So, yesterday (June 4th) was the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Incident. Amidst the memorials and the calls for improving human rights, the facts often get lost in the noise.
You see, what happened was that the government tried to negotiate. Due to the disorganized nature of the protesters (academic elites calling for democracy and disgruntled workers calling for more communism*), it’s little surprise that negotiations didn’t go well. They then sent in unarmed and lightly armed soldiers to disperse the riot. Which, in and of itself, isn’t anything to get the panties in a bunch over. “Civilized” countries do this all the time. Even in America, if you want to hold a demonstration, you have to clear it with the authorities.
What turned it into a clusterfuck was when those soldiers got attacked. Violently. As in pelted with stones and Molotovs. As in destroyed vehicles. As in dragged out of their APCs and beaten to death. As in corpses strung across the sky bridges. More dangerously, weapons were taken from those soldiers who were lightly armed.
I don’t care what your goals are. When you instigate violence, you deserve an ass-beating. An eye for an eye may make the world blind, but justice is blind, so what’s your point? Since when did instigating violence against military personnel become a “civil liberty”? And since when did military personnel defending themselves and maintaining public safety become “oppression”? My sympathies for the June 4th crowd stopped when I came across those papers at the top of this article. They now lie for only two groups of people: the random bystanders who got lumped with the protesters due to battlefield conditions not permitting a person-by-person inquiry, and the 人民子弟兵, the brave PLA personnel who died not to an enemy’s bullet, but to the sticks and stones of some young punks.
Yes, the government overreacted. But hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. Given how the last time something like this happened was the Cultural Revolution, and how that was ended by the PLA laying a whipping on the out of control Red Guards, it’s hardly surprising, no?
*Surprised? Quite understandable when you realize that Deng’s liberalization campaign resulted in many communes being closed down because they weren’t competitive. These communes formerly employed many workers who were now out of a job. Also, because most (if not all) communes were subsidized, they didn’t have much incentive to invest in modern methods. Between liberalization and starvation vs communism and food, that’s not a hard decision to make.
Addendum: Just looked up Jack Nicholson’s speech at the end of “A Few Good Men,” and felt it was relevant to this topic.
You can’t handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You?! You, Chai Ling? You, Wei Jingsheng? You, Tank Man? The CCP has a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for the protesters and you curse the PLA. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what they know: that the crackdown, while tragic, probably saved lives. And the CCP’s existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives! You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want the PLA on that wall! You need the PLA on that wall! We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline! I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very economic opportunity, public safety, and societal stability that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it! I would rather you just said, “Thank you,” and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to!