I remember where I was when the Chinese government cracked down on the pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in June 1989. Less than a month before the incident, I graduated from college and got married a week later. My bride and I were on an extended honeymoon, traveling to Chicago for her best friend’s wedding. The morning of the wedding, we woke to the compelling and captivating live reporting which was coming out of China about the crackdown. Honestly, at that age, I knew nothing about Asia or China except that I had once read “The Good Earth.” Three summers later in 1992, I traveled to China to teach English and had the chance to visit Tiananmen Square. It was hard to imagine at that time what had happened three years earlier and we were specifically instructed not to mention or even hint at the event. But I couldn’t help but think that the underlying feelings which came out in 1989 were still present. Indeed, as the author mentions in the article below, the demands of the students in 1989 have mainly been met by the Chinese government. Thousands of students study overseas. Chinese tourists can easily leave the country. The nature of the economic powerhouse that they have become is staggering. But as I ask my students in my Global Study classes if China will always remain communistic, they usually reply “no”. And I agree. Economic freedom, in my opinion, will only get a country so far. What happens when the economy stagnates and the promises are no longer fulfilled? When that happens, voices will rise spouting new ideas and demanding political and democratic reform. Once that happens the freedom that these students demonstrated and died for can finally become complete.
Please read the fascinating article below and look at the remarkable photos. Tiananmen at 25.