring China for what it is. It is a preference dictated by the circumstances. Given the choice, most people would still prefer to emigrate to the US, where they feel there is more freedom and opportunities, and the citizens are treated better.

    Regarding “modernization isn’t Westernization”, that is the image that Chinese leaders want to sell. But when you look into it, everything the CPC has done, including communism, breaking up with Confucianism, prioritizing FDI over local entrepreneurs, birth control, etc. is nothing but Westernization. In the end, the only non-Westernization the CPC is offering is a closed political system with reduced individual rights. I am afraid this is not what most people dream of when they say they don’t want to “sell their souls”.

    In the real non-Westernized countries, people still continue to listen to their non-Westernized music, and politicians don’t dress in suits, and religion plays an essential role. These people desperately want to believe in an alternative Chinese model, and they are quick to buy the CPC’s message. But the model is an illusion: China has developed by breaking with its past, not by clinging to it. And China can afford to be less submissive to the West because of its massive markets, not because of some secret formula that the CPC has found.

    My point is that yes, those countries are happy to see China gain power because it is in their own benefit. But the system that those countries really admire is not the Chinese, which they largely don’t understand. China’s system still has to go a long way to be admired by the World like America is admired (hated, perhaps, but admired). In my opinion the CPC is not working in the right direction to provide that alternative system.

  75. heiheianan Says:

    Shane9219 said:

    “I don’t think so, and there is NOTHING NEW fundamentally in this newly published Zhao Ziyang’s memoir, except a few nuance for historians and writers.”

    How can you say there will be nothing new in this memoir? Are you suggesting you already read it, and if so, how? You should at least wait until it’s released before you say that you read it and found that there was nothing new, except for a “few nuances.”

    Cuz that’s kinda, you know, CNN.

  76. Nimrod Says:

    Uhn #74:

    Some good points there, but I take issue with one sentence “And China can afford to be less submissive to the West because of its massive markets, not because of some secret formula that the CPC has found.”

    The massive markets are created by being able to coordinate as one. The centrality of stability and national unity enforced by the CCP is the formula. It isn’t a “secret” formula, being pretty obvious, but somehow surprisingly few in the world grasp this.

  77. Shane9219 Says:

    @ heiheianan #75

    It’s available in HK. You may ask someone there to help.

  78. Wahaha Says:

    But I don’t think that economic progress is predicated on the CCP system of governance.

    SKC,

    It is the system. This system works for economic goal, but not for political goal.

    Under this system :

    Riches play little to none in decision making.

    Very few people are allowed to participate political activity, or play political games (which is very bad for economy)

    Government owns the most profitable industries, government has the money.

    This government has the power, the good side of it : it has power to do what is necessary, (designed by the most intelligent in China), the bad side of it : obvious, you know, and I know.

  79. a/typical Says:

    Thanks for the article, I found it fascinating and enjoyed it a lot. It is rare to bump into detailed information about 6-4 like this in the US (and I didn’t even bother trying to look in China). Like I suspected, the story is far more complicated than most people were led to believe, and a good bit more entertaining too. That sounds callous, but I guess 20 years has dulled any sense of tragedy, though I was too young to pay attention to news when it happened anyway. I look forward to the 2nd installment.

  80. Wahaha Says:

    The trouble is: 1- They are not releasing anything. 2- There is no sign that they ever will. 3- In the meantime, justified by the essential economic objectives described above, they consider themselves entirely free to build their own self-serving political system, ignoring Justice and getting rid of anyone who questions them “for the good of the motherland”.

    Uln,

    China is not what you think, the following in a more realistic view of China :

    http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=10078

    ______________________________________

    Consider the following questions: Can this CPC-led system produce a strong Power that is admired and respected in the World?

    Uln,

    Sorry if I offend you again. let me ask you :

    In what way did West respect India ?

    System serves economy, but under democracy, economy serves politics. THAT IS BAD, VERY VERY BAD FOR ECONOMY. That is why 84% of cities in US are in red.

    Respect ? sorry to say, but it is more like the only way West will respect China is China stays poor.

    _________________________________________________

    Let us speak frankly, the only way West will respect China politically is CCP is overthrown, right ? but most of us dont connect the ‘C’ with communism, We think CCP is just a ruling party.

    So we are basically cornered by West media to take side, either with CCP or allowing China becoming next India or Russia of 90s. Like I was considered by some people here as a big fan of ” communsim”, Who the f@#$ care communism ? who the f@#$ care CCP ? I was not, is not, and never will be a CCP member, I dont give a damn about communism or capitalism or whatever -ism. I only want one that works in China.
    ____________________________

    Every system is self serving. It is not about if the system in China is good or bad. It is about if there is a system better than the system in China, for economy.

    As for 0.1% of people in poor or developing countries, or for people who already enjoy good lives, they already enjoy good ‘ economy ‘ , of course political right is on the top of their list.

  81. JXie Says:

    @Uln, I think in some very fundamental ways we disagree. Allow me to start with a story.

    A friend of mine, well into his 40s, recently found himself in a bit legal trouble. He emigrated to the US about 15 years ago. He speaks passable but often grammatically incorrect English with a strong accent. Recently he was cut off on a local road by a young woman likely in her early 20s, and almost got into an accident. The jumpy braking and the bumpy road made my friend feel his car was scratched. He chased the woman down and stopped her car at a red light. After he came out & checked his car, he knocked on her window and wanted to give her a verbal dress-down. Well, my friend eventually was issued a citation of disorderly conduct. According to him, all he wanted was to 说理 with her.

    Now you may think culture is just music, dress or religions in some outward celebratory manners, it’s A LOT more. Music and dress come and go. What’s in a culture is about the value system, how you view justice, how you raise your children, how you settle disputes, etc. Unless one is raised in a bi-cultural environment, it’s VERY difficult to fully submerge yourself in a new culture and truly understand it. But once you get passed it though, you can “dual-boot” (computer term) into 2 different cultures.

    In the last century or so, the Chinese culture has been “shook to its core.” (a phase used often in the recent financial meltdown — “American capitalism system is shook to its core.”) Only recently you can see signs that the people are finding their root and regaining the confidence.

    The world is changing at a very fast pace, as fast as the meltdown of the Western financial system. Some family members of mine recent visited the US, and one younger member called the reason of visit: “touring, shopping and saving the American economy.” I think you need to seriously re-examine your assumptions about the future.

    At one point, China had policies strongly favored FDI, because China lacked the funding and expertise — gosh, due to some stupid policy of Mao the most critical generation during the Jiang/Zhu years didn’t have college education! Nowadays look around, what industry or sub-industry China doesn’t dominate the world now, or at most within 10 years you can clearly see the strong possibility of doing so? The Chinese central bank and state-owned banks have some $2.3 to $2.5 trillion foreign money. That’s probably larger than the combined market caps of all Western companies China ever wants to buy.

    As of now, China educates about 7 million college graduates each year, at a pace roughly every decade matching the total college graduates in the whole American labor force. Look around. Go to those colleges and look at those young kids. I simply fail to see how they would be less innovative than their American counterparts. My parting lines?

    #1 as of now China’s manufacturing value-added is already the largest in the world.
    #2 I will be extremely surprised that officially China’s nominal GDP will not be larger than that of the US in the next 10 years or so.

  82. Uln Says:

    @Wahaha – Thanks for the link. I know Mark Leonard and I have read his book about China. He is part of that optimist movement of he Beijing consensus and the new World order, which doesn’t mean that he doesn’t criticize the CPC. My own position is actually not so far from his, even if sometimes I might come across as more aggressive – that’s just the consequence of writing quick blog comments. Unfortunately I am a bit short of time this weekend so I will just address one of your points:

    “Let us speak frankly, the only way West will respect China politically is CCP is overthrown, right?”

    I think China is already respected for its achievements. But I think to be respected and admired as a system, it needs to address some serious issues, mostly regarding civil rights and the rule of law. It is not impossible that the CPC will do this – it has proven able to undergo radical changes in the past – but right now it is just not going in that direction.

  83. shane9219 Says:

    @ Uln #82

    >> “It is not impossible that the CPC will do this ”

    How can you draw such a shallow and quick conclusion on the future of a huge and intelligent population. That is like saying you are definitely smarter than Chinese. I don’t intend to offend anyone, just to turn your own conclusion against you.

    >> “it has proven able to undergo radical changes in the past – but right now it is just not going in that direction.”

    During Cultural Revolution period, China experienced a large scale “mob democracy”. That movement still left plenty of bitterness in people’s mind. If you mean that kind of wild social change, Chinese will tell you “no more, please!”

    I said at times that China has been undergoing tremendous changes. Its political system plays only a SUPPORTING role to its economical and social development. The main functions of a political system under such arrangement are three folds, 1) to ensure social stability, 2) doing its best to uphold a fair and just society, and 3) to provide ways for social mobility.

    30-year of econ-social progress over a huge population is a concrete proof this system has been working. However, China’s political system is still a work-in-progress. It got tremendous and inherit advantage over western liberal social system.

    Mark Leonard’s article wrote several years ago, only showed the tip of iceberge. It did however show Chinese have done tons of thinking on how to achieve things, no more blind and impulsive policies.

  84. Uln Says:

    @Nimrod #76 – Yes, good point. Obviously the order that the CPC has imposed is one of the factors that led to development. But other factors were, in my opinion, just as important: the massive population, the industrious and pragmatic nature of the Chinese, the existence of a developed city like HongKong, etc.

    Stability and unity are necessary conditions, but in themselves they don’t guarantee development will happen. Besides, the CPC’s order and unity didn’t come for free, let’s not forget all the sufferings the Chinese had to go through to get to 1978. It is not sure other countries want to go through that.

    My point is, the Chinese model has worked well in China, but it would be very difficult to replicate in any other country without the same conditions. But I agree it is still worth to study it and learn from its success: arguably one of the lessons would be that a strong government is best to guide the first steps of economic development. Strong governments have their risks too, though.

  85. Uln Says:

    @JXie – I like your little story. I am thinking that your friend could have been Spanish or Italian and had the same problem, in southern Europe we quite like the dressing-down bit, especially when driving. : )

    But I am afraid I didn’t express myself clearly in the previous post. I didn’t say Chinese have given up their culture or lost their soul. The Chinese culture is very deep-rooted and the population is too massive for a political movement to sweep everything away, even a 50 years movement. The Chinese culture strongly survives in the character of its people, and I would even say it is this character that has played an important role in China’s achievements.

    My point was just that the CPC has done little to preserve this culture, but rather the opposite. It is the Chinese people that have stuck to their roots, often in spite of their leaders.

  86. shane9219 Says:

    @ Uln #84

    “in my opinion, just as important: the massive population, the industrious and pragmatic nature of the Chinese, the existence of a developed city like HongKong, etc.”

    Such argument came out in recent years, from a book written by a Harvard professor “Capitalism with Chinese Characteristic” to some western media personnel and liberalists inside and outside China.

    They said China’s progress and achievement were ONLY the result of harding-working Chinese. Yes, Chinese are hard-working, such development was made possible by a motivated population. From this aspect, it is a down–top driven progress.

    But they are totally wrong to ignore the facts that such large scale and deep social progress in a nation of huge population would not be possible without a strong supporting politcal system, good guidance of social-economical policies, and a secure and stable environment. From this aspect, China’s progress is also top-down driven.

    HK is tiny in comparison to mainland China, even Taiwan can not be put in the same ballpark as China. You may compare India with China on size, population and time dimisions.

    HK’s own development process experienced a long period of social turmoil and sufferings starting 50’s after WW II. It only got better in 80s’, thanks mainly to business opportunities due to its special relation with mainland when mainland launched its reform and open-up movement.

  87. Uln Says:

    @Shane #83 – “It is not impossible that the CPC will do this ”

    I think you misunderstood my phrase. “It is not impossible” actually means “it is possible”. I always have trouble with double negatives in China, I think there is a language gap. I assume you are Chinese?

    Regarding the rest of your post: like M. Leonard, you sound optimistic about the work-in-progress of the Chinese political system. From what I have seen, I am a bit less optimistic, but let’s wait and see what happens, it looks like hard times are coming and that will be a good test. I copy below what I wrote yesterday about this:

    “Some feel that a strong CPC government controlling the population is the best guarantee to avoid problems.
    Others think exactly the opposite: that a responsible, mature and empowered civil society is the best foundation for a sustainable economy to survive the hard times. The crisis has not really hit China yet, but when/if it does, we will see who was right.”

  88. shane9219 Says:

    # Uln #85

    “My point was just that the CPC has done little to preserve this culture, but rather the opposite. It is the Chinese people that have stuck to their roots, often in spite of their leaders”

    You may say Mao has done little to preserve China culture, not the majority of Chinese. Mao wanted China to have a “destructive” progress on culture and social relation, mainly because China has been so lagging behind the West in modern times. That is the conclusion from the famous May-Fourth movement in early 20th century. The intellects of that time reached that conclusion after a serial of bad experience

    1) They thought China was beaten and invaded and ceded lots of land to western powers because it was weak in military. There were efforts to strength its military by importing western equipment and learning new technologies. But then, the whole navy was destroyed by Japanese in a single battle.

    2) Then they thought China’s political system was too outdated and weak, they then over-thrown Qing dynasty, but still China was overrun by western powers, and humuliated during the treaty signing of League of Nations

    3) Finally they thought China’s own culture was too outdated, a bunch of intellects wanted to destroy and bury their own culture. Eventually, Mao picked up that task they left behind.

    Mao also failed to lead China towards industrialization and modernation. That task eventually got done under Deng’s leadership.

  89. shane9219 Says:

    #Uln #87

    ““Some feel that a strong CPC government controlling the population is the best guarantee to avoid problems.
    Others think exactly the opposite: that a responsible, mature and empowered civil society is the best foundation for a sustainable economy to survive the hard times. The crisis has not really hit China yet, but when/if it does, we will see who was right.”

    The above statement is due to a popular mis-understanding. They knew little about China and draw such shallow conclusion from their own experience living outside of China.

    One of the key goals from China’s continuous development is to build a strong civil society, that will give a good foundation to a more democratic society. This goal can not be achieved without lefting HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS people out of poverty and without giving them a good education. So there is no need to argue on what Chinese want to do and achieve towards a better and more progressive society. The argument has been how. Western style argument has been proven wrong, and but not yet dead.

  90. Uln Says:

    #89 Shane – Let’s hope you are right, only time will tell. Just one comment, if I may borrow from Wilde: there is no such a thing as Western arguments or Chinese arguments. Arguments are well reasoned or badly reasoned. It’s a pleasure to discuss these things with you guys.

  91. Carey Rowland Says:

    Thank you, gentlemen, for this enlightening discussion. Here’s one American, new to the site, who has learned much from it.
    Thank you, MAJ, for hosting it, and for the extensive documentation, something not often seen in this type of forum. I commend you.
    Thank you, JXie, for your point in #72 about developing nations not having to “sell their souls.” That’s instructive.
    Thank you, uln, for your emphasis on accountability, separation of powers, and rule of law: the foundation of constitutional freedom, western style. I’m with you on that.

    And speaking of western style, which emphasizes the individual (as I remember uln mentioning somewhere along the line)–it’s a little bit opposite of the Chinese emphasis on what shane calls the development of a “strong civil society.” I’m starting to figure out a few things about China now and I think that one of them is that this emphasis on civil society (or “the state” as it is snidely referred to by republicans in the west) is traceable to Confucius. n’est ce pas? There is a western thread of it, identifiable from Plato, but it was overshadowed by enlightenment (if that’s possible.) Anyway, thanks guys, but what I’d like to know is this:

    Are the people of China able to follow this discussion? I hope so.

    Carey Rowland, author of Glass half-Full

  92. Shane9219 Says:

    @Carey Rowland #91

    “Are the people of China able to follow this discussion? I hope so”

    Definitely, average people and intellects alike talked about this subject day and night. The consense is that Chinese government needs to be neutrial, strong, stable and transparent. Neutrial means not to turn right or left, but be functional and perform.

    In US, it is called governing from the center. For years, American public suffered from partisan politics, they are very unsatisfied, yet can do very little about it. There are calls among independents to end political parties alltogether 🙂

    Another major difference between Chinese and western people is that Chinese think a strong and powerful government is a good thing, while western people are normally against it because they hold little trust in a big government. For Chinese, they got their conclusion from 150 years of social turmoil, invasion and civil wars. For western people, they got their experience from centuries of fighting various monarch rules.

    “this emphasis on civil society (or “the state” as it is snidely referred to by republicans in the west) is traceable to Confucius. n’est ce pas? ”

    Actually on the opposite, China’s social culture did not get chance to develop its own modern-concepted “civil society”, mainly due to 1) a very long tradition of farming-dominated culture while trading was a kind of activities belittled by the establishment, 2) 150 years of near modern time under social turmol, invasions and civil wars. What China is doing now has been trying to build a civil foundation.

  93. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    An extract from the secret journals of Zhao Ziyang, to be published in a few days from now, has been printed by The Washington Post. The following extract is taken from pp.33-34 (from Part 1: The Tiananmen Massacre, Chapter 4: The Crackdown):

    “During the demonstrations, students raised many slogans and demands, but the problem of inflation was conspicuously missing, though inflation was a hot topic that could easily have resonated with and ignited all of society. If the students had intended on opposing the Communist Party back then, why hadn’t they utilized this sensitive topic? If intent on mobilizing the masses, wouldn’t it have been easier to raise questions like this one? In hindsight, it’s obvious that the reason the students did not raise the issue of inflation was that they knew that this issue was related to the reform program, and if pointedly raised to mobilize the masses, it could have turned out to obstruct the reform process.”

    This particular extract adds additional weight to everything that I have argued so far (in Part I of my essay): that the students were not seeking to overthrow the Party; that they were not seeking a Western-style democratic political system; that they were intent on keeping the movement “pure” and free from wider social forces, as they did not want to harm the economic reform process which they hoped to benefit from.

    It will be interesting to see what Zhao has to say, if he says anything at all, about the death figures. My gut feeling is that any figure he’s likely to mention will mirror closely the central government’s figure, as does the now declassified US intelligence documents. We shall see.

  94. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    Carey Rowland – thanks for your encouraging response.

    heiheianan – thanks for your questions. From what I have read of Zhao’s “secret” journals so far, his insights have provided additional weight to all that I have so far argued (as I pointed out in my comment above).

    As for the outbreak of violence (the subject of Part II of my essay), Zhao writes:

    “…can it be proven that the June Fourth movement was ‘counterrevolutionary turmoil,’ as it was designated? The students were orderly. Many reports indicate that on the occasions when the People’s Liberation Army came under attack, in many incidents it was the students who had come to its defense. Large numbers of city residents blocked the PLA from entering the city. Why? Were they intent on overthrowing the republic?

    Of course, whenever there are large numbers of people involved, there will always be some tiny minority within the crowd who might want to attack the PLA. It was a chaotic situation. It is perfectly possible that some hooligans took advantage of the situation to make trouble, but how can these actions be attributed to the majority of the citizens and students?”

    Two things here. Firstly, Zhao reluctantly admits that the situation was “chaotic” and that at least some people in the crowds attacked the PLA. He uses the exact same language that Li Peng and Deng Xiaoping used to describe the militant workers who turned up armed with Molotov cocktails, bricks and bats – “hooligans”. He defends the students by saying that they were “orderly”, but I have never argued that the students were the main instigators of the violence that broke out on the night of June 3. Most students had already left not only the Square, but the entire area. Most of those killed were militant workers, because it was they who set up the roadblocks and who were armed and ready to take on the PLA.

    Secondly, Zhao has an axe to grind, and so he needs to be read carefully. He encouraged the student movement partly because he wanted to wrestle power from Deng Xiaoping, and partly because he genuinely wanted to accelerate political reforms of his own, which he was convinced would benefit the country – the kind of reforms the students wanted, NOT a multi-party political system.

    It is therefore in his interests to challenge the central government’s labelling of him as a “counter-revolutionary”. I will have to wait until the book is released here in Australia before I can read it, but I’m guessing (based on the extracts that I have read so far) that the central focus of his book will be to rescue his legacy by challenging this labelling of him, since he didn’t view his political reform program as counter-revolutionary, but rather, as patriotic. The students felt the same about their movement – they viewed themselves as patriotic rather than subversive.

  95. shane9219 Says:

    @MAJ #93

    Zhao was sympathetic towards the students, that was not a secret. He also wanted to use this student movement to fight off Deng’s control and grab more power (mainly the military). That attempt certainly failed. He did not admit it, but his intent was abundantly clear even back in 1989.

    Most students and publics at-large had a genuine respect and good feeling about Mr. Hu Yaobang, because he corrected many Mao’s past mistakes, get many people back on their feet, and he also fit well the traditional model of a good leader. To this day, there is a lot of sympathy towards him.

  96. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    shane9219 – I agree with all that you say in your comment above.

  97. Wahaha Says:

    Uln,

    This is my view of how a society should be run (unless it is dominated by religion);

    Society is like a school. Government is like principal and teachers who know what is the better FOR MOST STUDENTS, but not for every students.( whethere they care for students or not is another story.) People are like students who have little idea about how to run the school other than their class schedules.

    1) You cant let students determine how the school should be run.

    2) BOTH teachers and students must be regulated to some extents.

    3) Principal and teacher’s job is not taking care of EVERY student.

    4) There must be a system that can make sure that principal and teachers will take care of students.

  98. shane9219 Says:

    @MAJ #94

    “It is therefore in his interests to challenge the central government’s labelling of him as a “counter-revolutionary”

    Zhao was NOT labeled as “counter-revolutionary”. He was told he made serious mistakes during that event. He was later given pretty high standard arrangement following his death.

  99. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    shane9129 – Deng Xiaoping (or maybe it was Li Peng) referred to him as a “counter-revolutionary” in high level meetings, as the Tiananmen Papers show. I shall provide you with a quote and reference tomorrow – I’m at work right now, and my copy of the Tiananmen Papers is at home.

  100. tommydickfingers Says:

    MAJ – “Most of those killed were militant workers, because it was they who set up the roadblocks and who were armed and ready to take on the PLA.”

    can you enlighten us with more on this? You have a death register to prove it, or is another of your broad sweeps?

    also care to explain this “fact” to ding zilin and other mothers of the 16 and 17 year-old male and female “militant workers” who were killed by PLA troops. Or how about the families of Ms Zhang Jiamei (age 61), Ms Ma Chengfen (55) Ms Li Shuzhen (51), or Mr Lu Peng (9). yes, I can just picture them armed to the teeth, ready to take the tanks on.

    There is some shameful stuff being written here. A very hast collection of facts to fit the argument. Would not pass by a high school standard of objective history.

    The nasty undertone to much of the text – and MAJ’s subsequent comments – is that those who died somehow brought it on themselves, as if being a “militant worker” should translate into a death sentence (the alternative being it was all the fault of the meddling student leaders ).

    The only positive note is that very few will ever read this text and even few of those who do will take any of it seriously. It is destined to end up where it belongs – the dustbin of cyberspace.

  101. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    Tommydickfingers (alias FOARP) – I will offer evidence to prove that most of those killed were workers – in Part II of my essay.

    As for your unnecessary personal attacks….your lack of courtesy and your gross misreading of my essay reveals far more about you than it does about me.

  102. tommydickfingers Says:

    maj – you will not offer evidence (hark at you, talking like a high court barrister, rather than a former teacher of english in China), you will present opinion based on your subjective interpretation of the sources (as you have already tried at #94).

    and there are no personal attacks on you – that would be too easy – just attacks on your weak argument. Trust me, I had plenty of personal abuse lined up, but chose to delete. I still have some manners

    and I am not FOARP. heaven forbid.

  103. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    What is this kind of silly talk Tommydick? I said I will offer evidence in Part II, and I will. If you prefer to believe that I won’t, then fine.

  104. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    NOTE: I’ve had such a busy few weeks at work, with senior reports to write, parent-teacher interviews, HSC assessment tasks to mark, ad infinitum, that I simply have not been able to make huge progress with Part II of my essay. It won’t be ready to post here on May 22, as originally scheduled. More realistically, I’m looking at Friday May 28.

    For those of you who are actually looking forward to reading it (and I know from emails that many of you are) I do humbly request your understanding and patience. I’ve written roughly one-third of the essay so far

    Cheers!

  105. tommydickfingers Says:

    MAJ – you wrote “I will offer evidence to prove” – it is the last three words I have a problem with. You should have said: “I will offer up cherry-picked quotes from secondary sources that will fit my general line of argument but should not be taken as anything more than my opinion. I will of course prove nothing.”

    you know what the biggest problem I have with the argument you are persisting with? its the blame factor. The suggestion that the state-backed killing was justified (be it because of undemocratic student leaders or militant workers – as if being “militant’ is in some way a crime deserving death).

    In the end, though, I don’t care if you argue the majority of those killed were workers; this is largely irrelevant to the overall point that no-one should have been killed. If the government killed more workers (in beijing and in subsequent executions) then that was because of their fear of an organised and disgruntled working class and, agaim, such actions cannot in any way be justified. although I am sure you will try.

  106. MutantJedi Says:

    Good god tommydickfingers, which planet have you’ve grown up on? Disrupting the government, threatening the hegemony, creating a stink in the square have always been met by violence from the state, be that violence done against the individual’s body or his liberty. It’s more remarkable when such activities are unmarred by state violence.

    Justification. I am confused by your use of the word. I think you mean a different word, a word colored with moral implication perhaps. Justification. Many unpleasant, and even immoral things, can be justified. Personally I find capital punishment to be morally repugnant yet many, including Americans, can justify it. Can the Chinese government’s action on 6.4 be justified. Of course. Moreover, violence of some sort was inevitable. Governments crack skulls, jail and even kill protesters all across the globe all throughout history. Why expect different on 6.4 20 years ago?

    It is important to challenge the myths of any event. 6.4 is full of mythology. The West has its near and dear mythology about 6.4, and about China as a whole. Tommy, you don’t seem to be interested in examining the event. Rather you seem to be invested the mythology.

  107. barny chan Says:

    MutantJedi Says: “violence of some sort was inevitable. Governments crack skulls, jail and even kill protesters all across the globe all throughout history. Why expect different on 6.4 20 years ago?”

    A certain amount of violence might have been inevitable, but, even if we accept the official Chinese government figures for casualties, can you think of a comparable western government response to internal protest in recent history?

  108. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    Tommydick – you accuse me of arguing “that the state-backed killing was justified”. Where on earth have I EVER argued this? Show me your evidence?

    Your claim that I merely “cherry pick’ is rubbish, and I will deal carefully with this claim later on in thye day if I get the time.

    Do you think you could restrain yourself enough to refrain from putting words into my mouth, and from misrepresenting my views? Cheers!

  109. tommydickfingers Says:

    maj said: “Do you think you could restrain yourself enough to refrain from putting words into my mouth, and from misrepresenting my views? Cheers!”

    and previously said: “you accuse me of arguing “that the state-backed killing was justified”.”

    where what I actually said was: “The suggestion that the state-backed killing was justified ”

    Anyone want to guess what the key word is that MAj chose to leave out (cherry picking)? Anyone want to point out who is misrepresenting who?

  110. tommydickfingers Says:

    Mutantjedi: “Governments crack skulls, jail and even kill protesters all across the globe all throughout history. Why expect different on 6.4 20 years ago?”

    see #107 above.

    Mutant: “Disrupting the government, threatening the hegemony, creating a stink in the square have always been met by violence from the state, be that violence done against the individual’s body or his liberty.”

    those last three words are pretty crucial don’t you think? don’t remember too many being killed by the army during the UK poll tax riots? or the earlier riots in Toxteth or London, both of which were far more serious in terms of violence against the ‘state’ than TAM. Or the miners strike of 1984, which is equivalent to the worker’s movement in 1989 in terms of threatening hegemony and disrupting the government?

    mutant: “Moreover, violence of some sort was inevitable”
    why? I don’t get it. see above comment. maybe inevitable for an insecure government run by corrupt, unelected and immoral leaders, but in general terms, certainly not. and again, forgive me for playing with semantics, but “violence of some sort” (which could be construed as a fair argument) is not quite the same as “killing hundreds of citizens” (which could not)

    mutant: “6.4 is full of mythology.”
    agreed. from both sides. and MAJ and this badly argued piece is implicit in this.
    and i am not investing in mythology; in fact I would quite easily argue against the common western perspective. I am just challenging the apparent “justification” of unnecessary deaths by pointing out the victims were “militant’ or “undemocratic”, which to me appears to be the underlying theme of this “essay”.

  111. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    Tommydick – What on earth are you carrying on about? I have never suggested or argued that any killing is justified. Again, show me where I have ever made such a suggestion.

  112. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To MAJ:
    to be fair, i don’t think TommyD is accusing you of “saying” such and such is justified. And in this case, I think “suggest” is in reference to something implicit rather than explicit. To me, once you start down that road of shared responsibility, it’s not a huge leap to “justification”.

    Besides, if you had no intention of providing “justification”, then I think it would be more expeditious to tell TommyD that he inferred incorrectly, and move on.

  113. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    To suggest that various parties should take some of the responsibility for the violence that erupted is a far cry from offering a justification for the “state-backed killing” of other human beings. What happened should never have happened – but it takes more than two to tango.

  114. Carey Rowland Says:

    As a distant observer (USA) I must say that, while I do not endorse TommyD’s belligerent tone, I do see a thread of legitimacy in the issue he has raised–not about “justification,” (I don’t see any effort on MAJ’s part to “justify” the deaths of Chinese citizens.)

    The blood of those dead workers (and students) cries out from the stones of Tiananmen Square. Their sacrifice wails for justice, and demands reform, be it patriotic or revolutionary. This is an historic encounter that will, and should be, examined for many years, by historians and others who care to get to the root of the tragedy. MAJ is to be commended for examining the “evidence,” and presenting it in an orderly and very public manner. This kind of discourse will enrich China with a new, perhaps uncomfortable, practice of public dialogue. And certainly more “evidence” will be brought forth as the discussion matures. Zhao’s book is a timely example.

    I do think I detect, though, behind TommyD’s rude outburst, (or at least I hope I do) a wounded sensitivity to the injustice that was inflicted upon the families of Ms Zhang Jiamei (age 61), Ms Ma Chengfen (55) Ms Li Shuzhen (51), or Mr Lu Peng (9), and many others–an unwillingness to forsake or forget those uncivil stains that redden and sadden Tianenman’s long history.

    This component of his objection, though indignantly expressed, is legitimate. When the dust from his unkind argument settles, it should be responsibly examined, and rebutted. I hope Mr. Jones will be sufficiently provoked (as we say in North Carolina–a mad team plays better basketball) to labor with great intensity and diligence over Part II of his project–a very necessary opus. MAJ certainly has his work cut out for him; it may turn out to be a lifelong one.

    And this discussion, TommyD, will not die in the dusbin of cyberspace. The world is watching. How do I know this? I’m on the other side of the world right now, and I want to know what happened. When this American sees, this summer, those blood-stained stones for the first time, and wonders about their pathetic legacy– my experience of the place will be much better informed, and much more meaningful, thanks to MAJ and others like him who are willing to dig for the facts and suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous insults such as you have hacked.

    And I do commemorate the sacrifice of those men and women who died there, in defense of …? Whatever causes they were defending, freedom of assembly was certainly among them. That’s important enough to earn my respect.

    Carey Rowland, author of Glass half-Full in the USA

  115. tommydickfingers Says:

    ok, my last comment on this. promise

    first. to carey above: shut your trap. how’s that for belligerent? I’ll have none of the nasty passive aggressiveness that seaps out of your post, thank you very much. I have not once name called or attached any unnecessary adjectives to MAJ’s name, just argued against his position. It was you who came into this discussion armed with pejorative labels.

    on the justification argument. some may argue that MAJ does not justify the killings, but he also very reluctant to proportion blame (aside from cliches such as “it takes two to tango”) and that, I think, is the underlying source of my frustration with this whole thread.

    Well, it does indeed take two to tango but it only takes one to send in the tanks and to open the guns on unarmed citizens of its own country in a planned and prolonged military attack. A more civilised leadership under similar pressures would have and should have shown more restraint. They would also have been accountable to the media, the courts and to the country’s historians. The CCP, as we know, was (and is) not. and that to me is more important than MAJ’s cherry picked collection of quotes masquerading as historic analysis.

  116. Carey Rowland Says:

    Well excuse me. Oh btw, your last point is your most convincing yet.

  117. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To TommyD:
    MAJ brings up the concept of shared responsibility. Like you, I am curious as to how he might divvy up that pie. And I suspect, regardless of how he slices it, he’ll have naysayers on both sides. However, I think it’s premature to question his opinion on this when he hasn’t had a chance to give it yet. Wait for Part deux, then we can all decide.

  118. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    O.K. A quick comment.

    Carey Rowland – I very much appreciate your polite, sober criticisms, and the questions you raise. I plan to post an entirely new thread outlining, and defending, my methodology a day or two before I post Part II of my essay, which I am behind schedule in writing. I’m roughly now one-third of the way through. I reject the charge of “cherry picking”, and will explain in great detail why I think this charge is ridiculous when I post my piece on methodology.

    It’s not accurate to describe the crowds that confronted the PLA on June 3-4 as “unarmed” either. Many turned up looking and ready for a fight, armed with Molotov cocktails, bricks, etc. I’ll have a great deal to say about that in Part II.

    S.K. Cheung – thank, I agree: it would be nice if everyone could wait until Part II is posted before engaging in discussion and debate on such issues as shared responsibility. To say that I am reluctant to proportion the blame before I have even had a chance to write, let alone post, Part II of my essay seems rather unreasonable, don’t you think Tommydick?

    Please give me until at least Friday, May 28 to complete Part II. I work full time as a high school English teacher here in Sydney, and right now I have assessments to mark, reports to write, parent-teacher interviews to attend, and even the school debating team to coach. I’m overwhelmed with work at present, so finding time to write is difficult. I could have spent some time last night working on it, but chose instead to read Zhao Ziyang’s newly published memoirs (as I explained in Raj’s thread on the topic).

    Cheers,
    MAJ

  119. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    Carey Rowland – let me just say something about this charge that I “cherry pick” my evidence. To claim that I cherry pick my evidence, as some people on this site recently have, is simply another way of accusing me of being biased and selective in my use of evidence – that I choose to ignore anything that doesn’t lend support to my arguments. It implies then, that the evidence I choose (or “cherry pick”) is not where the weight of evidence falls – hence the need to cherry pick in the first place.

    If you read through Part I of my essay carefully, as I think you have, you will see that I have drawn on a large variety of evidence: the memoirs of at least four Western journalists who covered the events in question; a number of newspaper reports written at the time of the events by Western journalists; a Harvard University-based research study paper on US media coverage which itself drew on the published reports of many journalists who covered the events, as well as interviews with journalists conducted since the events in question took place; academic journals and books written by a good number of professional historians, political scientists and sociologists; a book written by two researchers for a human rights group; an editorial by a former Australian diplomat; and the Hunger Striker’s Manifesto, written by close supporters of the student movement, such as the Tiawanese singer Han Dejian. All of them express the view, quite unambiguously, that the majority of students involved in the movement were not seeking to overthrow the government or to challenge the one-party system – that they were not seeking a Western-style liberal democracy. All expressed the view too, to varying degrees, that the student movement in general suffered from an elite authoritarianism. Zhao Ziyang, in both his May 4 speech (included in the Tiananmen Papers) and in his newly published memoirs, also expressed these exact same views.

    I did not reach any of my assessments out of thin air. I formed my opinions after making extensive research, after reading through all of the sources I cited. My assessments reflect where the weight of evidence lies. Sure, some individual students did have an understanding and appreciation of Western liberal democracy, but most did not. Not according to the weight of evidence.

    I have yet to come across a single scholarly work in fact, that paints a different picture of the student movement.

    If I came up with the conclusion instead, that the movement was indeed a “pro-democracy” one, in the sense that students were calling for the introduction of a multi-party political system, then I really would be guilty of “cherry picking”, since this is not in fact what the overwhelming weight of evidence, both primary and seconday, indicates.

    History was actually the discipline I majored in at university, right through to post-graduate level. The style that I use to write my essay mirrors the style I used as a university student. None of the professors and doctors who assessed my research essays ever accussed me of plagiarism or of “cherry picking” and more often than not they awarded me with High Distinctions. My thesis, which examined the differential treatment of men and women by the 18th century British criminal law courts, was likewise awarded a First Class. To be awarded even a pass, the thesis must be original and not based merely on the “cherry-picking” of evidence. It was assessed by an Oxford scholar, Dr. David Lemmings, and is available in the University of Newcastle Auchmuty Library – and again, I constructed it in exactly the same way that I have constructed my China essays – I used my research skills to locate a variety of both primary and secondary sources, I then read them and synthesised the various arguments to construct assessments of my own, quoting from the various sources read to support my arguments.

    A few months ago, Professor Daniel A. Bell, a China specialist who currently teaches at Tsinghua University, left a comment on my China Discourse website in response to my essay on human rights. He was alerted to my site by Kate Merkel-Hess, another China specialist who edits the China Beat blog. This is what he wrote:

    “Dear Mr. Jones,

    Thanks for your interesting and well-written essays. I generally agree with your perspective and there is further support for your point that East Asians generally value communal solidarity more than Westerners from political value surveys carried out by Asian Barometer.

    I’m impressed by the thoroughness of your research on China and human rights. But if you want to read more on the philosophy and the history of human rights thinking in China, I’d recommend Stephen Angle’s book on the topic published a few years ago (by Cambridge University Press, forget title) and on China’s recent human rights development I’d recommend articles by WANG Shaoguang published in Modern China and Boundary (all in 2008).

    Good luck with your research! Now I must return to my student papers.

    Best regards,
    Daniel A. Bell
    Philosophy Department, Humanity School, Tsinghua University, Beijing.”

    Rather than dismissing my essays as lacking in originality or as being merely a string of cherry picked quotes, he instead described them as being “interestng”, “well-written” and “thoroughly researched”. Anyone suspecting me of being Professor Bell can easily track down his email address and ask him for themselves whether or not he wrote the above comment – in case anyone here wants to accuse me of playing with personas.

    Likewise, Professor Jeffrey Wasserstrom, another China specialist and professional historian, and co-editor of the China Beat blog, occasionally corresponds with me via email and last December he sent me a copy of his new book on Shanghai for me to review. My review was published by the George Mason University’s History News Network site. Again, I employed my usual writing style, integrating quotations not only from his book, but also from other works like Marshall Berman’s “All That Is Solid Melts Into Air”. The editors had no problems with my style. They accepted my submission, praising my review in their email to me as being “very nicely crafted.” Jeff Wasserstom said the same thing in an email he sent me, dated 8/12/08:

    “Wow, that’s not just a very flattering review but a very smart one as well, much more of an engagement with the book’s themes. It is also just a nice piece of writing.”

    I have the email in my inbox, should anyone doubt my honesty! I’ll most probably me meeting up with Professor Wasserstrom here in Sydney this coming July, as I’ll be attending a conference on China at the University of Sydney that he will be addressing.

    As far as I am concerned, my essay on the events in Beijing of 1989 meet acceptable academic standards. If anyone here wants to accuse me of cherry picking, then they need to prove it by showing that the weight of empirical evidence falls elsewhere – that the body of evidence that I have drawn upon isn’t representative of what most primary sources indicate, or of what most scholarly secondary sources argue or present.

    So Tommydick, here is my challenge to you. Where is your evidence to show that the majority of both primary and secondary sources contradict the assessments that I have presented in Part I of my essay? Unless you can demonstrate that the overwhelming weight of evidence falls elsewhere, then you can hardly accuse me of cherry picking, can you?

    I eagerly await for all of your detailed references!

  120. tommydickfingers Says:

    maj – sorry, can’t resist.

    you do accept, do you not, that some of those killed were unarmed? this is my point about cherry picking, not just the sources but also the conclusions – some were armed with stones and molotov cocktails (still no justification for mowing them down in my opinion) too quickly becomes all or the majority of those killed were armed. (refer please to my earlier post that lists some of the pensioners and primary school children who were murdered. casualties of war?) you at no point address the balance, which is why I am drawing my – perhaps premature – conclusion that you are refusing to attribute blame (and in doing so absolve the CCP). Anyway, no more until part two of your magnificent opus (sarcasm intended).

    and carey as polite – called me belligerent, rude and indignant, all in the space of one post. talk about bringing the level of conversation down a notch.

  121. Carey Rowland Says:

    1.) MAJ, your thesis is well-constructed, your research well-documented, your scholarship impeccable. I agree with you. This is not about you. You’ve done some good work; you’re not a cherry-picker. The present discussion only breaks new ground as we move toward an answer to this serious, legitimately-raised historical question:

    2.) What did the People’s Liberation Army do on June 4, 1989? and What provoked them to do it? Because… at the end of the day there were, you know, a lot of dead bodies on the ground.

    3.) TommyD, I think you raise a good question about the “unarmed.” Those unfortunate souls were apparently caught in the crossfire, in the wrong place at the wrong time. It looks to me (from the other side of the world) like the Chinese government, CCP (whatever it is over there) must ultimately take some responsibility for those deaths–regardless of the political dynamics that precipitated the confrontation.

    4.) I hope you guys can work this out. As an American who will be traveling to Beijing this summer, I look forward to reading Part II of MAJ’s work before setting eyes on Tiananmen Square. I admire your scholarship. I don’t see how you do all that research while still holding down a teaching position. (I’m a teacher too.)

    5.) TommyD, I apologize for the subtle namecalling. I do believe you raise some valid questions. Thanks for sticking to your guns; you can put them in the holster now. Hopefully we’ll talk more about this in Part II, if not before.

    6.) MAJ, thanks for putting up with us; keep up the good work. The world needs this kind of analysis.

    Carey Rowland, author of Glass half-Full in the USA

  122. stuart Says:

    @ MAJ

    “Many turned up looking and ready for a fight”

    This is the kind of statement that reduces the credibility of your arguments. The arms the students were in possession of can almost certainly be verified; their intent not so much. One could just as easily say “looking to defend themselves”, but in keeping with your essay’s leanings – intentionally or otherwise – this kind of language shifts the locus of blame to the students, and fits all too cosily with the CCP’s narrative of putting down troublemakers bent on tearing China apart.

  123. MutantJedi Says:

    I did cut a rather broad swath with my use of the word “violence.” State violence comes in a broad spectrum from loss of life to loss of liberty.

    China is different than the West. The laws are different. The history is different. The political system is different. State violence is different. So, I’m confused why a handful of deaths in a Western protest should be comparable to hundreds of deaths on 6.4. Moreover, the scales are hugely different. How many people were in or around the square? Hundreds of thousands of people or more? How can something of that scale be compared to events that involve thousands or hundreds of participants? If a mortality rate associated with 6.4 can be met with horror and indignation, how much more should Western incidences with higher mortality rates astound, horrify, and anger. Moreover, don’t we expect a higher standard from the West when dealing with protesters? When the West fails, isn’t it from a self appointed higher moral ground from which it falls?

    I did use a bit of hyperbole in my previous comment. People normally protest in the West with no concern about state violence beyond being photographed. I joined a march to our provincial legislature in the 80’s – absolutely ineffectual but we did get hot chocolate. I wasn’t surprised that the provincial government ignored us students in our march. I also wasn’t surprised with the military response on 6.4. After all, if “Just watch me” Trudeau could roll the tanks into Ottawa in 1970, why would we expect different in 1989 in China?

    Justification. Such a black and white word for situations that are more the shade of muddled gray.

    I can imagine soldiers finding themselves swept forward into a situation where suddenly they realize that they are being burned and stoned. Chaos, confusion, clubs, and bullets.

    Unlike something like Kent State or a G20 summit, a massive worker/student movement of 6.4 presented very high stakes. Unchecked, the range of what-ifs is very broad. But not inclusive of the West’s mythological expectation of democratic reform. Had there been an element seeking opportunity in the military, the loss of life from a civil war or coupe would have been in the millions. Fortunately, that didn’t happen. Fortunately, the tanks rolled in from Shijiazhuang. Fortunately, the protest was brought to an end and order was restored.

    Unfortunate that people, soldiers and civilians, died.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kent_State_shootings
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonus_Army
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On-to-Ottawa_Trek
    http://obrag.org/?p=765
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Ian_Tomlinson
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/October_Crisis
    http://bbs.huanqiu.com/viewthread.php?tid=183682

  124. barny chan Says:

    MutantJedi: “Unlike something like Kent State or a G20 summit, a massive worker/student movement of 6.4 presented very high stakes.”

    So why pick two events which are in no way comparable when more analogous events exist. Political protest in the west isn’t restricted to single issue posturing. There are recent examples of protest movements that threatened the very fabric of the state, for example, the Greek uprising at the end of 2008, or the British miners strike of 1984.

    “Unchecked, the range of what-ifs is very broad.”

    Including the possibility of a more equitable and less repressive regime.

    “But not inclusive of the West’s mythological expectation of democratic reform. Had there been an element seeking opportunity in the military, the loss of life from a civil war or coupe would have been in the millions.”

    What? Like in Eastern Europe in 89? Oh yeah, you’ve got this covered, because “China is different”. So very different apparently that the deaths of millions would have been inevitable had the boil not been lanced by the immediate massacre of hundreds?

    “Fortunately, the tanks rolled in from Shijiazhuang. Fortunately, the protest was brought to an end and order was restored…”

    What a sick place this is, with mighty armchair warriors cheering on the tanks.

    “Unfortunate that people, soldiers and civilians, died.”

    Now you’re showing your sensitive side…I feel like I need a shower.

  125. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    Tommydick – I have never claimed that all of those who were killed were armed. I have ALREADY on a number of occasions on this very website noted how most of those killed were militant workers, followed by soldiers, followed by students. Some innocent bystanders were also caught up and died in the cross-fire, some were even shot to death by stray bullets while standing in their own apartments.

    The soldiers started firing into the crowds out of panic, as they were literally attacked. Yi Mu and Mark V. Thompson sum up it up as follows: “In any event, however, all reports concur that the army, facing the clashes, began to fire into the air and later at lower levels…then the troops began to fire directly into the crowds.” I have looked at many of the accounts, and most do indeed concur that the army was attacked first – with bricks, Molotov cocktails, bats, etc. I will detail all of this in Part II of my essay.

    Carey Rowland – thanks for your fair, balanced, sober attitude, towards both me and Tommydick. I wish all commenters here were as reasonable and as polite as you. The questions you pose above are indeed the questions I plan to address in Part II of my essay, which I am now half way through writing. Progress is being made, though not as quickly as I would like, as I am extremely busy with work. It’s not easy finding the time to research and to write up an essay like this when also teaching full time in a state government high school. I’m glad you empathise!

    Stuart – I appreciate your concern, but there is sufficient evidence to show that many were looking for a fight, that demonstrators did provoke the violence. Again, how about waiting until Part II – then you can scrutinise the evidence. I don’t think the credibility of my arguments are undermined by the conclusions I draw from the evidence – so just wait and see the evidence as I present it in my essay. Cheers!

  126. real name Says:

    Wahaha 97,

    “This is my view of how a society should be run”
    if i’m able to see it this is also classic chinese (eastern) view of ideal
    i believe if you f.e. will know more (even “scientificaly selected”) officials personaly you could change opinion
    also in china some people started great dynasties without knowing “how school works” in advance
    for me goverment is because of me and for me = i could control and discuss it’s steps
    teacher is partner for student, student’s own opinion should be required – even maybe teacher will show him where he/she/it is wrong
    (my friend was teaching in japan and said me he was unable to start discussion, they were not willing opose him at all because he is teacher)

  127. Carey Rowland Says:

    MAJ, keep up the good work; the world needs this kind of analysis. Don’t be pressured into haste. We’ll get into Part II whenever you post it. I’ve learned a lot already.

    To real name, re “in china some people started great dynasties without knowing ‘how school works'”: That’s what amazes me about China; and I’m hoping to learn more about those dynasties when I visit there this summer.

    Carey Rowland, author of Glass half-Full in the USA

  128. MatthewTan Says:

    Friends, please take a look at this series of videos from 1 to 3.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otTbOxLesg0
    換個角度看六四 八九天安門事件解放軍縂政治部資料片(一)

    This is a VERY violent protest, much worse than Lhasa riot last year. How can anyone characterize it as “peaceful” “pro-democracy” protest?

    The Western press is not credible at all.

    (I have not finished reading this article and comments yet. Will continue reading later…need to sleep).

  129. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Matthew:
    not sure the PLA political department’s (edited) archival footage would be the best counterpoint for “western” press credibility.

    “This is a VERY violent protest” – not sure we need to reinvent the wheel yet again. It started out fairly peaceful, got a little more violent closer to 6/4, got plenty violent on 6/4. And as MAJ has suggested, there’s shared responsibility for things having spiraled to that point. If the PLA showed you some footage from the end of May, you probably would’ve said “this is a VERY peaceful protest; how could anyone have characterized it as a “violent” protest?”

  130. MatthewTan Says:

    S.K. Cheung Says:

    “So what’s the experiment shown? When’s the larger scale experiment? When can John Q show his support for whoever is to replace Hu Jintao?”

    What has the experiment shown in the 1912 model of “republican” “democracy”? Why people like you never talk about 1912?

    Who is a better judge regarding who replace Hu Jintao?
    It certainly uplifts my pride and enhance my “rights” sense that I have exercised “democratic rights” to choose my Preisdent (or Prime Minister). But what do I really know about all the potential candidates?

    I always wonder, which Company will allow their employees to vote for their CEO? Why are people not demanding that?

  131. real name Says:

    MatthewTan, 130

    don’t you mix company emploees (president) with owners (you)?
    (if it is so complicated with candidates what about to choose such will recognize old one’s things among fake ones?)

  132. MatthewTan Says:

    Wahaha says: I dont see why democracy is more important than the future of millions of those kids.

    It always puzzles me. The West knows about Maslow Hierarchy of (Human) Needs, a well-established managment theory.

    Yet, they seem to not deny the Chinese conception of Hierarchy of Human Rights as another plausible “management” theory. Chinese political scientists should write a good thesis and make it another standard “management” theory (in political science textbooks.)

    Why nobody talks about democratic election of a CEO?

  133. real name Says:

    Wahaha, 63

    is also in north korea democracy more important than kids?

  134. MatthewTan Says:

    @61 tommydickfingers Says:

    “Next, doesn’t make any difference. If he beats his wife, he should be stopped. No mitigation. (I understand some Chinese see this differently but we are talking universal morality here).

    Finally, whether he did it 20 years ago and whether others have done it since, the wife beater should not be redeemed (especially if we make the analogy as accurate as possible and replace “beat his wife” with “kill his wife”)”

    The fallacy in this argument is that the wife is always innocent, incapable of beating the husband, incapable of doing great harm to the family (such as emasculating her husband in his sleep). The wife never needs redemption. Salvation belongs only to the male sex.

    I believe not many Chinese would intervene if he sees a father or mother beating his/her child in public. There is a level of trust that he/she is doing it for the good of the child, and the beating will be not overly severe.

  135. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Matthew:
    “I always wonder, which Company will allow their employees to vote for their CEO? Why are people not demanding that?” – R4000 asked a similar question in the Chinese meritocracy thread. Sorry for the cut/paste job, but below in quotes was my response to him.

    “I disagree with the analogy of corporate governance being readily translatable to nation governance. A company, at the end of the day, has one objective only: to make money. So when there is essentially a singular objective, it is easier to determine who is more “talented”. And with a singular objective, “lower level” employees may simply have to acknowledge that there are people better suited to make the guiding decisions.

    However, in running a nation, there are multiple objectives. Sure, a prosperous economy is one, and may be analogous to the corporate model. But there are many other objectives. And some of those objectives may be competing. For instance, environmental policy vs making money; or health care vs making money. Or lower taxes vs provision of a social safety net. In such a case, I’d say that each individual should be entitled to make their own judgments as to what their priorities would be, then be allowed to select a representative who they feel would most readily advance those priorities on their behalf.

    I’d also say that, if an employee didn’t like being excluded from corporate decision making, they can always change jobs. There’s no such option for citizens who are disenfranchised from the nation’s decision making.”

    I hope that answered your question.

    “Why people like you never talk about 1912?” – because 2009 – 1912 = 97 years. So by all means, learn from the century-old experience, and don’t make the same mistakes. And when China comes up with that “better version”, maybe John Q will get to cast that vote.

    “But what do I really know about all the potential candidates?” – as much as you care to find out, especially in this day and age. Our society gives you that right, but it’s still up to you to exercise that right responsibly.

  136. huaren Says:

    @MathewTan, #132

    “Why nobody talks about democratic election of a CEO?”

    You raised a very important and meaningful question.

    @SKC, #135

    Man, why the hell do I bother reading your nonsense? I simply have to say how stupid your responses normally are.

    First all, there are tons of similarities as there are differences. But judging by how you answer, my feeling is you are someone who doesn’t hold a real job. Maybe you were a full-time “democracy” nut thinking you could wreck havoc on Hong Kong before the handover. This is why you escaped to Canada fearing whatever you feared.

    Governments hire and fire employees. Corporations do the same.
    Governments focus on growing GDP. Corporations focuses on growing revenue.
    Governments develop its people. Corporations develop its people.
    Governments strive to be strong. Corporations strive to be strong – within its industry and around the world.
    Government leaders keep those loyal near. Corporate leaders keep execs/managers loyal year.
    Governments need to serve its customer (the people) well. Corporations need to serve its customers well.

  137. S.K. Cheung Says:

    “Man, why the hell do I bother reading your nonsense? ” – I dunno, dude. I certainly didn’t ask you to, nor would I care one iota if you did or didn’t. But since you claim to have read it, you certainly didn’t read it very well. Not the first time, I might add. Maybe your English comprehension is not the best.

    “First all, there are tons of similarities as there are differences.” – okay, so at least you seem to acknowledge that there are differences. Well, that’s a start. With you, I think we need to go slowly…so try to keep up, k?

    Yes, it appears government and corporations do many similar things. My point was WHY they do them. In case you’ve forgotten, since you seem to have the memory of a toad: “A company, at the end of the day, has one objective only: to make money…there is essentially a singular objective; However, in running a nation, there are multiple objectives.”

    Any employee of a company would want that company to make money…so every employee has the same objective. Most citizens might have a similar list of objectives for their country to strive for, but those objectives may be ranked in different priority by different people. Just as an example, a Republican in the US might want their country to be strong by being energy self-sufficient, but to do so by drilling anywhere and everywhere. Meanwhile, a Democrat may want a strong energy-self-sufficient country, but to do so by sustainable means, and put wind-farms everywhere. Those two people might well vote for 2 very different people, because their priorities are different.

    Now, you should really put your helmet on, since you seem the type that probably falls down often, and have likely hit your head one too many times.

    BTW, if your beef is why corporations don’t “democratically” elect CEO’s, you can certainly pick a company, buy a bunch of shares, and go and make a motion at their AGM. But in the meantime, there’s nothing wrong with people electing those in government. It’s a system hopefully the Chinese will get to try one day, if the CCP will let them.

    Oh, and going back to Matthew’s question:”I always wonder, which Company will allow their employees to vote for their CEO? Why are people not demanding that?” – the answer should be “who knows”, but the people COULD demand it if they wanted to. However, regardless of what people CHOOSE to demand in terms of corporate governance, at least they have a voice in nation-governance. Are PRC citizens somehow not deserving of that?

  138. huaren Says:

    LOL. Buffoon logic.

    Why so nuanced with governments and not corporations?

    Why stop at money? lol. How about imortality? Or world dominance? Lame!

    Man, and what kind of diet do you have? You are always on some kind of election and democracy diarhea? (Ok, don’t make fun of my spelling if I didn’t get that medical term right.)

  139. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Now Huaren, why would I make fun of your spelling? I have ample sympathy for those with challenges. BTW, you need to fasten the chin strap, otherwise the helmet might not stay on. I’d suggest you get right on that, before you fall down again.

  140. MatthewTan Says:

    Mark Anthony Jones,

    Good research with thorough documentation. Just wonder why you don’t submit it for publication in a journal or newspaper? You have written a book. It should not be difficult for you to publish another book on Tiananmen “massacre”. Would you consider it? It will sell. If time is a problem for you, consider getting a co-writer.

    (I enjoyed reading your posting in ChinaDaily on “racism”, and your debate with Martin on Tibet. I am very puzzled why people accuse you of “plagiarism” in blog writings – they are losers incapable of doing debate.)

  141. MatthewTan Says:

    S.K. Cheung Says:

    “I hope that answered your question.”

    No. Sorry.

    “Multiple objectives” means it is more difficult to judge who is more “talented”. Why do you think that 800 millions of illiterate and semi-illiterate en masse can make better decision? No logic.

    I accept that an employee can quit. But it does not answer the question why he does not demand democracy, and why democracy is given.

    “‘Why people like you never talk about 1912?’ – because 2009 – 1912 = 97 years. So by all means, learn from the century-old experience, and don’t make the same mistakes. ”

    You answer wisely. But you don’t seem to live wisely. Can’t you see that the CCP is trying to avoid the mistakes of 1912 and 2009?

    ” ‘But what do I really know about all the potential candidates?’ – as much as you care to find out, especially in this day and age. Our society gives you that right, but it’s still up to you to exercise that right responsibly.”

    Good in logic. But only for the highly educated. Even then, you will never know who is the liar.

    Thanks huaren. You answer so well.

  142. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    Matthew Tan – thank you for your encouraging comments. I appreciate them.

  143. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Matthew:
    ““Multiple objectives” means it is more difficult to judge who is more “talented”.” – but the question in democracy isn’t just who is more talented; it is who’s priorities better match those of the electorate. I’m not going to vote for a candidate who is immensely talented in pursuing priorities that I don’t share; I’m going to vote for the candidate whose objectives and priorities most closely mirror my own. And I think people lacking in literacy would still have priorities.

    “But it does not answer the question why he does not demand democracy” – that’s because only those employees themselves can answer why they accept a certain model of corporate governance. But as you even stipulate, if they don’t like the model in one company, they have choices. Right now, PRC citizens don’t. Furthermore, you can argue that the employees of a company aren’t the proper comparison to citizens in a country. Companies don’t strive to make money primarily for the benefit of their employees; they do so for the benefit of their shareholders. Now, the comparison gets a little more complicated because there can be multiple classes of shares, voting and non-voting shares, and such, not to mention that some people will have more shares than others. But nonetheless, companies have an AGM annually, where stuff gets voted on, up to and including firing of boards of governors, who usually determine the CEO. So in fact, if you want to use the corporate CEO analogy, they in fact have their system of “democracy”. Doesn’t change the fact that it’s still apples and oranges when compared with nation governance.

    “Can’t you see that the CCP is trying to avoid the mistakes of 1912” – they’re avoiding more than just the mistakes; they’re avoiding the concept altogether.

    “But only for the highly educated. Even then, you will never know who is the liar.” – well, I guess China’s system can surpass anything “democratic” simply by having Hu Jintao take a polygraph. Perhaps we can all submit questions. I mean, seriously, how do you ever know who is lying about what? That seems like a ridiculous standard. In 2009, I don’t think you need to be particularly edumacated to point and click your way to as much information about a candidate as you care to have.

  144. MatthewTan Says:

    S.K. Cheung Says:

    [“Can’t you see that the CCP is trying to avoid the mistakes of 1912″ – they’re avoiding more than just the mistakes; they’re avoiding the concept altogether.]

    I said: CCP is trying to avoid the mistakes of 1912 AND 2009.

    They have concluded that Western liberal democracy is not suitable for China. And they are working towards alternative model of democracy – based on of the current model, by gradual evolution, one step at a time.

    There was an independent survey done by a Western pollster and it concluded that the overwhelming majority of PRC citizens said the present political system was appropriate for their country.

    I will post more info on this later.

    [I’m going to vote for the candidate whose objectives and priorities most closely mirror my own. And I think people lacking in literacy would still have priorities.]

    Don’t you think the Western “democratic election” is very low in priority for Chinese people?

    Read,
    http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=10848
    Spare me the lecture
    I was a student protestor in 1989, but China’s youth has moved on
    Diane Wei Liang, June 2009

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/9f9e6686-4631-11de-803f-00144feabdc0.html?nclick_check=1
    China’s students put jobs over democracy
    Kathrin Hille in Beijing
    Published: May 21 2009

    I have no quarrel with the ideology of democracy. My main point is that it is not that important, especially the Western model. So people tolerate no-democracy in companies, and they tolerate it in China. It is not worth fighting for NOW, and they are not fighting for it NOW. That’s why I bring up the (Maslow-type) Hierarchy (Pyramid) of Human Rights/Needs.

    In popular elections, most people vote by gut feelings rather than by knowledgeable and rational assessments. No many people will border to read up and study about the Party and candidates. Especially the enormous peasant population of China. You are too idealistic and ideological-driven to expect that.

    In Singapore, in every General Election in the past, there were about 33 per cent “protest votes” against the ruling party the PAP. Yet it is the unanimous opinion of almost every analyst that these “protest votes” were not intended to mean voters preferred another party to rule Singapore. There was this in-built irrationality in voter behavior that made people worried about “freak” election results because voting behavior was quite the same across all constituencies. Even independent candidates that campaigned without party support got above 30 per cent. (One guy wore slippers when he went campaigning – and still got above 30 per cent votes.)

    In the last G.E., the SDP Party that stood for liberal democracy campaigning for the rights of free expression/assembly got about 25 per cent of the votes, which was such a miserable failure because the protest votes were still around 33 per cent overall. How far down below on the list of priorities such liberal values are for people like us!

  145. Mike - Serve the People Says:

    Interesting essay. The Black and Munro book cited in the introduction is excellent (as I’ve read it before) and I’m glad to have the Walder and Gong reference. I’ll look up their article.

    I can’t stand Orville Schell though. He’s hardly a relaible source, being the die-hard anti-Communist extremist that he is.

    I agree with nearly everything said in Part I and I’m looking forward to reading Part II, but I’m very concerned about where this essay may be heading. Blaming workers for the massacre? Asking them to at least share in some of the responsibility for the deaths that occured? The students were cowards who ran away while the workers fought bravely to defend them. The workers were betrayed by the students. This is the truth of the matter, just like how Black and Munro tell it.

  146. MutantJedi Says:

    barny chan #124,
    Seriously, Barny, you aren’t suggesting that a “more equitable and less repressive regime,” as I imagine you would envision such a regime, was even a remotely possible outcome from 1989?

    Sick… seems to be a matter of perspective. Personally, I’m encouraged by China’s economic growth and increased prosperity. I’m discouraged by the apparent risk adverse/conservative money in China (limited sampling – talks with guys with money in my town). I’m concerned about legal reforms and corruption. Without a strong response to the protests of 1989, I’m sure my concerns about China today would be much more grave.

    China is far from perfect. I’m annoyed that youtube and blogspot are blocked. I was disheartened by the honeypot protest zones during the 2008 Olympics. But I am very very optimistic for her.

  147. Wahaha Says:

    is also in north korea democracy more important than kids?

    #133, Real name,

    This world is very colorful, not just either black or white. Between the system in North Korea and the system in US, there can be other kind of systems.

    If you are comparing China to North Korea, you must have been brainwashed as bad as people in North Korea.

  148. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Matthew:
    “They have concluded that Western liberal democracy is not suitable for China.” – but who is “they”? THe Party, or the people?

    “And they are working towards alternative model of democracy – based on of the current model, by gradual evolution, one step at a time.” – it would seem to me that their current model, and any alternative model of democracy, are so diabolically different that you would need more than evolution; probably more akin to mutation. And you’re not kidding about “gradual”. But if it arrives at some model that has some semblance to democracy that’s beneficial for Chinese people, and not just Party members, that to me would be a good thing.

    “Don’t you think the Western “democratic election” is very low in priority for Chinese people?” – I have no idea. It would be just fantastic if that question could be posed in a systematic fashion to Chinese people…but there’s a small establishment that would seem to stand in the way of that, at least today.

    “So people tolerate no-democracy in companies, and they tolerate it in China.” – as I said, one group chooses to tolerate it, and the other has no choice but to tolerate it. Those are two very different things.

    You’ve established your point about Singapore. The people had the option, and chose to reject “liberal democracy”. That’s cut and dried. And if that’s the decision of the Chinese people as well, i would welcome it. It’s when the people get to make that determination that I’m still waiting for.

  149. barny chan Says:

    MutantJedi Says: “barny chan #124,
    Seriously, Barny, you aren’t suggesting that a “more equitable and less repressive regime,” as I imagine you would envision such a regime, was even a remotely possible outcome from 1989?”

    I am suggesting that, which is why I raised the regime changes in Central and Eastern Europe which also began in 89. At the time, very few people envisaged peaceful change. Regardless of the difficulties subsequently faced in that region, life for most people has certainly become “more equitable and less repressive”.

    Unless you believe in an inherent, Chinese-racially determined, proclivity for violence, repression and chaos, why wouldn’t you believe in the possibility of change.

  150. real name Says:

    wahaha, 147

    maybe misunderstanding
    you said
    That is the morality I have been talking about, and I dont see why democracy is more important than the future of millions of those kids.
    what i understood you ready to believe democracy is in opposite to good future
    my opinion is strong no, anyway i think it is even not a absolutely necessary condition of it
    so i gave you example of country without democracy and with poor children conditions
    i understand there are very big differencies between nk and cn (anyway remember last foreign food aid arrived to china in 2005)
    speaking about children: in controlable system (with connected attributes like freedom of speach etc.) you will not need let them suffer from chemical milk long months – anyway how it will be really depends on people
    have a right does not mean you must but you can
    i do not believe there is someone enlighted who will force me to happyness so i want have a right to show him when will be wrong
    i want to say my child’s health is more important than state propaganda
    without risk i will end in prison with label enemy of state (owned by one party)

  151. huaren Says:

    @real name, #150

    Can you prove the tainted milk scandal is a result of form of government?

    My advice is if you wish to be more credible, I think you ought to have a clear understanding of the issues with liberal democracies like that of the U.S..

    Talking about caring for children . . .

    For example, in California, there is a budget crisis. The state is stuck because democratically, every single group is fighting to not get their budget reduced. Nobody could rise above their own special interest for the good of the whole.

    How is this connected to children? Liberal democracies tend to be good at borrowing from their future generations (because the young cannot defend themselves) as a way to solve these crisis.

    You should look into why such a situation exists and why it persist for so long.

    You’d be a fool to think the Chinese do not pay attention to such issues.

  152. Wahaha Says:

    i want to say my child’s health is more important than state propaganda
    without risk i will end in prison with label enemy of state .

    real name,

    No offense, but lot of westerners are using the money that belongs to their children, or grandchildren, or even great grandchildren,…. in the name of human 400king rights.

    so in my opinion, for the sake of their children and their grand children, they should be ‘ regulated’.

  153. Nimrod Says:

    Where is Part 2 of this?…

  154. S.K. Cheung Says:

    I think MAJ had initially planned to post Part 2 today, but I believe life got in the way. I’m not sure if there’s a revised ETA.

  155. real name Says:

    151
    Can you prove the tainted milk scandal is a result of form of government?

    no, it became because of criminal activity of concrete people
    i was speaking about it’s later handling
    f.e.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/27/world/asia/27milk.html?pagewanted=all
    Mr. Fu, the editor at Southern Weekend, wrote in his blog … “We couldn’t do any investigation on an issue like this, at that time, in order to be harmonious,”

    151,152
    surely especially california deficit is something not health and extreme
    in switzland you can borrow money for house and return them in two generations
    i’m not economist to say what is health line for it (just i’m afraid economists will have different opinions)
    but also chinese state fiscal deficit exists and grows in time of present crisis
    (are deficit provinces receiving compensation from center?)

  156. Mark Anthony Jones Says:

    Life has indeed got in the way. I’m still only two thirds of the way through writing Part II. Actually, I think I will most probably split the essay into three parts now, as I required considerable space to cover the sections on student-government dialogue and the reasons for the declaration of martial law.

    Perhaps I will post both of these sections as Part II this coming Tuesday? I need to tidy this section up a little first.

    Part III will cover the battle for Beijing and the aftermath – as well as a number of overall conclusions.

  157. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To MAJ:
    good things come to those who wait. Look forward to it.

  158. pug_ster Says:

    Interesting that cbsnews admit hundreds, not thousands killed and that there is no killings in tianamen square itself but in the surrounding areas.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=5051350n

  159. Raj Says:

    The presenter merely said that hundreds were killed. That doesn’t mean that the station’s view is that it’s impossible there were over 1,000 dead. The BBC, for example, say in an article today that “hundreds, possibly thousands, of people were killed”.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/8075884.stm

    “Possible” doesn’t indicate likeliness.

  160. raventhorn4000 Says:

    They could then also say “possibly MILLIONS or BILLIONS of people were killed”??

    Exaggeration is a tool of propaganda.

  161. Wahaha Says:

    Real name,

    Did you hear the toxic rice scandal in Japan ?

    and when will western PEOPLE be ready to pay back those debts to their children ?

    Answer : Never, in the name of human right.

  162. real name Says:

    161
    never heard before about that scandal
    searching i found during years they used rice containing pesticide for food, one importer suicide, one minister left office
    but did not find how long time it took from moment someone had health problems or someone out of ring knew about higher level of chemicals and moment it was published, also nothing about someone who was not able to publish it because of goverment order

  163. raventhorn4000 Says:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/22/AR2007032201882.html?nav=rss_opinion/columns

    My National Security Letter Gag Order
    Friday, March 23, 2007; Page A17

    It is the policy of The Washington Post not to publish anonymous pieces. In this case, an exception has been made because the author — who would have preferred to be named — is legally prohibited from disclosing his or her identity in connection with receipt of a national security letter. The Post confirmed the legitimacy of this submission by verifying it with the author’s attorney and by reviewing publicly available court documents.

    The Justice Department’s inspector general revealed on March 9 that the FBI has been systematically abusing one of the most controversial provisions of the USA Patriot Act: the expanded power to issue “national security letters.” It no doubt surprised most Americans to learn that between 2003 and 2005 the FBI issued more than 140,000 specific demands under this provision — demands issued without a showing of probable cause or prior judicial approval — to obtain potentially sensitive information about U.S. citizens and residents. It did not, however, come as any surprise to me.

  164. Wahaha Says:

    Real name,

    Again no offense.

    I read lot of articles about democratic system, BY SCHOLARS, not by bankers. So if you have times, you better try to find some articles which USE REAL WORLD FACTS, not empty talks, to prove the greatness of democracy. (remember, dont read from reports from media like WSJ, they are associated with big banks and financial institutions, they have manipulated the financial policy in USA in last 25 years.)

    After 30 years empty talks during Mao’s times, we chinese dont believe the talk, we want to see facts.

  165. Wahaha Says:

    Real name,

    Let me give you two real examples:

    Elliot spitzer was caught. But so many politicians, who didnt have an affair ? even his successor had, but media only picked on him, why ?

    Charles schumer, : Yeah, banks sold bad mortgages for money, but who sold idea to public ? politicians, but didnt you see that no politicians was blamed for this crisis ? (what did Bush have anything to do with this subprime mortgages ? nothing) Charles Schumer was one of those politicians, did you see any media taking about what he did during 2002-2007 ? nothing.

    Think of that, you can clearly see who control the media.

  166. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Self-censorship is worse than state-censorship. – according to a Wall Street Journal journalist, commenting on HK’s media after handover to China in 1997.

    Funny though, WSJ never says that about itself.

  167. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To R4000:
    if these Patriot Act provisions are based on a presumption of guilt rather than innocence, then it would seem to be a bad law. What kind of potentially sensitive information do these provisions allow the FBI to seek?

    To Wahaha:
    the merits of an article should be judged by its content, and not by who wrote them. “Scholars” can have their own ulterior motives, even if they might be different in nature than those of “bankers”.

    It wouldn’t surprise me that many politicians, as well as many lay people, have had affairs. Morality aside, that’s not illegal. Spitzer’s affair was with a hooker, which is illegal. And he was caught. Those two aspects might distinguish his behaviour from that of potentially many others.

    I think politicians failed in their oversight of the banking system. But to suggest that they “sold” the subprime mortgages themselves is a bit much. Surely, Senator Schumer wasn’t manning the mortgage desk when John Q. Public came by to get a mortgage on a house he couldn’t afford.

    In your vision of democracy, it seems that politicians should be blamed for just about everything, including stuff they weren’t responsible for.

  168. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To R4000:
    “Self-censorship is worse than state-censorship.” – I wonder if the context of that WSJ journalist’s statement was HK media saying they would censor themselves to avoid the state clamping down upon them. If that was the context, then when has the WSJ had to censor itself to mitigate against US government-imposed censorship?

  169. real name Says:

    164
    i’m afraid democracy is not no. 1 discussion topic for bankers, they can make big money also in china or saudi arabia
    also i do not know articles about democracy from point of view of dentists
    it’s natural everyone wants present his opinion, that’s why more opinions are required to get more real picture

  170. real name Says:

    165
    two more examples of bad loans in near history
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29619163/
    2008, troubled asset ratio for all banks in the U.S., to 9.87
    http://english.mofcom.gov.cn/aarticle/newsrelease/commonnews/200608/20060802953942.html
    2006, China’s state-owned banks had a bad loan ratio of 9.5 percent

  171. raventhorn4000 Says:

    SKC,
    “if these Patriot Act provisions are based on a presumption of guilt rather than innocence, then it would seem to be a bad law. What kind of potentially sensitive information do these provisions allow the FBI to seek?”

    ANY kind of information. That’s just the point, they don’t even have to tell you, and they don’t even have to tell a JUDGE!

    It’s a DOUBLE secret subpoena. They just send you a letter and say, give us “EVERYTHING” we tell you to give us, for “national security purposes” we can’t tell you what we are looking for, because you might alert the terrorists as to what we are looking for.

  172. raventhorn4000 Says:

    SKC,

    ““Self-censorship is worse than state-censorship.” – I wonder if the context of that WSJ journalist’s statement was HK media saying they would censor themselves to avoid the state clamping down upon them. If that was the context, then when has the WSJ had to censor itself to mitigate against US government-imposed censorship?”

    No, it was the WSJ journalist saying HK media is censoring themselves, when No one in HK media said anything like that.

    And actually, usually, US media will run a controversial story by the government OR a court (declaratory judgment) to avoid the Government shutting them down on a story that might violate “national security”.

    For example, a huge portion of Valerie Plame’s autobiography book was blacked out by the US government censor, prior to the publication. The Publisher sent the book draft to the US government for “approval”.

  173. MutantJedi Says:

    My National Security Letter Gag Order is a story in the Washington Post about the FBI’s “national security letter.”

  174. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To MJ and R4000:
    I must say i’m a bit torn on this one. I’m all for due process and the rule of law. In this case, the law does seem to provide dangerously broad powers. However, in this case, the recipient was actually not forced to disclose his personal information; he was being forced to disclose someone else’s information, which he happened upon in the course of his business.
    Now, I’ve never contemplated this in the context of “national security”. But if the context was “serial killer”, “child abductor”, or “internet predator”, I’d be all in favour of the fuzz using all the means available to break through the veil of anonymity of the internet. In fact, I don’t think they do it enough.

    I do find it curious that the author can’t discuss his NSL with the fly on the wall, yet his friends and colleagues are asking him if he is challenging the constitutionality of it all. Something there doesn’t compute.

  175. raventhorn4000 Says:

    “Now, I’ve never contemplated this in the context of “national security”. But if the context was “serial killer”, “child abductor”, or “internet predator”, I’d be all in favour of the fuzz using all the means available to break through the veil of anonymity of the internet. In fact, I don’t think they do it enough.”

    I find it curious that so many seem to have their “favorite cause”, for which they are willing to make exceptions on someone else’s liberty.

    “I do find it curious that the author can’t discuss his NSL with the fly on the wall, yet his friends and colleagues are asking him if he is challenging the constitutionality of it all. Something there doesn’t compute.”

    There are always “leaks”, I would think “democratic” people can appreciate that some people are willing to risk their own necks for their friends. (Foolish as it might be.)

  176. MutantJedi Says:

    More 6.4 coverage: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8057762.stm

    twitter and flickr seem to be blocked. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8078538.stm

  177. real name Says:

    another 4 6 memories from “Beijing Hotel”, “about the eighth floor”
    At about four or five in the morning, tank columns raced into the square smashing buses, bicycles and humans under their treads.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/4313282.stm
    (“The 5-star Beijing Hotel is set at the corner of Wangfujing Street and ChangAn Avenue” so i expect it was about east changan situation)

  178. real name Says:

    ad 176
    reading
    But we are far less certain of killings on Tiananmen proper. There were probably few, if any.
    i recalled older
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/3769371.stm
    We could see that the troops were already in the square, and we quickly ran to the other side – where the square joins Chaoyang Street. … We ran over there just because of the fire.

  179. MutantJedi Says:

    Of course the censorship is kicking in…
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article6414510.ece

    It’s an oddly apropos method for the government to remember the day. It is an interesting education the government gives its youth. I expect that many of the tweeters may not have known a lot about 6.4. But when you take away a tweeters ability to tweet, he is quite likely going to turn his technosavvy into figuring out why. It’s not a long google to put two and two together. And presto, a young mind suddenly knows more about the 6.4 issue than he otherwise would have. Hats off to the government for their 6.4 awareness campaign. Absolutely brilliant.

  180. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To R4000:
    And I find it similarly curious that some would find an objection to heinous crimes to merely be “a favourite cause”, and not something of which people should all share out of principle. But that’s the difference between you and me (well, one of many, I suspect).

    “There are always “leaks”” – yes, but the “leak” to his friends would’ve come from him, and this is the same guy who can’t tell his significant other where he is going when he has to meet his lawyer. Unless you’re postulating that the FBI “leaked” this NSL to his friends, after telling him to zip it. Possible, I suppose, much like how pigs could fly…

    Democracy and “leaks” are completely unrelated things, so your last statement makes no sense.

    To MJ:
    the CCP is nothing if not consistently brilliant, in their own “special” way.

  181. MutantJedi Says:

    Chinese websites “under maintenance” … a quiet, brilliant, form of protest.

    Fanfou.com, China’s knock-off version of Twitter.com, shows this maintenance message: “The Fanfou server is undergoing technical maintenance. Service is expected to resume before dawn on the 6th.”

    VeryCD.com, a user-generated service that allows users to download films, music and other material, is also under “technical repair” from June 3rd to June 6th. Dictionary Wordku.com is too, whose message thanks the support of their users, are also calling the period the “Chinese Internet Maintenance Day” (中国网站维护日), probably mockingly.

    Other websites and personal blogs have voluntarily shut down their sites: the knock-off version of blogging host and aggregator Bullog.com is “striking” for three days.

  182. Wahaha Says:

    real name,

    More opinions not necessarily give you more picture.

    The key to know the picture is you are willing hear both sides of story without bias.

    _______________________________________________

    SKC,

    Please find some articles that used facts to prove the greatness of democracy, not several words like “freedom” or “everyone deserves …”?

  183. MutantJedi Says:

    China blocks sites prior to 20th anniversary of Tiananmen

    This report also notes voluntary closure of Chinese websites.

  184. MutantJedi Says:

    Global Times has another 6.4 story:
    http://www.globaltimes.cn/www/english/top-news/2009-06/434370.html

    Democracy trudges on in China
    http://china.globaltimes.cn/chinanews/2009-06/434608.html

  185. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha:
    I’ll look into it just as soon as you show me some half-decent articles that use “facts” to “prove” the greatness of authoritarianism (btw, many of the “articles” you’ve linked in the past haven’t quite met the “half-decent” threshold, but i suppose, if at first you don’t succeed…)

  186. stuart Says:

    And here’s the best of them all:

    http://foundinchina.com/2009/06/03/hong-kong-stands-up/

    😉

  187. real name Says:

    http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/l/liang-tiananmen.html
    “April 18 several hundred students … (4) end the ban on privately run newspapers and permit freedom of speech; … (7) hold democratic elections to replace government officials who made bad policy decisions.”
    some from original 7 demands are too democratic for party also today, even in (7) is no clear mention about multi-party system or even elections outside party

  188. raventhorn4000 Says:

    SKC,

    “And I find it similarly curious that some would find an objection to heinous crimes to merely be “a favourite cause”, and not something of which people should all share out of principle. But that’s the difference between you and me (well, one of many, I suspect).”

    Some would argue that 9/11 type terrorism is far more heinous. But oh well, you have your priorities.

    *
    ““There are always “leaks”” – yes, but the “leak” to his friends would’ve come from him, and this is the same guy who can’t tell his significant other where he is going when he has to meet his lawyer. Unless you’re postulating that the FBI “leaked” this NSL to his friends, after telling him to zip it. Possible, I suppose, much like how pigs could fly…”

    Yeah, like FBI/CIA wouldn’t leak to just to frame someone!

    *
    “Democracy and “leaks” are completely unrelated things, so your last statement makes no sense.”

    You asked, how his friends could talk about it. I thought “democratic people” like to run risks against unreasonable “secrets”.

  189. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To R4000:
    “Some would argue that 9/11 type terrorism is far more heinous.”
    —when have I suggested that 9/11 etc wasn’t heinous?

    “Yeah, like FBI/CIA wouldn’t leak to just to frame someone!”
    — but in this case, you’d be suggesting that the FBI leaked the presence of his NSL to his friends? What motive would they have to do that? They tell him the presence of the NSL must be kept secret, but then they go and tell his friends…then because his friends know about the NSL, they frame him for having disclosed its existence? All of which threatens to land him in jail, so as to force him to comply with the demands of said NSL? But they could have thrown him in jail for failing to comply with the NSL in the first place. So what would be the point of the whole charade? LIke I said, anything is possible, I suppose…

    “You asked, how his friends could talk about it. I thought “democratic people” like to run risks against unreasonable “secrets”.”
    —and like I said, if this guy was one such “democratic person”, he may have leaked it to his friends himself. Nothing wrong with that. But what doesn’t compute, as I said initially, is how he can talk about it with his “friends”, but can’t tell his significant other when he’s going to meet his lawyer to discuss the very same thing.

  190. raventhorn4000 Says:

    SKC,

    ““Some would argue that 9/11 type terrorism is far more heinous.”
    —when have I suggested that 9/11 etc wasn’t heinous?”

    I didn’t say you “suggested”. I merely said some consider 9/11 types are more heinous.
    When did I object to your favorite cause? I just called it your “favorite”, and you were obviously willing to take “liberties” from some to have your way. That’s just fact of what you wanted.

    *
    “Yeah, like FBI/CIA wouldn’t leak to just to frame someone!”
    — but in this case, you’d be suggesting that the FBI leaked the presence of his NSL to his friends? What motive would they have to do that? They tell him the presence of the NSL must be kept secret, but then they go and tell his friends…then because his friends know about the NSL, they frame him for having disclosed its existence? All of which threatens to land him in jail, so as to force him to comply with the demands of said NSL? But they could have thrown him in jail for failing to comply with the NSL in the first place. So what would be the point of the whole charade? LIke I said, anything is possible, I suppose…”

    Or some rogue FBI agents who wanted to “help”. Who knows. It’s not the 1st time a FBI agent leaked info as a “whistleblower”.

    *
    “You asked, how his friends could talk about it. I thought “democratic people” like to run risks against unreasonable “secrets”.”
    —and like I said, if this guy was one such “democratic person”, he may have leaked it to his friends himself. Nothing wrong with that. But what doesn’t compute, as I said initially, is how he can talk about it with his “friends”, but can’t tell his significant other when he’s going to meet his lawyer to discuss the very same thing.”

    Maybe some people don’t trust their significant others. Maybe he’s in the process of separation? Maybe he wants to protect his significant other from government scrutiny, by isolating the knowledge to himself and his friends who might be able to help. That’s a very personal choice. You are merely engaging in rather pointless speculations of his personal motives. It has no bearing on the information, whether he chooses to tell some people or not.

  191. S.K. Cheung Says:

    “Or some rogue FBI agents who wanted to “help”. Who knows. It’s not the 1st time a FBI agent leaked info as a “whistleblower”.”
    —sure, an FBI agent could’ve taken it upon himself to leak something. But this agent would risk his duff in order to leak it to the friends of the guy who received the NSL? What’s the point in that? If you were going to leak something, wouldn’t you leak it to your favourite journalistic establishment? Like I said, anything is possible, i suppose…but on a scale of things that are possible, I’d say it’s on the low end…of the low end.

    “You are merely engaging in rather pointless speculations of his personal motives.”
    —as are you, if you cared to look in the mirror from time to time.

  192. raventhorn4000 Says:

    SKC,

    Maybe the FBI agent thought to leak it indirectly enough that lessen the chance of being discovered as the source.

    You wanted to speculate and ask questions of why. I didn’t. You are still asking to speculate.

    I’m only speculating to you questions.

    The Mirror is on you.

  193. S.K. Cheung Says:

    You’re the one bringing up the ridiculous scenarios about FBI leaking info to the guy’s friends. At the start of all this, before you started frothing about “leaks”, I had merely observed that it was curious that the guy was apparently discussing this NSL with his friends, while his significant other remained seemingly in the dark.

    It seems any and all speculation started with you at #175.

    “I’m only speculating to you questions.”
    —if I ask questions, and you give speculative answers…then who, do you think, is doing the speculating? Let me know when you’ve figured out that puzzle. But hey, no rush. I’ve got time.

  194. real name Says:

    maybe have a look at http://www.blacklocks.ca/embassy-feared-1989-chinese-raid-say-confidential-memos/
    here http://www.exil.sk/site/cina.php/2015/06/03/kanada (in original CAPS english) you can find transcription of main part

  195. Toko Otomotif Says:

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  196. jual sarung tangan safety Says:

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