The 4 June 1989 massacre- commonly referred to as the ‘Tiananmen Square Massacre’ though the bloodshed took place in the streets of Beijing rather than the square itself- has long haunted the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP),
Try as they might, twenty three years on the powers-that-be have categorically failed to sustain their cover-up of the incident, in which thousands of students and other protesting civilians lost their lives. Indeed, as another anniversary is reached, the ‘next superpower’ has embarrassingly resorted to physically beating those citizens peacefully petitioning for justice over the slaughter.
And as the years roll on, flailing state denials of military brutality waiver further. Following previous exposes including the damning memoirs of former Premier Zhao Ziyang, the CCP was recently humiliated further by a new book in which Chen Xitong, Mayor of Beijing in 1989, expresses regret for the crackdown and brands it an “avoidable tragedy” . Despite their best efforts, the government failed to ban the book in Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, restless activists are seizing the opportunity to launch fresh protests. Via the internet, democracy advocates have called upon citizens to legally but visibly demonstrate, by wearing black in memory of the dead. Pressure is also coming from abroad, including the USA which has called upon the CCP to release those still imprisoned for their part in the initial protests two decades ago.
Of course, none of this will shake China’s dictatorship to its core – not even close. But it aptly demonstrates that the horrors of 4 June 1989 continue to plague the CCP today, damaging its credibility, infuriating Chinese citizens and providing a stark reminder to the world that, despite numerous PR-makeovers, very little has changed at the top of Chinese politics. The ghosts of Tiananmen taint the CCP’s past – and may yet derail it's future.