Tiananmen still screams

June 04, 2014 - 3:43:34 am

China’s refusal to acknowledge Tiananmen’s revolutionary character stems from a mindset that fails to see reality. 

The blot doesn’t go. It gets murkier and darker by every passing year and each denial issued by the Communist Party-led Chinese government. Tiananmen has become an albatross round Beijing’s neck. Twenty-five years after the People’s Army troops were let loose on protesting students and workers in the heart of Beijing, the Chinese Communist Party doesn’t tire defending its actions on June 4, 1989.  Following the increased focus on Tiananmen due to the 25th anniversary, China ramped up its crackdown on dissidents in the run up to June 4. A number of those seen to be sympathetic to the cause of protesters, and rights activists were detained. Yesterday, Google’s China version saw disruptions — an often-used tactics by the government to stop searches for information related to the fateful day. 

United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay was scathing in her attack on the government. She called on Beijing to come out with the truth on the incidents of Tiananmen Square where the carnage took place.  The Chinese government doesn’t tolerate public or private discussions about the Tiananmen demonstrations. It comes close to not acknowledging the incidents. In an act of defiance and arrogance, a Chinese Foreign Ministry official yesterday declared that the “Chinese government long ago reached a conclusion about the political turmoil at the end of the 1980s.” 

The fact that Beijing doesn’t admit the revolutionary character of the pro-democracy movement, which snowballed into the Tiananmen Revolution, is proof enough of wrongdoing on its part. The country has come a long way from 1989. With a burgeoning economy that is an amalgam of socialism and capitalism, China has made inroads into world markets and is considered a force to reckon with. It has done some commendable work in social development and healthcare. The Chinese model of development is a talked about phenomenon among development economists. However, economic growth doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Freedom is an inseparable part of a globalised world order.  China has failed to bring about much-needed political reforms. It exists in the 21st century with a mindset of the 19th. The opaque governance policy of the Communist Party is to partly blame for the huge corruption scandals in the recent past.  Beijing refuses to listen to any nation or power when it comes to granting its citizens freedom or even an iota of it. 

Acknowledging that Tiananmen was the result of a festering desire for democracy among its citizens will do China no harm. It will place the Chinese government among the league of nations which have a desire to reform but find it hard to do so because of an undemocratic legacy. That might be a small first step in embarking on a long and winding road to a policy of loosening controls on freedom and free speech. But will China do that? Going by what Beijing is doing now, to hope for any such thing would be unrealistic.