There’s a lot of disinformation about this, so coming across this comment was a breath of fresh air. I thought to mirror it here in case the original is deleted.
Original comment on Reddit on a post asking what Chinese people think of the incident: https://old.reddit.com/r/AskAChinese/comments/grdaqv/thoughts_on_tiananmen_square_massacre/g45hnv0?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3
Have you already made up your mind on what the correct answer should be? Because if you have, there’s really no point in asking this question.
I’m a Hong Kong Chinese. I attended the Tiananmen commemoration ceremony in Victoria Park once, as a teenager. Then I grew up and looked into the incident. The fact that a lot of mainlanders have VPNs now makes it easier to get the other side of the story.
The protests in Tiananmen Square started off as a demonstration against inflation. The cost of essential goods like food were becoming out of reach for common folk, so this was very much justified. Then the protesters started noticing that when they used words like “liberty” and “democracy”, they got more media attention. From there, the original cause was hijacked into a push for democracy. This is corroborated by someone who attended the protests as a student - you can see his interview on Daniel Dumbrill’s YouTube channel.
There was a Spanish television crew that covered the entire Tiananmen Square incident as it unfolded. Their footage showed that there was no massacre. You can also find video footage on YouTube (search “Clearance of the Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989”). A few things worthy of pointing out - Liu Xiaobo and Hou Dejian, both student leaders of the Tiananmen protests, have been recorded as saying that they never saw anyone killed at the protests. The former spoke about this in an Australian paper, SMH. It’s also interesting to note that another student leader, Chai Ling, admitted in an interview that she didn’t stick around on the night because why would she do when she’s already gotten a scholarship and a green card abroad. Quite the heroic bunch… not. There’s also a Wikileaks page that has an eyewitness account (search “Latin American diplomat eyewitness account of June 3-4 events on Tiananmen Square”).
The Tank Man photo is associated with the Tiananmen Square Massacre. But photographers have admitted that nothing happened to Tank Man, and in fact, the tanks were heading away from the Square at the time. Also under-reported or completely ignored is the fact that the student protesters were far from peaceful - they threw petrol bombs inside military vehicles and lynched soldiers who were sent there to keep order (there are photos on the Internet, though some suspect that Google has shadow-banned a lot of them).
Naturally, I’ve since stopped going to the annual Tiananmen commemorative ceremony in Hong Kong. But if I do light a candle on 4 June these days… I do so in memory of the soldiers who were killed and the civilians who were caught in the crossfire. Do I think the CCP mishandled the situation? Yes, PR has never been their strong suit - culturally, we’re very direct- and interpretations from Mandarin leaves a lot of room for western media to take liberties with their translations. Did the original cause for the protests get resolved? Yes, because China lifted more than 75% of her population out of poverty in 30 years and implemented a lot of laws that help keep things affordable for their citizens (e.g. 80% occupancy rate law to deter opportunistic developers from hiking up rental and sale prices).
On a more personal level, do I as a Hong Konger feel threatened by China? No, despite what mainstream media will tell you. When HK was a colony, we couldn’t elect our governor; now that we’ve been returned to China, we can elect our Chief Executive, if albeit from a pool of just 3 candidates (still better than USA, IMHO, since it’s always a choice between 2 candidates - Republican or Democrat). The inflow of mainland tourists created jobs in retail, hospitality and tourism; we’ve seen a lot of jobs and businesses lost in these sectors during the HK protests and of course now with COVID-19. Unlike some of my peers, I’ve been across the border before and I’ve seen firsthand how modern Shenzhen is, how China has tried to incorporate elements of Singapore into Xiamen’s infrastructure by creating more of a garden city where possible, and how entire university towns are being built in Qingyuan to modernise the city and improve investment in it. While the apprehensions I grew up with as a Hong Konger are hard to shake, I’m slowly but surely learning to confront my preconceptions and I hope you can too.
Sources that the OP was referring to:
Latin American diplomat eyewitness account of June 3-4 events on Tiananmen Square wikileaks (PDF) - I couldn’t find the original WikiLeaks article, but this appears to be a mirror from
peds-ansichten.de. If anyone has the original URL, and it’s still up, please let me know.
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