A monument in memory of the murdered Chinese citizens at Tiananmen Square, depicting a destroyed bicycle and a tank track as a symbol of the Tiananmen Square massacre. The security service destroyed the original monument the day after it was unveiled in 1989. It was recreated in 1999. Photo by Masur - Own work, Public Domain
By David Aikman, Editor in Chief
Thirty-two years ago on June 5, 1989, I crouched behind a wall in Beijing as trucks carrying Chinese soldiers were shooting in all directions on the northern side of China’s largest public space – Tiananmen Square.
I watched the Chinese People’s Liberation Army suppress China’s growing democracy movement. Known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre, Chinese troops fired at demonstrators and those trying to block the military's advance into the square. Estimates of the death toll range from several hundred to several thousand, with thousands wounded.
Any discussion of the events in 1989 is now completely prohibited, especially in Hong Kong, where until recently citizens have enjoyed some degree of civic freedom inherited from the British. They ruled Hong Kong from 1842 until giving the territory back to China in 1997.
Tyranny, History and George Orwell’s 1984
As George Orwell made clear in his chilling novel 1984, tyrannical regimes control the past to determine the future of the people over whom they rule.
It is ominous that the Chinese government has essentially joined forces with the Russian government which acted as allies to the Chinese Communist Party during the Cold War to suppress protests in the nation of Myanmar against political control the army established in February.
This week, 32 years later, a different kind of suppression is taking place at the behest of Chinese Communist Party leaders in Beijing.
A similar Russian and Chinese agreement prevents open discussion of the recent forcing down of a passenger plane overflying Belarus. An opposition blogger was arrested when the airplane landed.
Russia, which is closely allied with Belarus, approved of this illegal action, and China has failed to protest it as well. Democracy of some kind has prevailed in Belarus until quite recently.
Protests of One-Party Rule in China Not Allowed
It is illegal now to discuss the 1989 Tiananmen Square event or any issue related to China’s one-party rule.
I recall that in early June of 1989, hundreds of Beijing citizens were shocked by the violence. Some of them were merely brushing their teeth in upstairs apartments when they were hit by random fire from below.
For three decades, the people of Hong Kong have conducted an annual visit during the first week of June to commemorate the people shot and killed in the army’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in 1989.
This last week Beijing authorities made any discussion of the events of 1989 illegal in Hong Kong.
Manipulating Contemporary Reality
Orwell, in his book 1984, showed that any regime that in a minute can manipulate history is quite likely in a minute to manipulate contemporary reality.
China’s attempt to suppress completely any honest discussion of what happened in 1989 is a brutal illustration for the rest of the world about the slippery slope we are on in the West as many nations, including the United States, embrace forms of socialism.
There are sure to be future demonstrations within Hong Kong against the regressive Beijing regime, but they are sure to be suppressed as ruthlessly as all previous protests have been in Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, there is continuing anti-democratic regression in several parts of the world.
In Belarus, for example, the incumbent head of the government, President Alexander Lukashenko, is certain to continue repressing protesters of that country’s recent elections, assumed by many independent surveys to have been fraudulent.
Then there is the situation in Southeast Asia. The regime ruling Myanmar continues to shoot dead protesters who are critical of its operations.
Today, 32 years after pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square, we must remember that freedom flourishes when the truth is revealed and recedes when it is suppressed.
David Aikman began his reporting career with TIME Magazine in 1971. In the 23 years that followed, he reported from five continents and more than 55 countries and wrote three consecutive Man of the Year cover stories. As a TIME Magazine Senior Correspondent and foreign correspondent, he interviewed numerous major world figures, from Mother Teresa to Manuel Noriega, from Alexander Solzhenitsyn to Pham Van Dong, from Boris Yeltsin to Billy Graham. Dr. Aikman was assigned to bureaus in Hong Kong, from where he covered the entire Asian region; in Beijing, China; in Berlin, Germany, where he covered all of Eastern Europe; and in Jerusalem, Israel, where he covered the entire Middle East. He was bureau chief in Berlin, Jerusalem, and Beijing before returning to the United States to cover the State Department until his departure in 1994 to devote his time to writing books.
Dr. Aikman is the author of ten published books on a wide range of topics, and the editor or co-author of four others. His 2004 biography, A Man of Faith: The Spiritual Journey of George W. Bush (W Group), was a bestseller and was translated into Chinese and published – entirely uncensored – in China. The presidential biography has also been released in Norwegian. Jesus in Beijing has been translated into several languages, including Korean and Swedish, and been published worldwide. The most comprehensive book-length report on Christianity in China, it is considered a must-read for anyone interested in the Chinese church. “Being a reporter is like being a fly on the mixing bowl of history,” Aikman said. “I did not want to be a journalist, that is no secret, but I always wanted to be close to the events happening and I have been. There is no way I could have predicted that this would happen, but I suppose that is all of life. You take a leap of faith and from there you just go.”
In 2018, David Aikman became the editor in chief of GODSPEED Magazine where his articles, editorials, and overall direction have continued to gain accolades from national and global leaders. Dr. Aikman reports that for the first time in his significant career as a journalist, GODSPEED Magazine is encouraging him to report evidence of God in action. Visit GODSPEED Magazine's online newsstand now by clicking here:
Get 3 Months Free