June 1, 2009
Written by C.N.
Following up on my earlier post about the recent publication of former Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang’s memoirs, this week marks the 20th anniversary of the end of student protests in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China.
As history records it, for two months leading up to this week, thousands of young Chinese college students and their supporters camped out in Tiananmen Square publicly advocating for greater political freedom and rights before the Chinese authorities, led by Deng Ziaping and Li Peng, ordered the army to crush the “rebellion” in the early hours of June 4, 1989. An estimated 2,000 Chinese died in the crackdown.
CBS New’s news-magazine show Sunday Morning recently did a segment on the 20th anniversary of Tiananmen Square and examined what led to the protests, how it ended, and the modern legacy of the events of 20 years ago (about 6 minutes long):
The take-home message is that 20 years after turning on their own citizens, China’s leaders have implemented many of the students’ original demands and have eased up on their control over the lives of ordinary citizens. Unfortunately, the changes that have taken place do not include greater political democracy nor many of the freedoms that we in the U.S. take for granted, such as freedom of the press.
Instead, the changes since the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests have steered Chinese toward a greater sense of nationalism (reaching a fever pitch at times) poised to rail against anything perceived to be anti-Chinese, an almost obsessive drive to make money and become rich (frequently at the expense of consumer safety), and perhaps most important, unquestioned acceptance of the communist regime’s authority and power.
In other words, the goals of the Tiananmen Square student protesters 20 years ago still remain largely unfulfilled and their efforts towards modernizing China toward a more democratic and humane society are still ongoing.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "20th Anniversary and Legacy of Tiananmen Square Events" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2009/06/20th-anniversary-legacy-tiananmen-square/> ().
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