Tiananmen at 30
For 30 years, the Communist Party of China (CPC) has tried to suppress all recollection of the massacre of peaceful protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. And yet the legacy of the brutal repression of China’s pro-democracy movement seems more relevant than ever.
In this Big Picture, China scholar Minxin Pei explains how the crackdown derailed the country’s inchoate liberal forces and laid the groundwork for today’s return to hardline Leninism. But as Ian Buruma, the author of A Tokyo Romance, points out, the occasion also precipitated China’s full embrace of illiberal capitalism, a governance model now favored by autocrats around the world. Brahma Chellaney of the New Dehli-based Center for Policy Research, however, anticipates that China’s 30-year stint of global free-riding and brutal repression will soon be challenged like never before.
Meanwhile, Chris Patten, the last governor of British-administered Hong Kong, sees continuity between the 1989 crackdown and the CPC’s escalating efforts to stifle civil society, even in Hong Kong, where the massacre will be openly commemorated. And Yale’s Denise Y. Ho notes that the CPC’s repression in the lead-up to the Tiananmen anniversary has even extended to students who espouse its own Marxist ideology.
Finally, in the latest Opinion Has It podcast, PS's Elmira Bayrasli discusses the legacy of Tiananmen with Patten as well as Louisa Lim, the author of The People’s Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited, and Sophie Richardson of Human Rights Watch.