Sunday, June 03, 2007


Today is not a day for light-hearted blogging, but for reflective silence. Tomorrow is the 18th anniversary of one of the sorriest events in this country's recent history.

There are many grim photographs of that day - tanks, soldiers, mangled bicycles, broken bodies - but I prefer, for now, to focus on this. The horror of June 4th has tended to eclipse in our memories the vibrancy and the optimism of what had preceded it, the student demonstrations that had held the attention of the world for six gloriously sunny weeks through the Spring and early Summer.

There were no human casualties (as far as I have ever been able to gather, although this remains a point of some controversy) in the Square itself - only this statue, and the hopes it stood for.


Anonymous said...

I know very little about this.

I blame it on (a) my age; (b) the lack of Chinese modern history taught in USA schools; (c) my failure to seek out this knowledge while I am not living in a communist state.

I have heard stories. from locals. horrific ones.

but as you can guess, the opportunities for listening to local oral history on the subject are few and far between.

speaking out, here, can be so different from the home.

Froog said...

Without wishing to be indiscreet about a lady's age - I would have thought you would have been able to remember the media coverage of it at the time.

Froog said...

I could lend you a book on it (from Chinese sources of dubious origin; but, on the whole, a very detailed, balanced, and credible account).

Interestingly enough, although I had thought the Net censorship crackdown was milder than in previous years because we haven't lost Google, Blogger, etc..... the filtering on search results seems to be pretty damned thorough. Searches for TAM-related books on Amazon, for example, are even being blocked via the usually censor-proof Anonymouse; and some of the Wikipedia articles on the Square are being blocked, even via Yee's Firefox re-routing hack.

These buggers are getting cleverer every year. Well, more Net-savvy anyway; not more intelligent.

Anonymous said...

Hah, your comment regarding my ability to remember it immediately made me want to google it to see if my memory of what year it occurred is faulty (thereby, justifying your comment or proving I was too young to remember).

But ofcourse, i can't google it, can I?

How about we have an oral exchange of history when we meet, in a park, with lots of noisy things going on around us, while we wear wigs and sunglasses.

also, to add to the "why i don't know" pot is the comment that while I was definitely more worldly than my peers in news and culture, setting the judging standard as "my peers" is setting the standard pretty low, comparative to those who grew up in international cities. But what do I know? maybe kids in international cities are oblivious to world events, too.

Anonymous said...

also, media coverage in my youth did not include internet or cable networks. so, unless I happend to be flying internationally at the time, it's likely my media coverage was limited to news of the latest tornado that swept through and the city council's attempt to limit chicken fights within city limits.

Anonymous said...

Look at the local search engine 'SoSo', you can look up what you will - handy.

Some big over sight?

Or maybe good for business...

Froog said...

Ahem, Tulsa, how's your maths? Or 'math', if you will. If today was the 18th anniversary, what year did it happen? Don't really need Wikipedia for help on that one!!

Froog said...

Who are you, Anonymous?? A very mysterious contribution!

Well, thanks for the SoSo tip, anyway. I'll give it a try. (Though before having done so, I confess to a scepticism as to whether it will allow input in English, how good its searches will actually be, and whether you will actually be able to follow the links to the page results returned.... but, we shall see.)

Ah, the commercial conspiracy angle again.

I was working at Intel a while back, and all the Chinese engineers there were convinced that the complete shutdown of Google for 2 or 3 weeks around this time last year was in fact a Distributed Denial Of Service Attack, orchestrated by Baidu, exploiting the keyword blocks the censors had implemented.

Anonymous said...

LOL... got me on that one Mr. Froog.

excuse me for my failure to notice that detail in the post as I responded to your comments.

All the reasons mentioned above for my obliviousness of world events still holds true.

And, I'm flattered that you're convinced I should have been of an age to be aware of this.

well, now that I think about it, I remember that 18 years ago today I was in the process of buying my first horse. That was exciting. His name was Blacky. A quarter pony to get me started, which would lead me to my Arabian, then the American Saddle. A friend of my dad who had a trailer (horse trailer) dropped him (the horse) off. Our one neighbor, Mr. M (constructing business) came over to check it out and have a neighborly chat. Mr. M had a ranch, too, and three kids and horses for the kids, too.

Yeah, I had other things on my mind. China? China what? China where? (Although, I ought to ask my dad how he mustered up the courage to keep coming back here through all that time... what a disconnect for him to go from the ranch lost in the woods to all of this in Beijing. If he made any comments about it at that time, I certainly don't recall them.)

Froog said...

Crikey, your dad was here then? It would be interesting to hear his impressions of that time now. Ask him.

And, while I empathise with the girly fascination with horses, I am appalled that you could be so oblivious of the wider world (unless you're really not as old as I thought you'd told me you were). The TAM protests were HUGE. I mean, it was a bigger event - for me, at least - than the Berlin Wall coming down (later that same year), the release of Mandela, or the Moscow coup.

Anonymous said...

ah, yes, berlin wall, release of mandela, the moscow coup.... all these things I do remember!!!

now this is really starting to bother me. has my mind just blocked it out? or did we in fact get so little news of it in my hometown?!?!

(and it's not a girly fascination - in fact, I'm the only girl in the family fascinated. It's a trait i get from my dad and grandfathers and great grandfathers... a bit of the tomboy...)

Anonymous said...

batty, HiK, are you out there?

what do you remember?

Anonymous said...

You will have hopefully found (it was working last time I looked, a couple of days back) that SoSo is a surprisingly good search?

English no problem, speed no problem, results - well good but maybe different from those we are used to, but then I like that.

(Being 'anonymous' seems a off so here I am - OK)

Anonymous said...

"OK"? what does that stand for? "olle korrect"? or Oklahoma? or...