Tiananmen Massacre Anniversary

From the 'Simpsons Go To China' episode.And so, once again it’s June 4th. For the last 17 years this day has been marred with a rather crimson taint. It is, of course, the day the People’s Liberation Army was given the go-ahead by then CCP leader Deng Xiao Ping to use whatever means needed to quell the protests in Tiananmen Square. This resulted in a lot of bloodshed. Figures that no one acurately knows, but guesstimates put in the thousands.

I watched the History Channel’s Declassified Tiananmen Square not too long ago and what I was surprised to learn about the tragedy was that most of the casualties didn’t actually happen in the square, but rather on the roads leading into the centre of Beijing.

The army had been stationed miles out from Tiananmen, on the edge of the city, as the roads had been blocked by protesters. When they crashed through, they opened fire on a lot of people in the streets. By the time they actually reached Tiananmen, many of the people had fled the area in fear and confusion of reports that the army was coming.

Meh, it’s semantic really.

Anyway, this day is a bit of a bummer … and not that I wish to promote forgetting about this rather horrible event, as I believe the powers that be should owe up to this stain on China’s history – but to lighten the mood a bit, here are a few (more positive) things that ALSO happened on June 4th:

780 BCE ~ 1st total solar eclipse reliably recorded by Chinese.

1896 ~ Henry Ford took his first car out for a test drive.

1919 ~ US Senate passes Women’s Suffrage bill.

1942 ~ Battle of Midway begins; Japan’s first major defeat in WW II.

1965 ~ Rolling Stones release “Satisfaction”.

1984 ~ Bruce Springsteen releases “Born in the USA”.

1989 ~ Eastern Europe’s first somewhat free election in 40 years held in Poland.

2003 ~ Martha Stewart was indicted on charges of insider trading.

Note: The picture is from the Simpson’s episode that has everyone’s favourite jaundice-looking family visit the Middle Kingdom. Notice the spelling mistake? hehe.

14 Responses

  1. Seems like you are interested in every special day happened in china’s history. I’m a chinese, but it’s the first time that I saw the comment of what you called “Tiananmen Massacre Anniversary”. Anyway, I don’t think we can get some useful clue from your article. It’s a too political issue.

    Even you are familiar with the whole detail of this matter, it doesn’t mean you know exactly what had happened there at that moment.

    So it’s better for you to focus on some traditional festival of China. For example, Dragon boat festival is a good one

  2. I’m a Chinese and for Chinese people to say that 6-4 is too political an issue is a national shame. It ranks up there with the massacre in Nanjing. Say what you will about the imperialist Japanese (and you would be right) but it is laughable Chinese criticise Japan for lying about its wartime history and yet the Chinese authorities do the same thing. Not that it is any better, but the Japanese invaded and killed people from other countries, not their own. Remember that next time you point your finger at the Japanese.

    勿忘国耻 六月四号! 

  3. @Kate: First, I’d like to say welcome to my blog. I’m glad some Chinese with good English abilities are reading this (and any English) blog… it’s good practice and it’s also a good way to attemp to understand some of the culture from outside of China.

    That said, I find it hard to take seriously the advice from anyone Chinese who admits they don’t know their own history. I did post about Dragon Boat Festival, and I’ll likely post about a lot of different days. I live in China and the days that are signficant in China generally make their way to this blog as they affect my life here (hense the title of the site).

    My “article” was not meant to explain the Tiananmen Massacre, as I imagine a large number of the people who read this blog already know more than enough about it. Outside of China it is common knowledge.

    Now, considering I know even less about Chinese traditional holidays than I know about widely-known historical events, why should I focus on them? Using your rationale, unless I was at the river when the poet QuYuan drowned himself, I really shouldn’t talk about it. And further using Dezza’s well said comment – if the Chinese weren’t in Nanjing during the Japanese occupation (or, hell, even alive during the war) they really have no idea, and shouldn’t talk about it either. 废话. Perhaps they should focus on other things… like their new Japanese cell phone, or air conditioner.

    The information about June 4th is out there. It’s not even hard to find. If you want to know your history (and not just about Tiananmen Square), all you need to do is learn. I know first hand that this is sometimes difficult hearing from a foreigner. Chinese would like to believe that no foreigner knows more about China or Chinese culture than them. I’ve been in China for a year and a half (not much time at all) and I continually educate my girlfriend on Chinese history. True she also explains things I don’t understand to me, but largely I am an information machine. I spend a big part of my days reading things, whereas I doubt she or indeed many Chinese people have often sat down and read a book or Web site about Chinese history (other than the required, and not without glossy pages, school textbooks).

    This isn’t to say it’s because I’m some grand intellectual or anything of the sort, I’m REALLY not. But simply “being Chinese” isn’t enough to know things about China. You have a connection to your culture that I’ll never have. You’re Chinese and I can never be Chinese, however, I think many Chinese (and indeed anyone from any nationality) take their history and culture for granted and don’t often study it more than what they heard from one or two people (often parents, or teachers). As a foreigner who essentially knows nothing about China, I’ve got the (sometimes tiring) task of trying to piece it together from as many places as I can – and often that’s 3rd Party information which (especially when it comes to China, and Chinese history) is often much better and factual than that what is believed by the common person.

    All this is to say, if you wish to suggest what I shouldn’t talk about, you are welcome to. I always welcome anyone to say anything here, and despite rather dumb comments (“Your blog blows” comes to mind), I don’t delete them. But if you want me to take your suggestions seriously, up your level of knowledge. Bring something to the table and be open to learning something yourself.

    As Mulder said, “The truth is out there.” Sadly, so are the black sedans, so watch your back.

    And for the record, there’s no issue “too political” for me.

  4. Haha! you are such a talkative guy. I’m highly honored to read so long a critical article. In fact, if anything I have commented get you mad so much, then I have to say sorry to you. It’s always good to know more foreigners interested in China. As you said, I need to learn more, I accept your suggestion. Again have a good time in China!

  5. @Kate: Haha, sorry. Didn’t mean for it to sound like I was angry. Really, the issue of what Chinese people know or don’t know is not my problem. Really, it just comes down to not often having an opportunity to state the above to someone. Daily foreigners in China are forced to bite their tongues about what to them is common knowledge about the world, but what in China has been hushed up.

    I know it sounds pompous to be so direct about the general ignorance in this country, and this is also not my intention. I understand the socio-political reasons for this, and it is what it is. It can also be argued that similar mis-information and misguiding exists in Western countries too… and that may be true. But the amount and to what extent are not the same. Not even fairly comparable.

    Sorry to have lamb-basted you so harshly. And honestly, I do like that I have Chinese visitors. You’re always more than welcome to post your opinions. How they are accepted I cannot make any promises on, but I hope that wont disuade you.

  6. You are such a gentleman. In fact, I don’t care about this Tiananmen issue at all. I am just a girl who know a little english and say a little stupid words sometimes. So glad to have chance to hear from you about your opinion of living in china. Plus I have visited your blog for quite a while, People won’t come to someplace where they are not interested at all. But it happened that I sent out something and failed to get it back. That’s all. What you said is right, I think I deserve it,Haha!

    I will come here a lot and next time I must think over about what I am going to post on here. Haha!

  7. haha, well said Ryan!
    This issue has plagued me for the last three years, but this is the first time I’ve seen it in writing. So many times I’ve been frustrated when I’ve told a Chinese person some historical fact about China only to have them laugh it off as a foreigner’s opinion or take offense to my bold ‘accusation’.

    But it’s understandable. Why would anyone doubt what they were taught in school, or by their parents? It takes a very free-thinking mind to go against what everyone is teaching as the truth, and find the real story by yourself. It’s kinda like freeing yourself from the Matrix. Few can manage it, and even if they do, they might not like the reality!

    I once tried to educate a colleague about the life of the ‘Great Chairman’, and she hardly spoke to me again after that.

    @kate – glad you came to your senses! haha

    @dezza – good point!

  8. Hi, Dan, I still think we are not talking about the same issue.
    I just felt that it’s impolite for me to judge one person’s article so arbitrary.
    Even now I still can not accept some views from foreigners talking about the historical events happened in China.

  9. @Dan: Feel your pain (my pain) brotha. Free thought in China is about is as free as the damn public toilets.

    @Kate: Please continue to come. I don’t know about the rest of my readers, but I certainly enjoy having some Chinese perspective on issues covered here. Like I said, it wont always mesh, but it can always be interesting.

    Accepting what foreigners say about China can be a trick. I mean, I wouldn’t feel altogther comfortable if someone was spouting off about Canada’s history to me. If I strongly disagreed with it, the first thing I would question is where they learned the info, and second I would question their motives for learning it.

    As an English teacher in China, I have absolutely no political agenda here (hear that CCP?). None. I don’t wish to pass off my opinions to other Chinese people, and the only real conversations I have about any of my opinions about China’s politics and history are to close friends (namely, all foreign).

    That said, the reason “why” I know stuff about China is that I’m curious about where I live. I read endless amounts of information from every source I can find about China. Many Web sites/blogs, lots of news, historical books, documentaries, a biography or two, etc., etc. Because this information doesn’t reside in the tightly controlled sphere of China itself, it is much more rounded than anything in-country could be (or is).

    I dig info about China because it’s sorta edgy, sometimes difficult to understand the complexity of, and a bit deeper than my native country’s goingons. Canada, for all it’s wonderful health-care/social system glory, is bland. The biggest news in recent history in Canada is that there was an advertising scandal. Honestly, lame.

    So, now you know my “why” and my “where”. It’s your choice to accept or not. Either way… NOT my agenda (you heard that CCP, right?).

    I gotta get this post off my main page – I think it’s screwing up access to my site. Without Tor, all I’m getting are “No Data” errors. Damn June 4th and it’s controversy!

  10. Haha, see, if I didn’t left such a lame comment, I will never get to know more about your “why” and “where”. So happy that I can share some of your thoughts here as well as the rainy day. By the way I am a Dalian girl. maybe we are using the same water resource:)

  11. Thank god it rained!!! I’ve been itching to take this damn Dragon Boat Festival bracelet off. That and the trees were lookin’ mighty thirsty.

  12. Didn’t you hear about the terroists who were going to decapitate the Canadian Prime Minister (or is it President?) It was on CNN today (or was it yesterday?)

  13. Terrorists? I think those were senior citizens, or health care workers, or was it environmentalists, or… I dunno, it’s so hard to keep track of all the people that want Harper’s head on a pike.

    But yeah… I did hear about the terrorist plot to blow up our power facilities and such… meh, it took us 5 years, but we finally got us a news story about terrorists (and not just those “eco-terrorists” that like to yell dirty words at seal bashers).

    And it is Prime Minister … just like you have over there in Scotland, or is it Ireland? 😉

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