Tiananmen Square, 25 Years Later

William Wan and Simon Denyer, in the Washington Post:

BEIJING — It was a quiet day in Tiananmen Square. Even as tens of thousands gathered in Hong Kong and global headlines marked the 25th anniversary of China’s brutal crackdown on student protesters, there was no trace of remembrance at the site of their killing…

The only sign of that day’s lingering effects: swarms of police patrolling the square and stationed every few hundred feet on the roads leading to it.

For weeks, as the anniversary approached, security in Beijing grew tighter. Foreign journalists were called in and warned. Officials mobilized tens of thousands of informants to look for suspicious activity, according to state media. Authorities jailed or forced out of the city dissidents most likely to criticize the government. By Wednesday, the heart of the capital was in lockdown.

This year, the repressive tactics ahead of the Tiananmen anniversary began earlier and were more extensive, a sign that the Communist Party views the historical event as an enduring threat.

The hushed interviews at the square Wednesday revealed just how effectively the party has quashed public memory of a crackdown that killed hundreds, if not thousands. Many claimed to have no remembrance of the massacre or appeared too afraid to respond…

The Washington Post also has a sidebar on some of the prominent figures from the Tiananmen protest. The NYTimes profiles a “leader” from the other side of the barricades:

There was no public mention then — and there have been very few mentions since — of the head of the official student union of Peking University at that time. His name is Xiao Jianhua. Mr. Xiao never opposed the government, and the events of June 1989 did not make him one of China’s “most wanted.” Instead, they catapulted him into the ranks of its most wealthy…

The rewards were immediate. Just after he graduated, Mr. Xiao stepped into the world of business with direct financial support from Peking University, one of China’s most prestigious institutes. In the quarter-century since, he became the prototype of the politically connected financier. He has assiduously courted the party elite, including the family of its current president, Xi Jinping, becoming something of a banker for the ruling class and a billionaire in his own right…

ABC News remembers perhaps the most memorable, yet anonymous, figure from the original protests:

[L]ittle is known about the man who blocked the path of a column tanks in Tiananmen Square in Beijing 25 years ago, on June 5, 1989.

Over the years he has come to be known as the “Tank Man,” the “Unknown Rebel,” or the “Unknown Protester.”

Some reports have identified the man as Wang Weilin, but his true identity has not been confirmed. The South Korean news agency Yonhap reported in 2006 that Wang Weilin was an alias and that he had escaped the massacre in Tiananmen Square and has made his way to Taiwan via Hong Kong…

Perhaps he was among the crowds here:

7 replies
  1. 1
    gbear says:

    I blame Obama.

  2. 2
    Zifnab25 says:

    @gbear: This is totally what he did to Amerikkka! Dronze!

  3. 3
    Trollhattan says:

    Don’t know what the proper adjective is for what was done at Tiananmen, but “brutal” doesn’t quite do it. Savage?

    Whatever the wording, they got the result they desired. Vlad must be jealous.

  4. 4
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    I visited China in 1987 when I was stationed in Hong Kong. It wasn’t a communist country then and it seriously isn’t one now, yet know nothings like Limbaugh still refer to them as the “ChiComs”.

    BTW when we were going over all of the discussions of what would happen to Hong Kong once the Chinese took over once the Brit’s lease ran out it wasn’t so much how the Chinese would effect Hong Kong it was more about how Hong Kong would effect China, it looks like the Chinese fears were justified.

  5. 5
    satby says:

    This is also the 25th anniversary of my dad’s death, so the Tianamen massacre will forever be linked to that in my mind. And I posted the raw CNN YouTube video of tank man on FB this morning; it’s actually pretty long. I had forgotten he climbed up onto the tank and yelled at the soldiers inside. 25 years later, his courage still moves me so much! Go watch it again if you haven’t for a while.

  6. 6

    Good thing those liberals got their asses kicked or my iPhone would cost a fortune.

  7. 7
    mike in dc says:

    There IS a direct linkage between the events of 6/4/89 and “low prices, every day”. Labor costs in a free and democratic China would be substantially higher.

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