Today is the thirteenth anniversary of the Tian An Men Square massacre. Should you not be familiar with this event, The China Reader has quality articles and excerpts that show great contrast between what outside observers and Chinese nationals saw, and what was published by the State. Particularly interesting was Chen Xitong’s “editorial”. If I can find a piece of this propaganda online, I’ll do so, but until then, you’ll have to get the book to read it.
I had a great time in Beijing when I was there, and recommend the trip to anyone interested in seeing a whole new world. Any visitor to China will tell you it’s certainly not “communist” in any economic sense of the word. Yet, while China can hardly be called “socialist” anymore, it’s certainly still a totalitarian regime. There is progress, but sometimes it just seems painfully slow. The massacre at Tian An Men, though, is key in that the force used in quelling this protest has sadly discouraged a lot of dissent since.
I’ve been doing some gardening this spring. My balcony is covered in all sort of herbs, peppers and other vegetables. Some of these were destroyed in a recent storm. Some, while heavily damaged, have come back strong. Some weren’t affected.
It occurred to me soon thereafter, and in the light of things, people, and places I’ve recently experienced, that nations and opinions are like plants and wind. If the wind is too strong and the plant is too young, the plant can be dealt a devistating blow, there’s always a chance of that. Sometimes this is a risk you have to take. Sheltering a plant from the wind may protect it from immediate dangers, but this is a false strength; This same plant may even topple due to the sheer weight of its initial fruits because it has no strong foundation.
On the other hand, it’s well known that plants generally do better if they are subjected to continual, gentle breezes. Their stalks strengthen to resist the elements, thus leading the plant to grow strong over time, eventually bearing much fruit.
Expression of opinion, even dissenting, is of utmost importance in the building of a strong nation or other structured organization. Not allowing this to occur can only stunt growth… if not cause the whole thing to topple.
* Renmin Ribao (People’s Daily) April 26 editorial, prior to the massacre.
* Deng Xiaoping’s speech to martial law units, following the events.
* China’s first game in the 2002 World Cup coincides with the massacre.