As my Chinese teacher said to me in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square incident, history is fluid and can be rewritten. While he nor I believed this at the time, in China this is indeed true. With China’s sophisticated propaganda machine on full throttle, the perception of China, globally and domestically can be changed. This is how China works, and works very effectively.
For the record, there was a huge killing spree at the Square. I know this because I went down to the Square the day after and saw blood on the ground. Of course this is all circumstantial, one might say. I have met many students, who lived at my dorm at the time, who were almost mowed down by gunfire, and were thankful for their lives. They broke down in tears, on one hand cradling their fallen Chinese friends while on the other hand scared out of their minds and wanted to run. But run they did, and lived to tell me and others their ordeal. These were first hand accounts, numerous and credible. But enough said.
Anecdotally there are many odd examples of parents protesting or killing themselves to protest and bring light to their kids that were killed at Tiananmen. Were these parents also delusional? These people do not matter, in the grand scheme of “face” for the People’s Republic of China. This is how China works. Many of those students killed were not from Beijing and were therefore lost to their parents. Most of the Beijing students had endured over a month of protest at the Square and were tired and dirty. They returned to their campuses when students from other areas of China arrived to replace them. It is for these students, unknown, untrackable and largely forgotten that I remember today. Those that made the long trek to Beijing from their university that never made it home. These kids, like myself are who I remember. There are no class action lawsuits or public inquiries in China, only guns, police and violence to those that disagree with the Party line.
Curiously I an not the least angry at articles such as “Tiananmen massacre a myth” by the China Daily, who quotes foreign diplomats and scholars to bolster their argument. This is how China works and I expect nothing less. The game continues as it should. There is no use in getting angry at the dog who barks, for he is a dog and that is what dogs do. I still find it comical, because as a first person observer I know it to be untrue. This, in the grand scheme of China, matters little, but it matters to me.
Today we have a technology war on the internet. One one hand is the goliath CCP, with their Great Firewall of China, the 50c gang, and law that censors internet content. On the other hand there are young and technically sophisticated Chinese, eager to discuss and remember. Who knew that the front lines of censorship would be on world-wide Internet search engines. Simple words, such as “candle”, and simple numbers such as “6”, “4” are banned for an undetermined time. It seems futile to me, but this is how China operates and should be expected. I only hope that some time in the future China will change.
Life continues on and we continue on, but this does not mean we should not remember those who are not with us because of this event. History should not be rewritable due to the political will of the government. Facts should stand for themselves, though interpretations can be changed for better or for worse.