Monday, June 8, 2015

Two Pieces About June Fourth

Excerpts from two striking personal accounts regarding June 4, 1989, in China:

1. "Truth on Tiananmen — Coming to terms with 1989 as a young Chinese" by Catherine Wang:
All afternoon [on June 4, 2009], I sat in front of my laptop using a VPN to read reports on foreign websites for the first time, and watch videos of what happened twenty years ago, including of the “tank man”. Even the most hard-hearted person would have been shocked at what I saw. With tears in my eyes, I couldn’t stop searching for more images from that night.

I still have the photo from 1998 when I first visited Tiananmen square. I was nine years old, smiling, with PLA soldiers standing behind me. I was so proud of the national emblems everywhere, of the slogan “Long live the PRC” above the gate of the Forbidden City, and of the soldiers with guns which are supposed to protect the nation and its people. But now it all changed. My tears were not just for those who died on June 4th, but also for myself. It hurts when the world you have built up in your mind for twenty years collapses.
2. "Beijing Autumn — My Return to China Three Months After Tiananmen" by Ilaria Maria Sala:
The taxi driver who brought us back to the university kept scolding us for keeping him in the streets at that hour, yet he wanted his fare too badly to refuse us. We got stopped, right at the intersection with Hepingli. A soldier asked us to pull down the windows and stuck his rifle through, before looking in. He withdrew it when he saw my face, and instructed the driver to take the foreigner back safely. My fretting friend was ashen. He never asked me to go dancing again.
Both pieces are well worth reading in full.

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