The Tiananmen Square “Massacre”: A New Look

By Bill the Butcher
Premise

I belong to a school of thought – probably there aren’t very many of us – which holds that so-called “iconic” individuals and occurrences in history, things that are so taken for granted that to question them is tantamount to sacrilege, need revisionist historical analysis. If, after that revisionist historical analysis, the original version, or some semblance thereof, holds up, fine. But if one finds that the revered original version is critically flawed, one usually has clear indications from the flaws of just why it’s allowed to survive at the expense of the truth.

I intend, therefore, to submit to critical examination one of the “defining” occurrences of our time, the so-called Tiananmen Square “massacre” that is said to have occurred on the night of 4 June 1989, just twenty years and six months ago. I intend to prove my hypothesis that the actual course of events was deliberately misreported and propagandised in the Western media. I intend to attempt to prove my hypothesis that the Chinese government of the time acted correctly and in the best interests of the Chinese people and the Chinese nation by cracking down, in whatever form, on the demonstrations. And I intend to try and prove my contention that destroying the protests was of immense positive significance to the world at large, today, almost a generation later.

(In order to be strictly fair, I should lay on record that I’m not an unbiased commentator. I’m a Sinophile in many respects. While my ideology isn’t equivalent to any “-ism”, it most closely parallels Marxism. I admire the Chinese Revolution, the Long March, and Mao Zedong. I view with deep suspicion any and all Western media pronouncements about the non-Western world; and I believe that after the invasion of Afghanistan on false pretences and of Iraq on pretences that weren’t just false but deliberately and cynically cooked up, my suspicions are more than justified.)

We all know, or we have been reminded in great detail over the years, of the occurrences of 1989 that culminated in the (alleged) “Tiananmen Square Massacre”. In brief, they were these: that 1989 was the year when so-called “peoples’ revolutions” were clearing away (never very enthusiastic) Communist regimes across Europe. It was the year when the world seemed suddenly about to become free for the triumph of Western style capitalism. The Eastern European regimes were crashing. The Soviet Union, where Mikhail Gorbachev had begun a programme of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring), was, mostly as a consequence, tottering on the verge of implosion. Only the great monolith of China still held out, refusing to be blown away by the winds of change.

The Background.
Actually, at the time, China was already into its twelfth year of its own version of perestroika; the then leader, Deng Xiaoping, had begun a programme of economic reform since 1978. China wasn’t the equivalent of the state-driven economies of Eastern Europe. It was already moving towards a mix of socialism (for most American readers: to the non-American world, believe it or not, socialism is not a dirty word) and market-driven capitalism. This kind of transit has characteristic features, including a sharp rise in prices, a widening rich-poor divide, and rising levels of corruption and social unrest. It’s been seen so often worldwide that it should be included as one of the defining characteristics of a privatising society.

I mentioned that there was social unrest. There were those who hoped and expected that the Communist Party would evaporate like the artificial parties of Eastern Europe and usher in unbridled capitalism. There were those old Maoists who felt the Communist Party was betraying the Revolution. There was opposition, too, from quite ordinary people with a non-ideological viewpoint; people against the negative aspects of the privatisation, against the price rise and the corruption; people who were, in effect, opposed to the first, free-marketeer, lot. All these diverse protesting groups were themselves divided in just what they wanted and were united in just one thing – opposition to the Chinese government. They had absolutely nothing else in common, and it’s important to remember that.

The so-called Tiananmen Square protests began in this atmosphere. They began on a relatively small scale on 15 April 1989 after the death of deposed and “pro-reform” Communist party General Secretary Hu Yaobang; they comprised mourning for Hu on college campuses across China and calls for reform. At this stage the protestors comprised almost entirely students who wanted change. They weren’t sure what kind of change they wanted, reform of the system or its overthrow. All they wanted was change.

By 17 April, groups of students had begun holding protests outside the Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square, issuing a list of demands, and the next day they had begun blocking access to and affecting the functioning of the seat of the Chinese government at the Zhongnanhai Building. Police with linked arms formed a human cordon that prevented these students from physically forcing their way into the Zhongnanhai complex. It was only on 20 April that the police finally broke up the student demonstrations outside Zhongnanhai, using force – said force being the limited use of batons. Not even tear gas was employed at this stage.

The next day, some 100,000 students occupied Tiananmen Square while others boycotted classes. On 27 April, after the government had made an official pronouncement accusing small groups of plotters of fomenting unrest (more on that later) 50,000 students gathered in Beijing’s streets. By now other demonstrations were taking place in many other Chinese cities, including Shanghai, Urumqi and Chongqing. It’s important to remember that these protests occurred, and it will be important to see how they turned out.

In the first days of May, there were renewed student protests, including marches on Beijing’s streets and by 13 May there was a hunger strike by students in Tiananmen Square, with the demand that the government negotiate. However, the government only agreed to talk to the approved student’s organisations, which these students had abandoned in favour of their own, unrecognised organisations. The hunger strike went on, drawing increasing national concern, and early on the morning of 19 May Zhao Ziyang, General Secretary of the Communist party, and Li Peng, Prime Minister of China, went personally to the hunger strikers on Tiananmen Square to persuade them to abandon their hunger strike. It had no effect, but it’s important to remember that they did go.

At this time – to all appearances – the Communist party hierarchy was itself divided about its attitude to the students. It is clear that at least a good section were sympathetic to the students’ concerns about corruption, and so far the government had refrained from violence despite the virtual paralysis of the capital for weeks. Parts of the government, including Zhao Ziyang, were willing to negotiate – but negotiate with whom? The protestors had many and often mutually exclusive agendas. With whom should the government have negotiated? On 20 May, faced with an apparently insoluble dilemma, the government declared martial law.

Martial Law and Thereafter

The army tried to enter Beijing, but the streets were blocked with throngs of protestors. The army made no attempt to force its way through them, but withdrew on 24 May. The students made no attempt to meet the government halfway – the hunger strike was approaching its fourth week and with public discontent rising, the government either had to cave in completely to a disunited and disorganised mass of conflicting interest groups – an invitation to utter chaos – or take action. It decided to take action. Zhao Ziyang, who had consistently supported the students, was ousted. The “hardliners” took over. The students had sown the wind, and they were about to reap the whirlwind.

Not that this seems to have occurred to the students in the square. By 30 May, they had set up a plaster statue of the “Goddess of Democracy” in the square. The next day, the government sent in soldiers again; reportedly the 27th and either the 28th or 38th Armies of the People’s Liberation Army (accounts differ). They were supposed to take control of the city and restore normalcy.

It is at this point that the accounts from the “sources” which are usually quoted by the Western media and the other sources begin to differ. According to the Western media’s “sources” (I have deep and abiding suspicion of any “source” whose account is accepted uncritically by Western media – remember the Iraq “sources”? – hence the quotes) the two armies sent in were armed and ready to shoot. According to the Chinese government, and, crucially, according to the US embassy in Beijing, the soldiers were sent in unarmed (see link below for documentation on this point).

As rumours spread of thousands of troops converging on the square, a large part of the people of Beijing came out on the streets, burned buses – government property – and set up barricades. The unarmed troops could not penetrate through these barricades. Soldiers were attacked with stones and Molotov cocktails; some were beaten or burned to death and their bodies strung up. Finally, armed troops were sent in, and they were met with the same reception. Officers were pulled from tanks and killed. After an armoured personnel carrier was incinerated and its crew killed, the soldiers fired at the people throwing Molotov cocktails. That there were barricades and people throwing firebombs isn’t something that any Western media “source” has even attempted to refute. This was not a massacre; it was somewhere between a riot and an insurrection.

I wonder what the reaction would have been if American occupation troops in Kabul or Baghdad were similarly barricaded and attacked with petrol bombs? Actually, I don’t need to wonder; the actions of the occupation forces in Iraq and Afghanistan speak for themselves in such situations.

To get back…

The Tiananmen Square “Massacre”

Finally, at 1am on 4 June, the army cleared the streets and reached Tiananmen Square. What did the soldiers do then? Go in shooting? No – according to even the “sources” which are quoted by the Western media, they waited for governmental orders. By then – again, this is not doubted – a large majority of the students had left the square. Only a few thousand remained. The army offered these students amnesty to leave. At 4 am, the students put the matter to vote – whether to go or to remain and face the consequences. Again, this is a matter that is not at dispute. The army did not go in, shooting blindly, and killing everyone in the square. First, according to everyone, they gave the students a chance to save themselves.

Now things get rather interesting. According to the standard Western media account of this episode, the tanks went in about 4 or 5am, shooting and crushing the students. This is the famous “massacre”, which is so inscribed in the modern consciousness. The bloodthirsty Chinese government had let loose a rain of terror on the poor peace-loving democracy-craving people of their own capital city. You know the stuff.

However, Spain’s ambassador to Beijing at the time, Eugenio Bregolat, notes that Spain’s TVE channel had a television crew in the square at the time, and if there had been a massacre, they would have been the first to see it and record it. Did they? No. If they had, wouldn’t there have been videos all over the internet, not to mention TV, of the massacre itself? But there are none. Bregolat also claims that most of the journalists who filed “eyewitness” accounts of the massacre were – at the time when they were allegedly witnessing the massacre – away from the Square, in the Beijing Hotel.

Similarly, Graham Earnshaw, a journalist in the square who was interviewing student leaders and was present during the night of June 3-4, claims (link below) that all the few hundred remaining students were persuaded to leave by the army, and when the tanks entered from one side of the Square, the last remaining students were withdrawing peacefully from the other side. Earnshaw agrees that the students’ “tent city” was crushed under the tanks’ treads as they came in, but he says there was nobody sleeping in the tents at the time to be crushed by the armour. Anyone who has ever been anywhere near a tank with its engine running will agree with his contention that nobody (except, I assume, the profoundly deaf) could have remained sleeping through the episode to be crushed, even without the earlier drama of the amnesty offer and the vote.

Then again, Xiaoping Li, a former China dissident, now resident in Canada, writing in the Asia Sentinel and quoting Taiwan-born Hou Dejian who had been on a hunger strike on the square to show solidarity with the students, said: “Some people said 200 died in the square and others claimed that as many as 2,000 died. There were also stories of tanks running over students who were trying to leave. I have to say I did not see any of that. I was in the square until 6:30 in the morning.”

And these are the words of a dissident, and more, of a dissident who now lives abroad and presumably has nothing to fear.

Then there is the circumstantial evidence. Most of the “Tiananmen Square Massacre” crowd repeat, ad nauseam, lists of student leaders arrested in the aftermath of the “massacre”. Many of these student “eyewitnesses” also claim to have seen tanks shooting and crushing people in the Square. Well, in that case, there’s an obvious question: how come all these leaders and/or eyewitnesses who were present in the Square all survived the “massacre” unscathed? How come not one of them can state the name of anyone who was killed in the Square itself, given that they had all been protesting together there for weeks? Wasn’t a single person of those hundreds or thousands killed a friend or comrade or classmate of these students? Why isn’t there one single, miserable photo showing the massacre in the Square itself?

I’m not saying there weren’t killings in Beijing that night. I’m saying that said killings were restricted to the fighting in the streets leading to the square, essentially between barricaders and soldiers trying to get through the barricades. I cannot find one single bit of incontrovertible proof that there was a single killing in the Square itself, let alone a massacre.

If you – therefore – try and maintain an impartial attitude to the sources, there is at least reasonable grounds for doubt about whether there was a single episode of firing, a single death, in Tiananmen Square on the night of 3/4 June 1989; let alone the famous “massacre”.

Deconstructing a famous photograph.


It’s called one of the “100 most famous photographs of all time”; actually, there are several versions of the photo, and there’s a video of the episode as well, which has its own peculiar significance. Taken on the morning of 5th June 1989, it shows a lone man, in white shirt and dark trousers, with what seems to be shopping bags in his hands. He stands in front of a line of tanks. In the most well-known version, that taken by Jeff Widener of the Associated Press, there are four tanks. In other photos, taken from further away, there are more tanks behind those four. They are Chinese Type 59 tanks, with the crew “buttoned up” inside; i.e. the hatches shut.

As seen in the video, the man gestures angrily to the tank with his bags. The tank swerves to one side in order to drive around him. The man steps again in front of the tank, and the heavy vehicle again tries to steer around him. Finally, it stops, and the man clambers on it, has a brief exchange with the crew, and descends. As the tank tries to drive on, he again steps in front of it and again it stops. People from the crowd then pull the man to safety and the tanks drive on (this last bit is typically excised from videos of this episode posted on such sites as YouTube).

According to the standard mythology of the event, one so standard that it’s practically sacrilege not to believe it, the man displayed almost unbelievable courage in the face of overwhelming Chinese military aggression. This “lone hero” became an instant icon, known as the “Tank man” and a symbol of courage worldwide.

Now let’s take a close look at the photograph, one from a strictly neutral viewpoint, and there are several extremely interesting features, which go well beyond the particular episode itself and reveal a lot about the entire Tiananmen Square affair.

First, and most obviously, the crew of the tanks have sealed themselves inside. This is extremely significant because as far as possible tank crews avoid doing this. Even in combat, whenever they can get away with it, they try to keep the hatches open. There are several reasons for this; one is that vision from inside a “buttoned down” tank is very limited and it’s almost impossible to hear sounds from outside; for a fairly primitive tank like the Type 59 (of which surviving examples are now relegated to training and second-line duties), this is even truer. All the driver can see when his hatch is shut, through two “vision blocks,” is to the front and slightly to the right. The commander in the turret can do little better (for details on the capabilities of the Type 59 tank, see link below). And a sealed up tank, especially an early model one like the Type 59, is extremely hot and cramped and difficult for the crew to operate in for prolonged periods.

So why did the crew seal themselves inside? There can be only one reason: to protect themselves against Molotov cocktails and attacks from mobs.

Secondly: take a close look at the photo. The first, third and fourth tanks can clearly be seen to have caps covering the muzzles of their main guns. The second may have a black muzzle cap or the muzzle may be open, but the rest certainly have capped muzzles. Muzzle caps, which are meant to protect the interiors of the guns from dirt and dust, are never taken into a situation where the main guns may need to be fired. This is proof positive that the tanks were sent in without any intention of firing the main guns, come what may.

Similarly, the tanks being sealed up means the crews cannot use the machine guns on the turret roofs (the blocky objects on the right of each tank turret, sticking out to the side). The Type 59, admittedly, has two other machine guns; of them more anon.

Then, there are the shopping bags carried by the “tank man” himself. Obviously, if you go shopping – and nobody has ever suggested the shopping bags meant anything else – there must be shops open. Take it from one who has been in riot situations: shops never open when there is a possibility of serious violence. The shop owners have too much to lose from riots and looting. If there are shops open, the quantum of violence must be much lower than usually thought.

Now, if we look at the video, we see the tank shifting to the right and back again in an effort to avoid the man. If the Chinese troops had already shot and crushed down hundreds to thousands of unarmed civilians, and according to standard mythology they were, even on this 5th of June, shooting students trying to re-enter the Square, why would the tank have gone to such trouble to save the life of one miserable counter-revolutionary? There can be no reasonable explanation but the fact that the tankers were exercising the maximum restraint in the face of provocation. (Again, suppose an Iraqi or an Afghan were to do this to an American armoured column, or a Palestinian to an “Israeli” Merkava, as many in fact have done; what do you think would he have been called even as he was being blown away? A terrorist!)

Incidentally, this is the photo that first made me doubt the entire story of the massacre. The action of the crew of those tanks was so completely opposed to the conventional tale of the “massacre” that it merited a closer look. So, in all, I am thankful to the photographer and the “tank man” – for reasons directly contrary to the usual Western media accounts.

Also, Widener’s own account of the prelude to the photo is interesting. He was confined to his hotel – he says – because he had flu and was injured by a protestor who threw a brick at him, smashing one of his other cameras and giving him a concussion. Nice nonviolent protestors, eh?

Deconstructing an ancillary photo.



Before we reach a final conclusion on the Tank Man, though, let’s take a look at another photo, taken from ground level and published only in June 2009. Taken shortly before the “iconic” images, it shows the distant tanks coming towards the camera, and, in the middle left distance, what is alleged (there is no direct proof of this) to be the “tank man” himself, waiting beside a bulldozer, all ready to step in the way of the armoured column, shopping bags and all. In the right distance a bicyclist pedals unhurriedly on, and in the left foreground a man (also carrying a shopping bag) seems about to flash a thumbs-up sign at the camera. In the right foreground is the only sign of hurry or panic; a young man who appears to be sprinting or trying to duck.

Terrill Jones of the Associated Press, who took this photo, claims that – in order to avoid firing – he and others took shelter and could no longer see what happened afterwards. This is one of those stories that need to be examined carefully. First: If there indeed was firing, why is the cyclist so unconcernedly pedalling on? Even if it is true that the man in the left distance is the “tank man” himself, and even if he is willing to sacrifice his life in order to stop the tanks and so is unconcerned, why is the shopping bag man in the foreground obviously not in any panic or fear? Why is he apparently about to break into a huge grin? Why is the only man in a hurry the one in the right front, dashing towards the photographer?

Then, if there was indeed firing, where was it coming from? Certainly not from the tanks; as I said, the main guns were capped and the anti-aircraft machine guns unattended by the buttoned-up crew. The Type 59 has two other machine guns, both of 7.62 mm calibre. One is a coaxial gun, which fires along the line of the main gun, in whichever direction the main gun is pointing. In this case all the tanks had their main guns elevated at normal position, so the firing wasn’t coming from the coaxial guns – the bullets would have gone into the sky. The third gun is one fixed in the front of the tank and firing straight ahead through a very small aperture in the glacis plate (the tank’s front armour) and operated by the driver. It’s a nearly useless weapon, since it can only be aimed by turning the entire tank to point it directly at the target. If the hull gun was firing, only the lead tank could have been firing it, as the fire from others in the line would have struck the tanks in front of them. And in that case, what was the hull gun firing at? And again – why on earth did the tank save “tank man’s” life? It doesn’t make any sense.

Similarly, if “tank man” was spirited away by the crowd to safety, then there was enough of a crowd to take him away to safety, and that in turn means that there wasn’t any firing. Whoever the man was, there’s no evidence as to what happened to him; accounts of his execution are balanced by accounts that he is living in Taiwan (link below). If he’s dead, why aren’t any acquaintances coming forward to say who he was? If he is alive, why isn’t he coming out of the shadows, if necessary after smuggling himself out of China? Absolutely nobody seems to be sure who he is. Or is he, as some have suggested, mentally ill? A madman wouldn’t be the best expression of defiance of a tyrannical regime, would he?

All in all, the conclusion is clear: far from being a symbol of courage, “tank man” was in no real danger from military units exercising restraint in the face of provocation. In fact, what the photos and video clearly demonstrate is the reverse of what the official iconography, if I can put it that way, of this episode claims.

The Death Toll

How many people died in the entire Tiananmen Square affair? The Chinese Red Cross was alleged to have said 2600 died, but denied having ever given any such figure. “Unbiased” Western media alleges that the Red Cross backed down after pressure from the Chinese government, but fails to either provide any evidence of either this pressure or just who were these 2600 who died. At least some hundreds of their relatives could have been cited? The official Chinese government figure is 241 dead, including the soldiers who were burned and battered to death when they tried to make an unarmed approach to the Square. There are various other estimates. And, according to the Tiananmen Mothers, only 186 names of the alleged thousands dead have been confirmed as of June 2006, and that includes people whose deaths weren’t necessarily due to army action, including one who committed suicide.

Does it matter how many died? Yes, it does; it marks the difference between a unilateral massacre and fighting on both sides. For such an allegedly enormous death toll, the evidence seems to be scanty indeed.

The Significance

It was – I think – Mao Zedong who, when asked about the significance of the French Revolution, said “It’s too early to tell.” At the time, the Chinese government was probably not looking to the long term; in a year when fellow Communist governments were being toppled by mass street protests and governmental paralysis, it was looking to its own survival when it decided to use force, in whatever form, against the students. However, in deciding to use force, it put a permanent full stop to a chain of events which – going by what happened in other nations at the time – would have led to unravelling of Central governmental authority, collapse of the state, disintegration of the economy and more than likely of the nation, and anarchy leading to mass impoverishment and mafia rule.

For comparison, we should look to the Soviet Union and the so-called putsch of 19 August 1991, which temporarily overthrew Mikhail Gorbachev and tried to maintain the unity of the nation, something the Soviet people had themselves largely approved of in a referendum. The coup collapsed in three days almost entirely because the new junta refused to use overwhelming force against the protestors, led by Boris Yeltsin, later to preside, marinated in alcohol, over the descent of Russia into a corrupt oligarchy with the collapse of social services, skyrocketing corruption, and plummeting life expectancy. Almost exactly the same thing would likely have happened to China if the Tiananmen Square protestors hadn’t been neutralised.

In fact, it’s likely that the entire crackdown could have been avoided if the Beijing authorities had acted early and severely, incarcerating ringleaders and shutting down their media outlets, as Jiang Zemin, then the mayor of Shanghai, had done. This had nipped in the bud developing disturbances in China’s second city. Allowing the students weeks of a free hand was in itself an error, and China has taken care not to repeat that error in later years.

One look at China today, with its roaring economy and its people – who are far more prosperous than they were two decades ago – and a comparison with where Russia is even now, when it’s finally beginning to get to its feet again, and it should be clear that the Chinese government acted in the best long-term interests of its own people when it ended the protests.

But – what about freedom? Aren’t the Chinese people deprived of freedom? That is an oft-heard argument, a rich argument indeed when one thinks of the status of the “freed” citizens of such nations as Iraq or Afghanistan; or indeed of Russia, whose starving and impoverished people were called “free” but now that they are, at last, slightly better off are no longer called “free”. Strange are the definitions of freedom, and bizarre are the uses of the word.

For the record, I believe democracy, as practiced today, is an eyewash and does not equal freedom. I believe that the right to live with dignity is more important than the right to vote, and I believe that a nation which provides the necessities for the maximum number of its people is freer than one which allows them to vote but takes no steps to ensure they have a roof over their heads and clothes on their backs.

There is also the question of the significance of the crackdown to the world at large, two decades later. As we all know (or should know), China is one of the most significant nations in the world today, and certainly the fastest-rising one. It’s also the only country which serves as a counterweight to the global hegemon and self-declared world policeman, the United States of America. The US is a power in decline, but is still the only nation which believes in war as a policy of first resort and seeks to impose its will – by force – on the rest of the world. But even the US has to tread warily on Chinese economic might.

Can one imagine how much more arrogant and lethal the USA’s war against the world would have been without China providing some kind of balance?

The Media Lies

As should be obvious by now, I believe the mass of the Western media lied, cynically and repeatedly, and continues to lie about the Tiananmen Square incident. Much of the lying is due to a phenomenon called “pack journalism” (see link below) where media fall in line, quite unthinkingly, and without checking facts, on a particular “plausible” story. One only has to remember the tales of Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Distraction, sorry, Destruction, for a recent example.

Also, the Western media have never hidden their anti-China bias, even in these days when they have to treat China with respect. So the 2001 incident when an American spy plane collided with a Chinese fighter and was compelled to land in China was an “intolerable act of aggression”, without regard to the facts. Actually, the facts never really mattered, as we saw in 2008 when the Lhasa rioting was deliberately and cynically misreported with propaganda from Tibetan exile groups (speedily exposed through the Chinese blogosphere) of how the PLA soldiers were responsible for dressing up as monks and rioting, and so on.

But media sources have to take their inspiration from somewhere. That inspiration is almost always from the people who actually control these media, people who have the most to gain from the lies the media disseminate. In Iraq, we know who benefitted the most from the invasion, which firms saw their stock prices jump through the ceiling. Similarly, a collapsed and disintegrating China would have freed a lot of space for certain business interests and allowed certain nations a free hand in East Asia. So it was entirely predictable that they would react violently to firm action that made it less likely that any such collapse would occur, besides painting all Communists with the same genocidal brush.

The conventional truth about Tiananmen Square – in summary – is not the truth. But the truth is out there for those who care to know, the evidence visible for those who wish to see.

Further reading:

(I wish to express my gratitude to blogger “Bobby Fletcher” – http://tiananmenmyth.blogspot.com/ – for bringing some of the links below to my attention)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiananmen_Square_protests_of_1989 (The wikipedia entry on the Tiananmen Square protests)

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB16/documents/09-02.htm (US Embassy note stating that the Chinese troops had initially been unarmed.)

http://www.earnshaw.com/memoirs/content.php?id=5 (Graham Earnshaw’s account of Tiananmen Square, where he states unambiguously that “most of the deaths did not happen on or near the Square.”)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tank_Man#cite_note-NYTNewPhoto-1 (About the Tank Man, with a description of the original video)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_59 (All about the Type 59 tank)

http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/03….n-of-tiananmen/ (Jeff Widener’s account of how he was hit in the face by a rock and also claims how the photographers of the “iconic” image saw armoured personnel carriers firing at the crowds. Where are the photos of that episode?)

http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/04….-on-history/?hp (Terrill Jones’ account claiming the tanks were firing at the time of the “tank man” incident)

http://www.yachtingnet.com/time/time100/leaders/profile/rebel2.html (A Time Magazine article on the “tank man,” typical of Western media reportage of the incident. Note the unattributed and unsubstantiated allegations that the Chinese shot “hundreds of workers and students and doctors and children, many later found shot in the back.”)

http://dajiyuan.com/b5/6/6/1/n1336133.htm (Chinese language article claiming “tank man” still lives. I don’t speak Chinese so have to take it at its word)

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/eo20080721gc.html (An article by the former Canadian ambassador to Japan, Gregory Clark, examining the myth of the “massacre”)

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?c….&articleId=2245 (By the same author; an examination of the phenomenon of pack journalism)

http://www.frontlineonnet.com/fl2510/stories/20080523251000400.htm (A discussion of other anti-Chinese western media propaganda)

46 Comments on “The Tiananmen Square “Massacre”: A New Look”

  1. The article interested me a great deal despite no previous knowledge about the incident. I will make sure to research on the topic further.

  2. Bill, i had to digest this article in small doses, putting it away and coming back to it for continued readings until i had a good grasp of it. You articulated well; the difficulty had absolutely nothing to do with topic presentation. The experience was more like being introduced to a new subject after several years of taking advanced courses or reviews within a curriculum you had grown accustomed to. I was suddenly within a field, given a view i had only previously guessed at, wondered about and followed from a Western perspective.

    The unfamiliarity began to dissolve when a common denominator appeared in the equation, “All these diverse protesting groups were themselves divided in just what they wanted and were united in just one thing – opposition to the Chinese government. They had absolutely nothing else in common, and it’s important to remember that.”

    Once my mind had wrapped around these words and had gone off on the obvious reflective tangents of Western social unrest, dropping into the analytical consequences of media manipulation and biases, which engineered your examination of the historical documents and accompanying photographs, was as simple as following a recipe. As you know, i’m highly critical of majority democracy, primarily because it becomes far too easy for lobbyists to factor in on a common dissent, while shuffling the real issues that would include usurping the rights of minority groups, consequently eroding the premise of basic human rights. Without a coverage of these rights, there is no true freedom. It’s only a sham catering to a select few.

    My travels in Central America imposed another right that should be added to global basic freedoms; the right to jobs, potable water and shelter. This should be a part of, but not inclusive of, the freedom of religion, speech, press, defense of self, family and community, and the freedom to assemble. Government is not as dependent on the political label attached to it as it is on its leaders. Any government that insures the rights of its constituents to healthy productive lives through peaceful legislation that includes exploration of its potential in natural and human resources without victimization is a good government. Any government that allows its people to peacefully assemble in an effort to retain cultural or ethnic diversity, religious convictions or to seek a higher academic knowledge, is a good government. Anything else is the shoddy enterprise of special interest dignitaries and the accompanying elite.

  3. So if you are allowed to ‘dissect’ two photos of an incident to discern what happened elsewhere, why can’t I do the same with other incidents? Try this one: http://photogo.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/kentstate_dead4.jpg

    Now on the surface of this photo, it appears to show a 1960’s era student hysterically falling to the ground by a dead student — one shot just moments before the photo was taken.

    But that is only just scratching the surface, for you see, everyone else is just standing around and looking at nothing in particular! Therefore, everyone else must either be completely oblivious to the ongoing situation, or worse yet, in on it all.

    I propose that the entirety of the 1960’s era student demonstrations against the war and other issues of the time were entirely falsified and created somewhere in a photo studio for the sole reason of impacting a generation to believe they had an effect on the world at large. Sounds crazy I know, but it has just about the same credence as your twisted ‘theory’.

    You can’t break down history by two photos, let alone two photos pointing in the same direction. You conveniently left out the parts about the chinese tanks crushing cars (how necessary to stamp out peaceful protests) and people. Of course the protesters are going to get violent and possibly throw molotov cocktails at tanks — with good reason. You expect them to stay there and be run over? Even Ghandi wouldn’t sacrifice himself for that.

    You have an odd, deviant sense of reasoning to not only defend, but sympathize with the notoriously suppressive and violent Chinese government. How one can call themselves a Marxist (which is a whole ‘nother bag of worms not even worth opening up with you) and find nothing wrong with the violent and persistent backlash against formerly peaceful demonstrations, I could never understand.

    China is a good country. The government of China, however, is another story altogether. They are corrupt and ruthless to whatever ends they deem necessary to survive another year. That’s why they forced Google to censor Tienanmen. That’s why the Chinese have censored Facebook and Twitter in lieu of other more ‘state-aligned’ services. They fear public knowledge of the incident because public knowledge of the incident proves their haphazard dealings with the now infamous genocide.

    The last thing I am going to say is that I am fully aware you will dismiss this entire commentary (which I feel dirty even writing on this second rate blog) as merely the writings of a deranged Westerner who listens to Fox News too much — Sorry bub. The age of media forcing opinions down the public’s throat has ended, and many years ago at that. Look around the internet. It’s almost like a communist society in and of itself. With no boundries, it has allowed the free flow of real and legitimate information for years, such as information on the genocide at Tienanmen. Hide behind your delusions of Chinese grandeur all you like, and continue being irrelevant, because no one, and I do mean no one, will ever take the words of a sociopath such as yourself seriously. You are a pariah on the back of legitimate freedoms in contemporary society of all free nations.

    In conclusion, continue fighting your battles against invisible nonexistant enemies of your flawed political philosophy keep struggling.

  4. Also, the last thing I will write, the fact that you bothered to include the estimates of the Chinese Red Cross as being fallacious and then hid behind this argument forthwith for the duration of your rant is only so apparent to the most casual of readers.

    Let’s examine that, shall we? The Chinese Red Cross comes out and says the casualties were around the area of ~2600. Later, they deny they ever said that, wipe their records clean of any statements in that regard, and magically their numbers just happen to coincide with the totalitarian government’s own minimal death toll. Do I really need to point this out to you any further?

    No, the problem is you are (as you claimed) a self-professed Sinophile, and believe that within the ancient and venerable Chinese culture there is an inherent truth that the Western world doesn’t possess. Somehow, you even managed to cross-breed China (good) and the government of China (bad) into a glorified Rocky, taking the stage against the imperial, steriod-ingested might of America as Ivan Drago. That’s a gas. Delude yourself some more, it’s not bad for the soul, so it must be good for it, right?

  5. Oh, and one more thing I just happened to notice: for a communist to host a blog and require moderation on comments (e.g. ONLY ALLOWING POSITIVE COMMENTS) is laughable at best. You preach about how the Western media has an agenda, and here you are presumably only approving positive comments. I’m only calling you out on this here to further the odds that my previous two posts will be approved so that a reasonable dissenter might have a voice on this otherwise fantastically deranged blog.

  6. Steve, we don’t censor comments relative to the subject matter presented, whether they are in opposition or disagreement to the article. Comments automatically go through a filter to keep out spam, but we welcome discussion.

  7. Indeed Steve and Bill the Butcher is a contributor not the “Owner” of the blog, although he ownes his work.

    I appreciate your input and some of the questions you raised like the evalutions based on photos were some of the same that I have.

    However this is what this place is all about, raising questions for without questioning there will be no truth.

    As Karla stated we put up all kinds of comments and now that you have been cleared yours will show up quicker.

    Please do come back, differing opinions are essential.

  8. Can do, and I apologize for the hotheaded remarks as that rant dragged on. I just find the notion of defending a totalitarian government by a self professed Marxist to be baffling.

  9. Before I say anything else, I will admit that there were all sorts of iregularities in the reporting of the events of Tiananmen Square in the Western media: particularly (as the article mentioned) the fact that the reporters were not on scene for the reported masacre and the most famous photos of the incident do have some oddities (such as the shopping bags of “tank man”).

    That said, we must keep in mind that this incident took place in a nation with strict control of what information reaches the public – this would account for the Western reporters being far from the scene at the time of the massacre. Also keep in mind that China is very much a command economy: thus party officials (not local merchants) control the hours of business in practice – explaining why the shops would be open during the (possibly violent) demonstrations (as ordering them to close would be interpreted as a sign of weakness on the part of the party).

    Like Steve pointed out earlier, one can’t dissect an entire historical event by looking at a couple of photos – especially not when so little information on the incident is availible to the public due to a policy of government censorship.

  10. Steve, we seem to be talking at cross purposes. You seem to have the idea that my entire case about the factuality of the so-called Tiananmen Square “massacre” was built on the photographs. A reading of the original post will show you that the photos are ancillary evidence; the primary evidence lies in eyewitness reports, circumstantial evidence, and the fact that nobody, to this day, has been able to name the enormous numbers alleged by the West (whose reliability isn’t impeccable) to have been killed.

    It’s quite obvious that you aren’t a regular on this site; I don’t own the site and I don’t make the rules about what sort of comment can be posted. Nor do I have any way to approve a comment for posting and I certainly can’t delete a posted comment.

    It’s quite obvious that you have a visceral dislike of the Chinese government. That is your right, just as I have a visceral dislike of the United States, its government, its economic structures, its military and its foreign policy. However, the least I would expect is that you would read the article and trey to understand what it’s about.

    For your information, the article is an examination of whether the Tiananmen Square “massacre” actually happened or not. It is not about whether the Chinese government is necessarily “good” or “bad”. I happen to think a counterweight to the US is necessary, and since the Chinese are the only ones able to fulfil that role, the current government of China is as necessary as that of Stalin was during World War 2 as a counterweight to Hitler. But that is only a modern consequence of the so-called “massacre”.

    Personally, I happen to believe that the current Chinese government has deviated from Marxism and I have pointed the fact out – which you seem to have ignored. I’m sorry, but I can’t logically discuss an article with someone who’s obviously not taken the trouble to read what I’ve written properly.

    I’ll pointing particular to this paragraph by you, which proves to my mind your closed reasoning: You can’t break down history by two photos, let alone two photos pointing in the same direction. You conveniently left out the parts about the chinese (sic) tanks crushing cars (how necessary to stamp out peaceful protests) and people. Of course the protesters are going to get violent and possibly throw molotov (sic) cocktails at tanks — with good reason. You expect them to stay there and be run over? Even Ghandi (sic) wouldn’t sacrifice himself for that.

    Let’s see. First, I have posted a link to the US embassy’s NSA which agrees the first soldiers who went in were unarmed. Second, do you seriously believe Molotov cocktails are made up in seconds flat? Third, did you read the article? The streets were barricaded with burnt vehicles. How do you get over barricades without crushing or breaking through them? Fourth, a barricaded, Molotov-cocktail wielding mob is not a collection of “peaceful people”.

    (I should also point out that the Chinese government of the time had no riot control gear of the type that would be needed to stamp out this type of protest non-violently – and that the export of this type of gear was blocked after the so-called “massacre” even though it would have obviated the need for armed force.)

    Then: The Chinese Red Cross comes out and says the casualties were around the area of ~2600. Later, they deny they ever said that, wipe their records clean of any statements in that regard, and magically their numbers just happen to coincide with the totalitarian government’s own minimal death toll.

    Sources please? Proof? I have posted links to sources for your information; the least I can expect is that you post credible links to proof you can cite. The key word is “credible”; not someone saying, like you basically do, “I refuse to believe you because I refuse to believe you.”

    Here, incidentally, is another link about the casualties, again from the NSA, which does not refer to thousands of deaths: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB16/documents/13-01.htm

    Thanks for the comments, by the way. It feels nice to know the mental calibre of those I’m up against is so feeble 

  11. Christopher: Shops opened by the party; fine, let’s buy that. Did the party also herd the Tank man and others at gunpoint to do their shopping?

  12. I have to say, this is fairly poor exercise in dialectics, and exceedingly obtuse for a ‘dissection’. Doubtly, one so influenced by Marxism would be familiar with the works of the Frankfurt School and no merely entry/red-book Party propaganda? Doubtless your mistrust of the West doesn’t automatically validate hypostatic ideological discourse? How can you pretend to be such a rigorous intellectual and still espouse ideas and practices forced through violence and powerplay?

    A thorough, incisive critic would have at least understood that you can’t both despise regimes requiring information control (censorship/propaganda) and mass-murder to function (the West) whilst also praising those that do. If all you’re saying is “X is wrong and Y is right”, at least try to demonstrate it accordingly. At you state that you are biased, but so is your logic… so what’s the point, really?

    So “cracking down, in whatever form, on the demonstrations” and murder of the subversive is legitimate, and yet you come post such an article in a magazine called “Subversify”? That is so deviously insulting, I can’t possibly understand your reasons for doing so.

  13. what is terrible about this is from opening up this possible side of the story, it makes it harder to believe what is actually true. if this is information is correct (bill the butcher), why have China not justified it as it is in favour of the government? if it was western media lying then surely Chinese government would act against this?

  14. [quote=Bill the Butcher]Christopher: Shops opened by the party; fine, let’s buy that. Did the party also herd the Tank man and others at gunpoint to do their shopping?[/quote]

    I fail to see how that addresses my point: at no point did I suggest that the government forced people to shop – only that the party officials may have ordered the merchants to open shop to avoid the appearence of being weak in the eyes of the public (even authoritarian dictatorships need to have at least *some* measure of public trust to retain power, you know…).

    For the record, I’m of the opinion that the “truth” (assuming there is such a thing) of this matter (or any other event for that matter) is not something can can be known because whatever information we have concerning the incident is heavily filtered (both by government censorship *and* Western media bias) before it reaches us that one has to wonder just how much of that information is trustworthy. This article really illuminates the reason why what we call “history” is largely an agreed-upon fiction: whatever the actual “truth” of the incident is, what we “know” about it is mainly an obfuscation of what actually took place – so the reality may never actually be known.

  15. Christopher: supposing shops were open, then – in an atmosphere of bullets flying around,as the mythology has it – who excepot someone with a death wish would want to go and risk having his/her head blown off?

    As far as the consorship goes: the Chinese government has given its account, which is usually dismissed out of hand by Westerners. It says there were 241 casualties including some 50 soldiers, and no massacre. However, since the entire popualr fictional account available on the net claims thousands were massacred, any Chinese accessing the net will be faced with a choice: whom to believe? If I were a Chinese today, I’d have reason not to trust my government which claims to be Communist but supports capitalists who exploit the working class, ruins the environment, and so on. So – seen from their viewpoint – the Chinese government is doing the logical thing (protecting their repuatation and hold on power) by censorship.

  16. Raven: I’m sure you can ask the Subversify staff why they saw fit to print it. I can’t really find any other answer for your reply. If they aren’t insulted, why are you? For the record, I can’t post automatically here; I post it at the bioards and the staff decides what comes on the magazine, and when.

    I’m sure if you wished to write an article of your own, the staff will consider it as well. You could start off by excoriating me – with facts of your own, and sources to prove them.

  17. “решил помочь и разослал пост в соц. закладки. надеюсь поднимется популярность”

  18. Счастье – не награда за добродетель, а сама добродетель; не потому мы наслаждаемся счастьем, что обуздали свои страсти, а наоборот, наслаждение счастьем делает нас способными обуздать их. – Б. Спиноза

  19. To Bill the Butcher:
    “In order to be strictly fair, I should lay on record that I’m not an unbiased commentator. I’m a Sinophile in many respects.”
    These sentences contradict each other. You stated you are a Sinophile hence you are being subjective/opinionated. Second thing is, every writer has an opinion, so technically we cannot be unbiased. Let me elaborate,

    I would like to question why there were only two photographs of this incident. You didn’t express your view on the Chinese Government forcing their media to never speak about this incident.
    Thus, like the Chinese media who tries not to even recognise this horrible incident, you are leaving information that is relevant to this topic (Tiannenmen Square 1989 Protest Incident) out so again you are being subjective (or biased) in a discreet way.

    Zhao Ziyang was portrayed by you as a weak person. Did you even mention that he got house arrest until his death? Here’s a personal question, so do you think that he really deserved all that?

    Do you want to know the best example of a cover up just like the Tianenmen Square incident? The Holocaust. You know, some people are denying The Holocaust because they think there’s not enough information to prove it… just like you over the Tiannenmen Square Incident.
    You try to shed off every possibility by saying that the Western media is propaganda when you didn’t mention one bit about the Chinese media censorship.

    That’s why some people despise those who does censorship. Those who censorship just wants to politically benefit themselves. This action obstructs democracy by denying freedom of speech.

    I also read about this incident from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiananmen_Square_protests_of_1989

    If you want to write something unbiased, you would write it so everyone’s at fault otherwise no one is at fault.

  20. Server: ya ne govor’yu po-Ruskii slishkom horosho, poetomu ne mogu ptvet’t’, chto vi skazali.

  21. First, Jason, I’m laying my cards out on the table; I don’t do a Fox News of first saying I’m being fair and balanced and then showing myself to be something else.

    Whether Zhao deserved it or not doesn’t enter into the question; what matters is that he wasn’t the person who could hav e put down these pretests in the manner they needed to be out down in the long term interests of the nation. His personal fate afterwards doesn’t enter the discussion at all.

    I have discussed the censorship in a previous reply.

    Has it struck you that there might be only a few photos because there are only a few in existence, and that might be because there never was a massacre?

    Yes, incidentally, I think the Holocaust does need study and discussion, and I’ve written articles (which I’m perfectly weilling to submit to Subversify) to prove that discussion of it does not mean denying it, and that those who seek to prevent discussion of it do so to cover up and excuse their own crimes.

  22. Contex: Pozhaluista, napishite, esli mozhno, na angliiskom yazike, togda mogu ponimat’ i otvetit’.

  23. I have a question for the blogger if they are still active with this. Well, a few to be precise, but lets go easy. Bill the Butcher obviously supports big guns and iron fists as governmental tools (which goes rather fetchingly with the blogger’s name). So it is clear that even if someone managed to convince Bill there was a massacre he would still like to believe it was for the best reasons (he even said himself that it was important).

    Here is the bad news for conspiracy theorists and the like with regards to the Tiananmen Square massacre:

    People who lived during the event are STILL ALIVE.

    This is of course a terrible blow to anyone trying to paint the event as a hoax (like the NASA on the moon hoax theories, oh did you believe those too?). Nothing beats a good solid conspiracy theory like actual living witnesses.

    Before I elaborate on that though, Bill’s arguments have also been a bit focus-specific. It meanders from refuting that the massacre existed at all to admitting that reports said ‘no deaths were witnessed in the square by students who opted to leave’.

    “I did not see the tree fall because I was not in the forest at the time. Therefore, the tree did not fall.” Would this sum up the experience in a readily understandable metaphore? What did that student say about the rest of the night and the day before? Was he out on the streets or did he spend most of his night in the square like others, most students openly admit they didn’t know what went on in the streets, but remember, civilians on the street certainly do.

    Besides that, again Bill’s reports are limited to what happened IN the immediate vincinity of the square, not the street riots and killings leading up to it (where citizens tried to prevent armed troops from getting to the students and were gunned down or smashed by tracks). This is a fairly narrow view and definition of the event. It is true that it is named for the Square where the protects started but much of the bloodshed occurred in the streets surrounding the square (leading to students eventually being willing to move away).

    Now if we examine this logically (as Bill is fond of doing), the students had thus far refused to budge for pleading, negotiation and outright threat. They have sat through the first troops to be marched in (peaceful, because the troops were actually from near Beijing and did not fire on the civillians, who in turn were civil to them, providing water and food at the blockades).

    Yet suddenly they are willing to ‘peacefully move out of Tiananmen Square’ en masse because the army has shown up a second time for no apparent reason? All accounts from students say that there was great confusion even before the tanks and the army moved into the square. There were conflicting reports about the amount of force the army was allowed to use. Most believed live ammunition could not be in use and stayed until there was confirmation there widespread killing had occured in the streets (at which point there as a parley).

    As for this being a matter of equal forces facing against each other, that is just ludicrous. For one, the tanks you so carefully detailed and picked apart in that photo were RETREATING. Yes, that photo is from AFTER the troops have occupied the city and are already leaving Tiananmen. The riots were over the previous night, now the police and the army spend some time mopping up the city, there is absolutely no reason the tanks are closed up against attackers as you say.

    Now for two, the Chinese army turned away casualties at the hospital (including dead bodies intended for the morgue) in the immediate aftermath. Now if you don’t want anyone to have an accurate count of dead and injured, what should you do? Clean up, clear up and make sure no one is recorded as shot of course. Equal forces? If they were equal to start with they certainly weren’t in death tolls, since army hospitals (some of the best in Beijing) happily treated the wounded they received from the army.

    Thirdly. An armed force cannot be equal if the weapons they are using are not equal. Molotov cocktail versus gunfire? Regardless of which side started first, an army’s imperative is to act as defender of the nation. A nation cannot be stable or chaotic if it has no citizens, therefore, in order to defend a nation, an army must first ensure a nation exists (that is, it has citizens). So if for any reason the army is shooting a vast quantity of bullets into thick crowds (very large armor-piercing bullets I might add), there is something seriously flawed.

    Now for necessity. China did not try to use its police force at all during this movement. There was one negotiation after over a million people have joined protests, which led nowhere, then Martial Law was declared. At what point did the army become the civil force for maintaining stability? That’s what a police force is for. China did not try to use this force in the least. It was not attempted. There are no records of arrests except after the massacre itself.

    As for the actual killings. I know the ‘Tank Man’ photo is the most famous of the massacre photos, but it is also the least visually relevant (except for its spirit). The photo occurred on the morning AFTER the massacre, therefore the streets are already relatively safe/clear (as you can see no press of bodies are lining the streets, no one is throwing stuff, no one even wants to stay near the army).

    On the day of the killings there was a lot of footage taken by international media that show very evident civillian casualties. There are also many photos available of civillians who were shot dead or crushed by tanks on the streets. Many records of the event were confiscated, foreign journalists were also sometimes injured or involved in the incidents and most had evacuated Beijing by the day of hostilities.

    Many bodies were also swept up and moved away by army officers and cremated and/or towed to outlying regions to be disposed of. So through a combination of a closed square (there were no recording devices in the square itself after the army curtained it off with numbers and allowed students to leave that wanted to, although you can hear the volleys of gunshots clearly from within the square), a media blackout/panic, imposed curfew, continued denial of the government as well as pressure on reliable sources within China to hold their peace. And for all this, I’m going to offer you up a primary source.

    Yes, the bodies along the streets of Beijing were real. Yes, the large bullets were real, not rubber. Yes, students and civillians alike died. More civillians died than army personnel (I would say at a rate of more than 1:20). There were many stray bullets that hit not only the easy targets amongst crowds lining the streets and blocking army access, but also in apartments and offices etc along the road. The official death toll often does not include these stray and on the street killings (which make up the majority of the massacre actually).

    I lived in China during this event. My cousin was a student who went to Tiananmen. Two people in my apartment building were shot. One a high school student from floor 3 (I lived in floor 7) and an old woman from floor 5. Both were stray bullets at night because soldiers were shooting at most lit windows.

    About ten fellow students from my cousin’s year that she knew by name did not return home afterwards, two were later confirmed dead after being shot, one died on the way to hospital (Chinese army also opened fire on transports carrying the wounded and dying, including ambulances).

    We were ordered to stay home after dusk for some time after that, and people visiting us gave all the children spent bullet shells and bullets they had found on the street for a week (I could still find them when I returned to school myself).

    The sad thing is, people who know the truth are mostly still in China. The students that have left have no idea what happened on the street as I explained earlier, then they were expelled from an army-quandrant in the square from which came heavy gunfire. The ones lingering at dawn were there in a mostly empty square post-clean up, after the army has already opened ranks and journalists and some students returned to the inner square itself.

    People who know the truth about what happened can’t speak out about it in China, can’t post blogs about it without being prosecuted for it, and most of them don’t have a strong command of the English language. Many who lived through June 4 would never forget and would cry seeing this ‘theory’ of yours deny Beijing citizens the openess and apology deserved.

    Being a Sino-phile is all well and good. I love China, the culture, the heritage, the land, but I can’t condone a government that would rather kill its citizens than to listen to them seriously (the students were a peaceful protest for several weeks to start with, not a terrorist movement). Being in love with China doesn’t have to be confused with a love of corruption, power and nepitism. It certainly shouldn’t merge China as a nation as represented and experienced by its citizens with its dictatorship government (which is not elected, just so we’re clear).

    As for your strawman attack with the comparison to the Iraqi situation. These were CHINESE army soldiers attacking CHINESE civillians. it is not a foreign force meeting resistance on a war path. If you must make the comparison stick, then you’re admitting the Chinese government declared war on its own people as a means of keeping peace and ‘stabilising’ the country. Now it would be the same if the US mobilised its own army (instead of its policeforce) against its civillians for peaceful protests asking for gay marriage to be legalised and the army had things thrown at it then opened fire on the civillians.

    Would that be the sort of Western civilization you’d like to live in?

    Oh, and on Marx. He was one of the pioneers of the working class person’s right to demonstrate. Please don’t go getting yourself confused about your own allegiances. This ignorant but faithful reproduction on your part of the ‘glorious Marxist ideology’ slogan of Chinese school curricula combined with this rather subjective theory is asking for others to think you’re a Communist Party propaganda artist.

  24. “I admire the chinese revolution” This commemt to be honest makes me sick! If you knew anything about the chinese revolution then you would know that those groups in Tiannamen square were fighting against a government who had tortured and starved its people for decades! All traces of their history and culture was slowly being destroyed. My father spent a year in China during the cultural revolution, he petrolled the waters between Hong Kong and mainland China. He had to rescue Chinese people who were so desperate to leave China that they crossed shark infested waters in rubber dingies!! Families and children risked their lives to leave that hell hole that you admire so much! Those that he didn’t save had to be pulled out of the water and so a vast majority of the time my father was picking out body parts…thats if there was anything left!! Chairman Mao was a sick fucking asshole he brain washed and terrified his people into torturing and killing each other. Did you know that there was so little food that people actually started eating each other! I lived in China for 6 months and I’ve heard first hand accounts of what happened during the cultural revolution so don’t sit at your computer and try to justify what the Chinese goverment did. The Chinese are getting stronger and I can’t wait for the day when they rise up and take back their country!! I’ll be back over there in a second!!

  25. @Little Hobo:

    As opposed to Jiang Jeishi and the Guomindang, who took taxes at gunpoint fifty years in advance?

    Get real. The Chinese Revolution was not to blame for the mistakes that came afterwards. And my point is precisely this: breaking up the “protests” was the only way the nation could be preserved. A look at China today and a comparison to what it was a hundred years ago, during the 1911 revolution, will show you how far it has come – and most of that was in the last twenty years, that is, after Tiananmen Square.

  26. I know this is an old article, but I just saw it and have to respond.
    Maybe the reference to Tianmen Square itself is incorrect. That does not make it all bogus. Your analysis of the pictures is on the other hand a bit farfetched, even though many of your comments probably are true. On the one where you seem to be suggesting it is not the Tank man in the background, I see no reason to question that it is not him. The cyclist in the background seems to be looking back as well as leaning forward indicating he is trying to accelerate. To get away maybe? The guy in the very front seems to be running as well. The thumb up signal you says is there looks like a coincidental gesture more than a conscious one. One cannot completely judge speed solely on one picture, nevertheless, I see more speed in the pictures than you seem to want to accept. You seem to doubt that the tanks hurt anyone. Does that mean that the discus thrower Fang Zheng is lying about him losing his legs under a Tank when leaving the square? He has mentioned names of the dead as you say no one has. But I assume that it is all lies?
    Your conclusion that the shopping bags the Tankman seems to hold are indicative of open shops and cannot support any other evidence is strange. Go to any Occupy site today and you will see plenty of shopping bags with belongings used to camp at the site not bought within the last month. The Tankman might as well have been packing his stuff to leave when the tanks came. Your comments about the tank personnel being hatched up as being strange is pure guesswork. There had been clashes before that with some protesters burning military vehicles and soldiers. But to suggest that this method of advance indicates that the soldiers would not use violence cannot be supported from the closed hatches. It is a normal method of advance into any area where hostilities may occur. Even when the tank commanders are expecting to be the ones to initiate the hostilities. Sure they show restraint in this situation, however, that cannot be used to support that there were no troops the night before who used violence. It has by the protesters often been mentioned that it was only a specific section of the troops that opened fire. The west section I believe I was. That there are families saying they lost someone is not true. That many would shut up about it is not hard to understand either when one has experienced the oppression of dissidents in China. It was worse in 1989 than now and it is still not good.
    The lack of pictures from the surrounding streets where the fighting was by far worst is not really that hard to understand. The press was at the square or at their hotels, and in 1989 it was very few Chinese who owned a camera. At the time they would have been comparatively large and in case of fighting breaking out many would have had to abandon their equipment. The soldiers would not have a hard time to identify people with cameras at the time either and confiscate it. Many journalists do speak about confiscations. It is not comparable to the West at the time and it is not like today where everyone has a phone with a camera that can be hidden in a palm.
    I believe you are correct to state that the stories and death toll are often blown out of proportion and that it has been used as propaganda by the West and I would not find it hard to believe that many journalists wanted to look like heroes in their reporting and got carried away by hearsay and rumours, however, I think you are way too kind on the Chinese government and army in your conclusions. I have during my years in China which in so many respects is a wonderful country spoken to some who say they were there and saw killings, some say they saw violence from both sides in the streets around the square, but all says that the majority of violence came from the army.

    By the way, being Marxist and in support of the Chinese regime at the time as well as today would to me indicate that you have misunderstood at least one of them. I honestly think Marx would be appalled with China both then and today

  27. great responses bill to the arguments that reality bites made you didn’t even answer him. way to shy away from opposition. I know this is old but still

  28. draft in goodwill. Dear publisher of the info. I thank you for your thoughts. I am surprised that others have not pointed out long ago the good points you made about the guns on the tank. I tried to point it out to a guidance counselor at a college, where he in his office hangs the poster with pride. He got very upset. Some need good guys and others want bad guys.I think he never looked at it fully.I was in Beijing in 1989. I was in the square more than once. Quite a few times. Much of the truth of what happened that week and weekend has not been published nor been told widely by the media so far. One could ask why some in the media gave out false and misleading information. When the media lies is that not a crime? I think so. By their actions they could have caused more damage. As to how many were in the square behind the student barricades, by the weekend. Less than a thousand. Less. I also never saw any soldier ever attack me in Beijing. And I am still alive. And I am not a socialist nor am I a communist. And I travelled throughout the city that week. I happened to be in Beijing for other reasons, as were others.People did die that weekend but not as some of the media said. Those who repsetc main line media shoudl ask themn why did they lie? To provoke unrest? To enhance their reputation as being there? Where liers? Liers injure us all.Thank you. May more of the world know freedom, which includes the right to know the truth.

  29. Hahaha so funny how Bill The Butcher COMPLETELY IGNORED RealityBites post. Just shows how Bill has his tongue caught and knows and realizes the points he has.

  30. At the time I thought the “fledgling democracy movement” in China was everything the US media made it out to be.

    Then some years back I started thinking “Those kids were in special economic zones and had access to education which at the time a great majority of Chinese didn’t, and they thought they were smarter than the old guard and because they had begun to be educated, were ‘entitlted’ to run the country”. Then I started thinking the Western media took advantage of that and through their coverage helped make it more of a security issue for the Chinese government than it ever could have been on it’s own.

    I told a friend of mine who’d travelled quite a bit in Asia what I was thinking and he told me about how Lee Kwan Yew had said in a statement to the media that they were responsible for what happened in Tiananmen Square. Well, in retrospect I’d have to say he was probably right.

    There’s nothing about a 20 year old kid that makes him qualified to help run the nation, but somehow they got the idea that they would be better at it than the people who’d given them all the advantages to start with.

    Then, they met the whores of western “fame”. Bad combo.

    In short, Lee Kwan Yew was most likely right in terms of naming who caused that event to be the way it was.

    As for the hint of Western agent provocateurs among the media people there or protesters who might have had more than a protest agenda, it certainly is possible. Not all misreporting however comes from sinister motivations. A big story is a big story, and sometimes there is a tendency to make more of a story than it actually is.

    Likewise, our prejudices colour our judgements and the way we see people. You look at someone looking to see a certain character trait, and a lot of times you may see it even though no one else would because it’s not actually there.

    Certainly, being raised on anti-communist… well, anti-communist everything in the US, we can forgive some journalists for assuming that China’s was a completely authoritarian regime even if it was not, and it most certainly was not.

    On the other hand, is the government (US) that now spies on it’s citizens and claims to be doing so to “fight terrorism” an authoritarian regime? Yes, it most definitely is that, in intent and in action although not in appearance, and only not in appearance because it’s media has become a lapdog instead of a watchdog, while when talking about foreign governments doing far less evil than the US government it acts more like an attack dog.

  31. I admire and support Bill the Butcher. Although this article is under siege here, at least we heard something different about the (Tian An Men) event. I’ll share it with my fellow students. Thank you, Bill the Butcher.

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