Tiananmen Square, 20 years on
Thursday is the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Tomorrow, I’ll be attending an Amnesty event where some of the people involved will be speaking, and will be blogging from there.
In anticipation of the anniversary, the Chinese government has already started shutting down online communication services.
The Chinese have made a faustian pact with the government, agreeing to forsake demands for political and intellectual freedom in exchange for more material comfort. They live prosperous lives in which any expression of pain is forbidden. When I talk to young Chinese about 1989, I am invariably accused of spreading false rumours and being a traitor to my nation; when I bring up the subject with my old friends, most of them laugh scornfully, as if those events are now irrelevant. But I know that behind this show of derision or apathy lies real fear. Everyone knows that attempts to break the Tiananmen taboo can still destroy a person’s life and the lives of their families. The authorities, for their part, may have a monopoly of the nation’s resources, but they can never fully control the nation’s soul, and every day they live in terror that the intricate stack of lies they have constructed will collapse.