Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Don't Twitt on Tiananmen Day ✘ ✉

Today on Beijing Tiananmen, Square of Heavenly Peace...

Paramilitary police officers in Beijing, China, on Thursday patrol the area around Tiananmen Square during a flag-lowering ceremony. Twenty years ago, Beijing Tiananmen looked like this:

"Tiananmen? I don't know..."

"Tiananmen? I don't know..." Young Chinese say they ignore what exactly happened there 20 years ago.

This happened 2o years ago, reported by
CBC, Tom Kennedy

Censors in China have shut online services for days, mostly used by young web surfers, and placed prominent dissidents under house arrest less than two days before the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown. The first victim of the most sweeping action on the internet undertaken by China's cyber-police was the micro-blogging service Twitter, wildly popular as a platform for humor as well as for political comment.

A little while later China's increasingly tech-savvy population realized that the popular photo-posting service Flickr had vanished. That was followed by the disappearance of the Hotmail e-mail service and Microsoft's new search engine, Bing, only a day old. The blocks did not stop there: MSN Spaces also disappeared. Jeremy Goldkorn, founder of the popular English-language blog, said: "They have never blocked so many major websites at one stroke."

The timing is scarcely a coincidence. Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of the entry of the People's Liberation Army into Beijing on June 4, 1989, to crush seven weeks of student-led demonstrations centered in Tiananmen Square - a move that resulted in the deaths of hundreds. (Google has counted 794 articles on the Tiananmen story at this precise second when I blog).

Interesting report in the Korea Times: "China Haunted by Tiananmen".

Quotes: "The regime officially dismisses the protesters who camped peacefully on the square for weeks as "hooligans", but it is still haunted by the fear that the Chinese people might some day demand their country back... Zhao Ziyang, then general secretary of the Communist Party, who was dismissed and put under house arrest for the rest of his life, believed that to the day he died: "Most people were only asking us to correct our flaws, not attempting to overthrow our political system."

Today, people are still in jail in China because they participated to Tiananmen Square demonstrations.

[Quotes: Radio France, The Australian, Korea Times, wire news agencies, Google, Twitter.]

✍✍✍ Update June 5th 2009

It appears that the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen events and brutal repression of democratization and reforms attempts were only followed and talked about outside of China! I would like to ask now to the China watchers and policy makers how about their idea to embed China* in a policy of accompanying the rest of the developed world? I noticed a few telex of agencies that I find quite symbolic of the headache ahead. (NB* "Memo to the next president China USA and A Global Imperative by Nina Hachigian, Michael Schiffer, Winny Chen, August 13, 2008. A Progressive Approach to U.S.-China Relations in the 21st Century")

On Tiananmen 20th anniversary, quotes of The New York Times on June 5th 2009:
"Throngs of men, women and children gathered at a park here in Hong-Kong on Thursday evening for a enormous, somber candlelight vigil to mark the twentieth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square killings. The organizers said that 150,000 people joined the vigil, tying the record set by the first anniversary vigil in 1990 and dwarfing every vigil held since then. The police had no immediate estimate for the crowd. The peaceful assemblage spilled out into nearby streets, shutting down traffic. Inside Victoria Park, thousands listened to songs and speakers who recounted the events on the night of the crackdown. A half-an-hour into the vigil, the lights in the park were extinguished and the attendees lit a forest of white candles in inverted conical paper shields."

Reuters ("CHINA PROTEST SHIFTS WITH ECONOMIC BACKDROP POST-'89", Beijing, 2009/06/03) reported that twenty years after the crackdown on pro-democracy protests centered on Beijing's Tiananmen Square, the PRC's economy has developed to the point that similar protests on the same scale are highly unlikely today. The students and workers at the core of that June 4, 1989 movement faced problems from rampant inflation to the dismantling of a centralized system of job appointments. But people today generally enjoy much better living standards across the board. With that increased affluence, many of the students, professionals and other groups who would be the most likely potential source of organized challenges to the Communist Party rule are generally more occupied with making a living and getting ahead than with political change.

The New York Times ("AUSTRALIA FEELS CHILL AS CHINA'S SHADOW GROWS", 2009/06/03) reported that since three state owned PRC companies said they would buy stakes in Australia's storied mining industry totaling $22 billion -- as much as the PRC's entire investment here in the last three years -- some of this nation's 21.3 million people have reacted with aggrieved nationalism. The government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, which generally favors the sales, has been savaged as naïvely cozy with the PRC, a view some in his own military appear to share. Opposition politicians have flogged the specter of an Australian future more or less as a giant open-pit mine in which the locals toil, but Beijing takes the profits.

Agence France Press ("US CONGRESS CALLS ON CHINA TO FREE TIANANMEN PRISONERS", Washington, 2009/06/03) reported that the US Congress called on the PRC to launch a UN-backed probe of its crackdown in Tiananmen Square 20 years ago and to free all political prisoners. The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly for the resolution offering sympathy to those who died on June 4, 1989 when Chinese troops crushed a pro-democracy uprising in Beijing's vast central square. A total of 396 lawmakers voted in favor of the resolution and only one opposed it. Thirty-seven lawmakers did not vote.

China had officially announced plans in 2005 to commemorate the birthday of deposed CCP leader Hu Yaobang, whose death prompted mourning that led to pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in the Beijing spring events of 1989. What happened to the plan...?

Last quotes with James Fallows, in The Atlantic:
"Today in Beijing 03 Jun 2009 08:31 pm. I am guessing that you will see no real-time TV reports from the Tiananmen Square area today, and little or no photography. This is based on personal experience there last night, China time, which also leads to personal advice for anyone in Beijing thinking of going there today. During my time in Beijing over the past year and a half, I've often seen the square itself totally closed off to visitors, as it is at the moment. There are always plenty of security forces around -- soldiers in green uniforms, various kinds of police in blue uniforms, and "plainclothes" forces who are pretty easy to pick out, like strapping young men in buzz cuts all wearing similar-looking "leisure" clothes. But I have not seen before anything like the situation at the moment..."
The entire report of James Fallows:

Of the complexity of promoting human rights, democracy and the rule of law...

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