Thirty years are not a big time gap in the history of a country but it has potential to cause a big impact on the lives of common people. Today on 4th June world revisits to the fateful but to cruel memories of Tiananmen Square incident which affected millions of people’s lives in the sphere of personal freedom, decent and dignified way of living; but all vanished in full way when Chinese people died facing the Chinese army but how many left no official record talked about.
Hu Yaobang was a reformist leader who was aware about the importance of free press, elected representation and freedom of thought, he had held once a position of power in the Chinese communist party but as the Communist party realized his inclinations and potential to change the whole governing structure of the party and the country where authoritarinship had to give way to the real power to the people, his standing was lowered and gradually he was sidelined but he had impact on the young people of China who craved for the changes towards better existential life in terms of liberty and justice. His death was the real spark on 15th April 1989 which kindled a thought of world of freedom among a large section of the society. Several started to collect in the Tiananmen Square; discussed about changes in the system of the government which was coercive and aimed to limit the potential of the people.
As the people started to collect at Tiananmen Square as their number went on to swell; the Chinese authorities smelled a threat to their existence. Values of communism and humane attitudes were already divorced in the governance and now the naked force of the state power appeared in the form of tanks, soldiers with order to disperse the people even by killing the innocent one. And 4th June 1989 became a day of protest in the Chinese history. Coercive states always attempt to wipe out such incidents from the memories of the residents and Chinese government has attempted to hide this incident from the new generation as it has no mention anywhere in schools, books, and media and even on internet.
Now there are two questions: did the Chinese authorities succeed in controlling the dissemination of idea of Tiananmen Square, the idea of democratic governance, the idea of freedom of thought, the idea of happy living in a society where civil societies coexist with the government and voice their concerns about anything which is a misdeed. From outer surface it will appear as they have succeeded but it is a false notion. There emerged several dissidents in China who attracted attention of the common people. Government tried to quell their ideas but people in their hearts lived with these. The protest movements in Hong Kong are another stress feature on the Chinese authorities. The Hong Kong people have maintained a continuous pressure on the authorities. So the idea of Tiananmen Square is still alive. It may not be visible but is waiting a trigger time to explode.
Another question relates to the statecraft of China. Did Chinese government or the state apparatus become more flexible or turned out to be more coercive and authoritarian? In the last three decades China galloped in the economic sphere, improvement in urban life took place though rural areas are still to progress but equally true is that government has become more coercive at ethnic and religious level. People have not been granted the real freedoms. The constitution of 1982 exist only in words. And the most important development in accentuated manner is the emergence of a cult leadership and concentration of power in one hand.
All these developments show that much has not changed inside China in terms of political values. One thing is definite that after thirty years from the day of Tiananmen Square incident, world has moved forward but China has shrunk. Its shrinkage suggests that people in China are still in the same cage where they were three decades before, in fact that cage has shrunk. A sad story in the contemporary world where democracy is considered as the living philosophy in providing a good social-political life to the people.
Dr. Vivek Kumar Srivastava is associated with CSJM University and CSSP. e [email protected]