Saturday, June 06, 2009

Fascinating article on Tienanmen Square from English language Chinese media

Reported on in the NY Times (who linked to it), the Times didn't even go into the depth of import of the article; the first time "the events of May 35th" have been mentioned.

Here's an excerpt of the the original article from the Chinese Global Times:

Twenty years after the June 4 Tiananmen incident, public discussion about what happened that day is almost nonexistent in mainstream society on the Chinese mainland.

It’s still a sensitive topic. Scholars, officials and businessmen declined interviews with the Global Times on the subject. And searches for “June 4 incident” on the Chinese versions of Google, Baidu and Yahoo were blocked.

When asked to comment on China’s road to development in the last 20 years, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Sciences cautiously responded with his own question, “Why the last 20 years (1989-2009) instead of 30 years?” After all, economic reform started in 1978.

People born in the late 1970s and after have little memory and vague ideas of the incident.

During a training session for 120 college volunteers before the Olympic Games in Beijing last year, Chen Ping, former deputy venue manager for Media Operations at the Olympic Green Tennis Center, told the volunteers that China failed its first bid for the Olympic Games in 1993 because international society was unfriendly toward China after the turmoil in 1989. He asked the volunteers, mostly sophomores aged 19-20, if they knew what he was talking about. They all looked puzzled.

Li Xiang, who worked as a computer programmer for a small IT company in Beijing, was 9 years old in 1989. He lived on Fuxing Road, a west extension of Chang’an Avenue. His memory? The primary school he attended near the China National Radio building complex on Nanlishi Road was closed for a week in June 1989.

“I was happy for no school and no homework,” Li said. “My parents watched news broadcasts on CCTV attentively with serious looks. I also took a few glimpses. The pitch-black burnt bodies of soldiers impressed me, but I had no idea what happened.”

The comments are even more interesting.

I'll say one thing about this: there's a bit of karma working around here. Tienanmen Square is one of those places one should visit if one has the means to do so; it's hugeness is hard to imagine even if you've been there.

If you haven't been there you have no idea how huge it is, and its symbolism is striking: it proclaims by its hugeness that the sovereignty of China rests with the people.

To the extent that any ruling class in China recognizes this fact that built the "New China" (warts and all), they're legit. If they don't they aren't. At least that's the message of the architecture.

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