Beijing remains silent on Tiananmen massacre

After the death of the comparatively liberal Communist Party leader Hu Yaobang in mid-April 1989 hundreds of thousands demonstrated on Tiananmen Square for political reforms. The peaceful protest ended at the start of June in a massacre carried out by the army that left hundreds dead. In China all discussion of the events is still taboo.

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Público (PT) /

Will Tiananmen or the fall of the Wall win?

Historian and former MEP Rui Tavares writes in Público:

“The irony of history is that instead of Chinese capitalism importing democracy, thanks to globalisation China is exporting its authoritarianism. Thirty years after it happened the Tiananmen massacre - in the form of oligarchist authoritarianism and state capitalism - has won out against the fall of the Berlin Wall - or in other words against constitutional democracy and pluralist civil society. ... It's not too late to take action - if not on the other side of the globe, then at least in Europe. We must give democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights priority once more and strengthen the independence of the judiciary as well as pluralism in the media and society. If we don't, Chinese-style authoritarianism could one day end up being the fate of many Europeans.”

Club Z (BG) /

Talk of an incident is a mockery

China's regulations on how the Tiananmen massacre is to be described speak volumes, Club Z writes:

“It's more than cynical to use the word 'incident' to describe the state's brutal, targeted repression of the people. The fact that in 2019 Beijing still refuses to assume responsibility for the violence means not only that human rights are not guaranteed in the country, but also that it could once again come to an 'incident' if the children of the Tiananmen demonstrators rebelled against the Party today.” (RU) /

The rest of the world cowardly looked away

Tiananmen is also a synonym for the indifference of the rest of the world, writes

“After the massacre China renounced its political reform course. People against tanks - in such duels it's mostly the people who lose. June 4, 1989, went down in history as a tragic day for an entire generation that had dreamed of freedom. And as a symbol of the devious brutality of the state power and the cowardly indifference of those who watched the events from the sidelines. This story could have had a different ending if the world had supported the Chinese students three decades ago.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Killing the victims a second time

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung compares the Chinese Communist Party leadership's policy of banning commemorations of the Tiananmen massacre with the refusal to confront the Holocaust:

“Besides the Tiananmen mothers who lost their children 30 years ago there is another small group of people who are fighting the collective forgetfulness. In a public appeal published just a few weeks ago they evoked former German chancellor Willy Brandt, who went down on his knees in front of the Monument to the Heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto in 1970 and begged for forgiveness. The Communist Party lacks such stature. ... As long as the party leadership refuses to break its silence and apologise for the horror it will also have blood on its hands, as a sentence by Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel makes clear: 'To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.'”

El Mundo (ES) /

Like in the days of Mao

El Mundo also notes that the regime refuses to learn from the massacre:

“The Tiananmen massacre remains a big taboo for the regime even after 30 years. ... Worse still is that despite major advances in economic terms and the fact that everything is so globalised, at the political level China still hasn't taken any steps towards democracy and continues to systematically trample on individual liberties and human rights. The repression of minorities is brutal. The draconian re-education camps for members of communities like the Muslim Kazakhs or the Uighurs hark back to the darkest times of the Mao era.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Authoritarian capitalism is irresistible

Commentator Ian Buruma points out in NRC Handelsblad that China's authoritarian capitalism has been copied by other countries:

“Russia became more like Deng Xiaoping's China. Some people became immensely wealthy, but not always honestly. ... Something similar has happened in Central European countries. Hungary's prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has been the most vociferous ideologue of 'illiberal democracy,' a system of oppressive one-party rule in which capitalism can still thrive. Other right-wing populist demagogues - also in Western Europe and the US, would like to follow this example. ... Illiberal capitalism has since emerged as an attractive model to autocrats all over the world. The Chinese just got there first.”