News / Asia

Tiananmen Demands Linger, Despite Chinese Government Silence

Despite Government Efforts to Silence Tiananmen, Demands Lingeri
X
May 29, 2014 1:14 PM
It's been 25 years since China's crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square. China's leadership has taken great steps to silence any discussion of the events of 1989, the massive protest rallies that took place that spring in Beijing and other cities and the bloody crackdown that followed. Even so, the demands of the students and citizens who poured out onto the streets at that time have not gone away. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video report by William Ide

William IdeRebecca Valli
It has been 25 years since China's crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square. China's leadership has taken great steps to silence any discussion of the events of 1989, the massive protest rallies that took place that spring in Beijing and other cities and the bloody crackdown that followed. Even so, the demands of the students and citizens who poured out onto the streets at that time have not gone away.
 
In the spring of 1989, Fang Zheng was an aspiring track and field athlete at a Beijing university. Like many of his classmates, he went to Tiananmen Square to voice his concern about a range of issues from official corruption to freedom of the press.
 
Fang Zheng says that in the 1980s, hopes for reform were high and many joined the Communist Party to try to create a better future for the country.

He says "university students in the 80s all had a similar attitude and were all very idealistic." They also had "strong sense of social responsibility and concern for the fate of the country."
 
Fang Zheng says many at that time were influenced by then leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, and his reform policies. He says that he and other students took their demands to Tiananmen Square in the hope that it would help China change as well.
 
That all changed early on the morning of June 4, when Fang Zheng became a firsthand witness and victim of the government's crackdown. A tank rolled over both of the young athlete's legs and lopped them off.

 
Student pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, 1989.Student pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, 1989.
x
Student pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, 1989.
Student pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, 1989.
Instead of responding to the public's demands, Fang Zheng says, the government "used guns, repression and blood to cement their authority" and respond to the protesters.
 
During the Tiananmen protests in 1989, one of the seven demands of the students was for officials and their family members to disclose their income, another was for the right to freely hold demonstrations in Beijing.
 
Today, a quarter of a century later, those two aspirations remain distant goals.
 
Assets off the table
 
Chinese President Xi Jinping's sweeping anti-corruption campaign has netted both high and low-ranking officials. But, his administration has rejected calls for the Chinese leadership to release information to the public, such as their salaries and the number of apartments and cars they own.

 
FILE - A placard with a photo of Xu Zhiyong is raised by a demonstrator protesting against a Chinese court’s decision to sentence him in prison outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong, Jan. 27, 2014.FILE - A placard with a photo of Xu Zhiyong is raised by a demonstrator protesting against a Chinese court’s decision to sentence him in prison outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong, Jan. 27, 2014.
x
FILE - A placard with a photo of Xu Zhiyong is raised by a demonstrator protesting against a Chinese court’s decision to sentence him in prison outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong, Jan. 27, 2014.
FILE - A placard with a photo of Xu Zhiyong is raised by a demonstrator protesting against a Chinese court’s decision to sentence him in prison outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong, Jan. 27, 2014.
When individuals, such as lawyer Xu Zhiyong, have challenged that position they have ended up in jail. Xu and several other members of a loosely organized group called the New Citizens Movement were jailed earlier this year for trying to rally support for assets disclosure.
 
Senior Hong Kong journalist Ching Cheong says that while China's President Xi Jinping has launched sweeping efforts to reform China's economy and government bureaucracy, he has been silent on political reform and addressing the basic desires of the Chinese public.
 
"And what do the people desire? People want a separation of power, people want to have a check and balance on the exercise of power, and people want to have all the constitutional rights that they are entitled to," he said.
 
Freedom of assembly
 
Protests are not uncommon and are a guaranteed right under China's constitution, as long as they do not infringe on the interests of the state. And because of that, the way the Chinese government responds to public dissent varies widely.

 
FILE - Chinese police monitor a march by tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters in the special economic zone of Shenzhen in southern China on May 22, 1989.FILE - Chinese police monitor a march by tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters in the special economic zone of Shenzhen in southern China on May 22, 1989.
x
FILE - Chinese police monitor a march by tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters in the special economic zone of Shenzhen in southern China on May 22, 1989.
FILE - Chinese police monitor a march by tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters in the special economic zone of Shenzhen in southern China on May 22, 1989.
Recently, thousands rallied in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou to protest the construction of a waste incinerator. Clashes with authorities escalated into violence, cars were overturned and police vehicles torched.
 
State-media say some 60 individuals have been detained, but local authorities have also pledged to not move forward on the project without public support.
 
That approach contrasts with how authorities treat activists such as Xu Zhiyong and other members of the New Citizens Movement, who have held peaceful public gatherings to require officials to disclose their assets. The demonstrators have been sentenced to prison for gathering crowds to create a disturbance.
 
No room for dialogue
 
Andrew Nathan, a political scientist at Columbia University says that although pressure is building in China for the government to engage in dialogue on sensitive issues, the most common response is to focus on stability and the silencing of dissent.
 
Bodies lie among mangled bicycles near Beijing's Tiananmen Square in this June 4, 1989 file photo.Bodies lie among mangled bicycles near Beijing's Tiananmen Square in this June 4, 1989 file photo.
x
Bodies lie among mangled bicycles near Beijing's Tiananmen Square in this June 4, 1989 file photo.
Bodies lie among mangled bicycles near Beijing's Tiananmen Square in this June 4, 1989 file photo.
Nathan says that when students and workers gathered in Beijing in 1989, what they were seeking was dialogue with the government, not to overthrow the party.  
 
" In [19]89, the government, the ruling party, really decided if we dialogue with you lot, I mean there is no knowing what you are going to start demanding from us and then we are not going to be authoritarian rulers anymore. That's not our system. So they refused to do it. They are still in that refusal stage 25 years later," he said.
 
China's official stance on Tiananmen is that it was a counter-revolutionary rebellion.  And while the government faces annual calls to open an inquiry into what happened in the spring of 1989, there is no sign that it will change its approach anytime soon.
 
This report is also based in part on news wires.

You May Like

Official: S. Sudan President, Rebel Leader to Meet in Tanzania

Talks part of effort to end conflict in country that has left more than 10,000 people dead, displaced more than 1.5 million others More

Dutch Deny Link to Mystery Submarine Off Sweden

Netherlands denies Russian claim that 'foreign vessel' photographed in waters off Sweden could be Dutch More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: meanbill from: USA
May 29, 2014 11:07 AM
The 1989 Beijing Tiananmen Square protests, almost brought down the whole Chinese communist government -- (because the police were hopelessly unprepared and overwhelmed) --- (and Mao had promised the Chinese people, that the Peoples Liberation Army, would never be used against the Chinese people) --- and when the Chinese communist leadership asked the PLA to come to Beijing to stop the protests, the PLA said they couldn't be used against the people -- but after much begging, (to save the Chinese country), a PLA armored regiment colonel agreed to come to Beijing and save the country -- (and at first the people stopped the PLA tanks) -- but the communist leadership convinced the PLA armored regiment to save the government, and they finally cleared Tiananmen Square from all the protesters. --- IF not for that "hero" PLA regiment colonel, the Chinese communist government would have fallen then, and China would have ended up like Russia, after Gorbachev almost destroyed it....

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Lawi
X
William Ide
October 20, 2014 10:23 AM
China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Nigeria Agrees to Cease-Fire With Boko Haram

Islamist militant group Boko Haram and the Nigerian government have agreed to a cease-fire. The Nigerian government issued an order Friday, telling all military chiefs "to comply with the cease-fire agreement in all theaters of operations. Why now and the significance of the agreement are questions on some people’s minds. VOA's Mariama Diallo reports.
Video

Video Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

The offensive by Islamic State militants against the northern Syrian city of Kobani has caused hundreds of thousands of residents to flee to Turkey. They receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from the town of Suruc a few kilometers from the border.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.

All About America

AppleAndroid